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The Act of Sewing: How to Sew, Alter, and Embellish Clothes You'll Love to Wear

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A complete guide to sewing simple garments—with four full-size patterns and all the tricks of alteration and embellishment explained so that you can make a wardrobe all your own. Maybe you learned to sew in school and have a sewing machine, but it hasn’t seen the outside of the closet since your last move. Or maybe you are completely new to the craft, with a lot of enthusia A complete guide to sewing simple garments—with four full-size patterns and all the tricks of alteration and embellishment explained so that you can make a wardrobe all your own. Maybe you learned to sew in school and have a sewing machine, but it hasn’t seen the outside of the closet since your last move. Or maybe you are completely new to the craft, with a lot of enthusiasm, but no idea how to thread your machine. No matter where you’re coming from in terms of experience, this sewing workbook offers four basic patterns—two tops, a skirt, and a pair of pants—that empower you to express your personal style and make clothes that are comfortable for your body type. After explaining the basic concepts of sewing and construction, 100 Acts of Sewing designer Sonya Philip then provides suggestions for mixing the basic patterns together to create new garment iterations as you gain confidence—structural adjustments such as full bust, no bust, long torso, big, small, etc., as well as a range of possible alterations and embellishments including sleeves, pockets, hems, and more! Going beyond simple pattern instructions, this book will make sewing garments accessible for every body type—each pattern comes in sizes ranging from XS to 5X. With inspiring essays on Sonya’s sewing philosophy that speak to the slow and ethical fashion movement, this will be the go-to guide for all aspirational and seasoned sewists.


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A complete guide to sewing simple garments—with four full-size patterns and all the tricks of alteration and embellishment explained so that you can make a wardrobe all your own. Maybe you learned to sew in school and have a sewing machine, but it hasn’t seen the outside of the closet since your last move. Or maybe you are completely new to the craft, with a lot of enthusia A complete guide to sewing simple garments—with four full-size patterns and all the tricks of alteration and embellishment explained so that you can make a wardrobe all your own. Maybe you learned to sew in school and have a sewing machine, but it hasn’t seen the outside of the closet since your last move. Or maybe you are completely new to the craft, with a lot of enthusiasm, but no idea how to thread your machine. No matter where you’re coming from in terms of experience, this sewing workbook offers four basic patterns—two tops, a skirt, and a pair of pants—that empower you to express your personal style and make clothes that are comfortable for your body type. After explaining the basic concepts of sewing and construction, 100 Acts of Sewing designer Sonya Philip then provides suggestions for mixing the basic patterns together to create new garment iterations as you gain confidence—structural adjustments such as full bust, no bust, long torso, big, small, etc., as well as a range of possible alterations and embellishments including sleeves, pockets, hems, and more! Going beyond simple pattern instructions, this book will make sewing garments accessible for every body type—each pattern comes in sizes ranging from XS to 5X. With inspiring essays on Sonya’s sewing philosophy that speak to the slow and ethical fashion movement, this will be the go-to guide for all aspirational and seasoned sewists.

30 review for The Act of Sewing: How to Sew, Alter, and Embellish Clothes You'll Love to Wear

