Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Idiot's Guides: Sewing - A Book Review And Giveaway!



I am very pleased to introduce you to a new sewing book today! 

While planning that earlier post on How To Start To Sew, I decided I needed to find some beginning-sewing resources for you. Since I didn't learn to sew from books, blogs or seminars myself, I had none of these from my own experience to recommend. And while I have bought sewing books in the recent decade, they have all been ones on drafting. See this, this and this for some reviews.

So I went to amazon.com and found Cinnamon Miles' new book, "Idiot's Guide: Sewing". Cinnamon
 is the co-founder and lead designer of Liberty Jane Clothing which produces gorgeous clothing patterns for 18 inch dolls. What I saw in the free browsing pages of her book was so promising that I contacted Cinnamon, and she sent me a free copy to review.  This is not my usual modus operandi; usually, companies send me products of their own free will, with no strings attached, so that I can remain transparent to my readers in my reviews. I will, however, make exceptions when something inspires enough confidence that I know I'll like it. Cinnamon's book is one of those.

Before we get into the review, let me say that there are loads of sewing books out there, including those aimed at beginners. Loads, I tell you. I've roughly categorized them into two kinds:


1 Project Books

These are written to showcase a certain number of simple projects. The main focus of these books is the projects. We know this because the titles emphasize this: "50 Simple Beginner Projects!" "27 Easy Things To Make With A Jelly Roll!" "100456 Entry-Level Skirts To Sew From A Single Sloper!" The first chapters are usually devoted to the introduction of Necessary Skills, Tools and Techniques. Often, the books promise that each subsequent project builds on some skill or other and may even offer hints on how to adapt or personalize each project to make it even funner. Because these books are more inspirational than truly instructional, they are usually visually gorgeous (because the focus is on the projects, remember?) and we love them because they are filled with photos, ideas and designer fabric. They are also often written by authors whose skill levels span anything and everything from "loves to sew" to "has worked in the garment and fashion industry for 4 decades" to "taught sewing to third world countries since the 1970s" to "just released her new fabric line". They are, after all, not that different from rounding up your favorite 100456 tutorials and publishing them in print form.

2 Technique Books  

These are like an encyclopedia of specific skills and techniques, laid out like a curriculum. Far more linear and systematic than the Project Books, the entire book is devoted to techniques and, depending on the scope of the book, may be fairly comprehensive in its broad coverage of general sewing skills or concentrated in-depth on a niche area (e.g. Mending and Alteration). These books also contain projects, but they are there to illustrate the skill or technique being taught, because these books are more instructional than inspirational. Some of these books are in color, some have photos, some contain only sketches and drawings, some are wordy, and some are even didactic. Some are beautiful and fun to read, but some you might buy only if you have an interest in researching that particular area of sewing. 

"Idiot's Guide: Sewing" is a general technique book, but a visually beautiful one that I think beginning seamstresses will enjoy and find extremely helpful. Here is a quick summary of my reasons:
  • It is visually attractive and well laid out and organized.
  • It spends time on the very beginning stuff - the first 30 pages, for instance, are on just preparation and familiarizing, before you even sew your first real stitch.
  • It covers a lot of (what I think are) foundational techniques for beginning seamstresses. This builds a good repertoire of helpful sewing skills, not all of which feel like entry-level techniques (piping, zippers, pattern-deciphering, for instance), which in turn allows beginners to make a wide variety of projects with confidence. 
  • It feels modern and current - people who read sewing blogs, for instance, will not feel as if they're reading a curriculum from the 1950s.
  • There are wonderful step-by-step annotated photos, and definitions, which help with visualizing processes. 

  • It covers enough for a beginner to feel equipped for the early stages of sewing, and for tackling more challenging sewing tasks later, should they feel they are ready for them. At the same time, it does not overwhelm with so much in-depth information in an attempt to be "completely and utterly comprehensive".
  • It introduces quilting, basic garment-making from patterns and craft sewing for a broad coverage of some of the popular fields of sewing.
  • It features simple, effective projects throughout the chapters, plus more involved and varied projects at the end of the book to attempt independently.

Now, let's look inside!

First, the contents pages:


Were I teaching a sewing course, I'd count the first four (maybe five, depending on how demanding on one's definition) chapters as Basic Techniques, because a person would need all of those to make even the simplest project. But before the actual hands-on making happens, a lot of even more foundational familiarizing-withs and knowing-abouts have to first occur.

For instance, the vocabulary of fabric,

and the workings of a sewing machine, including the versions of the same parts that are found in different brands and models. Experienced seamstresses know that all sewing machines are the same, just like car dashboards. But beginners are very easily thrown off by even slight variations in structure. One of my friends, who was learning to sew some years ago, picked up a used machine and discovered that it was a drop-in bobbin type. It took her a long time to even dare to touch her machine because the lack of a user's manual frustrated her to no end. She eventually discarded it in favor of a brand new machine which came with a user's manual and she's been happily sewing on it ever since.

The building blocks of seams: stitches, including how to use the zig-zag stitch to finish an edge/seam. 

The instructions in many sewing patterns and tutorials often state, "Finish the seam with a serger or zig-zag stitch," with the implication that those are basic techniques that everyone should know. While most people know what a zig-zag stitch is, beginners may not know how to use it to do finish a seam without an actual demonstration.

Also the backstitch and basting (yes! Let us advocate basting! Basting rocks! Especially hand-basting! But this post is not about me, so I'll shut up now).

Can I just say that contrary to popular belief, seam ripping is not instinctive? People have to be taught how to rip seams, and not just beginners. And there are many ways to rip seams, so don't be all bigoted and say, "Huh. My fashion-industry sewing instructor taught me THIS way so every one else's way is rubbish." We say to you, "Go away, bad sewing person."

