Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review: Mother Pletsch's Painless Sewing by Pati Palmer & Susan Pletsch

Mother Pletschs Painless Sewing

Paperback, 128 pages
Published in 2002
ISBN: 978-0935278545
Retails for $9.95 USD
Details on Amazon here

Book/Chapter Headings:

1. "But I Don't Have the Patience to Sew"--basic intro chapter

2. How to Sew Fast--10 tips for sewing fast (grouping tasks in blocks, faster pinning and cutting, preventing machine jams); organizing your sewing space (generic tips here); sewing wardrobes and coordinating pieces.  The only gem here is the 10 tips for sewing and only a few of them are gems.

3. From Fiber to Fabric--This is my favorite chapter.  Synthetic, natural, and blended fibers/fabrics are covered here.  Great explanations about how the fabric will wear over time, absorbency, and choosing fabrics in the store.

4. Textile Love and Care--contains a nice chart about caring for washable fabrics (why you use detergent when preshrinking, best temperatures for reducing wrinkling, etc.).

5. Tools of the Trade--A nice shopping list for the beginner with no supplies yet.  Basic comparison of threads and how to choose a thread for your project; features to look for in a sewing machine or serger.  No information here regarding essential presser feet to own, however.

6. Quick Shaping--This chapter is another gem for the beginning sewer.  The differences between lining, interfacing, and underlining are explained.  Interfacing choices are clearly explained, as well as how to use them (fusible vs. sew-in) and preshrink them, which ones to always have on hand, and of course, a plug for the Palmer/Pletsch Perfect Fuse interfacings.  There is a nice chart showing you where to interface garments (facings, collars, cuffs, yokes, etc.).  One great tip I picked up here is the "glue and fold" technique for underlinings.  When I underlined my wedding dress skirt, the finished dress has some slight rippling on the outer skirt.  I could have prevented this by making the underlining slightly smaller in width.  The "glue and fold' technique is a quick method for figuring out how small to make the underlining and keeping it matched up correctly. 

7. Pretty Pati's Perfect Pattern Primer--This is where you will see significant overlap from the "Fit for Real People" book by Palmer/Pletsch.  The "Fit for Real People" book does a better job here.  This chapter contains information on measuring yourself to determine pattern size, design ease vs. wear ease, how to tissue-fit your pattern, making a body graph (a Palmer/Pletsch technique for determining your individual body shape; MUCH better explanation in the "Fit For Real People" book), a fit glossary of common problems (again, MUCH better in the "Fit For Real People" book), and how to fit as you sew.  This chapter is basically the Cliffs Notes version of their other books.  I recommend buying the other books instead.

8. Mother Pletsch's Truths--How to straighten the grain, importance of staystitching, more fast sewing tips, reducing bulk, and understitching.

9. Pretty Pati's Pointers--a couple of other time-saving tips

10. Press As You Sew--Necessary tools for pressing and how to use them.  How to press; don't laugh, I never learned properly so this was helpful. 

11. Necessary Details--Tips and how-to for plackets, setting in sleeves, shoulder pad placement, hem finishes, centered zipper, lapped zipper, invisible zipper, faced necklines, buttons and buttonholes (including corded buttonholes), and pockets.  A basic sewing book covers these with more pictures and instructions.  I also imagine that the other Palmer/Pletsch publications will give your more detail than the snippets here.

12. Designing to Individualize--Ways to change the pattern to suit your style (adding/eliminating seams, converting darts, changing grainlines, etc.).  The "Fit for Real People" book gives you MUCH more detail.  I also own "How to Make Sewing Patterns" by McCunn and it has great ideas for changing collars, necklines, etc.

Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?
For as small as this book is, there are tons of illustrations.  No photographs, just black & white illustrations.  The illustrations of pattern alterations and sewing techniques are clear.  The illustrations of people (aka cartoons) are corny.  They give you the impression that this book isn't to be taken seriously.

Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?
No.  All the Palmer/Pletsch publications repeat information over and over again, which is nice for learning, but they also share information.  This means my "Fit for Real People" book contains some of the same information found in this book.  All the Palmer/Petsch publications also refer you to their other publications often.  I did enjoy this book for a quick read but the highlights (fiber information, tips for faster sewing, and pattern alterations) can be found somewhere else.  I posted my favorite tips from this book here.  The fiber information can be found online.  All the Palmer/Pletsch pattern alterations can be found in their other books.  I'm still reading the other 2 books I own (Fit for Real People and Pants for Every Body) but I'm guessing there is a lot of overlap there as well.  This book falls into the recommendation category "borrow or steal" but don't buy.

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