This is the second of the books I was sent to review a few weeks ago, and it’s timely to do so now as Lisa Comfort has recently appeared in Kirstie Allsop’s new Channel 4 Show, Kirstie’s Vintage Home. I grew up in the era when home skills were taught in school, Domestic Science, we learnt to sew, dress-make and cook. I do have to admit to being hopeless whilst at school, but as a young married mum without a lot of cash it soon made sense to have the skills to repair and alter clothes, recycle dresses into baby clothes and run up a pair of curtains. Most women’s magazines had knitting patterns, some gave away paper patterns for dress making and amazing part work series were published teaching all sorts of skills from embroidery to macrame! (Such a useful skill – macrame plant pot holder anyone?)
All that seemed to get swept away in a great feminist rage against being hemmed in by domesticity to the point where you had to hide any desire to occupy yourself with a little light embroidery, and ‘homemade’ was considered an insult. Schools did away with cookery classes and sewing lessons and a whole generation were left without useful life skills such as sewing on a button or cooking.
That’s why I’m loving this whole re-emergence of making and upcycling, creating and recycling which is movement of the moment and Lisa Comfort’s book fits right in as an ideal starting point for anyone wanting to dip their toe in the creativity pool. Lisa charts her beginnings from stitching with her child-minder through the London College of Fashion to her sewing café and shop in Clapham, South London where she teaches the skills to be found in this book. If you’ve never threaded a needle let alone sewn on a button, never fear. Lisa starts you off at the very beginning introducing you to the needle and thread, the mysteries of the sewing machine, customising and altering your clothes, making accessories and finally measuring yourself and making a skirt from scratch.
This is not a book for a seasoned dressmaker but I would definitely recommend this to a complete sewing novice needing a virtual hand to hold and guidance starting out on their sewing journey. Probably it would be helpful to have a hands on lesson if you’ve never used a sewing machine but I believe shops like John Lewis offer this when you buy a machine from them. Apart from that, all that is needed is a little imagination and Lisa’s know how and tips. The projects are clearly illustrated and explained, and the book as a whole is colourful and appealing, the photography is inspiring, a great Christmas present idea for a aspiring stitcher !
The ‘Sew Over It’ book is published by Ebury Press and available to buy from Lisa’s on-line shop of the same name, (which is a rather dangerous place to visit if you happen to like fabrics, and buttons, and haberdashery….)