“Ever since I took my first Stretch & Sew class in the 1980’s, I have had a love affair with sewing knits. I took every class they offered, then every class I could find from other presenters. I just L-O-V-E knits. When I saw the title of tis new set of three DVDs, my first reaction was pure excitement, then I thought, “After 35 years, is there really anything new in knits?”
Londa starts off her presentation with the basics discussing the characteristics of knit fabrics today and how they are best used. Her information is easily understood by the knit novice, yet comprehensive enough to interest event he experienced sewer. I liked her discussion on the supplies she uses because she gives explanations of the tools and her reasons for using them. I use a rotary cutter all the time and never bothered to rely examine the replacement blades I purchase. She advises using a titanium blade because it lasts longer, especially when the polyester content of today’s knits can damage a regular blade so quickly. I hadn’t even realized that titanium blades were even available.
Londa also discusses patterns and sizing. She gives an excellent explanation of when to use high bust versus full bust measurements to select the proper size pattern. She then models the same garment made up in the same fabric in two different sizes so the viewer can easily see the effect that pattern size has on the overall look of the finished item. While Londa has her own line of patterns, her instructions for moving darts, balancing the armscye, and other fitting techniques afre easily applied to any commercial pattern. Most importantly, she takes the mystery out of these adjustments. Her instructions are clear and very simple to follow implying success for anyone using her techniques.
The day before viewing this DVD set, I had purchased a cute little top for my granddaughter and admired the smoothly finished neckline. It had stretch, but without the ribbing or other binding; and I wondered exactly how it had been done. Coincidentally, Londa showed this very technique using clear elastic. Because I had had trouble with clear elastic beaching brittle and snapping, I started to dismiss using it, but then she discussed this very problem. She explained that clear elastic dries out in sunlight. So when my favorite sewing store has it packaged in clear plastic and hanging on a wall where the sun can shine on it, I’ve already purchased a product that may be damaged, Now, thanks to Londa, I will be more particular about the clear elastic purchase and where I store it.
I have a number of tried-and-true patterns that I use over and over and m always looking for ways to change them up to look a little different. Londa demonstrated a number of neckline finishes that are just perfect for this. I love her ‘Chico Twist’ that I’ve seen in ready-to-wear, giving a more modern look than the simple rib neck. Her methods for adding cowls and drapes are just as simple as the other ones she shows. She also discusses other ways to adapt patterns to produce a more figure-slimming look by curving the hemline and shirring the lower edge of side seams.
As I watched these DVDs, I was surprised at how much general sewing information was included-things that could be applied to both sewing and quilting projects. Londa talks about the proper way to use twin needles, how to set up threads on a machine, winding and using elastic thread in the bobbin, creating flounces, gathering techniques, setting in sleeves, advantages of grooved-back presser feet, and much more. Her style is laid back and homey. This produces a video that has the feel of just talking among friends, rather than a stiffly polished, over-rehearsed presentation. Camera technique are very good overall, but there are a few places where more creative angles would have made viewing the close-ups more clear. However, her thorough explanations more than make up for the lack of visual support in those few areas.
While the set is about knits, don’t dismiss it if you are a devoted fan of woven fabrics. It contains great information that anyone using a sewing machine will want. Some of the techniques Londa uses were developed by her, and she shares her trial-and-error process that brought her to the successful completion of the technique. The video clearly shows her thought process in this development, thus rescuing me from trying things that clearly don’t work.
At other times Londa shares methods developed by others, and she freely gives credit to my beloved Stretch & Sew, Pamela Leggett, Palmer/Pletsch, and many others for their contributions. I like having those names associated with a particular technique so I can check out further information from those sources.
So, in answer to my own initial question, yes, even after 35 tears of sewing with knits, this three-hour three-disc set had much to offer this veteran sewer and I would definitely recommend it to others. “
Londa’s Creative Threads, three discs, 180 minutes, ISBN 978-1-4951-4050-1 $32.95