“A Stylish Guide to Classic Sewing” – Book Review and GIVEAWAY

Two of the most creative and stylish ladies I know in this global fashion sewing community, Sarah Gunn of Goodbye Valentino, and Julie Starr, have collaborated once again on a book dedicated to our craft.  Their first book, The Tunic Bible, published by C&T Publishing, met with acclaim and well-deserved enthusiasm, establishing itself as the go-to standard for creating one-of-a-kind, flattering tunics.  In A Stylish Guide to Classic Sewing, Sarah and Julie broaden their focus to cover a range of styles, namely those that have stood the test of time and are considered “classics.”

I love the size of this book. At 9.5″ x 7.5″, it is easy to hold and use.

The book is very handily compartmentalized into 30 chosen styles, the “classics,” thoughtfully documented by Sarah and Julie.  I would have loved to be privy to their brainstorming sessions on what styles to include in this list.  There are the obvious ones, of course, such as the pencil skirt, the sheath dress, the shirtdress, and the French jacket.  But they also cleverly identified some styles not always necessarily thought of as “classic.”  But indeed, they are, and truly deserve their place in this book.  Think Halter dress or top, Palazzo Pants, Jeans-style Jacket, and Menswear Pajamas!  All these and more are included in this book.

Each chapter deals with one ”Classic” and its history and who, throughout the years, has worn it.  Also included are sewing tips, fabric suggestions, and styling guidelines for each classic.  Some of the chapters include a cautionary paragraph on how to avoid the “Frump Factor.”  Simple changes like altering the hem length or wearing the appropriate shoes can change one of these classics from frumpy to fabulous.  Pay attention to the authors’ suggestions because they know about what they are writing!

Here is just one example of tips and styling ideas included with each category.

Accompanying each chapter is also one of my favorite aspects of this book – a carefully chosen quote.  I thought I had come across just about every quote about fashion and sewing that was ever spoken or written.  But somehow, Sarah and Julie have discovered some real gems and placed them perfectly in the book.  Take for example this quote by Winston Churchill included in the chapter for the pencil skirt: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt:  long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

Or consider this one by Georgio Armani in the chapter on the Bateau Neckline: “Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered.”  As one who loves a bateau neckline precisely for its elegant appearance, I found this quote perfectly placed.

The center section of the book, nestled comfortably among the many chapters, is “the Classic Garment Gallery.”  I was very flattered to be asked to contribute to this section, which is a compilation of classic styles sewn by “members” of the worldwide sewing community.  Here you can see these classic styles modeled by the makers, and it is a marvel to take this all in.  Yes, this is a section to return to again and again to get inspiration.

And speaking of inspiration, the absolutely delightful illustrations by Beth Briggs will not only captivate you, they will also provide you with styling ideas and concepts.

At the back of the book is a carefully considered list of Resources.  Included are lists of Fabric Books; Fabric Vendors; Fabric Shopping Around the Globe; Trims, Tools, and Notions; Related Articles, Videos, and Online Classes; and Sewing Instruction and Alteration Books.  No beginning or advanced devotee of fashion sewing should be without this list of Resources.

Well, no fashion sewing book is complete without a pattern, and I am happy to report that included with A Stylish Guide to Classic Sewing is a multi-sized pattern for the Goodbye Valentino modern classic pencil skirt.  There is nothing quite like a pencil skirt for a basic wardrobe component.  This is a skirt to be made time and again, following the precise instructions included in the back of the book.

This is a sewing book, and as such, targets those of us whose passion is sewing our own fashions.  However, there is much in this book which would be of value to anyone wishing to enhance or perfect her own style.  Likewise, it should be inspirational to those just beginning to sew for themselves as well as those who just aspire to it!  How perfect is this quote from Audrey Hepburn (page 161): “The most attractive accessory a woman has is confidence.”  With this book in hand, you will both sew and dress with confidence and style.

And now, it is with great excitement that I am able to offer my readers a chance to win a copy of this book, compliments of C&T Publishing. Should the winner be a resident of the United States, he or she will receive a print copy of the book;  an international winner will receive a digital copy of the book.   For a chance to win, please leave a comment with this blog post no later than  Sunday, December 8th at 12 noon, Eastern Standard Time.  I will draw the winner late afternoon on Sunday, December 8th.

To read more reviews, and for more inspiration, please visit the following sites (dates indicate the day of review):

Dec 2  Lori VanMaanen

Blog – girlsinthegarden.com

Instagram -@girlsinthegarden


Dec 3 Andrea Birkan

Instagram – @andreabirkan


Dec 4 Anita Morris

Blog – anitabydesign.com

Instagram – @anitabydesign


Dec 6 Alex Florea

Blog – sewrendipity.com

Instagram – @sewrendipity


Dec 7 Lucy VanDoorn

Blog – myloveaffairwithsewing.com

Instagram – @myloveaffairwithsewing


Dec 7 Cennetta Burwell

Blog – themagonanystylist@blogspot.com

Instagram – @cennetta_burwell


Dec 8 Manju Nittala

Blog – sewmanju.com

Instagram – @sewmanju


Dec 8 Dorcas Ross

Instagram – @lonestarcouture



Filed under Book reviews, Fashion commentary, Fashion history, Uncategorized

47 responses to ““A Stylish Guide to Classic Sewing” – Book Review and GIVEAWAY

  1. Arleen Lovering

    Thank you Karen for such a glorious review of Sarah and Julie’s latest book. I look forward to reviewing this lovely and resourceful book myself whether I am a lucky winner or not. Arleen

  2. My mum recently bought the tunic Bible and thought it’s wonderful. No wonder that this book is great too.
    And there is nothing better than awesome quotes.

