'Love at First Stitch' book review

'Love at First Stitch' book review

Regular readers will be familiar with my reviews of online classes, but as my sewing library expands I realise how handy it would have been to have a little more detail to hand before I bought some of my books. This is the first of one of my more in depth book reviews where you'll hopefully see what projects are like to make as well as what is in the book and who it might be suitable for.

If you are brand new to sewing or want a handy reference book for your essential techniques, then 'Love at First Stitch' by Tilly Walnes is a great place to start. It's perfect for complete beginners, but also has some great patterns in there for anyone with more developed skills. I know this book has been out for a while, and there are quite a lot of reviews, but it's always new to someone....

'Love at First Stitch' book review

Tilly really is an expert in teaching beginners how to sew in a simple, uncomplicated way. The styling on her projects also means that there is a lot here for dressmakers who already have a good basic skills set. This book is something that you can work through one project at a time, or dip into as you need it. There are 7 projects in the book that cover all the essential skills you need to begin sewing your own clothes - 5 of which are full size patterns in the back. The progressively more challenging projects cover all the basic skills you will need that you can use in most patterns. What it does not teach you are skills for working with knit or stretchy fabrics, and advanced garment specific techniques. 

'Love at First Stitch' book review and patterns included

What beginners will get out of 'Love at First Stitch'

'Love at First Stitch' will take any beginner who wants to learn to sew their own clothes on a skill building and jargon busting journey. You do not need to have any sewing experience or knowledge whatsoever to get started. The book starts by explaining sewing kit and how to use a sewing machine. If you have no experience at all with your machine you might need a bit more information than anyone could get into a book - machines vary enormously so check out the machine manual or look it up in YouTube. Once you know how to turn on and thread your machine, Tilly guides you through the rest.

'Love at First Stitch' book review

At the start of each project there is a breakdown of the skills you will use need and will learn, progressively adding to your knowledge base as you move through. You don't need to do them in the order of the book, and every skill you use is covered somewhere in there (if you want an in-depth review of each pattern, click on their names below - handy links will take you to detailed posts). In between projects there are also articles that are really handy for anyone starting out in dressmaking - such as 'How to behave in a fabric store'! If you've never been in one that can be a learning curve in itself - Tilly always includes fabric suggestions so when you do go in it's a lot less scary.

'Love at First Stitch' book review

The first project is the Brigitte scarf that teaches you your basic stitching. I've used this a few times to create belts for dresses...the great thing about sewing is you can make things to suit your needs! As you go through the patterns you will find that each one also has ideas on how you can 'make it your own', customising or experimenting with adaptations and different variations. This book has been used by so many dressmakers there is a huge variety of ideas that you can draw inspiration from (check out this Pinterest board).

'Love at First Stitch' book review

The Margot pyjamas take you a little further into using a sewing pattern. These are included on paper sheets in pocket at the back of the book. You need to trace off each pattern as they overlap each other, but they are so much clearer than commercial patterns this isn't too hard. (I keep mine in bright envelopes in this pocket). It's also a great way to see where the notches and seams all go for when you are cutting and sewing later. The pattern itself is very clear and easy to follow.

'Love at First Stitch' book review

I made the Delphine skirt as my first solo project when I was learning to sew. I had never inserted a zip before, used interfacing or got anything to fit that wasn't elasticated. These skills were all so clearly explained that I learned how to do all these things well. I returned to the tutorials in this pattern a few times as a beginner dressmaker....inserting invisible zips were my most used pages. I also had never inserted a lining, which isn't in the book but is on Tilly's blog. Having the blog to pair up with the book is very helpful for anyone just starting out because there are so many photographs on there that match exactly to what you are learning. It makes everything clearer and gives you lots of ideas.

'Love at First Stitch' book review; Delphine and Mimi
Delphine and Mimi

I've also returned to the tutorials within the Mimi blouse a few times in my learning. This blouse requires you to sew buttons and buttonholes, which again are more key skills that beginners can master with practice and with the very helpful steps in the book. These are patterns that you can also return to any time, as you fancy them or as you get a new idea. There's been a couple of times when I've looked at a shirt pattern and thought to myself 'I'll just make a Mimi' instead, because I know it is achievable.

If you are a beginner deciding between 'Love at First Stitch' and a class, check out my reviews of face to face and online classes to help you decide.

Learning how to sew; beginners guide. Tilly and the Buttons Online dressmaking course review

What dressmakers with more experience will get out of 'Love at First Stitch'

Like I said earlier - it's a great handbook of essential sewing techniques to return to; I've needed to look back at the French Seams tutorial repeatedly, even without having made the skirt that they feature in. The projects included are not just very easy beginner patterns. Some of them are a lot more complicated and can help you expand your skills set. I found the Clemence skirt to be very interesting as a pattern drafting introduction. I only made the skirt recently so would like to think I've moved beyond beginner, and was still learning.

The patterns themselves are a great set of staples. The RRP of the book is £20, and for that you get 5 good patterns with very detailed instructions. The Megan dress is a classic style that you can adapt for different occasions and I often return to when I'm looking for a wardrobebuilding dress pattern. It's a straightforward sew as well which is quite relaxing!

'Love at First Stitch' book review; Lilou and Megan
Lilou and Megan

The Lilou dress is definitely a more complicated pattern, and provides some challenge as well as including enough interesting features to make it stand out. Tilly does always suggest variations to patterns, and this dress is a good start to get going with pattern hacks. The Lilou is another example of a staple pattern that is part of what you could consider a 5 pattern bundle for £20....or possibly cheaper if you have a look around.

And apart from anything it's a nice looking book to flick through and have on your shelf! I love the styling of Tilly's photos and do return to have a look for some inspiration every now and again.

What did you think of this book? Did it help you as a beginner or as a more experienced dressmaker?


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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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