The book then moves onto more techniques (not projects), including curved seams, ruffles, gathers and trims. Here are two very useful pairs of techniques:

1 Seam grading, which beginners may not realize is done differently for internal and external corners, and

external corners                     internal corners

2 Seam trimming, which is conceptually similar to seam grading and which, again, beginners may not realize is done differently for concave and convex seams.

notching concave seams            snipping convex seams

I personally snip rather than notch my convex SA, because it's less work and not really necessary, but I appreciate the book's explanation for how to keep the seam strong even with notching. 

Shirring and its non-stretchy cousins, ruffles and gathers, are very popular in modern sewing because of their dramatic textured finish. They are actually very easily achieved, especially by beginner seamstresses. 

There is a neat section on working with bias tape, making your own and getting nice mitered corners with it.

Look - piping! 

I was very pleased that piping was included in the arsenal of techniques, and not only because I am incurably infatuated with it. I don't believe piping is an intermediate thing, any more than bias-binding an edge (or seam) is an intermediate thing. Like binding, hemming or trimming, piping is merely a finishing technique. However, because its assembly sequence involves inserting it between fabric layers and the possible procurement of a specialized machine foot (a rumor no doubt slyly started by sewing machine dealers), many people shy away from it, mislabeling it "intermediate/advanced", "tricky" and "optional for when I am 60 years old and have more time to learn hard things".

Anyone who has tried piping (with adequate instruction) will tell you that it is actually even easier than, say, inserting a zipper.


Speaking of which:

Pleats and darts now!

I like that in this book, darts are grouped with pleats and thus put into their correct context for form and function. I also love that darts are introduced early in the book and not classified specifically under "clothing techniques". Darts have long been pigeonholed to horror roles in garment making, when they are really general (and therefore non-intimidating) features in all kinds of sewing, including bags and stuffed animals. The only thing I wish had been included in this section is the anatomy of a dart (legs, points, apex, fold, width, length, etc.) only because anyone working with darts will very quickly want to ask about them, and having the vocabulary helps. However, I also recognize that such precise dart nomenclature is really peculiar to drafting and garment making, which is not the focus of this book. So it's all good.  

The next section on decorative techniques discusses applique, reverse-applique and quilting. I did not know there were four types of quilting. I always thought quilting = batting sandwich. See - I am a total quilting beginner, in spite of having sewn quilts for people in the past. 

The final two instructional categories involve clothing techniques and commercial patterns. 

Here is interfacing demystified, and we learn that interfacing isn't just for garments or bags - it comes in different weights and weaves so it can serve different fabrics and functions. The book doesn't decipher the crazy brand names (Pellon! Stacy! Vilene!) of the ones available in your particular country, which will probably require a catalog all of their own, but it explains the 6 main categories, which is a perfect starting point for your own shopping escapades.

Here are some techniques used in garment-making:

FYI, apart from french seams, the book does not include other "specialty" seam finishes e.g. flat fell. Then again, I'd expect to see those in a more comprehensive, niche fashion sewing book and not one in which garment-making is only one of many sections. 

Here is a section I especially enjoyed, because I don't use commercial patterns at all 


and know nothing of the foreign language that is their symbol and marking system.

Layout next. It is possible for beginner seamstresses, especially if they focus mainly on craft sewing, to never be affected by the weave or grain of their fabric. This is because craft-sewing fabrics (e.g. quilting cotton, home dec, bottomweights) produce pretty much the same outcome no matter how the project is laid out (with the exception of the bias layout, which could be disastrous). 

By contrast, when working with apparel fabrics, one must pay attention to the direction of layout in order for the garment to drape and hang correctly on the body. As a beginning garment seamstress in my early teens, I was fortunate enough to have Mum drill this into my brain and even then, I'd cut quite a few garments the wrong way (and wore them). It is easy to make this mistake and I know of quite a few adult seamstresses, new to garment-making, who had to learn this the hard way. It is nothing to be ashamed of because it is not at all a common-sense thing and requires actual pointing out.


Finally, here are some of the 13 independent projects at the end of the book, in addition to the 9 practice ones throughout the instructional chapters. There is a nice mix in three challenge levels: basic, easy and intermediate. I love that Cinnamon does not shy away from clothing - throughout the book, she demonstrates general sewing techniques while constructing and embellishing pockets, waistbands, peter pan collars, sleeves, skirts, t-shirts and tank tops. Rather than whimsical, these are practical, and reassuring in that, after investing time and effort, one might actually be able to wear something one has sewn, even if one has never been in fashion school.



I hope you enjoyed the tour! This is a fabulous book for folks of all levels of experience and familiarity with sewing, but I like it especially for beginners. 

Cinnamon Miles is giving away two copies of "Idiot's Guide: Sewing" to two readers (US addresses only, please). If you'd like to win a copy, please 

  1. leave a comment to this post, telling me some of your sewing goals for the year and then 
  2. log in to the rafflecopter widget below. 

The giveaway will close on Tuesday 13 May, after which I will randomly pick two winners. Good luck!


Disclaimer: At my request, I was given a free copy of this book to review, and the opinions are my own.

221 comments:

  1. Ooo, this looks like a great one! I'm currently teaching my sister to sew and while I know what to do I sometimes struggle to put it into words that her newbie brain will understand. And sometimes I get hung up on a technique and have to research it myself first. This looks like a really good resource!!

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  2. Lately I have been thinking of an underlined lace/eyelet dress for both of my daughters.I also want to perfect my shorts for the boy pattern. Gaping pockets were the problem with the first draft. I have however been lurking around your bag building tutorials and at night dream of turning things right-side out through holes left for that purpose that keep mysteriously getting smaller and smaller.

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  3. I'm not a beginner, but that book looks like one I would love to have as a reference !
    Thank you for the giveaway.
    My goal this year is to sew as much as my kids' clothes (ans mine) as I can while still having fun.

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  4. This looks like an awesome book! I am not a beginner, but I am trying to teach my kids and this would be an excellent reference for them and me. As far as sewing goals, I am trying to keep up with my unfinished projects. Why is there never enough time?

