No patterns needed- DIY Couture from simple shapes is Rosie Martin’s second book. Rosie has developed an innovative approach to making your own clothes without buying pre made paper patterns. If you struggle with commercial patterns, then this is the book for you!
Rosie’s book contains 15 projects that can all be made from 3 simple shapes, the rectangle, a circle or triangles. using a little math and Rosie’s detailed instructions, you draft straight onto your fabric. Rosie advocates a truly DIY approach to sewing using only the most basic of tools, and a lot of imagination.
Worried that you’re not “model” sized? Fear not, Rosie has chosen a cross section of woman all with different figures, and the clothes look great on these gorgeous women!
Ok, so here’s a disclaimer, Rosie is a dear friend of mine. We met on twitter in 2010 and she has worked with me was a Thrifty Stitcher Tutor, and also as part of my team on The Sewing Bee. Whilst I was supplied with a review copy of the book, all opinions in this review are honest and unbiased.(Here’s Rosie and I, at her Fabulous book launch party)
I agreed to be part of the blog tour because I saw an advance copy of this book and LOVED IT!
One of the reasons I love this book, is the modern fashionable styling and photography. This is not a typical sewing book, in that the clothes are not “retro” or “vintage”: they are just clothes. The sort of clothes you can wear everyday or for special occasions. The designs are both contemporary and classic. There are suggestions with each project for how you can make it your own, and also create new designs from the blueprints in the book.
I spent a while planning what to make from this book, and there were a couple of ideas bouncing around my head. I was drawn to the segment dress, and decided to replicate a hemline from a 60’s Balenciaga dress project I’ve recently worked on. I had some fabulous viscose in my stash, and since I’m not a skinny malinky, I decided to make my segment dress more drapey than the structured book version.
Here’s my version, whipped together the afternoon of the book launch!
The instructions for these dress were very simple, and easy to follow with clear photos and drawings. I needed to use a well fitting sleeveless top to create the only fitted part of this dress which was the shoulder area. I drafted a part circular shape as per the instructions, and used a recently sewn sleepless top to make the front and back shoulder area pattern.
Confession– I may have skipped reading ALL the instructions and rushed ahead on my own path, and had to go back…. bad CL.
Luckily for me, this project didn’t have too much maths, which is not my strong point and maybe another reason why I was drawn to circles? I used Dot and cross pattern paper, only because I had it, but you can use any paper you have in the house like rolls of wrapping paper or even newspaper ( if you still get one!)
I chose to draw my shape onto calico and toile this dress for 3 reasons.
- I chose a different weight fabric than was suggested in the book, so the shape wouldn’t look the same, and I wanted to ensure it would work in a lighter cloth.
- My High/low hem shaping needed to be done in fabric on me, to get the right shape and balance
- I scooped out the back neckline, which was again different to the instructions and I wanted to see this in a toile before committing to the lovely viscose
Once, I fitted the toile, I cut it up and laid it directly on my cloth and drew out the changes directly onto the fabric.
After the toile was created and fitted, the process of marking out the dress in the real fabric, and sewing it together took only around 3 hours. I even instagrammed some photo tips as I went along.
Even a speed sewer like me takes time to do the neckline well, and as I was using a binding on a floppy viscose, the edge finishing was a little fiddly. Some careful pressing, under-stitching and pin basting paid off, and I was pleased with the flat bias facings.
My dress was the perfect comfy but dressy piece to wear to a party on a hot night in the city! It felt super swishy and girly, without being too fussy. The bold geometric print viscose, is not my usual plain choice, but I loved how the fabric moved, and the bright fresh colour. I’ll definitely adapt this to make some more summer dresses, and will probably reduce the volume if I make in a more structured fabric. I can see this as a perfect holiday dress too, worn with flip flops and a sun hat walking along a gorgeous sandy beach…
This would be a great book for anyone new to dressmaking, especially teenagers or young adults, who may find commercial pattern language and symbols mind boggling.
It’s also a great book for someone like me who is a professional that has little time to sew for themselves. It was really satisfying to make something in an afternoon, and then to wear it out. Simple doesn’t have to be dull, and there are other projects in the book that have plenty of techniques to keep advanced dressmakers happy! having seen a great version of the drip drape skirt, that may well be next on my list, or the asymmetrical wrap skirt, or possibly the maxi skirt….. so many great ideas in this book. It’s available from good booksellers for £17.95