Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction

Afternoon, dears. A few weeks ago I was sent a book to review, with the request that I post my review on Amazon. Will do, but first I wanted to share my thoughts on it with you folks.

Now, I love crafty books. They're usually beautifully photographed and look so appealing, but I find that more often than not that a lot of those books are so similar (and a few even kind of not good) that it's not worth it to keep adding to my library. After reading the book notes in the email I was sent, I decided this one might be a good one. And even though it's my own opinion I think I'm right, haha.

OK, so the book. Its called The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction by Christine Haynes. After reading the author bio I thought "Ok, this person knows what they're doing" as they've been a lifelong seamstress from a family of seamstresses and went to school for seamstressing. Plus? As you probably guessed, there are a lot of photos. Not those dinky little line drawings that aren't helpful, but actual photographs showing the essential parts of the technique.

The book has a nice, thorough introductory section regarding notions and tools and the usual beginning of any sewing book info. But this one has a section I've never seen before in a sewing book and might be helpful to those whom are intimidated by a machine manual--a section on machine parts.

The book then goes on to explain patterns, measuring your body, choosing fabrics, how to cut different fabrics properly, and how to mark all those notches. The language is simple, but at the same time comprehensive and helpful. The beginning of each section also has a part called 'anatomy of a garment'--

I thought these were fun little bits interspersed throughout--you get to see what's being written about and how it looks on an actual garment, with a numbered section explaining what's what.

The next section is on construction basics--zippers, buttons, hand sewing stitches, finishing and grading seams, and so on.

There is also quite an extensive section on darts, gathering, and all manner of shaping techniques and sleeve insertion tips. And it of course finishes up with pockets and various hems.

I would have loved to have had this book a couple years ago for two reasons--fly front zippers and in-seam pockets. Some of you may remember this skirt I helped my sister make.

It was quite simple. Except for two parts--the fly front zipper and the in-seam pockets. I have a stack this high (you can't see but I'm holding my hand up from the floor pretty high) of sewing books, each covering what seems like everything but these two techniques (even recently published books!). I googled and read and googled some more, until I found instructions that were easy enough to follow. It made what should have been a very simple skirt not so simple, and quite frustrating. This book holds exactly what I needed to know among a ton of other useful information.

So. While this book is not a project book but a technique book, it's definitely a good one to have on your shelf. While I like sewing from patterns, I sometimes find the instructions terribly lacking or confusing due to the aforementioned dinky sketches. This is like having someone sitting there showing you just what to do, which seems to be the yardstick against which such things are measured, amiright?

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.


  1. I got this book from the library and glanced thru once. Based on just the glancing thru' I think it's quite good - lots of photos. I didn't look at the in-seam pocket in detail but I will when I get the book again. I already know how to sew in-seam pocket but it's based on what I learnt from my teacher 30 years ago when I was learning fashion construction. I wonder if there's more than one way to make a in-seam pocket. The fly front zipper, I've never attempted. I don't own many sewing books but if I were to get one, I would get one written by an actual sewer, the older the better. Well, I mean the more sewing experience the better. I learnt sewing the old school way, with a teacher in a classroom who had a lot of experience. And I was so in awe of her knowledge. So I'm kinda looking for my old teacher in a book.

  2. A good sewing reference book is useful for any sewer! My mom had one, but unfortunately I don't. I just tend to save tutorials as I come across them and hope I saved the ones I'll need later on. =)

  3. Looks like a book every sewer should have! Awesome sauce!
    xo Kris



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