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Girl with a Sewing Machine book review by Jenni Smith


Girl With a Sewing Machine is a craft book with genuine soul and one of the nicest dressmaking titles I have read in quite a while. The reason it resonates is because Jenni is a down to earth person who truly wants to get people over that initial fear of making their own clothes. It is a much bigger step than some might imagine and it makes perfect sense to get cracking with old clothes or charity shop finds and to upcycle them. Looking back this is was I was doing from about the age of 9 with my best friend Laura – creating garments from our dressing up box, letting my imagination run wild and then enjoying the end results instantly. The alteration challenge on the Great British sewing Bee is always my favourite part, yet for some reason I have got out of the habit of just having a go and being adventurous. If it something that would otherwise be given away or never worn, then what is there to lose?

There are projects using different fabrics such as silk scarves or woolly jumpers meaning you can quickly learn how your sewing machine handles them, and what you prefer working with. I am definitely going to sew the mittens and snood from an old jumper for next Winter.


The technical details are nicely written too, in a friendly and accessible voice and Jenni looks so happy and confident in all of her makes that you want to get sewing and replicate her joy!


Having said that, Jenni has her own style and you may not want to recreate all the outfits exactly, but you can still learn plenty from the methods. I am not sure I could rock a tassel top, but I could sew one up for someone who could!


I think the self-drafted garments towards the end look appealing, though I have not yet had time to sew them up. The wrap-trousers are on my make-list and I will report back.

I would recommend buying the book for those friends who keep saying they want to sew but don’t know where to start. I would also recommend planning some sewcial nights with like-minded folk to have a go at some of the projects together, embracing the spirit of the #sewingrevolution.

The wonderful textile artist Ineke Berlyn was the spark for Jenni to start sewing and she sadly died earlier this year. My mum bought me her book on Journal Quilts a fews years back and I have admired her work ever since. I imagine that she would be super proud of Jenni’s book and I am sure it will give readers the same inspiration to make beautiful things.

In the spirit of upcycling I made this By Hand London Anna Dress out of a curtain - check back next week on the blog for all the details. 

Also read on for a brilliant hack of our Hepworth Apron pattern that you can buy here now (as a paper pattern or a PDF). 

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