Fashion Sewing For Everyone by Adele P Margolis

When Sunni’s information saved my fitting of the Jasmine blouse I was grateful for the information she had so willingly shared.  As the knowledge and technique were based on  a book by Adele P Margolis (1909 – 2009) I thought I’d see what else she’d written.

This led me to Fashion Sewing for Everyone.  Like Liz in her review of How to Make Clothes that Fit and Flatter the book its self is just really pleasant and easy to read.  It’s as if you have a really knowledgeable Aunt, Grandmother or friend talking to you and sharing their knowledge.  The writing style is so engaging.  I’m reading this much like I’d read a novel but all the time I am LEARNING!

Not only is my knowledge being increased, so is my confidence.  I’ve read about 3/4 of the 421 (excluding index) book and I really wanted to share some of it with you:

Here’s a scan of the foreword

The phrase that really stood out to me (and is used on the back of the dust jacket too, so the publisher must have thought it was good!) is this:

This is a book for everyone who loves to sew.  Not just plain sewing, mind you, but fashion sewing.  There’s a difference!  It’s the difference between chore and excitement, between have-to and want-to, between the routine and the creative.”

Never was a truer word spoken?  When I think about it whilst we are all sharing information, knowledge, techniques, patterns none of it is based on pure practicality.  We all sew because we choose to, because it excites us.

It may have begun as a means to an end, to get clothes in the style we like, that fit our aesthetic, that reflect our personal fashion.  Somewhere along the way though the process becomes as important as the finished product, the learning so that we can step it up a notch.  The fit that means that makes the clothes a joy to wear, the lining that stops the pencil skirt bunching up round our hips.  The pretty lace at the hem.  The insane pop of colour in a ‘sensible’ coat.  The fact that we know it will last because its been constructed properly, finished properly (well, at least to the best of our abilities!).

We sew because we want to and because it is creative.

Then there are the little confidence boosts along the way:

“The comforting thing about clothing construction is that there is nothing sacred.  There is just no one way to do anything.
No one way to design.  Make rules and along comes some design genius who defies them all.
No one way to sew.  New techniques follow new styles, new needs, new technology, new fabrics.”

“Following are some techniques that have stood the test of time.  New ones are constantly developing.  If you can invent some of your own – go ahead.  Anything goes if it works!”

Sometimes its good to be reminded that just because something is the ‘accepted’ way, doesn’t mean its the only way.  The first example of this that popped into my head is seam finishes!  In couture they may not be finished at all depending on the construction, or it will be over cast by hand.  Ready to wear is overlocking pretty much all the way.  Me, I know I’ve used no finish, pinking, over locking, turn and stitch, bound, french seams…  None are wrong, none are the only way in a given situation!

There is also some good advice, some of which is of the ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’ variety, well at least for me anyway:

Planning; I’m OK at that I think and certainly I can see how the unit construction method is followed in pattern instructions.  However it was the paragraph under the heading “Some General Advice Before You Begin” that was the biggest light bulb moment…

Don’t worry in advance.  That way lies failure.  Concern yourself with step 20 in the sewing sequence when you’ve finished step 19 – certainly not before you’ve even begun step 1.  You’ll be defeated before you’ve begun if you’re tense and anxious about the final steps.  Besides, you’ll be agreeably surprised to find how logical and simple the operation really is when you come to it in proper time.”

I am having some real light bulb moments as a result of reading it; some are technical ‘so that’s how you do it’ kind of moments and others are more knowledge based.  I finally understand fully what the stand, fall, roll line and break on a collar are and even how to fit one!  I hope to share some other bits of the book with you over the coming week or so, plus some little pieces of evidence that shows that another sewist has used Ms Margolis’ instructions…


10 thoughts on “Fashion Sewing For Everyone by Adele P Margolis

  1. Thank you for this post, but also curse you!! LOL (just kidding of course!) Meaning that I have been inspired by your previous posts to order Ms. Margolis’ book ‘How to Make Clothes that Fit and Flatter’ and it hasn’t even arrived yet, and now here you are making me want another! ^__^

    1. Oops! I feel that I will now be on a mission to collect all her books… I do have a second copy of this very book though that I plan to give away in a few weeks time if you can bare to wait that long and put your faith in the fates?!

      1. HAHA!! Ok, I shall put my faith in the fates… and maybe get out the old witch’s cauldron and do some luck potion brewing as well… LOL 😉

  2. I bought “How to Make Clothes that Fit and Flatter” after Liz’s review and I love it so much! This book sounds great– I like the tip about not worrying in advance. That’s definitely something I’m guilty of at times (not just in sewing!) and it can really suck the joy out of projects! Thanks for sharing these quotes!

  3. I grew up reading Adele Margolis. She opened my eyes to see how easy it was to create new designs with pivot points and re-positioning or substituting darts. She also gave me the first clue that you can’t just pick up a pattern and sew from it and expect it to fit. So happy you found her an inspiration too!

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