Improv Sewing–the book!

photos copyright Alexandra Grablewski

Get over your fears of messing it up — and start having fun making beautiful things!

We’re on a mission to convince the world that the sewing machine should be a tool for unbridled creativity.

  • Simple how-tos to create five basic garments, plus a slew of effortlessly cool ways to embellish them
  • Learn easy ways to add your own style to homemade or store-bought clothes with modern trimming, stenciling, and applique techniques
  • Create your own designs by sketching, doodling, and writing with thread, using basic fabric, thread, and even the simplest sewing machine
  • Stitch up rugs, pillows, bed and table linens, custom-made to match your rooms and your style
  • Expand your creative potential and get more use out of your machine by stitching on vinyl, cardboard — even cork

September 30, 2012

Join the improv sewing revolution!

In excellent book, craft, and gift stores now…or order on Amazon  or Broadsidebooks.com (our lovely local booksellers!). Published by the good folks at Storey Publishing

So What Are People Saying About It?

Publisher’s Weekly: “This large volume, packed with full-color photographs, is a must-add for sewers who want to work outside the parameters of paper patterns and precise measurements. “It’s about enjoying the journey as your thread travels across the fabric,” Blum and Immergut write, “…and in the end, you’ll have made something lovely and wonderful.” This soothing, empowering style of teaching sewing is a nice contrast to the more rigid directions promoted in other recent sewing books (e.g., 1-2-3 Sew and Sewing in a Straight Line). Blum and Immergut show how to use measurements to draft five basic designs—a two-panel dress, a four-panel dress, a two-panel skirt, a wrap skirt, and a stretch panel skirt (all in Chapter 3)— which then become the basis for dozens of variations in the rest of the book. A concise, basic overview of sewing techniques and how to measure accurately round out the initial help. From there, readers will learn techniques such as bias-binding, ruffles, and ruching to add details to their clothes. As their subtitle promises, there are more than 100 patterns here, making this a deeper resource than many beginning sewing books…there’s a lot to daydream about.”

Library Journal: “Given this book’s title, you may expect pieces that are thrown together with little care. That’s certainly not the approach in Blum and Immergut’s excellent introduction to sewing—they simply want to reduce the intimidation factor. The authors’ “five basic designs” are at the heart of all of the garments in the book, and they’re broken down so clearly and concisely that any stitcher, regardless of experience level, could create a well-fitting, attractive garment following these instructions. These five designs alone are worth the cost of the book; the 96 other patterns, which include riffs on the five basic designs as well as household goods and accessories, make it an even better value. VERDICT: An excellent sewing book for beginners, although experienced tailors will also enjoy the simple yet tailored patterns and creative approach.”

San Francisco Book Review:  “Plenty of sewing books exist to teach the happy sewist how to make this or that, but few books are so delightfully instructional in the art of free-form “improv” sewing as this one. Rather than printing a catalog of patterns with set rules for assembly, this book teaches the basic principles that will free you to master and create your own designs. A beginning sewist could follow the projects outlined in the book to the letter, and have a happy and beautiful house full of homemade shirts, sun-dresses, cards, embroidered headboards, and flowing curtains; but she could also take these ideas, mix them up with her own imagination and, sewing by the seat of her pants, create her own shopping bags and ruched shirts and floor cushions to heart’s content. In the first two chapters, the book introduces fabric types, terminology, necessary tools, and how to measure and fit patterns for yourself; and follows with 101 projects using not only fabric, but cardboard, cork, and plastic bags to name but a few mediums. Upcycle old clothes, create your own gifts, and put those scrappy bits of fabric to good use. Diehard crafters and buttonless non-sewers alike will find this book the perfect launchpad for all things stitched!

The Sewing Directory:  “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. If you only buy one book this year buy this one.”

September 23, 2011

12 thoughts on “Improv Sewing–the book!

  1. I came here by way of Catherine Newman’s shout out on her blog. From clicking around I can already say that I’m thinking of friends with spring birthdays that I will gift this book to. Fast and fearless sewing? That sounds perfect.

    • Thanks, Laurie! We’re so happy you’re here…and yes, we really hope we can get all those tentative sewists out there set aside the fear of messing it up and start having fun.

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  3. Hi! I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your demo tonight at Fancy Tiger in Denver. This really fits my style of sewing :) I’d like to give you a shout on FB and stay updated, but can’t seem to find your page. What is your FB page called?

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the great comment and thank you so much for the great review on your blog! I hope you make a ton of stuff from the book. Don’t worry about throwing everything into the washer and dryer – jersey doesn’t fray and the woven projects are all treated in some way to stop the fraying if not hemmed. All of this stuff is meant to be easy to make and easy to care for. Happy stitching!

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  5. I have a question about Doodling with Thread. You didn’t mention dropping the feed dog. My sewing machine is a 1955 Elna Supermatic. I can’t drop the dog but I can cover it up. If it is not necessary so much the better. I love the book. Whimsical. Great job.

    • Hi jane, Thank you so much for your nice comment! Okay, so in the book we talk about releasing the pressure on the foot for doodling. This, of course, requires a machine that has that adjustment. When I do this method, I never drop the dogs because I like that the machine is doing some of the work (especially if I want to make some straight lines). However, if you can’t change the pressure of your presser foot, then you could always use a darning foot, or a free motion foot. Again, I still don’t drop the dogs, but I think that might be a personal preference. If your machine allows you to manipulate that fabric with the dogs engaged, then forget that little plate and have at it! Is this helpful? Have fun! I hope you make a ton of stuff on that ol’ Elna!

  6. I’ve been enjoying your book – I was going to make the velvet skirt and then realized I had an old Chico’s velvet sheath dress I’m not wearing. I realized I can cut it down and make both a skirt and tunic top and still have leftovers for decorations. I never would have thought of using fold over elastic and it’s such a simple solution. Thanks very much for the idea!

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