Crafty Reads: How to Speak Fluent Sewing

As a self-taught sewist, I know I have gaps in my knowledge. I can muddle along, figure out unfamiliar terms when I come across them, but I often wish I had a stronger foundation. So, when I saw the book How to Speak Fluent Sewing by Christine Haynes, I thought it would be just the background I am missing.

How to Speak Fluent Sewing is a reference book – there are no anecdotes or patterns – separated into sections to define 300 sewing tools, techniques, and terms. Each item has an illustration, definition, and explanation. It starts with the tools section, which added a ton of notions to my wish list. Coming from knitting, it feels like sewing has a lot of extra tools, so I really appreciated the the explanations in this section for what different tools are used for.

The other highlights for me were the fabric terms and the embellishments. I am still trying to understand different substrates and the illustrations and explanations of different weave structures and their properties are excellent. The embellishments section is a place I know I will return when looking for inspiration, it has wonderful examples of techniques to add to your work.

Sewing is a giant world and the book could easily have been twice as long, but the selection of terms seemed pretty good. The section on garment details is focused on a few areas – sleeves, collars – and leaves more distinctions to other reference books.

I have several new sewing patterns on deck, and I am glad to have How to Speak Fluent Sewing in my library to refer to as I work on them. Do you have any helpful reference books in your library? For next month I am going to be reading Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook if you want to join me. Please let me know if you do!

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