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Sew Your Own: Man finds happiness and meaning of life - making clothes [Paperback]

John-Paul Flintoff
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 July 2010
John-Paul Flintoff is a bit of a one-off: a man who embarks on a spiritual pilgrimage by outsourcing his life to Bangalore, then hooks up with Mormons and Buddhists (well, Richard Gere), on a quest for truth and fulfilment. His journey is like a twenty-first century Candide, learning that life's satisfactions, and some kind of response to the concerns of economic meltdown and climate change, lie in learning how to make things for oneself, and mending things that fall apart. Along the way, Flintoff paints pictures with Brit-art oddball Billy Childish, gets apprenticed in Savile Row, grows his own food and spins fibre from nettles. Daringly, he also turns his book over to his wife Harriet, who likes nothing better than a fancy spa and a shop at Liberty's. The results are comic, heartwarming and inspiring.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846688922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846688928
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 432,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


`Leading journalist Flintoff makes a strong case... very funny, but makes a serious point that is extremely relevant to today.' --The Lady

Book Description

What happens when a man, dazzled like most of us by hi-tech, happy to have his suits made by robots in New York, sets out to find the meaning of life? John-Paul Flintoff's improbable and very funny book charts a journey through call centres and allotments, rat-catching and Savile Row tailors, to some kind of enlightenment. It is also a book about a man who learns how to crochet - in public.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One long yawn 16 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What looked like an entertaining take on consumerism turned out to be an ill thought out collection of articles, wandering from recycling clothing to exploring different religions. Maybe the problem is that the author lives in a city, whereas I'm out in the sticks: a car can drive through the village where I live in the space of a single yawn. Many of the recycling/re-use/repair ideas presented here are just part of normal life here, although we don't get quite the same opportunities to drop names. It's a shame that the author doesn't give directions for his clothing projects: instead we simply learn that he made this, he mended that. It's the sort of book I'd expect to find in a doctor's waiting room - short chapters, saying very little, merely passing time.

And the challenge of crocheting in public! How revolutionary! I've been knitting and crocheting in public for thirty years now...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It grew on me 26 July 2010
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I started reading this book I found it really frustrating. Flintoff, who is a journalist, seemed to be just putting together a whole load of disparate articles under a very loose banner, i.e. 'how I changed the world by making my own clothes', and marketing it as a finished, well rounded thing. Trying to read it like this, with some sense of continuity, it totally doesn't work. The thread that ties the articles together is just too tenuous, and I found myself reading a chapter and then really not understanding why it made its way into the book.

About half way through I abandoned the idea of trying to read it as a coherent whole and got on much, much better. Flintoff's writing is quite dry and self-deprecating. At times, particularly in the sections where he is trying to find himself through exploring religions I found him a little too Jon Ronson'esque. I love Jon Ronson's writing, but if I want it I'll read Ronson's own work.

Where Flintoff shines is when he really engages with the subject and sticks to the main premise of the book, i.e. the idea of making his own clothes. I loved the sections where he talks about craftsmanship and what it means to make things and how that gives him spiritual succour. I believed it when he wrote it, and that sense of authenticity really touched me. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading about his encounter with the artist Billy Childish. By the end of the book I was much more in tune with what Flintoff was trying to do, whereas at the beginning I didn't care. So I guess it works. It hasn't made me want to make my own underpants, but it has certainly got me thinking about production and waste in the clothing industry and hopefully making better (as in better for the planet) buying decisions in future. The bibliography at the back of the book was very helpful if any of the issues Flintoff raises interest you further, and I liked the way he had annotated the bibliography with his own findings and ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Granny in a cottage 28 Nov 2011
The title of this book caught me but like many other reviewers I was irritated by the chopping and changing and you maybe right that it is more like a blog. His search for spirituality has a long way to go yet.
However I grew up in the 50's and lived on a farm for most of my young married life. We made our own clothes, knitted, painted, built our own house,grew vegetables and milked by our cow by hand and although I still crochet and grow my own veggies as much as possible, life's too short to knit my own knickers (how uncomfortable can they be ) Jean-Paul should get out of London into the country and catch up with reality. Three cheers for Clarkson I like his style, he is completely useless at do-it- yourself, according to James May, but at least he gives many people something to grind their teeth about!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I hoped for explanation of nettle weaving, a subject on which this journalist has made himself well-informed. He can make trousers. He knows where to get nettle yarn and knows something about research at de Montfort University in Leicester as well as early 20th century work in Vienna.

