Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Savvy Seamstress
An Illustrated Guide to Customizing Your Favorite Patterns
BY Nicole Mallalieu

Stash Books (distributed in the UK by Search Press)
1 February 2018/ ISBN 9781617453113
How-To Books/Needlework

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde


Have you ever bought a pattern but wished you could alter some detail of it? Change the neckline, add sleeves or pockets and make it your own? This book shows you how this can be achieved, and thus make the most of the patterns you own and expand your wardrobe.

I do like a book that sets out plainly on the first page who the book is for and what you can expect from it. This is not a book for the dressmaking beginner, nor is it a guide to altering patterns to get them to fit your shape. Instead you can learn how to customize what you have and alter the look of a garment. You don’t have to be an accomplished pattern maker to do this, but a good working knowledge of dressmaking and using patterns is essential. The book opens with a look at commercial patterns as well as a list of tools you need. This is followed by a chapter of sewing terminology, so you can find out what staystitching is and why you ought to do it, cut your own bias binding and choose the right interfacing. The rest of the book is a series of chapters focusing on different features and how to customize patterns to add them. Make your garment individual by adding pockets, cuffs and collars, alter the neckline, convert to a different closure or change a waistband. There are plenty of diagrams with written instructions and I found it all very doable despite not having done much alteration myself – but then I do cut my own patterns. Any intermediate level dressmaker should find this a good addition to their sewing bookshelf.

If you cannot find a good range of sewing materials locally try for a list of suppliers.

If you are in the UK you can buy a good range of patterns online from


UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2017