Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: 10-20-30 Minutes to Sew

A Fair Trade Book

Title: 10-20-30 Minutes to Sew
Author: Nancy Zieman

Author's web site:
Date: 1992
Publisher: Oxmoor House
ISBN: 0848711181
Length: 144 pages including graphics; many full-color photos
Quote: “Who uses minutes has hours to use; who loses minutes whole years must lose.”
Time-saving tips and simple techniques give those who love to sew time to test the truth of this clever saying. Of course, some of the tips involve buying sewing notions, as it might be from Nancy’s Notions, Ltd...then again, those notions might prove useful. Do you need to see things, not hide them in drawers, yet want them contained in a bin where they won’t fall all over the floor as you lift one thing out? Maybe everyone knows that transparent plastic storage bins are available, now, but did everyone know that in 1992?
Tips that don’t involve buying things are pretty predictable too—plan and measure first, keep those scissors sharp, cut multiple layers when possible. However, there are some tips in this book that my grandmother didn’t know, like this valuable information on page 17: “ink marks” (from marking pens) “may reappear many years later...Also, the heat of an iron will set the marks.” Have those new air-soluble pens been around for enough years for anyone to know whether their stains may reappear, too, or is this a problem only with regular felt-tips?
Some of the sewing tips are likely to be appreciated by anyone for whom you sew, like a quick trick to curb the tendency of a rounded collar to roll upward. Others may be less appreciated. Don’t bother with that “speedy sport pocket,” and cut those all-in-one side pockets at least twice as deep below the side opening as the diagram suggests, if you want to make a garment for a person who actually uses pockets. (Don’t skip the pockets, either, if you’re sewing for a person like me; I classify anything that doesn’t have good, deep, secure pockets as Pajamas.) Those zippy zipper tricks and wash-out buttonhole patterns, on the other hand, might be perfect shortcuts to garments people can actually enjoy wearing.
There’s also a section on making clothing with a serger as “the ultimate time-saver.” Sergers are strange, futuristic machines designed to join fabrics by something more like knitting or crochet than like ordinary straight seams. The results can be decorative; the book shows examples of how lines of contrast-color serging can be used like embroidery. I must confess I’ve never actually seen anyone use a serger, although I’ve seen factory-made garments with serged seams.
Special tips are offered for sewing with knitted fabrics and inserting (or replacing) elastic. One super-brilliant trick is to insert one (or more) tucks of elastic into a waistband, so people whose size is subject to change, especially pregnant women, can let in and take out the elastic without your needing to replace it. Another chapter offers special tips that involve extra accessories, special needles and presser-feet that you can snap into the machine for special effects.
Information for raw beginners appears, rather awkwardly, after all the tricks for serious hobbyists. How to read a pattern (always save the envelope), how to pin fabric together, how to press’s true that knowing these things saves a lot of wasted sewing time, but shouldn’t they have been placed at the beginning? Oh, we reviewers always have to find something to gripe about.
Since this book is 17 years old, you might wonder about the accuracy of the information that you can order any or all of these gadgets, and/or catalogues of new ones, from Nancy’s Notions at 1-800-833-0690. I did. I dialled. Not only is the store still open, but some poor lady with a flawless U.S. accent was still answering the phone at 8:30 p.m. (I’d been sure I’d get a recording.) When I explained that I’d seen the number in an old book, she quickly offered, “Would you like to order a new book?” The store now exists at Zieman's blog, linked above, as well. Book and store are recommended to all who like to sew.

10-20-30 Minutes to Sew has been out there for a while and is not particularly rare. We can offer it as a Fair Trade Book: $5 for the book + $5 for shipping to salolianigodagewi @, we will send $1 to Zieman or a charity of her choice. We also recommend browsing her web site; Zieman has indeed written some new books that you can order directly from her to show respect.