  3. NAOMI

    Would love this classic book !!!

  4. Yea, another book for my sewing/style library! I love books like this. Thanks for sharing this with us Karen.

  5. Cindy Hawkins

    How exciting, I have not purchased a copy yet, but want to. Thank you for the generous giveaway! Merry Christmas, Karen!

  6. Bonnie-Rae Bailey

    Looks like this is a wonderful book and useful to get tips for stylish and classic dressing. I need those tips!

  7. Amy

    Thanks for writing the review! Sounds like a great book. Congratulations on being in the gallery.

  8. Debra Coglianese

    Such a delight to learn, Karen, that you are one of the classic sewers featured in this book. Very exciting!

    And, your review of the book in your blog today really brought the value of this book alive for me. Thank you!



  9. Jo

    I look forward to reading this gem and trying the pencil skirt pattern for myself … thanks for a really useful review

  10. Great review! I’d love a copy of this book!! ~ Peggy from https://bespokeability.blogspot.com/

  11. I loved your review! The excerpts from the book on styling look immensely helpful and who doesn’t love a good classic pencil skirt? Thank you for the opportunity to get a copy of this gem.

  12. Joanne

    So looking forward to trying this skirt pattern

  13. Julia

    Thank you so much for this review and I am definitely getting a copy (in the giveaway or via purchase!)!!!

  14. Kati

    Thank you for your review, Karen! I’m super excited about this book!

  15. Thank-you so much for this thoughtful and useful review. This book is on my Christmas wish-list! Cheers!

  16. Mery

    Happy Holidays, Karen. This has been on my maybe list and thanks to your excellent review it moved way up. I expect to enjoy it for as long as I still enjoy Genevieve Antoine Dariaux’s “Elegance” from 1964. Looking forward to seeing your granddaughters’ Christmas dresses.

  17. Mary McCleary

    I follow your blog and Sarah’s. Both are a constant source of inspiration.

  18. Kath Florida

    I would love to be the recipient of this book. Thank you for featuring it.

  19. Judith A Graham

    This book is definitely on my Christmas list! My challenge for 2020 is making each of these styles.

  20. Christine Fromont

    Thank you Diane for such an insight into the new book by Sarah and Julie. I subscribe to your blog and also Sarah’s, both of which are very inspirational. 🙂 The new book sounds like the perfect follow-up to the Tunic Bible which also graces the shelves in my sewing room. I would adore to win the digital copy of the book (I live in New Zealand) and get more ideas for updating my wardrobe and that of my daughters. Many thanks, and many warm wishes, Christine Fromont

  21. Fran

    What a great review! Several people on my gift list will be receiving copies for sure, and — if I’m not the lucky giveaway winner — I’ll make sure to keep a copy for myself!

  22. Joyce in NC

    Please enter me in the giveaway! I’d love to own this book.

  23. Jin

    These stylish ladies are changing our dressing, one woman at a time! Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

  24. Julie

    Thank you so much for offering us a chance to win this book! Looks like such a treat!

  25. Deborah Bowles

    These two ladies show classic styling at its best. Thank you for the review. I can’t wait to read the book

  26. My two favorite blogs- yours and Sarah Gunn’s! Thanks for arranging for the book- I would love to get it.

  27. CRK

    I’ve been looking forward to looking at this book! Is the skirt pattern the only one included or are there 29 others?

  28. Sandra Stence

    Thank you for the giveaway and the list of other blogs—some are new to me and look interesting! As does Sarah and Julie’s new book. Congratulations to them!

  29. B. Taylor

    Sewing books – almost as exciting as buying fabric!

  30. Monique

    I would love to receive a digital copy of this book


    Dec 8 book deadline

  32. Joyce in NC

    Please enter me in the Drawing. I’d love to own a copy of the book.

  33. Deb Cameron

    What a wonderful gift my mother gave me – the creative freedom and technical skills to craft my own clothing. On what would have been her 92nd birthday, it’s heartwarming to see that wardrobe sewing is still alive and well. She would have loved this! I know I do😀

  34. This book sounds amazing, and congratulations to you for being included in the gallery-well deserved, Karen!

  35. Karen

    This book looks wonderful. I love classic styles! Thank you for reviewing it!

  36. I would love a chance to win this book. I love classic pieces.

  37. Kathy Zachry

    I’d love to own this book, having admired Sarah’s style since she started blogging. Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  38. Heather Myers

    Congratulations on being published in the book! And for the detailed review.

  39. Adecia

    Looking forward to seeing this book, would be awesome to win a copy. Congratulations on being included.

  40. Congratulations on being chosen to be part of such a magnificent publication. It looks beautiful.

  41. Thank you for this review. I can only imagine the beauty of those classic garments in the gallery!

  42. daisyesq

    This is a terrific review of the book. Thank you.

  43. Mary

    This looks like great capsule wardrobe inspiration!

  44. Rhona

    All the reviews on the book are so positive. Definitely something to add to my wishlist of must have books.

  45. Mery

    I received my copy of this book in Saturday’s mail and I am delighted with it. I knew I would enjoy it based on your review and others. Now that I’ve taken a closer look I highly recommend it. Old and young would enjoy receiving this book as a gift to read through and then to refer to later.

    I bought my copy of Elegance by Genevieve Dariaux before my senior year in high school. Initially I enjoyed skimming it. I came to value it highly as I studied it for wardrobe planning. It saved me a fortune over a lifetime to always have some good basics in my wardrobe and not feel the need to shop excessively. I shared some tips from it especially with college students who worked for me. I wanted something similar with modern pictures to give to nieces and others, and this is just perfect. I’ve ordered their own copies because I intend to enjoy mine for a long time.

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