Friday, 17 September 2010
The Bag Making Bible book review
Before I begin this review, I should say that I consider Lisa, the book's author, to be a dear friend. However, I happily put my name down for a review copy as I'd seen the book in its pre-publication format in April, and knew that, friend or no friend, it's a book that I'd want to share with you.
Books like Lisa's are hard to find...the book market is now saturated with sewing books and yet often they all feel pitched directly at the seamstress making her first uncertain stitches, offering little for those who yearn only to consume sewing literature that sits comfortably within the geek-girl category. I feel if a writer/designer is competent enough then a pattern should be accessible to both novice and old-hand without alienating either. Lisa's book does just this: it has complex complete bag-making patterns that are so clearly explained that a first-time bag maker will be able to produce something exquisite without saturating her fabric with sweat or tears, while the more experienced bag maker can branch out into drafting ever-more intricate bag designs, dipping in and out of the book to garner the wisdom needed to carry off the technique that she wishes to use to incorporate a feature into her design, be that a piped bag bottom or an internal bag divider.
This book is to bag making what Vogue Sewing is to dressmaking (without the slightly fusty pictures): a compendium sourcebook featuring all the individual techniques one might need (as well as some patterns that bring many of the techniques together...meaning that you can use it exactly how you wish).
It hurts my head to think of how the structure of this book was decided upon for it works like this:
It has sections that cover the big issues: structure and reinforcement; linings; closures; handles and straps; pockets etc and then within each section there is a complete bag pattern that fits nicely into its section (such as The Cocktail Ruffle Clutch, a very structured bag that no doubt demonstrates some of the reinforcement issues covered in that section)...then to either side of the complete pattern there are all the individual techniques around that issue that one might need to create their own bag pattern. For the reader it all fits together seamlessly in a logical way, but I can only imagine that for the writer (and her lovely Editor, Ms Fox) it may at times have felt like trying to align the squares of a Rubik's cube (I've never managed that myself).
So that's my view of the book as a bag-maker. As a friend I'm completely delighted by it too - she is such a very clever bean and her warmth and loveliness floats off the pages. One of the production aspects of the book that I found most fascinating to hear about was how the book was photographed...and the conundrum of Lisa's nails. On the few times that I've needed to include my own hands to demonstrate a technique in a tutorial, I've always tried to find another way of doing it, as my hands suddenly appear to be exceptionally ugly when disembodied. It was a delight to hear the lengths that Lisa went to, having experienced a similar hand-shock...I include the second photo in this post, partly to demonstrate the book's content, partly because she has succeeded at the impossible...her hands look really quite lovely. This book is indeed a triumph in every way.
You can find The Bag Making Bible on Amazon...with eleven five-star reviews!
Wishing you a lovely weekend,
(The photo at the bottom of this post...it was taken at the start of the summer on the day that we sat in Le Pain pouring over the pages of Lisa's sound to be printed book. I had to be back early that day, so I left Joanne, Lisa and Helen (who was about 38 weeks pregnant in this photo) mid-shop in Anthropology. After hugging and kissing them all goodbye, I trotted up the stairs, but turned around when I reached the half-landing. This was the sight that greeted me...three lovelies standing in a row waving, somehow knowing that I'd turn back. This photo makes me smile.)