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  5. Let's see...I've got 4 quilts in progress (one requiring less than 30 minutes to finish - maybe I'll get on that today!), I want to make an Olaf pillow for my oldest, I've bought fabric to make a shirt for myself, and my husband wants a new set of cornhole bags. Oh, and some college-teamed potholders as Christmas presents. My mom also wants a quilt for Christmas. And my sister asked me to make PJ pants for her kids as Christmas presents (plus my yearly set for my own trio - that's six pairs!). Halloween costumes. And if I'm forgetting something I don't want to know about it!

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  6. Looks like an easy to understand book.
    I'm familiar with Cinnamon Miles doll clothes patterns.

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  7. Goals? Probably more bags of various types... and it's time for some more AG doll clothes. And whatever else may come along!

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  8. I don't need this book but I appreciate your pictures and explanations of it. What a fabulous resource for a beginner. As I've surfed the sewing blogs I can see that brand new seamstresses need it! So many little techniques that make all the difference. The highest compliment when wearing something you've made is to be asked where you bought it. (At least for me.) I know whoever wins this will really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. My goal for the year is to actually make all the projects that I have fabric bought and earmarked for :) this looks like a great book, I'm self (internet) taught so often don't know how to do something properly. thanks for the chance!

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  10. I'd love to have this book. I'm self-taught so I'm sure I'm missing a couple of the basic techniques here and there -- like I've never put in a zipper.

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  11. I'd love to own this book! I'm self-taught so I have a smattering of basic and advanced knowledge with gaps in both places!

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  12. I so need this book :-D LOL. I started trying to sew dresses for my girl after my baby girl turned 1. I'm still learning and sometimes fighting with my machine. And because I also crochet, I calling myself a sewing frog. (Always [rip-it rip-it] to the seams).

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  13. I am starting to sew, bought allready Some patterns for making clothes for A.G. Anything what i can learn i love.

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  14. I have started teaching my niece to sew; she is totally into her American Girl dolls and is ready and eager to learn! But she's only 8, and I sometimes don't remember what beginners need. This book looks great!

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  15. Just starting to sew, so i think iT Will be very helfull

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  16. I so need this book! LOL! I'm definitely an idiot when it comes to sewing at this point. I started sewing baby clothes when my baby girl turned one. I'm still learning and find myself fighting with the sewing machine at times. I also crochet so I call myself a sewing frog, because I always seems to be [rip-it rip-it] the seams. :-D

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  17. I plan to finish the 2 twin quilts I have started. Also start teaching 2 of my children to sew. They can't wait. And I have another who can't wait because she is almost "old enough". I love Cinnamon and her company.

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  18. Even though I have been sewing most of my life, this book of CInnamon's looks like it will be an awesome reference book for me! I have taught many friends the basics of sewing and having a book like this one would have been and will be a great help in the future. Great Job !

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  19. Pillow covers...to start!

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  20. This would be a great book to have on hand as a handy reminder of certain techniques!
    Currently I have a few projects sitting in the wings, including a QUILT!

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  21. Lots of projects going on, including a QUILT!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book :)
    (I don't know if my first comment took...so that's why I double commented)

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  22. I HAVE 3 QUILTS AM WORKING ON FOR MY KIDS AND I HAVE A LOT OF DOLL CLOTHS TO WORK ON , KIDS CLOTHS , AND I HAVE 2 PICTURES QUILTS I NEED TO GET DONE,I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A SMALL BUSINESS TO SELL MY THING I MAKE.(SOME DAY)

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  23. My sewing goal is to learn! my friend gave me her old machine and so far I know how to thread it! wish me luck!!

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  24. I have been sewing for as long as I can remember, and my personal go-to book for instruction is my cherished Vogue Book of Sewing (circa 1972), that I got for Christmas one year. I teach various levels of sewing, and my goal this year is to "spread the gospel" even more. I have looked at a lot of books to use as textbooks in my beginner/intermediate classes, but haven't found one that has the level of inspiration and good information that my Vogue book has. From what I have seen of Cinnamon's book, this may just be it!

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  25. I'm teaching kids to sew this summer at Sewing Camp! My goals are that they learn how to use their machine and become excited to sew!

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  26. My sewing goals:
    1. Finish the "Village Frock" knockoff I drafted and almost finished. It's in a mustard colour and I just can't decide on a trim colour!
    2. Refashion stash-bust! I have collected so many in preparation :/
    3. do some more pattern drafting and then making those items!

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  27. I have actually downloaded this book from Amazon. I teach high school Family and Consumer Sciences and I am considering using this book in my Clothing Construction class.

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  28. I'm a blog-taught sewer and love it but am terrified of zippers. So, my goal is zippers! And prettier button holes. And actually using some of the fantastic but time-sinky patterns I have collected.

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  29. My goal is to do more sewing for me (not for kiddos) - specifically and dress and a blouse. Yay!

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  30. My goal is to actually finish something wearable. Mom is a sewing teacher, so I'm hoping I don't embarrass her too greatly (or bother my big sis too much with 'dumb' questions). :D

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  31. Last year my goal was to make the majority of my clothing. Well, I feel far short of that! This year's goal is to get back on the wagon and actually make clothes from that stash of patterns I collected last year.

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  32. Wow that book looks perfect for me--most of my sewing knowledge is self-taught after floundering through online project tutorials, so some formal instruction would be nice. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  33. Oops! I forgot to say that my sewing goal this year to become more comfortable drafting/altering/resizing patterns and learn professional techniques of doing so.

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  34. My goal is to learn to use 'difficult' fabrics w/out fear! I'm trying sewing w/knits, dance wear fabrics, tulle, chiffon, etc. Basically self-taught (though my Mother was an 'alterations lady' for many years), this appears a perfect book to have as a teaching tool/reference guide. TFS this in-depth review of a must-have book!

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  35. I've been sewing off and on for a few years, but even so I haven't sewed much, so I'd consider myself a newbie. My goals are to 1. Make something I can wear, and 2. Learn how to quilt. I really enjoy sewing, and the last time I sewed, I even managed to create my own 18" doll shirt pattern (which was partially a flop, but it worked out nicely in the end anyway). I was surprised at how easy it was (I probably didn't do it right, but hey, I got the finished article done and it fits the victi... uh, model...)