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kammy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thank you to the publisher for an advance copy via netgalley! This book is so complete it gives me hope that I might be able to grasp sewing and try it. It gives you instructions on everything, from what equipment you need, to how to pick fabric to how to actually see. Highly recommend for anyone wanting to try sewing!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    This is a handy sewing book for those who are new to sewing or new to making their own patterns. The author is immensely likeable and walks you through using sewing machines, making patterns, adjusting them to your body and more. There are illustrations throughout, and a few photos of her in the patterns. She started sewing in part in order to have clothes that fit her body and the book is very much a body positivity book. The clothes are designed to be comfortable and simple. She teaches you ho This is a handy sewing book for those who are new to sewing or new to making their own patterns. The author is immensely likeable and walks you through using sewing machines, making patterns, adjusting them to your body and more. There are illustrations throughout, and a few photos of her in the patterns. She started sewing in part in order to have clothes that fit her body and the book is very much a body positivity book. The clothes are designed to be comfortable and simple. She teaches you how to do some basic adjustments of things like collars, but it's much more a book for how to sew clothes that fit you and are comfy than a designer kind of book. I've always wanted to make my own clothes because I have a very hard to fit body. I am basically child-sized (just under 5 feet) but woman-shaped, with big hips and the belly and boobs you get from having 5 kids but also a very narrow waist. Unless something ties around me, I'm pretty much destined to have it fit wrong. I also really like the kinds of clothes that are not now and have never been in style but suit me, like fairy dresses and handkerchief hems (and anything with cleavage). I would love to learn how to just make my own clothes that fit me and my style, but this is not that kind of book. It's a great guide, but it's for rather utilitarian clothes (compared to me anyway, but we've already established I'm odd). It will be a great guide for most folks, as it not only teaches you the basics of sewing but also shows you how to make and adapt your own patterns for shirts, pants, skirts and so on. I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    April Gray

    This is a great reference for sewers of all skill levels. Philip offers lots of basic information- tools and materials that are necessary, nice to have, or optional, the ins and outs of fabrics, working with patterns, etc. We move on to patterns; there are four basic patterns in the book, two tops, a skirt, and trousers. The instructions go over all the things you need to know about making these patterns, and covers a good variety of techniques. In part two of the book, we learn about adjusting This is a great reference for sewers of all skill levels. Philip offers lots of basic information- tools and materials that are necessary, nice to have, or optional, the ins and outs of fabrics, working with patterns, etc. We move on to patterns; there are four basic patterns in the book, two tops, a skirt, and trousers. The instructions go over all the things you need to know about making these patterns, and covers a good variety of techniques. In part two of the book, we learn about adjusting the patterns to suit our taste- lengthening, shortening, different types of sleeves, and so on. There's a section on modifying, embellishing, and combining patterns, and a glossary at the end. There is so much helpful information in this book, and it takes you through a progression of techniques that make it easy to learn, because you're using the same base patterns throughout and progressively adding more to them. It's all explained clearly and comprehensively enough that I feel even someone like me who hasn't touched a sewing machine in 40 years could do it! This would also be a great and useful reference for any level sewer to have on hand. #TheActofSewing #NetGalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cary Morton

