Make, Sew and Mend, by Bernadette Banner

September 12, 2022 Book Reviews 3 ★★★★★

Make, Sew and Mend, by Bernadette BannerMake, Sew and Mend Published by Page Street Publishing on 5/17/2022
Genres: Crafts
Format: Paperback
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble
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Learn the Historically Proven Stitches Every Seamster Needs with Beloved Historical Fashion YouTuber Bernadette Banner

Whether you are just getting started with sustainable fashion and need to alter your new secondhand finds, or you want an introduction to sewing techniques for making your own clothes, Bernadette Banner’s signature voice will guide you through all the traditional stitches and techniques you need to extend the life of your favorite pieces and take fashion into your own hands!

From tips and tricks on choosing your materials and preparing your fabric for sewing to more complex techniques like mending small holes, adding pockets to garments, making your own buttons and beyond—this book has everything you need. Complete with step-by-step photos and insight into what alterations each sewing technique is best suited for, Bernadette walks you through every step of your sewing journey. For added inspiration, this book also includes profiles on exciting voices in the historic sewing community and their perspectives on how taking fashion into their own hands has changed their lives for the better. Make, Sew and Mend is the perfect foundation for beginner sewers to start making their fashion their own.

Best book on handsewing clothing

I was very excited when I found out that Bernadette Banner, whose YouTube videos on sewing historical clothing I follow with great interest, had written her own book on. As soon as my library purchased a copy, I put my name on the hold list.

Make, Sew, and Mend offers an excellent introduction to a variety of handsewing stitches and techniques for creating your own clothing, along with clear instructions on how to make some adjustments to existing garments and a short section on mending. Banner’s tutelage is informed by her extensive knowledge of, and experience in making and wearing, historical clothing, particularly that of the 19th century. But her insights and techniques can be easily transferred to many 21st-century garments.

If you are interested in hand-stitching garments from scratch, Banner’s book is likely to become one of the essential books on the subject. Clearly-written instructions, accompanied by detailed photos, teach a variety of stitches for seaming, hemming, and sewing buttonholes. Ms. Banner also discusses fabric choice and preparation, techniques for finishing seams, and the basic tools you will need for sewing and drafting patterns.

If you want to alter your existing clothing, many of the the same stitches and techniques can be applied. You will also find useful information here on shortening (and possibly lengthening) a hem, adding pockets, replacing buttons, and other minor alterations—including a detailed tutorial on inserting underarm gussets (and why you would want to), which is something I rarely see in other books on the subject.

If mending your existing clothing is your main focus, the book does include a shorter section on mending and darning at the end, but there are other books that cover this territory more thoroughly. Banner only discusses one darning technique, for instance, and you won’t find anything here on the new trend of “visible mending,” so if you want to pursue those, you’ll probably need to look elsewhere. However, I would still recommend her book just for the tutorials on basic stitches, which are excellent. She also talks about how to care for your clothing so that it wears out less quickly and requires less mending to begin with.

All in all, I highly recommend Ms. Banner’s book, and (having finally borrowed the library’s copy), I’m delighted to say that I’m buying a copy for my own shelves.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Seasons 2022: Summer
  • Library Love Challenge 2020

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