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  36. I have been sewing for about a gazillion years (let's just say over 50) and have made just about everything up to and including tailored suits. However, I am not so set in my ways that I don't need a good review of things--who knows, there might be a better way! From what I can see, this would be a perfect way to update my skills with new info. Good book!

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  37. This looks like a great book for brushing up my old skills with new techniques. Thanks

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  38. LOVE it not for me but for my daughter, who I tried to teach how to sew :) well I failed at teaching ,but this book will help get her started the right way !!

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  39. I want to sew a sailor suit for my 1yr old son. I figure this is the time to do it since he won't have an opinion on his outfit choice yet!

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  40. This looks like a great book for learning/refreshing my basic skills! I'm getting back into sewing after a 5-year hiatus and I'm hoping to make some practical garments this summer.
    - Betsy

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  41. My goals for this year are to expand my craft business, and I would love to start designing. I sew both 18" doll clothes and whatever else strikes my fancy as cute or functional.I both admire and respect Cinnamon Miles for her work and what she and her husband have been able to accomplish. I am mostly self taught, having never had any formal sewing instruction (not even home ec in high school!!!), and I would love to own this book for reference. I also have 2 daughters that are quickly approaching the age where they too could learn to sew, and this book would be a wonderful source to reference.

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  42. I'm making a poodle skirt for my 10-year old, and am kind of stuck on the waistband, so I came to get some ideas here, and the first picture from the inside of the book is the kind of waistband I'm wanting, so that right there tells me I need this book! :) I love learning and I also love to pretend that I know what I'm doing with my sewing machine. My goal is to get some of the projects that are swirling around in my head actually made and just generally increase my knowledge of sewing. Most of the really useful stuff I've learned about sewing have been from here, but it would be really nice to have a book that I can keep open next to my sewing machine too.

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  43. My goal is to make a few summer dresses for a cross-country road trip this summer. (Living in the SF Bay Area, I have no "summer" clothes.)

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  44. Thanks for hosting the giveaway! I struggle/fight/clash with my sewing machine and projects 9they never seem to come out right), so hopefully this book is simple enough for even me to finally get what I'm doing wrong.

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  45. Want to REALLY use my Futura to its fullest. I think twice about cutting material and am nervous to try patterns on my own . This would help.

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  46. I just received my Mother's Day gift a little early - a sewing machine! This book is one that I have had on my wish list for a few months. I think it would be a great resource book to have on hand as I'm learning how to sew.

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  47. I have a long list to make.. starting with curtains for master bedroom, pillows and bags etc

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  48. Hi,
    My goals for this year are to learn a lot of new sewing technigue's, because your never to old to learn new stuff and it keeps the brain sharp. The book by Cinnamon would be a big help.

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  49. I want to finish a quilt, and sew my daughter and her dolls some matching clothes! I always need guidance and this book would be a big help!

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  50. This year I want to working drafting some bike shorts and undergarments from my measurements, as well as 'reverse engineer' a dress that I love but would prefer in a natural fabric.

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  51. Mi proyecto para este año es intentar comprarme el menor número de prendas para mi...y para mis hijas.
    Que genial es ese libro!

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  52. Am looking forward to drafting some new doll patterns for the 18 inch doll. Also will make some new throw pillow covers for my existing pillows.

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  53. My mum has just started teaching me and i've been learning while sewing my girl guide badges on my camp blanket. There are hundreds so that is my big goal. Then id like to attempt a basic skirt.

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  54. I want to start sewing something more complicated than a basic skirt for my three-year old daughter. I hope this year (with the help of this book) I can sew dresses, some pants for my toddler boy, and probably something that I can wear (this is probably for next year :))

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  55. I'd like to make dresses for my girls and a Christmas quilt.

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  56. I would love to learn how to use piping. This book looks like a great resource.

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  57. I would like to actually finish one of the baby blanket sized quilts I have planned, and make a couple of reversible project bags for my knitting.

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  58. I would like to actually get started sewing. Seriously. I have all the equipment, just need to start a good project. And finish it. I've made some of your dolls (with mermaid tails!) and I also want to make the carrying bag/sleeping bag to go with. But I really want to start sewing clothes for my (only) daughter!!

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  59. Book looks really great. I am a passionate sewer, but I miss some sewing techniques and it is a limiting thing to me. My goals? Hmm, I have a lot of them. Now I am headed to finish a bag for a baby carriage, before our little one will be born (our official delivery date is today, ha ha). And after I want to sew every clothing for him. And a little something for my husband too :-) Thank you for the giveaway!

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  60. I'd love to sew clothes for my children, but it find patterns so intimidating. My goal is some easy skirts for this summer.

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  61. I've just got my hands on a sewing machine and a vintage Singer table for thet :) I can hardly wait to snip some free time to practice. This book would be a great start with it! :)

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  62. I have a baby qui Lt to finish and at least 2 dresses to make - for myself!

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  63. My goal is to make wearable, attractive garments for myself. I am fascinated by your sloper, patternmaking tutorials! Keep up the this great blog!

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  64. One of my goals is to draft my own pattern. I'm starting small with a hat. This looks like a lovely reference book. THank you for holding this giveaway!

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  65. I love your blog. And thank you for this review. It is the most extensive and thorough I have ever seen. My sewing goals are to learn how to stream line making book covers and painting on fabrics.

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  66. Dresses. It seems like endless dresses are my goal this year. Or at least until our 2 girls have enough for the summer.Thanks for reviewing that book. It really looks like it has more content than I thought it would.

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  67. Sewing goals...to TRY to use as much as my stash as possible and not buy new fabric. HA!

    lenelson(at)mail(dot0com

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  68. I'm not a beginner but I learned a lot of techniques through trial and error. It would be great to have this book as a reference for the techniques I don't frequently use. My goals are to do some sewing for the family like pajamas as well as for the home such as curtains.

