Friday, 5 April 2013

Book Review Friday- "The Sewing Book" by Alison Smith *Lots of pics*

Just giving you another review of one of the books that I have bought recently. This time it is the Alison Smith book "The Sewing Book" or maybe a more accurate description would be "THE Sewing Book". Yes, THE. This book is good, very very good. I have it on my bedside table when I am trying to figure out a plan of action with a project. Alison Smith herself is experienced to an enviable level of expertise. She knows the lot and this is shown in how she writes, from the basics to the couture. The easy way and the fabulous way. The new school and the old school. Its all in here... and I like it.

When I was first given my sewing machine, I quickly went on and bought this book (I need books, books and more books when I start a new hobby) and, as previously reviewed, "The Dressmaker's Bible". Never before has the Bundana hit jackpot on two purchases at the same time. Where the 'Bible' loses brownie points in my view for being lacking in important details, this is spot-on. Broken up into 3 chapters of 'tools', 'techniques' and 'patterns', you'd be hard pushed to find something sewing that isn't covered in this book.


This is again the usual explanation of all things haberdashery and the equipment that you are more than likely to find yourself buying once you are hooked on sewing. What is quite superb is the fabric section, every single fabric (I reckon) is here, pictured and explained with its properties, weaves and general uses. Excellent and seeing as it is only 10 pages of information, it's already worth its money spent on the book by this excellent section. My eyes were suddenly opened with the amount of fabric available out there! WOW! I take my hat off to the author for this, it is excellently written and left me with no hanging questions after reading it (no-one is going to remember them all, but it was a good idea to familiarise myself with them all). THEN... jackpot again, a thorough and EXCELLENT section of patterns- what they are, why they mightn't fit and a concise and explanatory section of how to increase or decrease the pattern of pretty much any piece of clothing.


Thorough, precise and fab. This chapter was very helpful when I was inserting my first invisible zipper. That is a yardstick that I have been using with these books! The tone of this book is very clear. I often find with 'how to' books that they start with some very simple tricks, explanations and goals... then BAM, into really technical and almost incomprehensible instructions. This book does not do that. You are taken by the hand and talked through the whole process. I truly believe that nothing in Sewville is impossible. It just takes courage, madness and passion to get anything done. There is no exclusivity in sewing, you are all welcome... just give it time and patience. I could talk about everything that instructions are given for in this chapter... but basically, its everything. Darts, tucks, pleats, gathers, facings, collars, sleeves, waistlines, belts, pockets, linings, interfacings, mending, couture techniques. I am able to read and understand EVERYTHING in this section (I would like to add that I cannot DO everything, no no NO... just understand) and as it comes up in my dressmaking development, I will turn to this book time and time again. 


I think that this book has a strange direction in the projects. When you start reading this book, you find it 80% based towards dressmaking in its techniques, tips and chapters. THEN, the projects have very simple and basic dressmaking projects. It is rather an anticlimax if you are a purist dressmaker.

When I originally reviewed this book, I gave the other non-dressmaking projects a slating. They are not as bad as I niavely stated. They were just not dressmaking! As I have now diversified I have noticed that they have too! You can have step-by-step instructions for the whole of your family and home. With the benefit of KNOWING that if you follow the very clear instructions that Alison Smith gives you will produce something that will be very good quality. They are safe and satisfying projects!

      1.  Drawstring Bag (For a flower girl or hamper addition?)

2.     Book Cover (for a diary or precious notebook?)

3.     Cushion

4.     Childs Skirt

5.     Apron

6.     Sewing Aids

7.     Hessian Bag

8.     Baby Towel

9.     Door Hanging

10.  Roman Blind

11.  Man’s Tie

12.  Place Mat

13.  Kimono

14.  Baby Blanket

15.  Bolster Pillow

16.  Jewellery Roll

17.  Polar Fleece Hat and Scarf

18.  CafĂ© Curtain


No, that is not my conclusion... well, it is basically. I doubt there is a seamstress out there who would not benefit from this book. I use it with every pattern that I get, I plan and research what method I will use and swot-up like a good one. This book and maybe a few more points of contact is pretty much all you need. I am green as grass with sewing, this is only my opinion but I truly believe that it has come on leaps and bounds with this book.

Good Points:
  • Clear, concise and I'd say exhaustive of the techniques of sewing your own clothes
  • Clear pictures and diagrams are very informative
  • Able to pass any Bundana test of ''I bet it hasn't got this in it.... oh, it has''
Bad Points:
  • Pretty avaerage project section
  • Very large book, not as sewer-friendly as the 'Dressmaker's Bible'

I bought mine from : Amazon UK
*Tip* This book fluctuates in price massively on Amazon. I have kept my eye on it, best price seen £11.50... currently £16.50, so be careful! Use that £5 on a metre of gorgeous fabric! 




  1. I have this book too it's fab! it's a fairly recent addition to my sewing books, I also own the readers digest complete guide to sewing which is very similar, but out of the two I prefer the sewing book, it's more modernly done! I bought mine from the works bookshop for around £9.99 (it's still available on line and in most of the shops I believe) so it's worth looking to get the best price.

  2. I bought this a couple of years ago when it was on offer and I agree it is excellent. I have consulted it numerous times and always found an answer...

  3. I was interested in your review. I bought the book nearly 2 years ago and so was fairly inexperienced. As my expectations when I bought it were high (ie would answer all my technique woes) I was disappointed. I didn't think the descriptions were detailed enough in places (I was trying to do something complicated at the time though like a welt pocket). I have since bought many other books, which I prefer. However maybe I'm being unfair and I should now revisit the book - I will be less fazed as a more experienced sewer!

  4. Hi Katy,

    I think maybe the tone of the book can be love or hate. I love the clinical voice you get from it. I have never been let down by it and it's always the first book I go to whenever I have a query as I know it will show me the RIGHT way... not sometimes the easiest. So, as a utter novice... you may find an easier way to do things, but may not suit all projects all of the time.

    Take care and thanks for your comment


  5. Me too! I am always impressed with it's explanations and layout... a double-page=spread per technique. Lovely stuff!

    Take care and thanks for your comment


  6. Great! Shame The Works sells out so quickly! I bought mine from Amazon and was using it the next day. I just couldn't wait to get my hands on it and still use it daily now!

    Take care and thanks for your comment


  7. You gave this book a very detailed review. Thanks for taking the time to do so! I know it can be time consuming doing reviews (I've been meaning to do a few on my blog-just haven't gotten around to it. :-). A few of the projects I saw may not be useful (in a practical sense), however, my objective is to gain more sewing experience. I can always give an item away as a gift, etc.

    Thanks so much! -JC

  8. Dang, they teach you how to do just about everything in that book!! I love the Hessian bag. So cute.

  9. I need more books like this!


  10. Woah! That book looks awesome! Just came across your blog recently and love it!

    I have nominated you for the Liebster Awards!

    Check out my blog for more details :)

    -Aimee Owl :) xx

  11. I do too, I like the kimono... very easy and I quite fancy floating around my house like a Chinese lady of leisure!

    Bundana x

  12. No problems, I enjoy the process of interrogating a book... you actually get to the knuckles of the book. I have changed my mind over the last year about it. My opinion has risen!


  13. I will do Aimee, thanks for stopping by and for the award :D

    Bundana x


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