Chic and Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress

Chic and Simple Sewing is a book that has been floating around in my studio for a month or so now begging to be reviewed. Don’t get me wrong this bad boy was not on the backburner because it was lack luster it was completely baby related. It’s hard to type book reviews with one hand and hold a baby with another, don’t believe me just try it. Now that I have a minute while Tallulah saws some logs in her bouncy chair let me tell you all about one of my new favorite sewing books by Christine Haynes and how you can win a free copy.

I openly admit I don’t sew. It’s not that I don’t know how, I just don’t. However, when I come across a book like Chic and Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress things change. Some sewing books want you to make your own patterns, others leave you a bit high and dry in the instructions department the nice thing about this book is that there are over 20 full sized patterns included with the book. Want to whip up the Tie Shoulder Shift Dress or The Finishing Layer Jacket? Not a problem just look inside the handy dandy envelope attached to the book and grab the pattern and get to sewing.

Speaking of sewing if I’m going to do any I prefer it be quick and easy. I like instant gratification crafts. That is why I always appreciate a craft book with a clearly marked difficulty level. Chic and Simple Sewing has projects that range from a 5 like the flattering Opera Dress for the more advanced sewer to several level 1 skirts for the more novice seamstress like myself. Books with variety are always appreciated. Not just in skill level as the title suggests there are projects for jackets, skirts, dresses and more. Not to mention a handy dandy index of vital sewing information to get you started and on your way.

Chic and Simple Sewing is a great addition to the library of any aspiring clothing designer or wardrobe refashioner. You can run over to Amazon and pick yourself up a copy. If you are going to be in Santa Monica, CA this Friday you can stop by the Urban Craft Center to meet Christine Hayes. She will be there signing copies of Chic and Simple and hosting a fashion show of garments from the book. The third option is to win a free copy right here! All you have to do is leave me a comment about sewing books. What do you look for? Pictures, patterns, diversified skill levels, cute fabrics, informative index. Do you prefer sewing books with all one theme (like nothing but ladies clothing) or books with a varied theme like Sew Darn Cute where there are projects for home, baby and accessories? We have talked about what you look for in a craft book here before but never specifically one that involves sewing and I’m curious what floats your boat.

32 Responses to “Chic and Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress”

  1. j maxwell

    I also love Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter. Like Chic and Simple Sewing, it has difficulty levels (love that so I know how much time I'm committing) and a variety of projects. I prefer a variety of projects as opposed to just one area because I never know what I'm in the mood to create. So I need options. Simple Sewing also showcases her fabulous fabric, such eye candy! Also includes

  2. Sara Hopp Harper

    I have aspirations to making my own patterns and being all fancy, but the reality right now is that I need things that are relatively simple to make. I have good sewing skills, but very little fun time lately. I have good sewing skills, but I don't want any half-finished projects cluttering up my studio, so I look for things in the beginner/intermediate range.
    In a sewing book, I'm

  3. Jo Bourke

    I love to collect vintage sewing books (as well as vintage knitting and crochet books). My favourite is 'Practical Home Needlecraft in Pictures'. I just love funny old 40s and 50s photos and illustrations! With sewing books, old and new I usually prefer a variety of projects (home, clothing etc) and skill levels, and I especially appreciated those that include patterns, even the sort you

  4. Carrie

    I think what initially draws me in is the pictures and the fabric. I love many of the sewing books published through Melanie Falick at STC. There is something so enjoyable about how those books are photographed…very homey, yet very modern. After that I tend to look for books with a variety of patterns and a variety of skill levels. But maybe that's because I'm still pretty new to it all.

  5. Laurel

    I'm usually drawn in by pictures and fabric, but I probably won't buy if there aren't at least good instructions. Thanks for sharing this, I've been thinking about picking it up!

  6. Brenda

    I had sewing in home economics when I was in jr HS. We were taught from catalogs to look for what we wanted to make and then get the pattern. I've never considered a book, which is almost the same thing, but the catalog stays at the store with the book you have the convenience of having it with you all the time. If I were to look at a book I would first consider the level of sewing one would

  7. whitney

    PICTURES, PICTURES, PICTURES!! Just as with cook books, if the photos do not lure me in, I won't even look twice. I want to see a lovely photo with each project, just to give me an idea of what's in store. It's much easier for me to work when I know what the final product is supposed to look like! Also, it makes me WANT to make it when I see it! Just like with food!


  8. Hilari

    Hmmmm. What do I look for in a pattern book? Great pictures of the clothing is probably #1. I've been surprised by an invisible zipper on what looked to be a pull on dress – I do a really ugly invisible zipper. Next is a variety of patterns that are relatively simple but have a little bit of detailing that keep it from being run-of-the-mill. Finally I love it when there are

  9. Pink Petunia Designs

    I love to peruse sewing books when I go to the book store. There are so many out there that look great on the cover and then you open it up and you have to have had a doctorate in sewing skills in order to understand it. For me, I like simplicity, something that has varying levels that I can do without getting in trouble half-way through and thinking, "I can't finish the project because

  10. Funkybella

    I'm a novice, so I need step-by-step instructions with my basics covered. I prefer a theme to make it easier (I live in skirts).
    This book looks lovely!