All the above was from the man's article in The Ecologist online, which doesn't give any info about how to make trousers or detail to help find the college research.

Nor does the book.

It's a charming, irritatating, chapter by chapter set of thoughtful feelings about the world, & action taken in response. Rather like a Prince Charles speech with a more relaxed voice & better dress-sense. Peak oil comes into it. Clothes come into it. I skipped the bits on religon but would enjoy reading a book like this again.

Just don't expect a reference book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A patchwork quilt of random snippets 21 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With this assortment of loosely connected articles snipped from the loom of his life John-Paul Flintoff has woven a patchwork quilt with many colours and different fabrics; some bright and vibrant with a fine and pleasing silky texture, some mundane and workmanlike like practical cotton or linen, others as dull and uninteresting as coarse sacking.

Being a journalist, he does not tell us anything significant or instructive about sewing, other than that he has done some. So don't expect this to be a book about sewing, it is more of a biography mixed in with some philosophy. However, it is entertaining, or at least most of it is. The chapters are many, and short, and usually rather shallow, and in my opinion they feel to be about the right length and tone for a catchy article in the weekend supplement of a newspaper. I guess it is a hard habit to kick.

He does have some very interesting themes on ecology, religion and politics, and just when one thinks he is taking them somewhere useful the chapter ends, and in the next he skips away onto something completely unrelated. This I found irritating, and it made me think that perhaps he is merely re-hashing other people's bright ideas, but not doing enough research or thinking enough about them to develop depth or add value. For me, I think one of the most cogent bits was written by his wife, and this made me wonder if she was the clever one supplying him with the ideas.

The book is good in parts, less good elsewhere, and bad in just a few. Being episodic it does allow one to dip in and out without losing any plot, so it is ideal for those of us who do most of our reading on public transport.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars warning duplicate book
This is identical to 'Through the eye of a Needle'. The book admits this in VERY small print but this information is omitted in the summery of the book by the seller. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Whiteburn
4.0 out of 5 stars Sew your Own
A very interesting book.I did in fact lend it to someone else to read. The only thing I slightly objected to was the way he made sure
you knew he did not HAVE to do this.
Published 5 months ago by Suki
4.0 out of 5 stars Techno Steptoe...
This is a fun book, it seems to jump all over the place at first but quickly draws you in. Frequently visits charity shops myself it was nice to see someone willing to take this... Read more
Published 17 months ago by willie wit
3.0 out of 5 stars An odd journey along one man's reaction to the end times
Whilst this book rambles somewhat while searching for a single theme which it never really finds, the journey is not an unpleasant one, rather like an aimless stroll when there are... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Ray Blake
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but a somewhat incoherent read
Sew Your Own is John-Paul Flintoff's account of learning to craft whilst examining issues such as consumerism and spirituality. Read more
Published 23 months ago by TheLibrarian
4.0 out of 5 stars Changing the world, stitch by stitch
Thematically this book is all over the place, touching on politics, climate change, craft, religion, self-sufficiency, alternative energy and other issues without any particularly... Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2011 by J. Dawson
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title
This is an odd little book. From the titles and cover blurb, a person would assume the book is about making your own (clothes, food, etc). Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2010 by Ponytail
3.0 out of 5 stars Took too long to get to the "make your own"
I bought this book from the title on the cover. As a person who hasn't used a sowing machine before I was hoping to get some inspiration from this book about making your own... Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2010 by stephen Luff
3.0 out of 5 stars Self-insufficiency.
The idea that relearning lost craft skills might be a solution to the West's collective post-modern spiritual, economic and ecological malaise is not a new one of course, and such... Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2010 by A. Miles
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg
Having failed to get on with this book I took the advice of katywheatley and read it in odd chapters. Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2010 by David Pearce
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