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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Review- Sweat Shop Paris: Lessons from a Sewing Cafe

In what's described as the heart of Paris, there is a place called Sweat Shop. It's a cafe couture, you go and rent a sewing machine, or take a class, have a sweet, and sew and socialize.

This book isn't about high couture sewing techniques, making slopers, darts and seam techniques. It's more indie, more personal. It's about designing unique and artistic clothes for yourself.

It really thrills my hippie D.I.Y. soul.

The introduction talks about where the idea came from, some history of the area the shop is in, and photos of neighboring shops with descriptions that will make you wish you were in Paris.

The index has a rating system for how difficult the projects are, and the ratings are accurate, but there is nothing in this book that my 16 year old daughter couldn't do. In the case of the hardest projects which have 3 triangles beside them, there are new techniques to try, but they are all explained well enough that she could make them.

The projects have instructions for drafting patterns and are all photographed and explained so that as long as you know how to use a sewing machine, you can learn the techniques, start with the simpler projects and work your way up to things like the sewn then painted Todti's Jacket. There is knitting, embellishment, sewing, shirring, bead weaving on a cardboard loom, and lots of other fun techniques in this book.

My daughter and I went over this one together, because I was curious to see what would excite her. She liked Sandrine's Flapper Trousers which are lace embellished overalls. I liked the 80s feel to Todti's Jacket and the idea of using it as a canvas. I loved the Plaid Blanket Cape because it reminds me a lot of the drama of my mother's capes, and the easy fit of the Tulip Dress for spring, she preferred The Martena floppy hat, and the Banana Bag which is a very wearable belt bag that doesn't at all look like those awful pouches from the past. We both loved the Quick-Knit Fishnet Sweater for a comfortable look.

A lot of the projects in the book can be made using thrift store and garage sale finds or things that might already be in your closet unworn.

The end of the book is full of recipes so you can really give yourself the feel of Sweat Shop at home with treats like Sissy's Chocolate Cake, made without flour and so pretty with a lace like dusting of powdered sugar. For a more spicy treat for people who don't like chocolate as well, Nordic Cardamon Bread.

Make a treat, brew some coffee, invite some friends and their sewing machines over.

You can get this book from the publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing
My reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

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