Recently I have requested from the library a number of knitting reference books and over the next few weeks I hope to share my reviews of them with you. However, whilst in the library this week I noticed May Martin’s new book on the shelf and, obviously, swept it up in anticipation of an evening of delight spent increasing my sewing knowledge.
I think my enthusiasm may have been premature.
Calling your book a “Sewing Bible” does somewhat set the expectations of the reader that this is going to be a reference tool of some depth and breadth. Sadly this book falls short. It runs to 320 pages, yet only 100 of them are allocated to sewing techniques and information. This results in each topic only being covered in summary fashion.
An example of this would be the section on “altering a pattern” which is covered in less than 1 page. The same amount of space is given to discussing tailor’s dummies.
Hardly “Sewing Bible” status.
The illustrations are also disappointing. The book has many artful photographs sprinkled about the place, but illustrations are sparser and, I found, not always accurate. Surely when stay-stitching a neckline you sew from the shoulder to the centre of the neckline on each side?
Not according to May.
As for the “vintage” snippets of “sewing wisdom”…I’m frankly perplexed as to their function!
So far, so not so good.
Surely the projects section, which is divided up into several topical sub-sections, and which occupies the bulk of the book, would be more inspiring?
First up…Crafts. Table runner. Napkins. Bunting. Christmas stocking. Hasn’t every beginner’s sewing book for the last 5 years included a version of these. It’s so unoriginal. Even the slightly more imaginative projects such as the puppet theatre have been done many times before…as any 5 minute search on Pinterest will show you.
The home furnishings section is so dull it should be prescribed as a solution for insomnia. Cushion covers, a roman blind, bag lined curtains. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
And don’t get me started about the pleating on that curtain. It’s just awful…not enough fabric has been used so the curtain is lacking in fullness.
And if that didn’t work, you could always use the accessories section.
But wait, what’s this? Adult and children’s fashion sections! Surely they will save the day?
Oh look…a cute shift dress. (I’m ignoring the drag lines at this point…!)
Where’s the pattern pages? What size does it go up to?
You mean I have to go out and BUY THE PATTERN?
On top of the cost of the book?
And don’t sewing patterns ALREADY HAVE AN INSTRUCTION SHEET??
As Button is wont to say….What. The. What?
I’m sorry…I just don’t think that’s good enough.
I know this post isn’t the usual upbeat review that I like to post, but this book clearly sets its stall out to be a “Sewing Bible” yet it’s very obviously a long way away from being such a thing.
If you were a beginner sewist looking for a good sewing book to set you off on your newly discovered hobby, the title and the back cover, where May’s, not unimpressive, credentials are clearly set out, would probably be enough to persuade you to purchase this book. You’d not, of course, have enough experience to see the not inconsiderable gaps in the content. And, all mocking aside, this is my biggest gripe with this book and one which actually makes me quite cross.
At RRP £25.00 this isn’t a cheap buy. I personally think that even the Amazon discounted price of £12.50 is a bit much for a book which is, in my opinion, not much more than a triumph of style and marketing over substance. It feels very much like it’s been pulled together to take full advantage of the current upsurge in people learning to sew, and to ride on the coattails of the Sewing Bee. I’d have no qualms about this if I thought the content was fresh and inspiring and actually added something to the subject. But I don’t feel that it does. Add in the presumptuous title of “Sewing Bible” (there’s the sarcastic inverted commas again), and I find the whole project to be more than a little disingenuous. Which is a real shame.
Needless to say this is one tome that won’t be making it’s way into my sewing library. Neither would I recommend it. It’s not a patch on the good old Reader’s Digest sewing book that many of us learned to sew with, nor Tasia’s Sewtionary which has been much feted in the blogosphere over recent weeks, with very good reason.
Save your pennies, dear reader, by not buying this book. I’d suggest that there are better ways to spend them.