Writing a book about sewing is another part of the ongoing conversations sewists have about their craft. Writing my first book SEW . . .The Garment Making Book of Knowledge started a whole new series of interesting conversations for me. Those conversations had a theme. So many of my fellow sewists told me how hard they were trying to sew well but that frequently, despite their best efforts and following the instructions to the letter, things weren't always turning out the way they wanted. They didn't know why. Worst of all as a result, many of these sincere and highly motivated makers told me they were finding sewing stressful.
This sort of broke my heart.
In my own life sewing has been a comfort, a refuge, and a way to reconnect with myself and what really sustains me, whatever life's challenges. That not every sewist had access to the same life resource upset me. I decided to see what I could do about that.
The result was Stress-Free Sewing Solutions: A no-fail guide to garments for the modern sewist. In it, and advocating for real sewists everywhere, I use the term FAIL - followed all instructions let-down - to describe the experience of sewing under too much stress. I start each chapter with a FAIL, a shirt collar with bumps where the collar band meets the placket, a knit neckline that gapes, a hem that waves, a cuff with a clunky continuous lap opening, as just a few examples, to help the reader find the help they are looking for. After we talk about the FAIL, I provide an immediate fix when one is possible, the reason why the FAIL occurred, and finally a relaxing, stress-free way of sewing this detail next time with a much easier method for beautiful, no FAIL, results.
This was a crazy book to write.
I wrote this book on stress-free sewing, probably ironically, during Covid lockdown in Nova Scotia Canada. I essentially working from fabric I had in my house, occasionally even cutting up existing garments for supplies. It is fair to say I became completely, completely obsessed with sharing easier than usual methods for common sewing challenges. I was driven to make things simpler for my fellow sewists when I could. Some of these techniques I had collected over the years and some I invented myself. I know some of the solutions in the book may seem unconventional, but they work.
Since I wrote this book cut off from the usual publishing resources, my husband did the how-to photos and drawings, and a friend photographed family and friends in the clothes. We even built a sort of photographic light box out of dog fencing and bristol board near the natural light of my living room window. The cover shot was taken in a local fabric store that opened just one morning so we could take the picture. We improvised and problem-solved to get this book written and we were helped by our community- process accurately reflects my own attitude to sewing, which is fitting.
A book that began as a mission turned into a labour of love. I hope that readers will find something in Stress-free sewing solutions that adds more joy to their sewing life. If that happens then I know I will have been able to give back to sewing and the sewing community some part of what they have given me.