Book Review: “Sew Subversive”



    Sew Subversive: Down & Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista
    By Melissa Rannels, Melissa Alvarado, and Hope Meng
    Taunton Press, September 2006, 186 pages
    $14.95, paperback

If you haven’t been to your local book store lately, head over there RIGHT NOW. Well, after you read this post, of course! Craft books, on a variety of crafty topics/genres, are flooding the shelves and giving us all lots to do in our spare time. I spent my weekend reading Sew Subversive, a book that makes any challenge of sewing conquerable thanks to thorough defintions, easy-to-understand diagrams and useful project ideas.

Bringing us Sew Subversive are Melissa Rannels, Melissa Alvarado, and Hope Meng. These ladies co-own Stitch Lounge, a San Francisco project area where creative thinkers can work on their own sewing projects in one heckuva cool atmosphere. These three friends are all self-taught seamstresses, just like so many talented sewers out there these days.

The book starts out with the true basics of sewing: hand sewing. Basic stitches and functions, such as sewing a button back onto a favorite jacket, are explained with pictures and list-like instructions. Hemming and patching garments is also included, two very important techniques to have in your back mended pocket.

The authors discuss finding the right sewing machine for yourself which, if you’ve gone through that process, can actually be more of an ordeal than you might imagine. There are several pages dedicated to threading bobbins and then getting them ::successfully:: into your machine. I don’t know about you, but loading bobbins was one of the trickier parts of mastering a sewing machine when I first started sewing. These pictures are so right on you’d have to be asleep at the machine wheel to mess it up!What I like most about this book are the “little things” that pop up every few pages. Take, for example, a tip on picking bobbin thread. If you’re going for a fun, different look for your stitches, the authors suggest using two different colors of thread. Talk about a small idea that can make a big imapct!


While half of the book is dedicated to making you a “subversive sewer,” even if you’re a newbie to the craft, there are lots of good project ideas that range from embellishing existing garments to making your own dress out of vintage pillow cases.

If you’re wishing you were a sewer or looking for a gift for that crafty kid that has everything BUT sewing skills, Sew Subversive is a wonderful way to get hooked on sewing.