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Improv Sewing [Paperback]

Nicole Blum
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 12.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 Jun 2012
The project designs reflect the clean lines and simple aesthetic of today's young sewing enthusiasts and include snazzy wearables, accessories, clothing for babies and children, and even home decor and furnishings. Most feature embellishments and decorative effects - simple touches that personalise a project with charm - and nearly all make use of appealing textural fabrics like jersey knits, linen, wool, and felt...even paper and vinyl! Blum and Immergut walk readers through the sewing basics, demystify the lost art of simple pattern-making, offer visual guides to stitches, and offer easy instructions for techniques such as applique, doodle-stitching, and layering of fabrics. Even the most time pressed readers will be able to stitch together modern, personalised, and beautiful projects...fuss-free and in a flash!

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Improv Sewing + Make & Mend: A Guide to Recycling Clothes and Fabrics
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing (13 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603427406
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603427401
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 20.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 675,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy It! This book is amazing! 25 July 2012
By Sewing Directory TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I definitely have a new go to book - this book is brilliant! It takes a relaxed approach to sewing encouraging you to play and experiment and not worry too much if you don't do things exactly as the instructions say.

It starts off with a guide to fabrics, techniques and stitches and then goes into some really simple guides to making garments, either from existing garments or using simple pattern blocks. It tells you how to make different sleeves, necklines, ruffles, pleats and trims which you can then incorporate into your own designs or make up one of the many projects in the book.

It then goes on to cover free motion embroidery, appliqué, stencilling, mixed media techniques and upcycling (there are loads of upcycling projects). There are 101 projects in total throughout the book allowing you to practice the various techniques covered. They are not all garments there are plenty of projects for the home, for kids and to make as gifts. Even though it sounds like a lot of projects for 1 book they are not crammed in, they each have at least a couple of pages of instructions, photos and diagrams. I'm amazed at how much they managed to fit into the 320 pages.

I love this book and would highly recommend it, you will be inspired.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  39 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great easy-to-wear projects you can make to reflect your own style 27 Jun 2012
By Shala Kerrigan - Published on
Improv Sewing by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut is a collection of projects and patterns that you can make on the fly and sew using a standard sewing machine.

It's my favorite kind of sewing book. It doesn't depend on couture techniques or fussy cut detailed patterns. The patterns are made of simple lines and easy to create in the size you need. They leave some things unhemmed because knits don't come unraveled. Lots of embellishment techniques to create a look for yourself, your child or your home that's unique and artistic.

It starts with an introduction to fabric types and tips for sewing using a sewing machine with those fabrics, how to clip seams , use foldover elastic and ideas for thrift store shopping.

The instructions are very complete. If you're a novice sewer, you'll want to read through the chapters in order to understand how to put together the basic patterns before you get into the embellishments.

The clothes I wear the most are comfortable jersey knit skirts and dresses, and I like things that are easy to make and can be made with thrifted finds. Chapter 2 is Finding Your Fit- starting with how to take measurements, then using a well-fitting teeshirt your willing to cut up to use to make basic patterns. You will learn how to make a pattern for an a-line skirt that will fit perfectly with an elasticized waistband and how to make dress patterns with different necklines using the teeshirt pieces. The patterns use jersey knits for easy sewing.

Chapter 3 is Five Basic Designs. While there are several projects for children in this book, these patterns are for adults. They explain different sleeve types, and the patterns are easy wear casual pieces with lots of style. Tunics that can be dresses and skirts that could easily become wardrobe staples. Two of the skirts use woven fabrics. My favorite is the three panel wrap skirt.

In Chapter 4, Ruffles, Pleats and Trims, you'll use your basic pattern pieces with techniques like ruffles, ruching, shirring, binding and pleats to make dresses and shirts. My favorite project in this chapter is a toss up between the very feminine ruffled dressy dress and the ruffled wrap.

Chapter 5, Lines, uses lines of thread machine sewn for embellishing. This chapter has some clothing, but it also has a bunch of great home accessories that also make good gifts. My favorite projects are the nesting boxes made of canvas with great contrasting thread details and the meandering cardigan made from an old long sleeve teeshirt.

Chapter 6, Doodling, Sketching and Writing, doodle stitching with your sewing machine. Creating images and designs, this chapter has an introduction which explains the basic method. There are great home decor projects in this chapter, as well as a tubular constructed sun dress with a nice detail of leaf embroidery. My favorite projects are the fiddlehead dress with it's delicately spiraled fiddlehead fern shapes, and the potluck dish cover.