    I received a copy of this book directly from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. If you are new to the craft of sewing and making (or tailoring) your own clothes, The Act of Sewing by Sonya Philip would definitely be a good place to start. The book covers the basics - from tools and sizing to sewing machine mechanics and hemming. Where the book really shines, though, is in teaching you how to adjust and reconstruct patterns to meet your sizing needs - because people aren't pour I received a copy of this book directly from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. If you are new to the craft of sewing and making (or tailoring) your own clothes, The Act of Sewing by Sonya Philip would definitely be a good place to start. The book covers the basics - from tools and sizing to sewing machine mechanics and hemming. Where the book really shines, though, is in teaching you how to adjust and reconstruct patterns to meet your sizing needs - because people aren't poured from a universal mold. Although not the most thorough with certain beginner-level information like pattern marks and individual stitch types, it is enough to get started and contains some useful information.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a how-to book for someone new to sewing. It gives you all you need to know on getting started and rules to remember. The first two chapters cover the basic sewing tools and techniques🧵; and making patterns. Subsequent chapters include how to make adjustments, modify and embellish clothes, and combine patterns. The illustrations are easy to follow and remember. Would recommend. Thank you to Sonya Philip, NetGalley, and Roost Books for the ARC of this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. The Act of Sewing is a tutorial and general technique guide aimed at beginning sewists by Sonya Philip. Due out 27th April 2021 from Roost Books, it's 176 pages and will be available in paperback format. It is indisputably true that choosing the right clothes can affect our comfort, mood, life, even our personality. Choosing the wrong clothes or suffering through clothes that make us feel uncomfortable can even have a huge impact on the way other Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. The Act of Sewing is a tutorial and general technique guide aimed at beginning sewists by Sonya Philip. Due out 27th April 2021 from Roost Books, it's 176 pages and will be available in paperback format. It is indisputably true that choosing the right clothes can affect our comfort, mood, life, even our personality. Choosing the wrong clothes or suffering through clothes that make us feel uncomfortable can even have a huge impact on the way other people interact with us. Getting educated and empowered to change the things we can change and make informed choices about what we consume and *how* we can go about gaining the technical expertise and confidence to change the things we can change is almost stunningly empowering and freeing. I started sewing as a child. I bought fabric and made many of my own clothes as a teen because my available monetary resources would stretch further and because I live in a body which falls outside the normal ready-to-wear bell curve. Clothes available off the rack have never fit me properly and I've never been wealthy enough to have professionally tailored bespoke clothing - so sewing was a good fit for me. This is a very good book for consumers who want to have body-positive, well fitting, well made clothes which make them feel comfortable and are a good outward expression of the wearer's personal style and personality. The book includes four full sized patterns for 4 basic wardrobe staples (top, skirt, trousers, & shirt) as well as understandable and accessible tutorials for alterations and fitting information to make clothes really wearable and comfortable. The book is mostly illustrated with simple line drawings with a retro feel. There are some photographs, but not many. Readers who are beginners to sewing might well need to seek out additional resources in the form of videos, teacher/mentor, or online learning for some specific points. The descriptions included in the book are well done, but I am (alas) a very visual and hands-on learner and a purely descriptive explanation is unfortunately usually not enough to master the concept for me. That being said, I adore the author's straight talking genuine warmth and humor! I can imagine that she would be a *really* fun teacher from whom to take a workshop. I would heartily recommend this one to sewists (beginner to advanced). It would also make a superlative selection for public or school library acquisition, maker's groups, classroom instruction, community theatre/wardrobe or continuing education workshops, library sewing groups, outreaches, volunteer/charity sewing, and similar. I intend to acquire a copy at release for my own sewing room. Five stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ben Ostrowsky

