I have been sewing a long, long time. More than half my life. But that doesn’t stop me from keeping my eye out for books for beginning sewers, like this book “Never Been Stitched” by Amanda Carestio, with the contributions of others. I have lots of friends who want advice on learning how to sew. And since I can’t send them to my mom’s house to learn on a hand-crank Singer like I did, I like having some basic books and patterns that I can refer them to.
Here is what the publisher says about the book:
Imaginative, inventive, and filled with beautiful things to make, Never Been Stitched is the ultimate collection of no- and low-sew projects. Thanks to fusible webbing, fabric glue, grommets, and other fun materials and techniques, crafters barely need a needle. Forty-five fast and simple items range from a folded market bag to a cute kid’s apron to a plush pillow. A short basics section plus templates help even beginners create quick and stylish garments, home décor, and other accessories.
I flipped through the book and found several projects I’d enjoy. Innovative ideas like a hanging pocket that uses an embroidery hoop. Fun no-sew projects using fleece and felt. I wanted to try a project from the book, and finally settled on the Crafty Kids Apron.
I read through the instructions before starting, and was underwhelmed. The suggested fabric is vinyl, which is perfect for a kids apron. But not perfect for a beginning sewer. For an inexperienced sewer, getting vinyl through a sewing machine is torture. Because it sticks to the bottom of your presser foot. Which isn’t to say that a beginning sewer should stay away from vinyl – just that they should be given tips, tricks, and tools to be more successful. The easiest solution is to use a walking foot.
A walking foot lifts up after each stitch, “walking” along the fabric. It is most often used in quilting, but is perfect for sewing on vinyl. Lots of inexpensive sewing machines come with a walking foot. Other options include purchasing a Teflon coated foot (which would be an investment for someone new to sewing), or sandwiching the project between sheets of tissue paper to help it slide under the presser foot, then tear away the tissue paper when the project is finished. None of these were mentioned in the book.
I also had an issue with the measurements. The book calls for 1-1/2″ wide ribbon to be used around the neck. When I folded down the top of the apron, It was 5″ wide. Using 1-1/2″ ribbon for the neck, and attaching it on either side, would result in only 2″ in the middle – the photo in the book shows a space that looks at least 3″ wide, possibly 4″. This isn’t a big deal in the construction of the apron (I used 7/8″ wide ribbon instead), but for a new sewer, it can be frustrating. I’ve taught classes to new sewers, and they are easily frustrated when their project doesn’t look like the picture. They immediately assume they have done something wrong, and if they can’t figure out what they did wrong, they can give up, thinking they are not good at sewing.
One thing that I really loved about the apron was that the bias tape was glued on. I do not like stitching on double-fold bias tape. It is tricky to get it even, and to stitch evenly on both sides. All of that is avoided by gluing it on with fabric glue. And, for someone who wants a stitched edge, it is easy to stitch over the glued-on bias tape. I might glue on bias tape before stitching from now on.
In the end, I had a very cute, functional apron… and a book with lots of other projects I’m looking forward to trying!
I would pass this book on to any of my friends who are sewing newbies… but I’d recommend they have an experienced stitcher on hand to answer any questions.
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