Monday, 7 November 2016

Book Review - 'Make It, Own It, Love It' by Matt Chapple

It's a well known fact within my family and friends that I have a bit of a sewing/costume/fashion book addiction. I have quite a large bookshelf of hefty tomes that is the first thing my Dad thinks of every time I've asked him to help me move! It's not often that I'll take up the offer to review a sewing book here on the blog as the limited amount of space I now have means I try to make only careful book selections that are unlike any other in my library. When I was approached to take a look at the recently released 'Make It, Own It, Love It' by Matt Chapple (the 2015 winner of The Great British Sewing Bee) the thing that swung my decision to accept was the inclusion of 'everything you need to know about repairing and maintaining you attire'. I hadn't come across another book focusing on that aspect of home sewing before and was intrigued.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewing Book Review of Make It, Own It, Love It by Matt Chapple

My first impression was that this is a really good looking book! I really like the photography and illustrations throughout. The layout is clean and uncomplicated which is exactly what a sewing book needs to be as there is so much information to cover. It's also got quite a masculine feel which is refreshing for this genre and avoids that slightly twee vibe which I can't stand! The only thing I'm visually not keen on are some of the fabric choices which is a personal thing; but I feel like some don't fit with the feel of the rest of the book. Working with fabric for a living fabric choice often bugs me and is something I pride myself on with my own projects. You can be so inventive with fabrics, there is such a huge range to choose from and in a lot of books I feel like just the basics are stuck to or strange print choices for the garment. I know the joy of sewing is being free to make whatever you want, exactly as you want it but I don't know why more books don't strive to show garments that look like clothes you can buy as part of the joy for me is recreating a shop bought look but better. Having said that there are a good number of good looking projects in this book. The Sunday Sweatshirt particularly appeals in a lovely red Breton stripe knit.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewing Book Review of Make It, Own It, Love It by Matt Chapple

There's a good chunk at the start of the book (about 50 pages) covering the standard sewing basics. I feel like a lot of my books cover the same ground here but understand that in a book aimed at anyone from a beginner and up that this is necessary. I think Matt strikes a good balance between being brief but thorough in these sections and there are some great tips for making a garment which doesn't look 'homemade' including a section on pattern matching. Tools, a brief discussion of fabrics, measuring yourself and a hand and machine sewing guide are all included. I especially like that Matt uses little pebbles for pattern weights!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewing Book Review of Make It, Own It, Love It by Matt Chapple

Following this is a section on how to customise garments you already own. Rather than the basic how to embellish/jazz up your dress I was pleasantly surprised that this includes some really useful information on how to get your clothes to fit better along with how to 'make them your own'. The tutorials are arranged by sewing technique (e.g. hems, darts and zips) which I like as you are learning different skills as you progress through. My favourites in this section are how to take in trousers at the waist (using a flat felled seam) and customising a jacket by changing the colour of buttonholes and buttons (including how to properly sew these by hand). It's not often you get a lot of male sewing projects in books and this book is still predominately female garment orientated but it's great to.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewing Book Review of Make It, Own It, Love It by Matt Chapple

Then comes a shorter 'Make It From Scratch' chapter. There are no patterns included with the book (which I don't see as a negative) so the garments are all fairly simple. There are a few projects made from squares/rectangles of fabric a particular size (scuba skirt, bow tie and infinity scarf) and the previously mentioned Sunday Sweatshirt and a pair of Pyjama Bottoms Matt guides you through drafting yourself. Also included are instructions for sewing two free to download patterns; the Colette Sorbetto top and a Lekala dress. I thought this was a really interesting choice and whilst part of me is delighted to see the recommendation to beginner seamstresses to search out independently designed patterns online I found it odd to see the instructions replicated/rewritten in the book. There's plenty for a new sewer to get stuck into in this chapter and really feel like they've got somewhere. Everything is explained very clearly and succinctly and as advertised Matt does have a very no-nonsense approach that gets right to the point making sewing seem very straightforward.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewing Book Review of Make It, Own It, Love It by Matt Chapple

To round off the book there are two very brief sections on how to repair and how to care for your clothes to make them last longer. There are instructions on how to mend broken/missing fastenings, repair tears and holes in pockets close split seams. I've actually not seen this covered properly before in print or online and think that this sort of sewing is probably a gap in many a home sewers knowledge. The final few pages cover how to wash and care for your clothes properly including a page of laundry symbols and tips on how to avoid damaging the fibres and colours of your clothing. I loved the final page on how to polish a pair of shoes properly! When we put such care into making our own clothes we should put as much into our personal presentation hey? My Grandad would have approved.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewing Book Review of Make It, Own It, Love It by Matt Chapple

As this was the garment aftercare section was the part I was most looking forward to I was a little disappointed by the size of it. But it certainly is refreshing to see what could be a fairly standard entry level sewing book focus on making clothes well and to last. I do think as a beginner working through this book would give you a good foundation in understanding how clothes are made and the sewing techniques involved.

4 comments:

  1. Excellent review of a book, the best I've read. Well done!

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  2. Ah thanks Jan! That's really lovely to hear!

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  3. Thats a great book I sure want to check out.

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!