Oh, this wonderful book! I have been teaching garment sewing classes at Fancy Tiger Crafts for a long time...going on 14 years, and this is the book I’ve been waiting for. There were so many times I wished there was a friendly book out there that took basic pattern shapes and showed you how to tweak them to make new silhouettes. (Honestly, that’s all pattern pieces are anyway.) It seemed like all the books were too textbook-like and felt intimidating. Like, unless you were trained in pattern drafting, there is no way you will be able to handle this. Then along came Sonya Philip’s book, The Act of Sewing, and I can’t say enough good things!
As soon as I cracked this book, I found myself saying, “this wording is just right”, “this book is so comprehensive”, “what beautiful illustrations and easy to follow instructions''. Instead of feeling intimidated, I felt a sense of calm. I’m a sucker for a pretty book and this one ticks all the boxes. The thing about Sonya’s patterns and instructions that speaks to me is the simplicity of the shapes and the breezy way she puts garments together. I tend to go rogue when sewing, because I usually have an image in my mind of what I want to make. This book lets me do that and guides me along the way. In addition, I don’t like it when the design competes with the fabric. I feel like they both get lost if they are fighting for attention. Her silhouettes are a perfect vehicle to showcase beautiful fabric. Like a friend of mine says, when she sees beautiful fabric, “I just need this on my body!”
I very rarely read a book like this cover to cover, and you really don’t have to. However, I highly recommend reading page 3, “Learning How to Learn,” and page 11, “Tension Issues."
“Learning How to Learn” puts you in the right frame of mind to take on a new challenge, reminding you to be gentle with yourself, humor is a good tool, everything is a big experiment, first pancake, etc. This process needs to be fun!
Especially if you are new to sewing and not great friends with your sewing machine, “Tension Issues” will help you troubleshoot those pesky machine issues. So many times, I have heard the sad story where someone has a fight with their machine, puts it in a closet and doesn’t look at it again for 3 years. This beautiful page will help you figure out the issue and find out, more often than not, it’s easily fixed! Hurray!
And if you haven’t done so already, please check out “Double Patch Pocket” on page 145. The construction will blow your mind!
I really appreciate Philip's insight into teaching. As she says in the introduction:
Each person has their own unique point of view, and they often come up with methods of doing things that I had previously never considered. It becomes a collaboration of sewing and showing. I am continuously learning right alongside the people I teach. (Sonya Philip, 2021)
Truth! So, please go forth, sit down with this beautiful book, find a silhouette you like and try it out, knowing you will certainly learn along the way and hopefully share your wonderful findings with the rest of us. And as you proceed, your wardrobe will grow in the most beautiful way that is a reflection of you. And really, isn’t that the best part of making your own garments?