    Packed with practical tips (don’t use vintage thread—it gets brittle; make notes for your future self about your progress on a project), The Act of Sewing teaches the basics in clear language and explains the importance of habits that veteran seamstresses take for granted. Tracing your patterns with chalk before cutting, for example, might reveal that your fabric’s design aligns with body parts you don’t want to emphasize. After walking the reader through four simple garments (a top, a shirt with Packed with practical tips (don’t use vintage thread—it gets brittle; make notes for your future self about your progress on a project), The Act of Sewing teaches the basics in clear language and explains the importance of habits that veteran seamstresses take for granted. Tracing your patterns with chalk before cutting, for example, might reveal that your fabric’s design aligns with body parts you don’t want to emphasize. After walking the reader through four simple garments (a top, a shirt with set-in sleeves, a skirt, and trousers), The Act of Sewing describes and illustrates how to adjust the width and length of the patterns, as well as more specific changes to the shoulders, bust, and crotch. The following chapter is a smorgasbord of optional tweaks to add to your repertoire and make your clothing fancier (different necklines, sleeves, cuffs, yokes, and plackets), better fit for your body (gathering, pleating, tucking, and ruching) and more useful (belt loops and a variety of pockets). The final chapter brings everything together (literally: top + skirt = dress! top + trousers = jumpsuit!) and encourages the reader to experiment with combinations of the patterns and techniques in the book to create clothing that’s distinctively your own and eminently practical for the way you live. I strongly recommend actually sewing along with the author’s instructions for the four provided patterns (whether you intend to wear them outside the house or not); it will help you understand the instructions in the later chapters. I am grateful to NetGalley for a free preview copy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    The Act of Sewing: How to Make and Modify Clothes to Wear Every Day by Sonya Philip Publisher: Roost Books Genre: Crafts & Hobbies | Nonfiction (Adult) Release Date: April 27, 2021 Growing up, I loved to sew. I enjoyed making clothes and gifts, but as I got older I stopped making the time to continue with this craft. So naturally, I was drawn to The Act of Sewing by Sonya Philip because I've been able to sew more because of the stay-at-home rules with the pandemic. The Act of Sewing is broken into tw The Act of Sewing: How to Make and Modify Clothes to Wear Every Day by Sonya Philip Publisher: Roost Books Genre: Crafts & Hobbies | Nonfiction (Adult) Release Date: April 27, 2021 Growing up, I loved to sew. I enjoyed making clothes and gifts, but as I got older I stopped making the time to continue with this craft. So naturally, I was drawn to The Act of Sewing by Sonya Philip because I've been able to sew more because of the stay-at-home rules with the pandemic. The Act of Sewing is broken into two parts. Part one, Starting Out, includes: Chapter 1: Basic Tools & Techniques, which discusses tools, basic terminology, fabric, working with patterns, finishing seams and hems & finishing curved edges and Chapter 2: Patterns discusses Sewing a Sense of Self, as well as different garment types. Part two, Make It Your Own, includes: Chapter 3: Adjustments, which discusses Our Bodies, Our Selvedges, changing seams, lengthen & shorten, widen & narrow, shoulder adjustments, bust & chest adjustments, rise & seat adjustments; Chapter 4: Modifications & Embellishments - Getting to Sew You, neckline, sleeves, body, waist, hem, embellishment; and Chapter 5: Combining Patterns - Don't Get Hemmed In, dress, lined tunic, tie-front shirt, and jumpsuit. This is a great reference tool! There was so much about sewing in 4H that I did not learn, so I'm really excited about getting to try out some new things. I'm so grateful to Sonya Philip, Roost Books, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this ARC ebook in exchange for my honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    I have not yet made anything from this book, so this review is solely about the contents of the book, and I'll update it once I get my hands on the patterns. I've been following Sonya Philip on IG for a while now: she's the kind of a crafter I love, who encourages people to explore what really fits their bodies and moods. Like Philip, my entirely life I have had issues finding clothes in the store that fit me. There's always some weird compromise I have to make ("Fine, I guess I'll roll up these I have not yet made anything from this book, so this review is solely about the contents of the book, and I'll update it once I get my hands on the patterns. I've been following Sonya Philip on IG for a while now: she's the kind of a crafter I love, who encourages people to explore what really fits their bodies and moods. Like Philip, my entirely life I have had issues finding clothes in the store that fit me. There's always some weird compromise I have to make ("Fine, I guess I'll roll up these cuffs or something...") or try the other alternative: torture your body into fitting a standard. There's nothing wrong with it if you already fit the standard--man, life will just be so much easier! But it has taken me a couple of decades to really pause and think: who am I pleasing if I'm trying to make my body fit into store-bought clothes? And why won't I just get or make clothes that actually fit who I already am, and make myself feel good that way? What a revolutionary thought, right? But back to the book. Philip offers extremely basic patterns for shirts, pants, and skirts, and then shows you how to modify them with a variety of sleeves, lengths, and what to take into account when you're making patterns for yourself. The modifications then lead up to more complex-looking patterns that are actually just combinations of what you have already learned (a jump suit!). The promise of a well-fitting garment in the colors and patterns that I love is super attractive, and I can't wait to get my hands on these. I already have the fabric ready to go....

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leilanie M.