Chapter 7, Applique, has both regular applique and reverse applique projects. The scarf from the cover is in this chapter. My favorite projects are the colorful All-Weather Applique Mobile, and the easy to sew Hoodie Scarf which also makes a wonderful gift.

Chapter 8 , Stenciling, one of my favorite techniques, these are freezer paper stencils for nice sharp lines. A monogrammed shaving pouch that makes a nice gift for men and a soft knit wrap skirt stenciled with an umbrella are my favorites from this chapter.

Chapter 9 , Beyond Fabric, is non-fabrics. Sewn paper, plastic, cork, Tyvek and vinyl. I love the pencil pouch that could be made using a favorite sketch and the wind spinner made from card stock.

Chapter 10 is Upcyling! One of my favorite things in the world. Felted sweaters make long mitts, cotton fabric from old shirts and dresses to make very pretty potholders and other wonderful projects. My favorite is the wrap skirt made from 3 men's dress shirts.

Chapter 11 is Instant Gifts, Instant Gratification, super quick to sew items that make great gifts for friends on short notice. These use techniques from the previous chapters to make small, fun gifts. The loose leaf paper machine stitched to look like notebook paper can be hand embroidered with your personal note. I like the idea of stitching that with something like "Michael + Shala= True Love 4-ever" for a newly married couple. The jersey shawl is really easy to make and customize and that's my other favorite project from this chapter.

It finishes nicely with the templates for the decorations, a resources list and a complete index.
[I received a complimentary copy of the book to review on my craft blog- Don't Eat the Paste. My reviews are always my honest opinion]
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best sewing book ever! 22 Aug 2012
By debra - Published on
i had my doubts when i first got this book, as i've seen so many sewing books that are, well, blah...but was i impressed! it totally takes the fear out of sewing your own way. i kinda like doing something original and not having a whole lot of structured (read difficult) instructions and rules when i'm creating, and this book is just the ticket. i've never really made a clothing pattern of my own before, and within a couple of days, i had read through, drew up a pattern, and created the 4-panel dress, and it fits great, looks great, and it was really easy and fun-no kidding! i've converted a top into a cardigan, and i'm just getting ready to make a couple of skirts, and i've only had the book for about a week and a half! it is truly inspirational! if you love to sew, or you want to learn to make really cute, on trend clothing and other items, in a relaxed, creative, and non-stress-inducing kind of way, this is the book for you! you will not be disappointed by this book, trust me!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational 14 May 2012
By Jan Whitaker - Published on
I bought the book a few days ago and have paged through it several times already. A friend who was visiting saw it and bought it the next day. It's beautifully put together and shows a lot of thought and talent behind it. I can't imagine anyone who reads it not being inspired to take on a project or two. Personally, I'm a make-it type person and I've always wanted to figure out how I could refashion old t-shirts. Now I've got several ideas in mind and can't wait to get started.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Create Your Wardrobe! 21 Sep 2012
By Amylynn McDevitt - Published on
This book is simply fun and inspirational!

I have some knowledge about knits and have been sewing several years, and wanted to get into garment making. This book really breaks it down and makes it easy. Being a creative right brain person ,sometimes books are not the thing for me, this book really breaks down and makes it easy. I have never made a pattern before but after this book I have made a dress, and two knit shirts! I am now cutting up my old shirts that were loved and worn and creating new shirts and dresses that will last!
Are you tired of buying knits that are too see through and don't last from the department stores. I have been getting tired of investing my money and throwing my clothes out after a few wears, ridiculous! Now I can create my own shirts, and dresses and know the knits are quality, and quality made.

Also check out there beautiful step by step videos on
Worth the investment and can help and inspire a beautiful and simple wardrobe!
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars improbable, not improv 15 Aug 2012
By ron - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Making whole garments without hems, structure, reinforcement at seams, and then showing pictures of people in these garments with nary a bulge, bra or panty line indicates if you are going to make clothes out of scraps of fabrics, plan to invest in amazing undergarments, or really nice photo retouching, or only making garments for cardboard type of figure.
I bought this book after seeing an article to make a large t shirt into a sleeveless dress in another magazine and actually did this project with my daughter, and went well. So when I bought the book, this is what I was looking for. There are many comments in the book on repurposing clothes, etc, but the projects shown are more about using jersey, and don't appear to be redone t shirts, and so forth. And the sleeves that I struggled with as a beginning sewer back in the day are glossed over, and generally not included, and so the tops or dresses are frequently sleeveless, and the armholes have no finish, nor do the neckline.
The accessories that are done in a haphazard method are pleasant, and strike and interesting modern approach to embelleshment, but the garments are not anything that would hold up to washing, nor would you actually want to wear them for anything other than pajamas.
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