Book review: Home Sewn by the New Zealand Fashion Museum

There’s been a proliferation of sewing and making books on the market over the last few years as everyone from UK shabby chic icon Cath Kidston to local (well, Australian) makers and bloggers Kelly Doust and Pip Lincolne put out their guides to making and living.

While many of the making books are beautiful and creative and great – they’re also often targeted at beginner sewers. I don’t really need to know how to hem a handkerchief or how to patch a hole in a cardigan with a piece of floral fabric and appliqué.

When Home Sewn crossed my desk I was dubious… and pleased to be presented with a smart, contemporary sewing book for intermediate to advanced sewers.
I taught myself to sew at Art School by unpicking ugly op-shop clothes with great fabrics and resewing them into more contemporary styles. I understand how clothes are made, which is a skill that readers of Home Sewn will need.

The book has patterns from 10 leading New Zealand designers that cover a range of top, pant, skirt and dress options. While the patterns are provided you’ll need to trace them over to your own pattern paper/ size them to your shape (most seem designed for sizes 10-12) and then cut them out yourself.

The instructions also assume a level of sewing knowledge – there’s no step-by-step here but more a list of what to do. I really liked this approach and intermediate/advanced sewers won’t struggle as they’re given a guide to how to construct their garments while also having the option of going off course and adding their own customisation.

Many of the clothes in the book are also drapey, which is endlessly forgiving when you’re resizing and adding your own look.

While the instructions are short and to the point for each piece, the supporting documentation in Home Sewn is detailed and will fill in a few gaps for sewers who haven’t yet encountered (or don’t know the ‘proper’ way to do a French seam, sew a hem, put in an invisible zipper and make and sew bias binding.

With the addition of a guide to taking measurements, instructions on fabric preparation, information on pattern drafting and a history of home sewing in New Zealand fashion, this is a well-rounded, contemporary, interesting and useful project book for intermediate sewers.

It also comes in a handy plastic sleeve meaning you can easily keep the patterns and book neat – and not strewn around your studio like all your other patterns.

Highly recommended for sewers looking to make their own, contemporary designer clothing* or intermediate sewers looking for a challenge. A great Christmas present too for pattern-based sewers looking to develop their creativity.

*An important note – the patterns in this book are not for commercial use, which means you can make them at home but if you’re looking to sell your clothes then you need to make your own original patterns.

Home Sewn
by the New Zealand Fashion Museum
Published by Penguin
ISBN 9780143568322

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