Top 5 Must-Have DIY Sewing Tomes

Second-hand and vintage stores (as well as most household closets) are bursting at the seams with unwanted and rarely-worn clothes. Instead of sending them to a landfill, or using even more resources to make and purchase new items, why not turn this seeming wardrobe “trash” into treasure? With a pair of scissors, some thread, and even the most basic sewing machine, you can turn shapeless sweaters, tacky t-shirts, and portly pants into stylish and functional pieces. Inspiration and easy-to-follow instructions are as close as your local bookstore or, thanks to a great selection of DIY (do it yourself) fashion volumes:

Inexpensive. Indispensable. Iconic. A basic t-shirt is the perfect blank canvas-ready for a creative crafter to cut, stitch, bedazzle, bleach, deconstruct, and personalize. Everyone has a drawerful just waiting for the creative touch. What could be a better way to broadcast an artistic manifesto? In Tease: Inspired T-shirt Transformations by Superstars of Art, Craft, & Design take the basic T from ordinary to extraordinary-and sometimes, turn it into something completely different. With fabulous illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions, Tease provides outrageous, inspiring ideas from crafters around the globe.

How many pairs of old jeans do you have in your closet? Everyone from the sewing novice to the fashion guru can appreciate the ingenious projects that will reincarnate your denim has-beens into fashion must-haves in 99 Ways to Cut, Sew & Deck Out Your Denim. The techniques are simple, the supplies are easy-to-find, and every project takes ninety minutes or less, from start to finish.

Sew Subversive is about making fashion your own, whether it’s embellishing or customizing off-the-rack clothing or transforming clothes that have lost that loving feeling. The three twenty-something co-owners of Stitch Lounge, an urban sewing studio in San Francisco, teach you, in plain, fun language, how to do it, whether you’re hand sewing, machine sewing, or, in a few cases, simply wielding a pair of scissors.

It’s time to get subversive, again! The downtown divas of Sew Subversive are back with another happy helping of straightlaced sewing advice for stylish results every time. Transform tacky bridesmaid gowns and pleated pants into picture-perfect tops, skirts and accessories. The two Melissas and a Hope deliver 30 great projects that are achievable for even the new sewer. Subversive Seamster is your secret roadmap to the jewels of thrifting and the ins and outs of refashioning. This book has shortcuts, tips, and secrets to the wide world of inexpensive, individualized fashion. Our clothes make a statement about who we are. What better way to say, “I am an individual!” than to wear one-of-a-kind items made out of other one-of-a-kind items? We derive the most fashionable satisfaction knowing that we are reusing and recycling what already exists in this material world–and looking darn good doing it!

Like knitting before it, sewing is being reclaimed by a new generation: one that is tired of poor quality and bored by homogenous design. Indie fashion designer Wendy Mullin, of Built by Wendy, teaches the creatively inclined and ultra-stylish how to make the perfect skirt, shirt, and pants in Sew U. She gives readers everything they need to know to begin sewing and provides step-by-step instructions and patterns directly from her studio. She explains how to customize everything from the fit to the pockets so readers can create a thousand different looks using the same three basic patterns. These ideas will inspire readers to rethink and revamp their old clothes to make unique, custom fashions. For those who find themselves brimming with ideas, but unable to make everything themselves, Wendy also offers guidance on how to work with a tailor.

Written by Victoria Everman

I think of myself as a creatively versatile eco-powerhouse. Freelance writer, life-long model, on-camera personality, public speaker, official U.S. spokesperson for Twice Shy Clothing - I'm a classic Renaissance woman and mistress-of-all-trades.

Though my days of growing up in the corn fields of central Indiana are behind me, forgetting where I came from is not an option. I lost my father unexpectedly in March of 2006, months before moving from NYC to San Francisco, which helped to amplify my zest for life and thirst to help change the world.

Perpetually looking for fresh ways to share my unquenchable green knowledge, I blog about everything eco on my own website, as well as for All Green Magazine and select others. Additionally, I am the editor/head writer of Crafting a Green World (part of the Green Options blog network) and a writer/web editor for Building Green TV. My diverse articles have been published in variety of reputable magazines, such as: Yoga Journal, Venus, CRAFT, Yogi Times, Recovery Solutions, M+F, and Office Solutions.

In my spare time, you can find me knitting, reading, singing, taking pictures, practicing yoga, taking long walks, and working on my first non-fiction book. Other random facts about me: I'm a Buddhist, latex fan, have four tattoos, and an attempting locavore.



Leave a Reply
  1. Great list! I would add Second Time Cool: The Art of Chopping Up a Sweater by by Anna-Stina Linden Ivarsson, Katarina Brieditis, and Katarina Evans. If there’s one thing you can find a lot of in thrift stores, it’s great wool sweaters that were given away because of one or two holes. Luckily you can cut them up and make mittens, scarves, hats, etc. They even show some skirts made out of sweaters.

    After all, even those of us in Texas have to get through February! Nothing like a wool scarf for that, and even better if it’s green and DIY.

  2. Hi Skye,

    Thanks for the book suggestion – it was beyond tough to try and choose only 5 books for the list, but it was a fun challenge. I’ve heard lots of good things about “Second Time Cool” – maybe we can get the author to do an interview for CAGW?

3 Pings & Trackbacks

  1. Pingback:

  2. Pingback:

  3. Pingback:

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

Eco Seller Interview: Melissa Stajda of

Knit.1 Magazine Winter 2007 Issue Preview