The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking

I got a new sewing book the other day and I really like it, so I thought I'd do a little review for you.
The book is The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking by Wendy Ward.

I first became aware of this book before it was released when I chanced upon Wendy's stand - MiY Collection - at the Knitting and Stitching Show last month.   As soon as I knew it had been released, I ordered myself a copy.  
I don't wish to blow my own trumpet but I'm not a beginner dressmaker, so technique wise there's not much in this book I didn't already know. 
However if you ARE a beginner, Wendy takes you through everything you would need to know to complete the 6 projects in this book, including working with fabric, taking measurements and sewing machine basics before going onto sewing seams, hems, inserting zips etc.. 
There are several things I really like about the book.  Firstly, the projects it contains.  I find the projects in a lot of dressmaking books a bit too twee for my tastes, but the projects Wendy has chosen to include are all simple and stylish shapes.  There is a great looking T-shirt, a maxi dress/skirt with a jersey foldover waistband, trousers with the same waistband as the skirt, a fishtail skirt, a zipped jacket and a shift dress.  Each garment can be made "as is" or customised with a number of variations.
After a short introduction section, the projects section comes next, with the techniques following on.
I really like having the book structured in this way - if you're flicking through you get to see what you can make almost straight away, rather than having to read through all the techniques before you can find out what you're going to use them for.
The section for each project is laid out in the same way, the first double page gives you an overview of the garment, the techniques that will be used, and the types of fabric you can use.

The next double page gives measurements and information on cutting out the fabric. 
Cutting plans come next, and depending on the complexity of the garment and the number of options, these might have their own pages.  
The "Putting it all Together" section comes next, giving good instructions on how to construct the garment and telling you when you need to look in the Techniques section further on in the book.
Finally there is a "Make it Your Own" section, showing some of the customisation options you might consider.
At the back of the book Wendy has included a double page glossary, the first page describing types of fabrics, and the second sewing terms. 
The patterns themselves are printed on tear out sheets at the front and back of the book.  They're overlapped and double sided, so you'll need to trace them off, although this seems to be the norm in sewing books these days. 
I think this book would make a great purchase for a beginner dressmaker who likes a simpler, more modern style of clothes, or for a more experienced sewer looking for some good basic patterns to customise.
I personally can't wait to get started on the zip jacket - I think the grey one above with the orange bias trim looks fabulous!  In fact, I'd like that whole outfit.
Have you got this book, or are thinking of getting it?  Are the projects your style?


  1. Wow, those are some really great projects! I usually don't buy the dressmaking books anymore either for exactly the reason you stated. I might be tempted by this one though. Can't wait to see your projects from it!

    1. Yes, it was the projects that convinced me to buy it.

  2. The patterns are variations look great. I don't think I'd buy it though as I'm not a beginner either - and I hate tracing!

    1. I don't actually mind tracing patterns. I've been taking them along to my sewing group to do, and it's much more pleasant to do them while chatting and eating cake.

  3. The jackets look like a great wardrobe staple! Looking forward to see your version.

    1. Thanks, I'm looking forward to making it.

  4. Definitely for beginners. Very beginner friendly. I bought this because I belong to a dressmaking club and many of the people are joining so I thought this might be useful for them. I am not an expert sewer but knew the technique information in this book. However I could not resist that jacket and rushed out to get fabric for it. That pattern is a breeze, although I altered the way of constructing slightly, a great fit for me and I can see that I am going to make a few more. I like the way she encourages you to find your own way of styling the garments. I am also tempted by the fish-tail skirt, I'm thinking midnight blue satin back crepe!

    1. It's great to hear you got a good fit on the jacket. Midnight blue satin back crepe sounds amazing for the fish-tail skirt.


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