afternoon delight

Are you ever going to post a finished garment? Meh.  Probably not.  I’m just going to let them stack up like firewood.  Moving on!

This one is going to be quickie, on the subject of sewing books that are not targeted specifically to beginners.  I checked Susan Khalje’s Linen and Cotton out of the library, and have been really pleasantly surprised.  I’ve been reading sewing books and blogs for about six years now, and I’ve actually encountered new-to-me stuff in this book.  I might write something resembling a full review later, after I’ve cross-referenced other books in my sewing library.  Oh, and maybe after I’ve actually finished the book, and tried a few tips from it?  Keeping it professional, per usual.

Linen and Cotton Cover

It seems like it takes information I already know, and moves it a step further.  For instance, I learned to sew three rows of basting stitches for gathers from The Colette Sewing Handbook, but it never occurred to me to press them before attaching skirt to bodice, until I read it in Linen and Cotton.  (I patiently wait for C&D letters from the Khalje and Mitnick legal teams.)  (Am I the only one who is super paranoid/particular about sharing copyrighted information?  I guess a tip is like ingredients in a recipe, and is uncopyrightable, but I still feel the need to send both authors and publishers a check for a nickel or something, in exchange for my disclosure.)  Also, I’d never heard about sewing from wide to narrow until I’d read about it in this text.    Naturally, I popped over to the Gorgeous Fabrics website, and it appears that the ever-intrepid Ann has a video up about it.  Still!

Maybe I skipped over these bits in my other sewing books (hence, the cross-referencing before I write a full review), but I find this text nothing short of illuminating.  I went looking for other books in the Focus on Fabrics series, and only came up with the Connie Long book on knits that Nancy K had recommended.  Nothing else.  What gives, Taunton?  I, for one, would love a Khalje-written book on silk or lace, or a Kenneth King-written book on leather or novelty material (the man has made a jacket out of hair weaves, for crying out loud).

I also checked out Edith Head’s How to Dress for Success and Claire McCardell’s What Shall I Wear?, both of which will get the full Seam Ripped treatment the instant I get the chance.  (Which is to say, a half-assed-yet-two-thousand-word post that is a pale imitation of a real review.  Get excited, people.)  Look at the endpapers in the McCardell text, though:

McCardell What Shall I Wear? Endpapers

Oh, the 1950s.  Oh, evidence of how conservative some libraries are about rebinding books.  (At my school, we rebind just about everything.  This fella is on consortium loan from Marymount or Howard, I think.  At any rate, it’s a school that has its priorities in order.  Pretty endpapers must be preserved for posterity!  Put that on a bumper sticker, why don’t you?)


13 thoughts on “afternoon delight”

    1. That minxy Susan Khalje just swans about ruining lives, casting worlds ablur, with nary a thought.

      I will take this bullet, Jenny. I will do a comparative press test on the two Emerys I have coming down the pipeline.

      1. Yes! Shed some light on this! Whatever you do can’t possibly turn out worse than the horrifying gathers I just did on a full skirt- HOW do you sew gathers without smashing them into ugly little tucks?!?!

      2. I think we all know that I am in no way prone to exaggeration. With that said, THE UGLY TUCK IS MY LIFE’S GREAT ISSUE. I sew a shit-ton (technical term) of full skirts, pleated and gathered, and even when I use my walking foot, and am super careful about getting everything sandwiched between the feed dogs just so, something gets eaten up into the seam or the nature of the gathers/pleats seem to change. I think the sage Susan Khalje will be of great help, here. Will report back.

  1. Did you see how much this book goes for on Amazon? There are a few close to 1000 pounds! I have to check my local library.

    1. I’m not hokey enough to say “The library is a sewer’s best friend!” But, er, the library is a sewer’s best friend! I refuse to buy a sewing book, any sewing book, without checking it out of the library first. You’d be surprised how many books (with patterns!) they have. Plus, if you make friends with the librarians, you’ll be able to get your mitts on some first editions, like I did. So, yes, get thee to your local library!

  2. In Spain there are no sewing books in the library, believe me, I’ve checked… And pressing gathers? That sounds dangerous… Please do the test, be fearless! Another revelation was the wide-to-narrow. Susan Khalje’s wisdom knows no limits. I love her… I honestly do.
    I also checked out the Gorgeous Fabrics Sewing University. I particularly loved the video on burning fabrics… A little bit of a mischievous grin going on there…

    1. See, I’m trying to feel sorry for you, Wendy, but then I think about how you can buy Patrones from a newsstand and the sympathy just evaporates. I’m kidding. Mostly. (I love Patrones.) No sewing books, really?

      In Washington, the regular DC public library has something like a dozen sewing books, but we can borrow from neighboring libraries. I’ll admit, most of my loot down here comes from the universities’ library systems and going to the Library of Congress. When I lived in New York, it was a completely different ballgame. Sewing books as far as the eye can see. (Or that’s how I remember it. Drape, Drape with fully intact patterns, for instance.)

      In my head, Susan Khalje is my very best sewing friend, and we go on sassy, fashion crime-solving missions together. Or, that’s how I envision her relationship with Claire Shaeffer. Then they go to headquarters in some sort of underground lair, where they make even the craziest sewing projects successful. I spend too much time thinking about this.

      You brave soul, with your contemplation of burn tests. Let us know how it goes.

  3. I will add that I learned about sewing wide to narrow AFTER doing the opposite and having a warped, puckered mess on my hands (also, taffeta is the devil).

    1. Are you referring to one Miss Taffeta Chloe? Embarrassing story time! Before the MSN, I’d read your blog and had always intended to add it to my reader, but then something would happen between intention and reality (as it does to 60% of all blogs I like, ever). That dress was so adorable, and your attitude about it so refreshing, that it officially, unequivocally put me on team Sonja/Ginger. Naturally, it took me a further three months to actually add you to my reader. Whatever.

      1. Yep, that’s the one! I tried to fix it, but all my aggressive ironing just stretched it out of shape. Oof! I need to make that dress again… in a more manageable fabric!

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