Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Sissy!

Sewing Book Review: The opening sentence from the preface of my 1967 revised and expanded edition of Coats & Clark's Sewing Book: Newest Methods From A to Z reads:

Dear Home Sewer, Dear Reader,
We know a man-- no sissy-- who made a dress for his wife.

 I think I heard your gasps. Indeed! A rather odd--and somewhat startling-- attempt to convince me that if "a man-- no sissy--" could follow simple directions from a book and pattern without making assumptions, guesses or modifications, then there was no reason why I, too, could not sew perfect, beautiful garments, provided that I adopt a man's no nonsense approach to sewing and pattern instructions. Well, I know why that's so, because men, real men, just love following written instructions, right? Probably just as much as they love stopping and asking for directions when they've realized they might be lost. Mmmmkay. So ladies, they are saying to me, just resist that urge to deviate, alternate, or substitute. None of that "sissified" mess will do! I must be methodical. Calculating. Strategic, even. If not, then don't go crying to Coats & Clark when the garments turn out ill-fitting and, well, not so beautiful. And you know what? They are exactly right. Need I count the times I overlooked, dismissed, fudged, ignored, altered, guesstimated-- only to some sort of detriment? If only I had taken the man's approach, I could have saved myself much time and headache, let alone materials. *Sigh*

Men, no sissies, sewing in 1956 for gags, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

Okay, I am being a tiny bit over-dramatic here, but sexist and bigoted language of the preface aside, Coats & Clark's Sewing Book: Newest Methods from A to Z is a wonderful little sewing tome that sewers, no matter their level, should check out or add to their library. 

I bought my copy from a thrift shop for next to nothing (books that day were six for a dollar), but never took the time to really read it until recently. It has black and white photos, step-by-step diagrams, and the two-color illustrations are just simply charming, very retro. Dainty, even. 

The instructions are concise and easy to follow. The overall layout of the book is pleasant. Not too wordy, but not shallow nor vague. The A-Z layout and index make concepts easy to find, which I love.

This book has become my go-to reference for looking up techniques on the fly. I highly recommend this book, which is available in a variety of prices and conditions at The pic below is of the back cover. 

Stay tuned for my next book review, where I will extoll the virtues of this lovely little book

I'm kidding. I've got several blog entries queued up and awaiting final touches, so visit again soon. But first, a random but slightly relevant quote from a feminist/womanist writer and seasoned rabblerouser:

Manhood coerced into sensitivity is no manhood at all. ~Camille Paglia

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