Posts Tagged ‘Alison Smith’

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In today’s post I will be reviewing the following book; Dressmaking by Alison Smith

Dressmaking by Alison Smith

Dressmaking by Alison Smith

  • Title: Dressmaking The Complete step by step
  • Author:Alison Smith
  • Publisher: DK
  • ISBN: 978-1-4093-8463-2

My Reason for Buying

Having enjoyed Alison’s Sewing Book, I wanted to learn more about dressmaking and had heard there were also patterns in the back of this book. I was delighted when DH gave me this for Christmas and want to share with you how I got on with the book.

I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose😉


  • Tools and Materials
  • Fabrics
  • Patterns and Cutting out
  • General Techniques
  • Garments; The Skirts, The Dresses, The Trousers, The Tops, The Jackets
  • Mending and repairs
  • Customising
  • Patterns
  • Glossary



  • I went for the full size version of the book and it gives nice size print in this format.
  • Clear, easy to navigate layout
  • If you have no prior knowledge of dressmaking/sewing the helpful picture of the items alongside their descriptions help you identify the array of tools and materials available
  • Hard backed book makes it easier to use as with a little added weight to hold pages down, its easy to have the book open next to you as you work
  • The fabric section is brilliant, it lists a range of materials the pros and cons of each them,  gives you tips for cutting out, what type of seams work best, what thread to sew the fabric with. Needle size for your machine, pressing advice and common garments its used on. Ideal if you are looking to use a fabric for the first time and want to know if it would be suitable for the project you have in mind.
  • The pattern reading section helps you understand the information printed on the backs of patterns, all those symbols on the patterns themselves and how to measure your body to choose the correct size garment to create. Read this BEFORE you buy your commercial patterns as pattern sizes are different to shop bought clothes.
  • There is a superb selection of classic garments for you to make at the back of the book, once you have made these you could customise the pattern to your own taste so there is plenty of scope for a whole wardrobe.
  • I like the fact that the book walks you through what to do with each garment in step by step form, if a technique has been explained elsewhere in the book, it tells you which page to find that technique.


  • Just a niggle but Making a toile section which tells you what to do if your test garment (tiole) is too big or too small, would have been better placed before the pattern alterations, instead of after them. I skimmed through the alterations thinking – ‘That’s great but how would you know what alteration you needed?’ Only to find the information on the toile page at the end of the section?!
  • One thing to bear in mind is that to create the garments in the book you need to print or draw your own patterns from the instructions. Included in the book, there is a picture for each pattern that you can photocopy and enlarge, this has a grid is printed behind the pieces and you are told the dimensions to scale to, so you can re-draw your pattern from that or if you have internet access you can download a PDF of the patterns to print out a page at a time and then stick them together ‘jigsaw style’. So there is what you call ‘Pattern development’ needed. No full size pre printed patterns are included in the book itself. The patterns in the book aren’t to size, you will need gridded paper or need to print LOTS of pages from a PDF.

Value for Money

Excellent, this is a great sewing companion and if you are venturing into garment making for the first time, this and Alison’s other book The Sewing Book are great companions. A lot of valuable information in an easy to find format.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, highly recommended for anyone starting to make their own clothes.

Summing up

Since I already had Alison’s ‘The Sewing Book’, I had wondered if this book would be a waste, with too much duplication of information but it’s not and they work well together. Alison’s ‘The Sewing Book’ is a great reference book if you have a pattern in front of you and you know what technique you need to use and just want to be told how to do it but it doesn’t tell you what order to do things for constructing a complete garment, that is where this Dressmaking book comes into its own.

Even if the thought of the extra work needed to create the patterns from the book overwhelms you, still buy this book as the information about how to construct garments and what order to do things is invaluable. It is a great book when you are new and need some hand holding while you get through the early stages of dressmaking for the first time. A very valuable companion to new dressmakers, I highly recommend this title.


Dressmaking on Amazon Watch out for the book size though it varies on Amazon and on high street. My copy is 28.5 x 23.5 cm

The Sewing Book, here is my review of Alison’s; The Sewing Book which I mentioned in this review.

Alison Smith has her own sewing school and also writes for the Sew magazine

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon


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Welcome Back

So here we are in a brand new year, what will be the creative challenge for 2014? Well as well as getting back to more art when my hands allow my new passion is for dressmaking. I tried last year but didn’t have the skills, so this year I have started again but with books and DVDs to help me learn how to create the clothes I’d like to wear and fingers crossed that will fit me. Now while it’s still dark n gloomy in the middle of the UK winter, what better time than to hunker down with some books and DVD and get learning. So here is my collection for this months stash dive;

Stash Dive: January 2014

Stash Dive: January 2014

I heard about the Threads DVDs thanks to a sewing forum that I’m a member of. Threads has a website and you can preview some episodes from the DVDs and purchase them for download if your internet is kind. I bought season one on Amazon and after finding out it would play on my TV/DVD set up got very excited and DH gave me season 2 and three for Christmas. The Dressmaking book is from him too, isn’t he wonderful.

Fear not, this is still a papercraft/art based blog and hands permitting there will be more of that this year but winter isn’t kind to my dexterity so actually ‘doing’ stuff has to wait for the better weather. So while I’m waiting I’ll be doing lots of research on all kinds of stuff, so I can share it with you in the form of reviews and hopefully more tutorials this year too.

How about you, what do you do with long dark winters? Do you create in the gloom or research to improve your skills and look for inspiration for when the light improves?

Lets hope 2014 will be better than the last four years.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon


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