Sewing Books: My first love

Greetings from the other side! I know we all love a good sewing book. Our collective sighs over the latest GBSB book, Fashion With Fabric, bear witness to that! I am also massively excited about the English language release of the Japanese sewing book She Wears The Pants (just a shame that the price on UK Amazon is waaay higher than  I photographed my crafty bookshelf on a recent blog post. I’m sure there were some there that you might also have. I can spend hours poring over the pictures, dreaming about future projects. And occasionally make one!

So when I found this vintage Learnabout Sewing Ladybird book on eBay, I just had to have it. Just looking at the cover gave me a warm, cozy feeling. I remember reading it avidly as a child, dreaming about the cross stitch dressing table set on Binca canvas. I eventually made a bookmark that looked just like this at school. Didn’t we all?

Ladybird Learnabout Sewing

This edition was published in 1972 all for the princely sum of 24p. The book starts with a lovely introduction:

“There are many kinds of needlework and much of it is done solely for pleasure. You will enjoy learning how to sew, and making the things in this book…… You will be more pleased with the result if you have kept your needlework clean and tidy. Always work with clean hands. If they are not clean – wash them!”

Ladybird Learnabout Sewing

What is it about the Ladybird style that is so comforting yet instructive? It’s like settling down for an afternoon of crafting with your Mum or Grandma.

There’s the obligatory illustration of the notions and tools required. I’m sure every single sewing book I possess has a similar artful spread of sewing tools.

Ladybird Learnabout Sewing

Some of the most ‘stylish’ projects in the book are the doll’s bonnet and hairband. There’s some useful tutorials too: how to sew on a button and how to turn a hem.

Ladybird Learnabout Sewing

How I wish I could turn back the clock to the early 1980s to have a Ladybird-fuelled crafternoon with my Mum!

Ladybird Learnabout Sewing


Sewing for Small People

When it comes to sewing for kids, I’m torn. The home sewist in me loves the idea of cute and quirky unique clothes lovingly made by hand. But my practical side wonders whether it’s ever really worth the effort. Perhaps I’m guilty of a nostalgia for my own distant childhood of homemade clothes. I mean, what’s not to like about pink knitted balaclavas with pom-poms on?! Let us not even mention the brown crimplene flares with white crosses on that worked like bully-magnets. My sister and I won’t have been the only ones to have spent their childhoods in highly flammable apparel.  I guess what I’m saying is that there seems to be a perennial mismatch between mum-made childhood clothes and the gratitude of the recipients. Should I really expect my fickle small people to appreciate the work that goes into the clothes they request on a whim?

GBSB Shirred Dress

So, I’m still waiting for my youngest small person to decide whether she wants to try on her new GBSB Shirred Elastic Dress from the Fashion With Fabric book. It’s hard to gauge her impressions as yet, but I am rather pleased with this little number. It was my first attempt at shirring, and it was far easier than I ever thought. The whole project was an evening’s work.  I used elephant/mammoth print cotton lawn bought on Goldhawk Road, which I’ve seen on a few other blogs. See Amy of Almond Rock’s blog for a more grown-up take on the fabric, and a discussion on whether it’s an elephant or a mammoth!

GBSB Shirred Dress

More success has been had with these fantastic reversible sun hats. In fact it was hard to get my hands on them for the photo! The pattern is from the Oliver & S book, Little Things To Sew, and was really simple to follow.The topstitching around the crown and on the brim give this hat a really high quality finish. I made both hats up in left-over quilting cotton: Amy Butler’s Tumble Rose pattern, and the hyacinth one is an old Kaffe Fassett. The sizing comes up a little small, so perhaps they won’t last as many years as I’d hoped.

I found the pattern online for free:

Pattern and instructions:

So, are your homemade gifts received with compliment or complaint? And will they one day grow to appreciate them, or should I just give up now and go back to selfish sewing?