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Jul 4, 2011

Land of the Free(bie)

Friends, the only thing I like better than getting something for next to nothing ($20 sewing machines, anyone?), is getting something for FREE!

So I was delighted to receive a complementary copy of Simplicity Fabric Guide: The Ultimate Fiber Resource, being released this month and already available on Amazon below list price, from its publisher, Sixth&Spring Books.  I don't advertise on MPB, but I am happy to share my honest opinion.

Let's take a look.

Like many people who sew, I'm a highly visual person, and so I appreciated the beautiful art direction here.  At roughly 175 pages and spiral bound, this fabric guide is easy to refer to -- pages stay open.  It measures roughly 9" x 9" x 1" thick, which is, for me, a very comfortable book size.  I'm short.

There are roughly 50 pages devoted to fabric types, with two fabrics per page, arranged in alphabetical order.  Photographs are large, clear, and in full color.  Along with each photo is a brief description, recommended uses, and sewing tips.  These are some of the best photographs of fabric I've seen, and truly capture the unique textures of the fabrics being described.

Other highlights include a detailed description of various weaves and knits, a section on natural and synthetic fibers, as well as chapters devoted to color choices, thread choices, interfacings and linings.

Simplicity Fabric Guide is not as encyclopedic as some of the older fabric guides I'm familiar with, but I don't think most people need an encyclopedia -- or want one.  Too much information and a book can become unwieldy and, as a result, infrequently used.  Excellent photography and clear layout make this a winner, especially for beginner and intermediate sewers.  

A sewing book about fabric should be beautiful and invite the reader to open it again and again, no?

You can see more photos of Simplicity Fabric Guide here.

It's Independence Day here in the USA, and I've declared independence from my dreaded ironing board project.  At least until lunch.

Friends, in the spirit of commerce, is there a favorite sewing-related (or non sewing-related item) you wish to endorse today?  You know by now I'm a big fan of the Brother 1034D serger, for example, and don't even get me started on Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream...

Something worth the price that really lights up your life?

Let your voice be heard!


  1. I'll happily endorse fabrics from Emma One Sock. Each piece of fabric is so beautifully presented, folded perfectly with tissue paper and then placed in a neat little plastic envelope, that I hate to mess it up. Of course I can only admire it in its pristine state for a few minutes before I shake it out, fluff it up and start experimenting with the way it drapes.

  2. Swarovski crystals! I love how they sparkle when you add them to an already textured area on a garment. A little pricey, but always worth it. As for free, I am now the very happy owner of two new-to-me sewing machines! A neighbor is moving, and out on their curb was a New Home treadle, and a monstrously heavy duty White in amazing condition. I was instantly wishing for a superb technician like Rain to come into my life! This is my first treadle machine, and I told my husband "I blame Peter for my wanting to rescue this ancient piece of machinery loveliness!". Happy 4th..........

  3. I would second the Emma One Sock review. I would also give a shout to Fabric Mart in Sinking Springs, PA. Happiness in person and by internet...never disappointed, great bargains.

  4. Short is relative, average height for men in China is about 5'6"; and there's a whole lot of Chinese. Plus the average woman is 5'4" right here in the USA. I just had the oddest vision of you up at a Church lecturn with a humongous illuminated sewing encyclopedia open...

    I like to crochet, and I found some Noro silk yarn at a thrift store once in a lovely orange color. It was braided rather than twisted and was so easy to work. Just lovely! I wish I could afford to use it on a regular basis; I have no hesitation in recommending it to others. They do make twisted yarn as well, I haven't been lucky enough to find it at a thrift store though.

    I also really like my Bates crochet hooks, they just slip through the loops so nicely. The boyes just don't work as well in my hands.

  5. My endorsement for the day would have to be my Pfaff 1471 creative machine. It's 25 yrs old, and worth it's weight in gold. I love the machine as much today as when I purchased it.

    That fabric guide book is gorgeous! I MUST have it! I have been yard-saleing this weekend, and found 5 vintage sewing books for literally pennies. One is from 1937, and in perfect condition. No pic on my blog yet, but hopefully by the end of the day!

