Friday, 22 June 2012

Book Review: Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

It's been a while since I reviewed a new book. I did something to my back after moving my piano this week (I'm not Hercules, just terribly stupid) so I was feeling a bit miserable this morning, and then this turned up in the post! I thought I'd give it a bit of airtime since I very nearly didn't buy it after reading some negative reviews. While I think that the criticisms aren't completely unjustified, I really love the book overall.

These are just my opinions, I bought the book with my own money and I'll review it completely unbiasedly. I'll also throw some not-so-brilliant phone camera photos in so you can judge for yourself. I should point out that I'm on painkillers and horizontal, so I'll either ramble or fall asleep.

Very image-heavy post, so all under a cut.





So, here are the dresses, and as you would expect, they're based on ten famous Hollywood costume designs. The author sounds lovely in the introduction. I love her views about film costumes being very important in aiding our understanding of the characters who wear them. She says that she would have loved to have included more patterns, including one of Vivien Leigh's dresses from Gone With the Wind, but she focused on designs that are timeless and wearable. Now, I made a copy of one of Scarlett O'Hara's dresses a few years ago, and though I love it, no, I never wear it. She's right there.

Sew Iconic


The patterns are inside a little envelope at the front.

Sew Iconic


Sew Iconic

The patterns! Eeek! If you haven't made your own clothes before, don't worry, it's always a bit frightening to see this map of lines which may or may not lead you to the treasure of El Dorado. There are a few separate dress patterns overlapping on one sheet here, but it's not as scary as it looks. In fact, as someone who's used to using patterns from Burda magazine (stupidly confusing at times), these patterns are a joy to behold. Each pattern reference number repeats along the pattern line, which would make it much easier to follow and copy onto drafting paper or large sheets of tracing paper. 

Once you copy the pattern, the excellent guides in the book help you adjust the pattern blocks to fit your size and cover all topics very clearly. I won't lie, pattern cutting is an art in itself and it can be infuriating, but it's a useful skill to learn. Standard dress patterns rarely fit everyone perfectly, so learning how to alter and even draft your own patterns, gives you a great sense of achievement when you've actually made something tailored to fit you perfectly.

What's really brilliant is that there is a tumblr with video guides for making some of the dresses at sewiconic.tumblr.com

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

I really like how straight-forward the instructions are. A lot of books gloss over steps and make things very confusing. The author has obviously worked very hard on the text in making it inclusive for people of all skill levels.

Sew Iconic

The first pattern is based on one that Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman. Not her red light district outfit, don't get excited, it's the Day at the Races dress. It's very 50s looking and I imagine that it would make a lovely day dress. It's also the easiest pattern in the book, so it's a good place to start.

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

Each dress chapter starts with a brief summary of the actress, the film, the costume designer and the dress, followed by ideas for fabric.

Sew Iconic

Next is Audrey Hepburn's dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's not the one from the opening scene, something which has disappointed a lot of reviewers. It's a lovely dress all the same, and a lot more wearable for most people. The reason I think the author picked this particular dress is because it's classic, it's relatively easy to make, and it doesn't scream "I WANT TO BE AUDREY HEPBURN!"I mean, most women do want to be Audrey Hepburn, but the most famous dress is so recognisable that I'd feel a little awkward wearing it unless I was at a costume party. This one, on the other hand, is the first dress I'll make from this book, though I'll skip the feathers. There must be some cruelty-free alternative frou frou suitable for the hem.

  Sew Iconic - Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

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Jennifer Grey's pink dress from Dirty Dancing.
Sew Iconic

Marilyn's subway dress from The Seven Year Itch. This is one of the better copies in the book in terms of detailing. I think it would look nice in black and you'd avoid awkward "Why are you wearing Marilyn Monroe's dress?" questions, which is what my friends would ask me if I rolled up in this.

Marilyn Monroe famous shot 'The Seven Year Itch'

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic


Oh, I die. Keira Knightley's green dress from Atonement! I'm making this. I don't know where I'll go in it, but I don't care!

Sew Iconic


Sew Iconic - Keira Knightley in Atonement

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

It's so pretty! The twists at the back of this version reminds me of a Yohji Yamamoto dress which was just one uncut piece of fabric which was twisted into shape. The neckline of the film version was laser cut, and the author recommends sewing on sequins to replicate the effect.

And then Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago. Everyone loves a flapper.

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief.

Sew Iconic

I'll be honest and admit that this is my least favourite pattern. Apart from this, I'm full of praise of the patterns and the book in general, but this dress did not translate so well in my opinion, but it's still elegant and Grecian looking. If the author does a follow up book, I hope she chooses some other dresses that Grace wore in her films; the red dress in Dial M for Murder or something from Rear Window would be amazing.

Sew Iconic


Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

Rita Hayworth as "Gilda", 1946

Sew Iconic

Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair is a good copy and a bit of a contemporary take on the cheongsam.

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

  And finally, Kate Winslet in Titanic. You get the general Edwardian effect without you having to strap on a corset. You could also tweak this a little if you wanted an Empire line, Jane Austen-style dress. I think if you found the right embellished fabric or have a have a go at embroidering and beading it yourself, then this would look really lovely.

Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

And that's it! I would very much recommend picking up a copy if you like, or would like to take up dressmaking. This is an unusual book with excellent guides and what appear to be great patterns. I hope this will be the first in a series of Sew Iconic books!

1 comments:

customwritings.com said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This looks like a wonderful book to have. I love to learn sewing and stitching and this would be a definite guidance. Thanks for sharing!

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