Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Sewn by Hand

Note: I purchased this book myself, through Amazon.

The first thing I ever sewed, whatever that was, was by hand. My mother had a sewing machine, but she never taught me how to use it, and I didn't sew with a machine until nearly three years ago, when I bought a Pfaff for my 35th birthday. Before that, I was fairly against sewing for a while, even knitting sweaters in the round to avoid sewing up. ("If I wanted to sew," I'd say, "I'd be sewing, not knitting.") I had to hand-sew a zipper into a Tomten I knit and it was fairly torturous and laborious.

And then I decided to sew a couple of Waldorf dolls from kits (by hand), and I figured that made me a sewist. And then I got the Pfaff. And then, much later, I decided to learn embroidery, and now, depending upon the project, I'm just as likely to choose to sew by hand as use the machine. So when this book came out and I failed to win a copy in any of the many blog giveaways I entered, I bought it.

Why do I choose to sometimes sew by hand? For a smallish project, like a cuff or a needlebook, it's often easier to sew it by hand than to wind a bobbin, if necessary, and thread the machine just to get started. Sometimes the project demands it, like patching the knees of my sons' pants. I often feel like I have greater control over the small bits if I'm doing it by hand. I can sew upstairs, sitting in my chair, talking to my husband and watching the Red Sox. Or I can more easily sew while my kids are playing around me, and interrupt my work without much fuss. But until I began learning embroidery, I didn't really know one stitch from another, and like with most handcrafts, I'm cobbling together knowledge as I go.

But look at the Table of Contents in this book!

Essential Tools and Useful Thoughts: Lovely to have, especially the Gallery of Hand Stitches, and I'm not embarrassed to say that my knots need work and this book tells me how to do better. For those of us who are teaching ourselves how to knit, sew, and whatever else we want to do, a resource right, shall we say, at hand is both essential and useful, as billed. Even if I don't make any of the projects, I have a feeling the book will be quite worth it as a reference tool alone.

I do want to make some projects, though. I like the Thread Caddy (follow the link to download the pattern for free at the Lark website). I also like the Button-Up Tote, which comes with directions on how to make your own fabric-covered buttons. (The possibilities there are dizzying to me.)

And can you imagine hand-sewing curtains? Not too long ago I said out loud that while I had no problem sewing many things by hand, curtains, well, of course I'd use the machine for curtains! And then I saw these:

Sheer curtains, sewn with silk ribbon. So pretty, and really, it doesn't look that hard, and how else to sew curtains with silk ribbon if not by hand? I don't think I have one room in my house that is worthy of such pretty, delicate curtains, but I may just allow the kitchen to put on airs and make a sweet little cafe curtain that I can admire while I wash dishes.

So there you have it, my unbiased opinion of this book--while it has a few things I'd never make, it's full of information and I feel it was a good purchase. Usually I check out sewing and knitting books through the library before buying them, but I took a leap on this one and ordered it sight unseen. I'm glad I did.

What about you? Do you ever sew by hand, or do you prefer the machine for everything? (Or do you avoid sewing as much as possible, as I used to?!)


Rose Red said...

I am not fond of hand sewing, although I don't mind seaming my knitwear. It does have it's place though, and I suspect I would probably like it more if I were better at it!

Jill said...

Ha. I don't count.

Bells said...

really if there was ever evidence that we should never say never, this post is it. I totally get the hand sewing thing now, but only because I've had a few projects that have forced me to do it and i've seen that it's good!

You know, whenever I think of doing a tomten I think of you and I know that it will happen!