  6. I heartily endorse my Singer 301. I just love it to pieces!!! It only does one thing, but it really does that one thing (straight stitch) well. It has a lever so you can drop the feed dogs for FMQ. It has direct drive gears and can go through layers of leather. It's got the forward slant, like my touch and sew, so you can see what you're sewing. And it's cute in a very 1950's way.

    It's a little thing, but I also want to endorse magnetic trays. I use them for holding screws and parts during repairs and for catching the safety pins when I'm quilting. If it falls, it comes up as one clump and there's no searching or sweeping.

  7. Chopsticks. Yes, I know it's weird. But my favorite sewing tool is a long, thin, round piece of wood. It's just as good at pushing out collar points as the fancy tools and it's free. I used it for turning, stuffing things, making creases sharp and clear, it's the best thing ever to use with transfer paper, and it's easy to get a new one if you lose it!

  8. Thanks for the review! I've been on a sewing book-buying binge - seriously. And, I do love Clinique 7 day scrub cream. My tip - I tried 25 sunscreens - my dermatologist gave me samples - result Elna MD UV Clear 46 SPF. Can't even tell it's on - clear and smooth. Absolutely non-irritating and hypo-allergenic - my new favorite product. . . . I've been looking for sunscreen for my face for 25 years.

  9. Lighted seam rippers (meaning, a seam ripper w/a little lightbulb at the end; the body is fat enough for a AAA battery). Sounds silly, but if you're ripping out black thread on black fabric & you're above a certain age & have correspondingly tired/weak eyes, OMG, this tool is a life saver!

    Doesn't matter how well lit your sewing space is, this tiny little bit more of light right where you need it is brilliant.

    And I second the chopsticks. That & blunt tweezers make turning collars & linings perfect to press.

  10. hi peter

    I want to get a 1034D. i've been on the fence about it... then 2 days ago my brother XR-7700 died (no clue WHAT happened still since it breaks before a 3 day weekend right? UGH!). I didn't think I'll miss it much but I miss it a lot! I think I will be getting the 1034D with your endorsement, it has basically sealed the deal. my husband is ok with it too. so I guess now I relaly have to get it!

  11. I also have a 1034D - loads of great reviews on it at Pattern Review. It's a real workhorse of a serger.

  12. Great reviews all! I am a huge fan of my Brother 1034D, Emma One Sock AND Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream!
    All sewing books make me very happy; thanks for the recommendation of this new one!
    My Gingher left handed sewing shears are one of my favorite things, and worth every penny. Previously a "scissors are scissors" person, my sewing box is now filled with all scissors Gingher.

  13. I like most of my sewing tools, but my favourite is my skirt marker. Now I procrastinate on hemming because hand hemming is dull, not because I have to try the skirt/dress on ten times before it's the same length all round :-)

  14. I would like to endorse my Singer model 185! A great uncomplicated machine that put a smile on your face, because can sew everything with no complain. Small, easy to thread, good price, also great for beginners or to get as first vintage!

  15. Besides heartily endorsing the MPB blog, I endorse interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply (I have no affiliation). They are simply the best, IMHO.

  16. As much as I love my grandmother's 1941 Singer Electric, I am the proud owner of a brand new Brother 1034D. My darling husband bought it for me for my birthday last week, and not knowing what it was, he googled it and got the consumer data and deemed it an acceptable gift. Today, I amd going to begin to use it. Hopefully I will be able to thread it. I am SO excited! Thanks for all your great tips!

  17. I love my sterling silver thimble--it is elegant, comfortable, and practical and cheers me up when there is a lot of hand stitching to do. My favorite sewing book is a British book that manages to summarize, with drawn illustrations, almost every conceivable sewing technique needed for clothing and the home. Its simplicity is empowering, as it does not stop for fussy details, but explains the most important points and leaves you to get on with the job. As a person who has never somehow ever lived in a standard house, and whose body does not fit standard sizes, this book is like a friendly coach for all the windows, the linens, and my wardrobe and that of my husband. I don't have it handy but will post the citation later today. Kristina in Ohio

  18. Wow! That Simplicity Fabric book rivals the Claire Shaffer one!


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