I have a feeling that, as a 40-something work-at-home-mum who can’t afford the fare for a trip to Paris, I’m not really in the demographic that the authors of The Sweat Shop Book (Ivy Press) are aiming at, but I completely appreciate and understand the concept and ethic which drives the authors – “Stop shopping and start making!”.
The authors, Martena Duss and Sissi Holleis are the founders of The Sweat Shop Sewing Cafe in Paris. The Sweat Shop is a cool cafe / sewing shop where sewing machines are hired by the hour, sewing and crafting skills are shared along with the good coffee and cake. Check out the good cake:
One of my favourite sections of the book is the collection of cafe recipes. Yummy!
The book takes inspiration from the people and style of their little bit of Paris – there’s a lovely sense of place and friendly community in all the patterns, ideas, recipes and music suggestions. There’s a funky, punky, diy ethic here that I really love. It’s not about spending money on a heap of new fabrics to create something perfect but sterile, it’s about working with what you can find, feeling free to customise and follow your own path. The patterns kick off with some very clear looking instructions on how to create your own T-shirt pattern – in 3 different styles:
The pictured T-shirts might not be quite my style (do I sound about 400 years old rather than 40??!), but the basic shapes and pattern cutting ideas are really useful. And you’ll be glad to know that some of the patterns are absolutely me… I adore this floppy hat with its Annie Hall style:
and check out these funky slippers (see, I do slippers rather than heels these days…):
There’s knitting too – I love this cool fishnet sweater – and even my knitting skills are probably up to this one.
And how about these totally bonkers knitted wigs?!
There’s also some fab ideas for recycling and customising, like creating a cape from an old tartan blanket:
So, I really like this book now because it’s so confident and exuberant, but it’s also the kind of book that would have appealed to the teenage me. It’s all about getting fast but stylish results on a limited budget (essential to me back in the mid-80s – when my clothing allowance allowance was about £20 per month – I really struggled!). Get it for yourself, or as a fantastic gift for a cool, creative teen.
So, would you like a copy for yourself or for someone you know? Because I have one to give away! You just need to leave a comment on here before midnight on Friday 17th, and tell me what your ideal crafting snack is. Personally I love a good freshly ground coffee and a big piece of fruit cake (preferably surrounded by marzipan please)… Will let you know who has won on Saturday… good luck!