Because I am hooked on sewing projects for the home, I probably would not have purchased this book just based on the cover. But do not be deceived, as there are equal amounts of apparel projects and home projects to sew, like modern quilts, pillows and these cute Folding Flower Bowls (video tutorial here). And yes, you only need to use straight lines to sew a round bowl!
I think what I love most about this book is that Brett really makes you feel like you can sew anything. Any material, any project. The cover project, Sewing School Skirt, teaches lots of techniques like making button holes, pleating, and attaching a waist band. But all of the projects are geared toward teaching techniques, allowing you to start with the curtains or square pillow and increase your skills along the way, until you feel up for the challenge. And there are more surprises, like the Heavy Metal Bag, sewn from leather (can also be made with woven fabrics).
If you like sewing fashion-forward projects and also want to sharpen your technique, this book is fantastic. I appreciate Brett’s fabric choices (many samples from Mood Fabrics in New York and some modern IKEA prints), and the projects lend themselves to maximizing your fabric. For instance, the City Girl Tote and Easy Zippered Pillow (video tutorial here) both use only 1 yard of home decor fabric. You’ll want to stock up on heavy- to medium-weight interfacing to make many of these projects, but the actual fabric requirements make the projects pretty affordable.
Three quilts and a pieced duvet cover round out the collection of home projects, and there are some sweet gift ideas as well, like the Mr. Bunny and Ms. Kitty softies.
There are also a few projects in the book that are easily accomplished in an hour or less, like the 1-hour Skirt (video tutorial here) or the 60-second belt. Materials like hardware for the bags and decorative belt elastic may be difficult to find unless you live in the Fashion District, so plan to order online or go with a basic substitute from your local fabric shop.
Flipping through the pages of this book gave me the confidence that I could, indeed, sew with difficult fabrics. I decided to try my first-ever silk chiffon sewing project and whipped up the “Easy Breezy Blouse” (pictured above) from Brett’s book.
I seriously underestimated how long it would take to sew this blouse. Perhaps because the word “easy” was in the title! In theory, the project is easy. It’s sewn together with four large squares of silk chiffon, cut to your measurements, so no pattern pieces are required. This is typical throughout the book, and is a welcome reprieve from cutting out pattern pieces.
The book provides clear-as-day instructions on how to sew French seams as well as how to sew a tiny 1/8-inch hem for this blouse. But, as I’ve learned from watching Project Runway, sewing with silk chiffon is no walk in the park. It takes practice to work with a material that “sheds” so easily along freshly cut edges and each hem must be carefully ironed and trimmed before sewing, which ups the sewing time. I didn’t use a stop-watch, but this project took me at least 6 hours to sew, from the fabric store to the final ironing and fitting.
Still, I’m happy with the results, and I never would have attempted this shirt had it not been for the vote of confidence from Brett, in the pages of her new book. I highly recommend Sewing in a Straight Line, and I’ve already planned out my next 4 to 5 projects from that are must-makes.