I got an early Christmas present from lovely Rachel that I’ve been dying to talk about, but I’ve just been sewing too much to find room on here! She ended up with two copies so she offered me one (with unbelievably perfect timing, as I’d not five minutes before received my Christmas parcel from America, totally soaked through like it had been dunked in a lake somewhere en route and was thoroughly upset. So her offer really turned the day around for me!).
It’s called “Twinkle Sews”, and it’s the first sewing book by designer Wenlan Chia.
It’s got sections for skirts, raglan sleeve tops and tunics, dropped shoulder tops and tunics, and sleeveless tops. I’m not a big fan of the dropped shoulder look myself (it just looks badly fitted to my eyes) but that’s easily altered and the designs in here are just so different to what I’m used to seeing in my pattern magazines that it was a real fresh burst of inspiration.
The book contains glossy model photoshoots for each design, then shots of the clothing laid flat, line drawings of the pattern pieces (though not laid onto fabric) with a few detail shots and text-only instructions. To my dismay, there aren’t any technical drawings, but you can get a pretty good idea of what’s going on from the flat photos. They rate the patterns from “Easy” to “Advanced”, but to my eyes, this is not a beginner book at all! The A-Plus A Line skirt is definitely the easiest in the book (read on for a free download link), but the instructions are un-illustrated and don’t seem to use standard pattern instruction notation. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not as bad as Burda magazine, so if you can handle those, you’ll be fine here!
What’s a bigger problem for me, though, is the overcomplicated sizing! The patterns come in sizes 0-16, but the book says to find your measurements on the size chart (okay so far…) and then “add 2 inches for seam allowances and 3-5 inches for ease”. Uhh, WTF?
Why be so willfully confusing and do it this way? For the love of god, make your sizing like every other pattern company on the planet, and just tell me what size to sew from my measurements! If I wanted to calculate the wearing ease of a skimpy top vs a heavy sweatshirt, I’d draft my own! I sew from patterns so I don’t have to bother with crap like this!! (and I’m also perturbed because my measurements put me at size 12, but adding all that on takes me off the charts!)
All the patterns are included on a cd at the back of the book, in Pdf and Illustrator format. Which is fantastic, only each size is contained in its own pdf, which makes it super difficult to switch between sizes if you’re one size on top and another size in the hips. On multisize patterns where all the sizes are laid on top of each other, you can just cut between the lines to adjust, but it’d be really difficult to do that here… And if you want to flat measure the pattern pieces to determine what size to sew (due to the overly-complcated sizing instructions above), you have to guess and print out one size, tape all the sheets together and measure, and if it turns out you’ve printed the wrong size, repeat for the size next up/down. Guh.
Right, so all that ranting out of the way, on to the Good Stuff (and there is a lot of it – in spite of the above, I really do like this book!)…
I actually quite like most of the skirts in this book (apart from the “Annie Hall” as I hate long skirts and dressses), but my favourite is the Jazz Hall skirt:
The construction is quite clever here, as the first flounce is attached to the skirt hem, but the bottom flounce is attached to the lining hem, so you get extra movement as you walk.
I’m not a big fan of the drawstring neck on the Origami blouse, but the folded fabric at the neck is just too cool!
You can see in the detail photos (and in the pattern piece drawing) that these are just squares of fabric with the corners pressed in to create little triangles, then repeated over and over. It’d be so easy to take these folded squares and add them onto anything! I really like the look of these, but not necessarily the rest of the blouse.
I absolutely adore the Poetry in Motion top/tunic, but I swore to myself I’d never, ever touch velvet again, so for me, I’d make this in another fabric entirely (and probably either shorten it to a top or elongate it to a dress, as the tunic length is not kind to me).
But my absolute favourite of the whole book is the On the Sidelines sweatshirt, so I’ve included a few more scanned pages here so you can get a better idea of what the instructions are like (they do continue on for another page, though!).
But I really, really want to know where they found such a great colour of sweatshirting! All I ever seen in shops and online are the bright, athletic colours, never anything muted like this (anyone seen any? Drop me a comment or email, eh?).
More on Twinkle Sews…
As promised above, there is indeed a free download from this book! BurdaStyle released the A-Plus A Line skirt pattern as a free download, so this would be a good way to check the wonky sizing before buying the book!
Also, Jacqui of Hazlenut Sews has photos of all the designs in the book if you’d like to see what I’ve left out…
And last but certainly not least, Katherine has already sewn up three of the tops from this book!! It’s really nice to see them made up, but the little strappy tops are more suited to the Australian climate than my English one, so it’s great that there are warmer selections in the book, too.