Posts Tagged ‘Book review on sewing’

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In today’s post I will be reviewing; Sew What! Skirts

Sew What! Skirts

Sew What! Skirts

  • Title: Sew What! Skirts
  • Author: Francesca Denhartog & Corole Ann Camp
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-58017-625-5

My Reason for Buying

I bought this book because being short skirts from shops are often far too long on me. When I first got my machine I wanted to create styles that I liked from MY choice of fabric as when I went shopping it was either I liked a style or a fabric but rarely found just what I was after and had such trouble getting things to fit that I though making my own might solve these problems. 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 😉


  • Chapter 1; How to use this book
  • Chapter 2; Basic skills
  • Chapter 3; Which Waistline
  • Chapter 4; The Classic A Line
  • Chapter 5; Wrap It!
  • Chapter 6; Circles and squares
  • Chapter 7; Play It Straight with Flair
  • Chapter 8; Layer it
  • Chapter 9; How Many Tiers



  • Suitable for a total newbie
  • Many options for mixing up the various elements for more options on a set of classic styles
  • Classic timeless styles for all occassions
  • Shows you round basic sewing skills, so if this is your first and only sewing book you could still create the designs in there
  • From very simple to more complex designs so as your skills grow more designs are achievable
  • Wire bound so book lies flat on your table as you work from it, but has spine cover so it doesn’t wreck books either side of it on your shelf
  • You need minimal supplies to create the designs in the book
  • Shows you how to create patterns from your own body measurements, so if you are a little un, big un or a long tall sally you will still create a skirt that will fit you.
  • Much simpler to follow than a purchased pattern
  • Encouraging conversational style of writing. Really inspiring a good confidence booster for new sewers.


  • Just a niggle, the only stumbling block I had with this book was finding large enough paper to draft patterns onto. I have now resolved this and will explain more later in the post.

Value for Money

Excellent! There are 16 styles of skirt in this book, more if you include how many tweaks you could make once you have the idea. The average commercial tissue pattern starts at about £6 so at £12.99 this book is fantastic value for money.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally, this is one of my favorite books.

Summing up

When I bought this book I had recently bought a sewing machine and was keen to make things, anything in fact. I looked at commercial patterns and not only was I totally confused by all the new terms they used but the quality of the tissue used seemed very poor for the price charged. Also just like shop bought clothing, patterns are at fixed sizes, if you are inbetween sizes it means a lot of altering which when you are totally new is very intimidating and put me off.

With this book its such a chatty style you feel very empowered and can’t wait to get sewing. Not constrained by what a commercial designer wants the length or flare of the skirt to be, with this you are the designer, you choose. Like they say in school its a good idea to read at least the first three chapters before you do anything. Its those chapters which explain how you will construct your skirt and lay out options. The skirts in the book build in complexity the later they are in the book but once you have made the first few you get the idea and the more difficult ones suddenly don’t look so hard.

It took me a couple of years to start and actually have a go at making a skirt from this book for one reason only, I struggled to find suitable paper to draw the pattern onto. After joining a sewing forum I discovered the name of such paper and suppliers which I’ll add at the end of the review as being an American book the suppliers listed in the book are all from USA so shipping would be extreme.

Now I’ve found paper to draw on and drafted a pattern on two I’ve had a lot of fun designing styles. I love the flexibility of the ideas shown in the book, if you are a ‘What if?’ kind of person you will love this book, if you are someone who wants to add their own twist to things you will love this book, if you are someone who falls in love with fabric but is boggled by commercial patterns you will love this book.

Sew What Skirts, holds your hand while showing you around fabric, so you know which way up and round you want to lay it to cut out (commercial patterns all expect prior knowledge that we don’t all have!). The book shows you options for different fastenings, you don’t have to do zips if you don’t want to, but they are explained so you have the option.

With this book, some paper and some fabric you design, draft and make your own in a weekend, much quicker if you are more experience sewer. Skirts are easy with this book, so if you can’t find what you like in the high street, have access to some fabric you do like and a sewing machine, grab some BIG paper and get sewing, you’ll be amazed at what you, yes you can achieve. This is a must have book, if you want to try but are too afraid just now.


So now you have read the review you might like to get hold of the book for yourself, its on Amazon and here I’ll also explain where to get the all important paper you need to create your own bespoke patterns.


Ok the one thing that I struggled with, with this book was finding paper large enough to draw a pattern onto. Not wanting a jig saw of sellotaped pieces, after joining a sewing forum I discovered what you need is called ‘Pattern Paper’ DOH I know it sounds obvious but you need something to start an online search with right?!


Blank newsprint.

This is pretty large but UN printed so no risk of getting you or you fabric covered in ink. Available from house moving suppliers and very in expensive for a huge thick pack about A2 ISH in size. You are likely to need to join sheets of this together but it is widely available.

In the actual pattern paper category you find the following

  • Blank Pattern paper, just what the title suggests. Rolls are available in different widths and on large rolls about 150-200 meters long
  • Dot and Cross Pattern Paper: One side is plain, the other has dots and crosses at approximately 1″ intervals. (I went for this but use the plain side as someone said the printing isn’t always that square and I found that to be the case.)
  • Swedish Tissue Paper; This is the posh stuff. you can draw your pattern onto it but also sew through it so if you want to partially construct your skirt on the paper you are drawing it on to to adjust the fit, this is an option. Its quite expensive and after a mention on The Great British Sewing Bee by Tilly its a swine to get hold of.

Suppliers of the above paper. Auction sites I got mine through Ebay, the advantage is if you are deciding between different paper types you can get 5 – 10 m lengths to try at around £10 longer term if you find one you like, take the hit and buy a roll, its expensive at first around £60 but will last YEARS.

To buy from the UK good places to try are

A little off topic to get into this on this thread, but it was the only thing I struggled with, when trying to make skirts from Sew What skirts book.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂


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