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  69. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. You are one good Mama. I love reading about your sewing and creative projects that you make for you and your girls. One day, when you have time (ha!), I hope that you will teach a class on drafting. I live in Mpls and would be the first to sign up! If I win this book, I will send it off to my daughter who grew up thinking that all mother's sewed and crafted and made stuff but never showed much interest in doing it herself . Now that she is on her own, she is quilting and sewing up a storm...I'm so happy!

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  70. After many failed attempts and frustration, I have taken a break from trying to sew anything. I have the desire but don't really know what I'm doing! I usually end up sewing my kids halloween costumes because they can be a bit sloppier... anyway my sewing goal for this year would be to be able to make something basic- like a skirt for my daughter- that has all the seams finished nicely, maybe a zipper put in well... like a real skirt. It's all the details and the finishing that I need help with.

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  71. I would like to continue making summer dresses for my girls. One of my biggest accomplishments was to make the Rainbow Dress you posted some years ago, but as a complete amateur / empiric / make-my-own-rules-to-sew seamstress, I think I need a little bit of guidance. Now, what I need is time.

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  72. I'd like to continue sewing summer dresses for my two girls. My biggest accomplishment was to make the Rainbow Dress that you posted some years ago. Of course I am an empiric / amateur / own-sewing-rule-maker, and I would really like to have more formal guidelines on how to sew properly.

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  73. This is funny to find this review as I was looking at that book about 3 weeks ago wondering how good it might be. I need help in the clothing construction area as I've never been taught other than high school home ec class. After your review it really looks like a great book. So many "Idiots guide" or "Dummy" type books are so simplistic they give you not much more than what you may already know or very limited info. This one doesn't appear to be one of those. Thanks for the great review.

    My sewing goals this year are to attempt making my granddaughters some really cute dresses which have more than beginner skills being used in them. I also have slowly been collecting things needed to make purses, including fabrics as well. The first thing I want to learn however, is how to make things using purse frames. I have a small 'bag' for lack of a better word which has a frame top that's got a broken frame and holes in spots. I really need a new one very badly.

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  74. I would like to sew some clothes for my self.. I only sew for less than 1 year now. And I learn from blogs (yours), youtube, internet..
    Meryati

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  75. What a fabulous review and this looks like a great reference book. My sewing goals for this year is to not purchase ready-made clothing or items for my home. Instead, I'm repurposing my clothes and other fabrics for a new wardrobe or curtains and pillow covers, etc.

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  76. I have a quilt in progress, but the borrowed sewing machine I was using needed major, pricey repairs when I was about 60% done with the top. Much money later, I'm not willing to borrow a sewing machine again! So... my goals are to acquire a sewing machine for my birthday and to finish my baby's quilt before Christmas.

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  77. My goal is to actually learn to sew. I want to start with an apron or skirt.

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  78. I would love a copy of this book. I sew quite a bit and am pretty skilled. I have half dozen nieces that come spend vacations with me and I have been teaching them to sew, but sometimes it is hard to convey the information to a beginner. I would LOVE to have a resource like this that could be my go to step by step guide to teach my girls a wonderful skill and craft! Also, I saw a couple things I could use some help with.

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  79. I used to sew all the time, but this year I seem to be lagging a bit. My goal is to get to it before summer is over!

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  80. I just started sewing last year and really want to work up to something more complicated than a pillow, coaster or tote bag. This book looks perfect for what I am looking for, so I am bookmarking it for sure!

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  81. Wow, I was thinking this would be a great book for my goddaughter because she wants to learn how to sew. But after reading the zipper trick I think I could use it too! Never too old to learn (-;

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  82. My goal this year is to learn pattern drafting. I've begun with classes from Craftsy but I am also devouring your posts. I would like the book to pass on to my DIL who wants to learn and has two small children.

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  83. I have eighteen grandchildren and I love to make them quilts. I am currently making one for the newest granddaughter due in June. I also love to sew decorative items for my home.

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  84. I have 17 grandchildren and one due next month. I am currently working on an adorable owl quilt for her. I also love to sew decorative items for my home.

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  85. This year's goal: Dressmaking! I have two weddings to attend this fall and ideally I'd like to wear my own creations. I've only really made elastic neckline medieval looking dresses before, so it's time to expand my skill set.

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  86. This is an excellent resource - very well written instructions and photographs clearly illustrate each technique. Reminds me of the thoroughness of the sewing classes I took in Home Economics 40 years ago! I would love to won one for myself and might even purchase 3 for my daughters to use as a learning resource.

    My sewing goal for this year is to finish 50% of the projects I have already purchased fabric and patterns for!

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  87. Sandra BallantineMay 8, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    1. Making Owie dolls (I've purchased your pattern) for my grandson who has a heart problem as well as Ulcerative Colitis and will be facing an ablation for the heart and surgery for the UC. And an Owie doll for the 3 year old sister ( our grand niece) of an infant born with an underdeveloped heart that has already required 2 surgeries and will require a third when she is 3 years old. It will help the "Big Sister " understand where her baby sister Hannah's incisions and ports will be. ( I know that it's beyond imagining that I have so many dire medical conditions in the family, but we seem to have what one of our specialists call a "genetic cesspool."

    2. Making doll clothes for an Amercan Girl doll.

    3. Making an Elsa costume for a healthy granddaughter and an Owie doll for her 4th birthday so that she can understand her big brothers real owwies. (He of the SVT heart syndrome and U.C.)

    4. Quilting -- I grew up quilting with my mother but haven't made one since her death. It's time to resume.

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  88. My sewing goal for the year is to become more comfortable with sewing in zippers and button holes. Once I do that it will mean even more awesome American girl doll clothing :) Thanks for the opportunity to enter for a free sewing book, That's awesome :)

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  89. This looks like a great reference book even for someone like me who has been sewing for awhile. I love tips & techniques that make projects look more professional!