    This book is the sewing encyclopedia many could benefit from. Overall, I learned so much more about sewing and mechanics that the countless sewing videos I consumed have never covered. Here are some high-level things the book does and doesn't do. Does: -Teaches you how to make patterns. -Unapologetically teaches you to adjust items to embrace your own body positivity. -Cover the mechanics, tools, and even fabrics. -Allows you to envision how to use Philip's tips. Doesn't: -While each section seemed This book is the sewing encyclopedia many could benefit from. Overall, I learned so much more about sewing and mechanics that the countless sewing videos I consumed have never covered. Here are some high-level things the book does and doesn't do. Does: -Teaches you how to make patterns. -Unapologetically teaches you to adjust items to embrace your own body positivity. -Cover the mechanics, tools, and even fabrics. -Allows you to envision how to use Philip's tips. Doesn't: -While each section seemed clear, I felt it was not that easy to follow each step compared to a video. -Readers could benefit from more photographs (not just illustrations) of each step. I could see the use of Sonya Philip's book to complete my outstanding projects in the future. I do not think this is the book to read for inspiration for projects. Thank you, Sonya Philips and the Publishing Team, for my advanced copy in exchange for my feedback.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. We did sewing a long time ago in my life and careers class and I remember the effort and steps it took to nail sewing a pair of pajama pants. I love how Sonya Philip arranged and structured this book to focus on the patterns and make clear illustrations of how each step should be in order to nail each garment perfectly. I have a lot of friends that love making c This book was received as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. We did sewing a long time ago in my life and careers class and I remember the effort and steps it took to nail sewing a pair of pajama pants. I love how Sonya Philip arranged and structured this book to focus on the patterns and make clear illustrations of how each step should be in order to nail each garment perfectly. I have a lot of friends that love making clothes and I have always wanted to learn and join them in a sewing party and this is just the book to help. Plus, a lot of our patrons are avid sewers and they will appreciate a book like this for new techniques and ideas. We will consider adding this title to our TT Non-Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara Hill

    The Act of Sewing by Sonya Philip was a nice introductory book to sewing your own garments. I think a lot of important skills, tools, and techniques were covered. While I am still very new to clothes making I found one thing that would have been very helpful would have been actual pictures versus illustrations. Illustrations were okay for some examples, but definitely not for all of them. If this is sold digitally, with the pattern that I assume will be included in the final product, make sure t The Act of Sewing by Sonya Philip was a nice introductory book to sewing your own garments. I think a lot of important skills, tools, and techniques were covered. While I am still very new to clothes making I found one thing that would have been very helpful would have been actual pictures versus illustrations. Illustrations were okay for some examples, but definitely not for all of them. If this is sold digitally, with the pattern that I assume will be included in the final product, make sure to include detailed instructions on making sure patterns print to the correct scale. A link to some of these techniques but with videos could also be very helpful. I received an eARC from Roost Books through NetGalley. All opinions are 100% my own.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This is one of those books that are classified as a reference book. The author introduces the reader to the words used in sewing instructions as well as their definitions. Then the book moves onto using patterns in sewing and how to change things up so they reflect the sewer. In other words, you don’t have to follow the pattern precisely but how to break out of the mold and instead be creative and make it your own. Been sewing for decades and have never considered all the ways to change up a ski This is one of those books that are classified as a reference book. The author introduces the reader to the words used in sewing instructions as well as their definitions. Then the book moves onto using patterns in sewing and how to change things up so they reflect the sewer. In other words, you don’t have to follow the pattern precisely but how to break out of the mold and instead be creative and make it your own. Been sewing for decades and have never considered all the ways to change up a skirt or top. This book is one I’m going to purchase for myself!

  14. 5 out of 5

    WhiteCallaLilies

    Excellent sewing book packed full of information on how to sew and alter garments. I borrowed this book from the library, but I am going to buy a copy for myself.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Super in-depth and detailed instructions (including illustrations) on pattern making and how to alter your patterns for various sizes and embellishments. Very inspiring and it makes me want to up my sewing skills so I can try!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon LaCrosse

    For a new sewer her instructions are clear, concise. This would be a great resource for a sewer to have on their book shelf.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Gallagher

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Ribble

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  21. 5 out of 5

    HeMuBr

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha Low

  23. 4 out of 5

    Addie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Okey

  27. 4 out of 5

    Martha

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Moreno

  29. 5 out of 5

    Holly Bishop

  30. 5 out of 5

    xtina

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