I’ve finally done what I set out to do when I enrolled in Wardrobe Refashion; I’ve made a pair of pants using the pattern in Wendy Mullin’s book Sew U.
This project had it’s trials, and some spur of the moment fitting solutions – such as narrowing the legs by restitching the side seams, and ripping out the topstitching in the rear in order to counteract some unattractive pooching – but I’m delighted with the finished, imperfect pants, with their slight jodhpur look. A friend said, “They look store-bought” and made my day.
I approach sewing in much the same way as I do cooking, with the attitude that every recipe is a sequence of simple tasks, and can’t possibly be too difficult. This may be inherited from my mother who can tailor a suit without blinking and shrugs off her skills as unimpressive, since despite my ambitious attitude I have never made more than the simplest of sewn garments.
For the most part I found Sew U to be a good guide. The book has a practical spiral binding, and the design is hip, with simple, informative illustrations. Wendy Mullin’s writing style is friendly and encouraging. She generously shares stories of her past sewing flops so that readers can avoid making the same mistakes. There are excellent descriptions of the steps involved in prepping and sewing a garment, and suggestions for how to personalize the three patterns included (for skirt, shirt and pants.)
However there were some real problems when it came to following the directions for sewing the pants. Several important steps are missing from the instructions, and I had to guess what the correct approach might be. Also I had to flip back and forth to earlier sections of the book, tracking down information on which areas to stay stitch, or figuring out the seam allowance, which is not printed on the pattern as promised.
I felt confused when prep that was heavily emphasized at the beginning of the book was skipped entirely in the directions. I had to guess whether this pattern was the exception, or whether the book assumed that I knew to do this. I resorted to writing in the steps as I figured them out, and sticking post-its on all relevant pages. Not ideal, but a working solution.
It’s possible that if I were a less experienced sewer, or a trifle less stubborn, I might have given up the project when figuring out the missing links became a challenge. That said, without this book I would not have had the courage to make any pants, and I am now a pant-sewing fiend.
I have the bug, and at the risk of turning into Celie from the Color Purple, I can’t wait to start my next pair. The only delay is which pair (dancing in my head) to make first. So, while Sew U may not be the best absolute beginner sewing book, it’s extremely encouraging, and contains enough general sewing advice to make it a worthwhile addition to any non-expert library.