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  90. This book looks fabulous! My current sewing goal is to sew more! I need to make another Owie doll (for Anna), and I promised Johnny a star wars mini quilt ages ago.

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  91. My daughter wants me to teach her how to sew and this seems like a great book to start with her. I love your blog. The photos and instructions are so easy to follow. Thanks for taking the time to post them.

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  92. I am getting back into sewing after about 20 years away from it. I have the neat old Elna that I learned on and it is sitting on the table now so I can clean it and see if I need to take it in for a more professional adjustment (it sometimes has an attitude problem and unlike me a glass of wine doesn't help it!).
    I learned to sew from my mom who was an excellent seamstress and could draft and do all the cool things like that. Unfortunately she also didn't have a lot of patience when I got stuck she usually just fixed things for me instead of teaching me how to do them myself. My goal is to relearn the finer details and unlearn some bad habits. You are never too old to learn something new every day!

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  93. I want to learn to sew independently. I'm great when mom looks over my shoulder, but when she is gone things fall apart

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  94. My girls and I would love to win this book! We've been practicing our sewing skills over the winter, but could definitely use some help in a few areas. We been working on doll clothes. Our goal is to get some of them listed on etsy to earn some extra money.

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  95. I plan to help my granddaughter increase her sewing skills this summer and this book would be perfect!

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  96. I would love to win this book. Have been sewing on and off for a long time but have been away from it for ages especially clothes making. I have 6 Grandys I want to make clothes and stuff for. Thank you for offering this book.

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  97. I want to use your tutorial to make slopers for both of my girls (2 and 6) and make them matching dresses!! I'm taking a patternmaking class on Craftsy for myself, working on skirts right now. After skirts I want to take the bodice class and then more.... You're very fun to read. Thanks.

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  98. This year I want to actually sew something for myself, that I can wear outside the house, and not just sew for my daughters.

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  99. I would love to win this book. I have been trying to learn to sew by observing the beginning sewing class my 10 yr old daughter has been taking through 4-H. I would like to learn the basics instead of just doing projects. I would eventually like to sew my own clothes.

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  100. My goal is to perfect all aspects of my sewing and perhaps one day sell thing on Etsy. Currently I'm sewing at a C- Home Ec leval. I love the the Liberty Jane patterns and sewing for the American Girl Doll. This book could really help me.

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  101. Great review, and looks like a great book to expand my capacity beyond things with staight lines! I've ordered a copy (I'm in the UK so can't enter your competition). Thanks!

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  102. My goal is to learn zippers and button holes. If I learn those two things I'll make more than stuff sacks!

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  103. My goal is to learn machine sewing,especially machine quilting. I have hand sewn everything since I was a kid and I want to learn a new method.

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  104. Great for teaching my cousin how to sew the basics. Cool

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  105. I'm hoping to finish my first quilt.

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  106. margaret haffnerMay 10, 2014 at 4:57 AM

    Mostly quilts and doll clothes. So many projects!

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  107. I was going to buy this book on Amazon after reading your review, but now I will wait until after the giveaway closes. :) I would love to learn how to sew properly so that I may make some beautiful clothes for my daughters, and then teach them how to sew as they get older.

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  108. this looks like a great book, even though I have been sewing for years I always learn something from almost every project I sew. I have a new g grandaughter and I am helping my daughter learn to be more confident in her ability to sew...we are making one grandaughter a dress for her birthday and doll clothes and accessories. love cinnimon's patterns, they have good clear instructions. I would love to add this book to my sewing room.

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  109. I would like to help my 11 and 9 yr.old granddaughters learn to sew. Love the detail and clear explanations on your website!

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  110. hi, i intend to make a lining for a haversack. carol

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  111. Thanks for your website! Love the clear and detailed instructions. I would like to teach my 11 and 9 yr. old granddaughters to sew.

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  112. To make lots of summer outfits for my granddaughter! bjn1957{at}gmail{dot}com

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  113. The number of sewing goals I have is ridiculous - right now, my "someday sewing" list on Pinterest has 155 projects! Good news is that my "Sewing - I tried it" board has 20 pins and is steadily growing. ;) Anyway, some of my goals for the near future are a duvet cover and a wearable item that I'd ACTUALLY wear (as opposed to the so-so wearable junk that I have made but I am too embarrassed to wear in public!)

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  114. I would like to expand my sewing skills, and my goal is simply to sew more. I need to make more time to sew simply because I enjoy it. It's my time alone to think and create. I also need to sew more to improve my skills.

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  115. I sew a lot for my 2 year old son (mostly pants/shorts and knit t-shirts) because they fit even if I mess up a little since I am a self taught sewer. I decided on a whim 4 years ago that I wanted to sew...so I bought a cheap machine and got to work. I have since upgraded to a craigslist find bernina...but I have yet to take the plunge to sew for myself, for fear that it wont fit correctly or some other disaster. Ha! Thanks for this giveaway opportunity!

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  116. This book seems to be exactly what i need to expand my learning in sewing! I do love sewing but I don't get that much time to practice nor do i have someone to guide me. I can see myself sucking on all that knowledge! Thanks for the giveway, i have my fingers crossed!

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  117. My husband learned to sew from his mother. A tool like this would help him lead our daughters through additional projects, and help me learn along the way! I have doll clothes I hoped to make a few years back waiting in the wings, so it would be nice to learn the basics and finish the on my own. Thanks! J Daire

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  118. Sounds like a great book! I have one daughter who is sewing challenged, and I end up finishing her projects so this would be great for her. Thanks for the opportunity.

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  119. Thanks for your generosity. I enjoy the creativeness of sewing. My goals are to familiarize myself with the techniques, so I can be more daring and creative in my sewing. There is so many things inspiring me, I just need to work on the mechanics!

