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Wendy Ward Book Review by Chloe

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped many sewist’s attention that Wendy Ward has released a New Sewing Book. Her hotly anticipated book A beginner’s guide to sewing with knitted fabric was released in January, and social media is full of amazing makes from her new book. You can’t fail to scroll through Instagram without seeing a fellow sewist’s latest make from the book, generally accompanied by a comment saying it won’t be the last time they make this pattern. Well having been sent a copy of the book to review, I’ll add my name to that list or people who love this book and will make lots of new clothes from it.

A beginner’s guide to sewing with knitted fabric is very typical of Wendy’s other books. The modern styling, the clean lines of the patterns, the advice throughout, the ability to customise a pattern and to use it in lots of different ways, this book has everything you’d expect from a Wendy Ward book. If you’ve got either of her previous books: a beginner’s guide to dressmaking or a beginners guide to making skirts, I’d add this book to your wish list as well.

The book has 6 different patterns in, and each one can be customised lots of different ways. There is a t-shirt, a tank top, a jacket, a skirt, lounge pants, and trousers. This meant that when it came to choosing what I wanted to make as part of this review I was spoilt for choice. Both pairs of trousers stood out as items I would make, and I particularly like the look of the Derwent wide leg trousers that look smart and suitable to go to the office in, but look so comfy they could actually be secret pyjamas. However I wanted to make a statement piece and use some of Minerva’s amazing printed Knit Fabrics and that meant I chose to make the Kinder cardigan.

The Kinder cardigan is a loose fitting jacket which can be made short (at the waist), mid-length (just below the hips) or long (reaching your knees). The 2 longer patterns also have humongous pockets. The fabric suggestions reckoned a whole variety of different types of knits which this pattern would work well with the Kinder cardigan, and I chose to use some leaf print Scuba Fabricfrom Minerva to make my jacket. I really like that Wendy writes about which fabrics she made all the photographed samples from, so you can see how a fabric alters the appearance of the finished item. I did worry that my scuba would be too stiff, but I really wanted a statement jacket which I could pair with jeans and a tank top and look like I had made an effort. After all this book is all about sewing with knits, and sewists know that most items made from knits are super comfy, easy to wear and can still look stylish.

The book itself is a treasure trove of advice for how to sew with knits. Sewing with knits seems to have had a bit of a reputation of being difficult and fiddly to sew with, a type of fabric which isn’t suitable for beginners and something which needs to be treated with caution. Wendy’s book holds your hand throughout. The book has a reference section at the front of the book, giving lots of tips and tricks for sewing with knits, the type of stitches to use, the way in which you should pre-treat the fabric, and how to best cut your fabric. I really liked that Wendy gives you several options to achieve the same finish, and also discusses some of the common issues and some support with how to overcome any problems. There isn’t an assumed knowledge of being a confident sewer, but I do think that even if you were a competent sewist you could still pick up some useful tips from the book. I really liked learning about all the different types of stitches that machines had that all related to sewing stretch fabrics. As a self-taught sewist, I often wonder whether I am using the correct method or stitch etc, and Wendy’s book really helped build my confidence.

Throughout construction of the Kinder cardigan there were clearly explained steps accompanied by hand drawn diagrams. Each step was in a manageable chunk and the jacket came together pretty quickly. The patterns seem to have only a few steps, but this is because for several steps another area of the book is referred to. For example when it comes to inserting the sleeve, another pattern earlier on in the book uses the same method so Wendy will give you the page number and the steps and ask you to follow that. I quite liked this as it meant that I used more of the book, recognised that some methods are common tasks which apply to a lot of knit patterns and it meant I didn’t feel daunted by pages and pages of instructions. My only minor quibble is that the Kinder cardigan pattern puts the information about how to construct the pockets (the first step) at the end of the pattern, I’m usually a dive straight in and follow the instructions kinda girl, but I did read through it all to begin with this time, if I hadn’t I would have missed the construction detail for sure and would have had to get acquainted with my seam ripper.

You might spot on my pattern that my pockets don’t look exactly as the pattern intended them to, they sit right on the hemline where really there should be a couple of inches of above the hemline. For some reason my collar band was a bit too short and so I decided that the easiest things would be to make the jacket 2 inches shorter and have the pockets sit on the hemline and then everything lines up. I went back and looked at the pattern piece again and I must have had an error with the tracing of a pattern piece. I’ve made this again in another Minerva scuba and this time it’s worked out as per the pattern.

I’m sure that this relaxed look jacket will work well in the summer, and will quickly become a much-loved make. Both my versions are being worn a lot in the office, and have only not been worn when they are in the wash. Having washed both several times I can testify that this is a great quality scuba that washes really well.

Overall I love Wendy’s new book and am sure that before too long my wardrobe will have several pieces from her A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabric book.

Thanks for reading,
Chloe @ Handmade by Chloe

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