Book Review: Cath Kidston’s ‘Sew’

Sewing machine not included!

‘Sew’ isn’t a newly released title, it has been around for almost two years now. It has taken me quite some time to actually get around to making the bag that came free with it, which I started a couple of weeks ago as a warm up for my new sewing class. This inspired me to review the book for the blog, as Christmas is coming and some of you may decide to ask Father Christmas for a bit of Cath Kidston goodness.

When I first got the book, I was definitely impressed with the number and range of projects it contains. Quite often, when you buy a sewing book, there are a couple of dodgy projects which make you think ‘what were you thinking?’ in the same way that almost every knitting book has a knitted bikini. I mean really, why on earth would you? Yet the authors always seem to think knitted beachwear is not only practical, but the height of sophistication. I think not. Anyway, I am pleased to say that I would be happy to give any of the projects in Sew a crack. They are quite modern and achievable whilst also lending themselves to customisation, which is always nice. For me, a lot of the whole point of handmade is to have something different to everyone else. The photography in the book is good (big up Pia Tryde!) and a quick flick through the nice, expensive feeling pages leaves you reaching for the sewing machine.

Britannia print - yes, florals, not so much...

As I mentioned, I decided to make the free bag. I will say at this point that although I like the colours that the fabric is in, I am not keen on the floral. I don’t really find any of the Cath Kidston florals appealing, which I am sure is some kind of sacrilege. Maybe somewhere, a baby dove just died because I said that out loud, but I am afraid it is true. There goes another impossibly cute baby animal. Give me the stars, the spots, even the cherry print and I’m happy, I just don’t feel the ditzy floral love.

The material is of a pretty good quality for a free gift and the cutting out is reasonably accurate. What is complete folly, however, is the idea that you can make a rouleau button band of that width out of that material: it’s just too thick to be done with any ease. In fact, I quickly lost patience with it and bribed My Shinybees to have a go by plying him with a Windhoek. Even the man with the patience of a saint (must have to be married to me!) couldn’t get it to work.

Yay for Dunelm!

So it was left to me to do what I do best: blag it. Which I did in a rather effective manner, by trimming the edge with pinking shears to neaten it up, before creating the rouleau with some fabric glue and a bit of unleashed genius.

I bodge, therefore I am.

This brings me onto the ‘meh’ section of the book. It has some great ideas and projects, but I have to say the actual instructions leave a bit to be desired. There just isn’t enough explanation of the techniques, nor are there enough photographs, which I think makes this book a little unsuitable for a total beginner, unless it is accompanied by a lot of YouTubing or a better techniques book. If you have a reasonable idea about the basics, it is quite straightforward to figure out, but it is easy to misread the instructions as they are not that well written. In the introduction, Cath says ‘If you are like me, you probably don’t want to wade through a serious instruction manual but are looking for some clear and practical advice…’ This might be true, but two paragraphs earlier, she details how she has been sewing since she was a child, and I would suggest that an absolute beginner needs a bit more direction than Sew provides.

Yes, that is a palm tree in the background. Tropical!

In summary: Would I buy it again? Yes. Suitable for complete beginners? Yes, although it would need to be accompanied by a better techniques book, access to someone who already sews or to the mighty trove of knowledge, (and admittedly a lot of complete guff) YouTube.

6 comments on “Book Review: Cath Kidston’s ‘Sew’

  1. I totally agree. I bought the book for myself and ended up giving it away to a sewer friend (who promptly made the bag, and then about 5 more!). Some projects were seriously basic, but the instructions were sketchy. Hope I haven’t maimed another dove now too!

    1. Shinybees says:

      ‘The BBC reports baby doves are now endangered due to several comments about Cath Kidston’s florals….’

      Glad it wasn’t just me Anna! Did you replace ‘Sew’ with a different book, and if so, what was it?

  2. Engelse Vrou says:

    Ek hou van Cathy Kudson, maar dit is deur. Jy betaal vir die naam.

    I am testing you now… get some Afrikaans comments and responses! Although please don’t take my grammar as correct – I could be way off!

    1. Shinybees says:

      Oh dear! I will have to get the book out and try and figure out a) what you’ve said and b) how to say something suitably witty back! I may need some time. But, as the saying goes, ‘probeer is die beste geweer’….

  3. Here was me thinking I was just being stupid as I gave up on rouleau button band. Another unique make from me it has to be said ;o) Bag is a great size though and have since bought The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam which I LOVE!

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