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  120. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  121. I have five projects currently on the waiting list: a half apron for my daughter, a circle skirt for the same daughter, a shirt to hem, a pacifier clip for the baby that shouldn't be using a paci anymore, and a covered cushion for one of my sons for his seat at the table, just to raise him up a bit. Oh, and I forgot the window seat cushion I'd like to make for our bay window. I currently have a piece of fabric just sitting there waiting for someone to turn it into a nice seat. Thanks for the chance to win this most helpful book!!

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  122. What a thorough book! I've always been interested in sewing but sometimes can't figure out the details. I want to sew some small projects like bags, folder covers and stuffed animals. Thanks for creating this opportunity.

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  123. This year I"m learning how to quilt, and slow down and follow patterns! I need to work through my stash and do something with the 6 boxes of denim I've hoarded!

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  124. This year I'm learning how to quilt, and I need to work through the 6 boxes of denim I've hoarded.

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  125. I am not an experienced sewer, and I would definitely put this book to good use! I just found your blog (not sure how I linked...funny how that happens) and am enjoying looking over your past projects. Would love to try my hand (hands?) at making a simple skirt.

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  126. I am making the long skirts my Nani used to make me all the time before she passed! I finally found her pattern!

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  127. Zipper bags. I just have to find a place to put the machine for longer than an afternoon!

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  128. I would like to feel comfortable with zippers, and to make some of the quilts whose designs play around in my head.

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  129. Clothing for my kiddo is on my list of things to do this year. Basic garment skills and sharpening of other skills I already have. I'd also like to teach said kiddo to sew as much interest has been shown. Strike while the iron is hot right? :)

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  130. My goals are to make a dress for my daughter's birthday party. I would love to learn to properly put in a zipper. Mine always come out wonky.

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  131. I really like the adorable things that you've made for your children. I am terrible at sewing. Perhaps, I don't have the patience to work with fine details.

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  132. I would like to sew more things for myself- which means learning some pattern alteration skills!

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  133. To Finish some of my UFO's and tackle the mend pile with gusto!

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  134. would love to learn more about sewing! Love that the book is full photos as I am a visual person.

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  135. I don't have any specific sewing goals for the year. I haven't sewn anything since last Halloween (costumes for my 2 kids). My goal is just to sew something! Anything! Just to get back into it.

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  136. I have 2 major projects I'm hoping to complete by Christmas--both quilting ones, but I'm also working on a couple little girl dresses for my daughters, right now!

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  137. I, at 13, am most certainly a beginner. My goals include sewing some children's clothes and a top to match the pair of pajama pants I made three months ago. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  138. My sewing goals are what I try to accomplish every year, finish up all my UFOs! This book looks great! So many things I still need to learn. I get by, but could learn about zippers, button holes and making clothes!

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  139. I would like to finish some of my wips! I also want to figure out what I'm doing to have such uneven hems and why I can't for the life of me draft a seam allowance that is consistent.

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  140. I been quilting for about a year and would love to try garment making, something easy like pajama pants would be fun.

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  141. My sewing goals this year are to finish as many quilts as possible! (at least one more than last year's total, lol!)

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  142. Hmm. At least START the quilt I've been dreaming up for my son's room. And make everyone pajama pants. One more - softie baby books with a page for each color & the color written in English & Spanish. And one in English & Russian.

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  143. I only have one goal at the moment, more seems too daunting with my four kids 7 and under, and that is to finally sew a twin size quilt for my daughter. Although, I'm sure I will come up with lots more random projects so that I can procrastinate on it--and that is one reason why I love your blog--I'm not the only one!

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  144. I want to make a layette for my new grand baby and some clothes for my grand daughter. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

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  145. This would be fantastic. I'm trying to teach myself by watching youtube videos but this looks super through

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  146. I've decided that this year I wil finally learn to do projects with zippers, should be interesting!
    beginners and experienced sewers alike need to see how others sew, and find great tricks !
    I love the pictures, detailed, showing what you actually need to do!

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  147. I am simply always trying to learn new skills. At the top of the list for this year is paper piecing.

    glazefamily3 AT gmail.com

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  148. I have 2 girls who want to start to sew. This would be so helpful. I have added it to my Amazon wish list, and will be purchasing if I don't win. We make pillow cases, and pillows, next they want to try stuffies.

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  149. I have two small quilts that I want to get completely finished for my girls, and I would love to conquer my silly fear of the zipper.

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  150. I certainly need all the help I can get! I will be sewing for my 2 granddaughters and my new grandson that arrives in June...I'll be busy!

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  151. I would like to finish my room (garage conversion), finish some projects, start machine quilting, and a few more things. Thank you for a chance to win!

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  152. Love the look of this book. I definitely am a visual learner and I love all of the colorful pictures.

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  153. to make it through my mending pile :) i would like to learn some proper techniques for mending holes in garments so it's not obvious that there was a hole...

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  154. I found out last week that Baby #2 is on the way so my sewing goals for the year are 1) baby gear and 2) maternity wear.
    Btw, the skirt in the book looks fantastic! Too often elastic-waist skirts look overly-gathered and frumpy but that waistband looks almost flat. Can't wait to try it!

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  155. What a great review post! I admit that I would not have given this title a second look--in part because I avoid books with this *kind* of title. Thank you for laying out the features. This would be a great book to use to teach my daughters, and to fill in the gaps in my knowledge!

    As for my sewing goals for the year, I would like to make myself some dresses and tops from Ottobre to brighten up my work wardrobe, preferably using some of my stash in the process.

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  156. I've been looking for a great start-to-sew book for my 26 yr. old daughter, to give her with one of my favorite machines, as she begins to learn to sew--she can't wait to get started!

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  157. To make clothes that fit my mature body

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  158. I need to make summer dresses for myself, my daughters, their dolls and barbies. :) sarah@forrussia.org

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  159. I need to make a quilt for my son. I already made one for my daughter, so now I really need to get onto making one for him.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  160. Rosemary B here
    I hope to win this book and give it to my youngest daughter, Lizzie

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  161. I have so many projects that I am working on, but often don't know how to do some of the things. My mom taught me to sew, but she also found it hard to teach some things and would just do it instead. Since I lost her last year, I've been having trouble finding the information on how to do certain things, like sewing a button hole. This looks like such an amazing book, I really need to get my hands on it.