  11. paula :: plays with mud

    Clear, precise instructions (with easy to follow photos). Nothing frustrates me more than to get my hands on a cool pattern or book that is geared for a newbie, only to have the author throw around sewing jargon that isn't properly defined. Craft Mag had a skirt pattern a year or so ago, and had a beginner and an advanced option – that was perfect cause I could choose which level I was

  12. Kim

    I'm a sucker for good visual layout and color photos. Full-size patterns are nice, but not necessary. And I definitely like it when books revolve around some sort of theme, especially if it's repurposing (like in "Sew Subversive").

    Books that have projects with varying levels of difficulty are nice. That way if you're an experienced sewer and want to make a quick

  13. Melisa Taylor

    So far, I only know how to sew doggie bandanas for my great dane. After all, it's quick, and I'm also a fan of instant gratification! My doggie loves them, too, even if the sewing line isn't straight. 😉

    What I look for in a Sewing related craft book? I'm like you. I would like it to be easy to understand and include patterns that make sense. Also, the realistic

  14. Diyod

    Unlike my super talented mother, I am not all that great at sewing. The last sewing project I ever did was in Middle School for Home Ec (and to give you an idea of how long ago that was, I'm 29 now).

    With the state of the economy, and my eagerness to be able to do many different types of crafting, I've been really interested in brushing up on my sewing skills. I've been

  15. Lisa

    I like books with detailed instructions. Even though I am a skilled seamstress, I just hate it when I have to fill in the blanks on my own!

  16. Ambermayhem

    I like sewing books that include patterns that go up to at least a size XL if not bigger. I know it must cost more to print the larger sizes, but it would make a lot of us sewers more able to buy the book and enjoy what's in it. Also, like many others, I like easy to read instructions, good photos and descriptions that are, well, descriptive. Thanks for the great review!

  17. Carolyn

    Just recently, I have a renewed interest in sewing. I used to make my daughter's clothing when she was little, even an occasional Mother-Daughter matching dress. I have not sewn for quite awhile and the book, Chic and Simple Clothing, looks like it would fit the bill. I need to start out slowly with simple clothing and the dresses you have posted are really cute. Thank you for offering

  18. Turtle

    sweet looking patterns, wish i lived closer to get a signed one! I honestly look for fairly simple patterns now when it comes to sewing. I have been using a new machine the past few years and we are just becoming friends ( i miss my old machine!) Love great pictures, despise half-a**ed descriptions that give you the short version on how to.

  19. Lori

    I look for books that have pictures with instructions the most and if they have free patterns with it I'm on cloud nine. I'm a visual/hands on learner and books with that combo seem to get the point across for me.

  20. knittingmama

    I like a book with a variety of sizes. I'm not a plus size girl fully, but I'm right on the edge depending on how they run their size. So if something if a large or an extra large, I would be able to wear it. I also like things that are simple in material. I don't have much experinece working with silk or moe expensive material. I like simple cottons that are kid-friendly.

  21. ladyjanewriter

    Hands-down, my fave sewing book of all time is "Sew What! Skirts." It is the first and only book that appealed to me both in visual style, and content.

    I've actually learned more by ripping my older clothes apart at the seams and seeing how they are made. I have a really hard time with spatial relationships, and going from a 2D drawing to a 3D project is incredibly

  22. tara

    I've bought a few sewing books over the last little while (not that I've used any of them yet). I tend to like ones with a variety of skill levels and unique projects. I have been wanting to sew more, both making new clothes and refurbishing some existing ones, but haven't made time to do it yet.

  23. Jennie C

    I won this book at CraftStylish and was so very excited about it, but it only goes up to size 12 and I'm a 14. The patterns are simple enough that I should be able to enlarge them fairly easily, but it was really disappointing and took a lot of wind out of my sails. I love the patterns though and once the wind comes back, I'm still going to give it a go.

  24. Heather Broadbent

    I love that this book come with the patterns. Other than that, I like to look through sewing books, but will not follow through. I also like a variety of difficulty levels. Of course I'll talk myself into a more advanced project 😉 I want to make these garments!

  25. Heather Broadbent

    I didn't leave my email. ANd I agree I like layout and full color pictures. I'm a sucker for a model doing something I can picture myself wanting to do in that outfit.

  26. Becky

    I am a sucker for the pictures. They get me every time! My current favorites are Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter and Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.

    I like easy projects (I also like instant gratification), especially clothing projects for women and babies.

    This book looks awesome! The dresses are beautiful!

  27. Clød

    This is a great looking book – I leafed through it at the SF Renegade Craft Fair last weekend, and am still kicking myself that I didn't buy it!! So now I am hoping to win one…I prefer books with a "theme" (aka these are clothes only), that have maybe a handful of bonus home-sewing or kid-sewing things thrown in at the end. Pictures are VERY important, so that you can imagine what

  28. cathiesue23

    I like sewing books that give you multiple sizes . books that have many options for you but still simple enough for the average sewer

  29. melcauble

    I'm a knitter and I'm just getting back into sewing and I need to hone my previous skills. I want a pattern book with cute, modern patterns that are not ultra-difficult but have great results! I would like to learn some more advanced finishing techniques as well.


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