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  162. Make a vinage camper sewing machine cover for my sewing machine.

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  163. Looks like a great guide. I've been looking for something like this to make new crafts with/for my kids.

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  164. My goal for this year is to make one quilt for charity, and bind 2 other quilts that will also go to charity fundraisers.
    kdavis1@centurytel.net

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  165. I am a quilter but would love to learn to make some simple clothing for myself. Thanks for participating in the Giveaway Day.

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  166. OH that so looks like a book I could use to help teach my granddaughters how to sew to put it in their terms ! Thanks for the chance ! Love your blog thanks for putting it out there in cyberland !

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  167. I want to finish my first quilt

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  168. My sewing goal for the year was to complete 6 quilts. As we are only 4 months in, and I have finished 7 tops, I am well on my way! Now to the quilting! I do want to experiment with more FMQ motifs though

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  169. To make a few summer dresses for a cross-country trip in July/Aug.

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  170. I work with Teams of kids, in the spirit of Creative Problem Solving [Destination Imagination]. Our goal is to teach kids new skills and to let them see that there is more than one right way to solve a problem. Sewing is one of the skills that comes in VERY handy. This book would be a great tool for teaching Teams of kids the basics of sewing.

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  171. My daughter is learning to sew and this would be great for her!
    Evin5 at aol dot com

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  172. First thing: the cover of this book, at first glance, looks like a beautiful billowing sail. My mind's eye thought it said, "Sailing". Nice aesthetic. Also, flipping through your post, this looks like a DREAM. I learned to sew in order to make outfits for my dolls and stuffed animals. You can learn a lot on a small scale, without using up many resources, but you don't really have to make things fit perfectly.. I've been chicken to use yard*S* of fabric for real human garments, beyond halloween costumes. This book looks like a good friend.. where you can't call most good friends at 3am to ask about fitted sleeves.

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  173. Felt food! And a Flower Girl dress in the immediate future.

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  174. i have so many sewing goals, I don't know where to begin..want to make my girls some dresses,dolls, baby presents and more..

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  175. I would like to finish some of the projects I already have started! A couple of quilts, some barbie clothes, and a new purse for myself!

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  176. This looks like a great book for a beginner like me!

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  177. This year I really want to sew a piece of clothing! I've only ever made quilts and bags, but I need to step outside of my comfort zone. This book looks like amazingly helpful!

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  178. One of my goals is to piece the quilt top for my first queen-sized quilt in time to start hand-quilting it when the weather turns cold again. Thanks!

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  179. This looks like an amazing book!! I have young cousins and nieces who want to learn to sew and this would be wonderful for them!

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  180. My sewing goals are to start a quilt and make lots of cute clothes for my daughter! :)

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  181. I have a goal that is more like a resolution, but for every 3 must-do' s on my to-do list, I have included something that I WANT to do...

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  182. Hello, I like the book, it will help me explain alot of sewing techniques to my 11 yr. old granddaughter, who wants to make a dress, of course I was not involved in the picking out of the fabric, just what is "dance costume fabric"? any way if I win this I hope to be able to help her make something she can wear, eventually....

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  183. My sewing goals for the year are teaching myself to sew. I'm starting with clothes for my two year old granddaughter. I also intend to continue quilting, and learning to do FMQ better also. I really need this book, as I'm not a very good sewer, and don't know very many techniques.

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  184. Sadly, my goals for the year are rather low. I have a hand injury, which means that I'm not able to do much hand work or cutting or what not. But I do want to sew the accessories for my Black Widow costume, and possibly to sew tiny deerstalker hats for stuffed otters. And mend that one shirt that needs to be mended.

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  185. So many birthdays for so many nieces... I'd like to try my hand at softies (for said nieces) and improve my bag-making, which I took up after finding much inspiration in your series of tutorials. And also, maybe, finally, finishing my wedding quilt. I've been married five years, so I've probably procrastinated long enough. In case you are wondering, we had guests at our wedding sign squares of fabric, and I sewed a quilt, using hose squares as a border. I thought it was a rather clever sort of guest book. :)

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  186. This is one of the most complete sewing book reviews I've seen. Amazing job. Love how you included the table of contents (I love to s
    ee what I'm really getting). Also all your photos really showcased the book. I bookmarked this review so that just in case I don't win... My sewing goals are grandchildren toys, clothes, quilts, and fun pillows and napkins for my home.

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  187. My sewing goal is to get some quilts finally finished.

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  188. My goal is to make a Christmas quilt this year....and a birthday quilt for my friend.

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  189. Finish a quilt that's about 3/4 done, make curtains for my bedroom and a bathroom and make a skirt for me. And catch up on the mending.

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  190. I have some baby quilts to finish. Thanks for chance to win.

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  191. This book would be a great addition to my sewing library. One of my goals is to make more bags and totes. I have been afraid to do this, and this will help. I also want to do some free motion quilting. Thanks for the chance to win!

    wigglypup2(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  192. Goals: finish the baby quilt I am making now. Consider making another one to maybe try to branch out into the Etsy thing (???) Work on my grandmother's garden. Make myself at least one dress and one skirt.
    The S.O. has decided he wants to learn to sew and I have realized that I have no idea how to teach someone, so figuring that out and actually doing it is another goal.

    jhunsberger (at) gmail (dot) com

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  193. • • • Along with a larger number of quilts, I have a jacket pattern I have been fighting with. Sure hope this book will help me. Thank you for sharing!

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  194. Now that I'm done with school. I should have time to sew all the projects I've been planning on my head.

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  195. I want to start sewing my own clothes-especially some new knit shirts. I'm tired of trying to find the perfect one at stores. Less shopping, more sewing. Win-win.

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  196. I would love to sew more for myself, also maybe try things I have never done before, like welt pockets. :) Thank you for the giveaway!

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