Book Review & giveaway: The Sweat Shop Book

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:

T-shirt patterns

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:

Floppy hat

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.

Fishnet sweater

And how about these totally bonkers knitted wigs?!

Knitted wigs

There’s also some fab ideas for recycling and customising, like creating a cape from an old tartan blanket:

Blanket cape

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!


50 thoughts on “Book Review & giveaway: The Sweat Shop Book

  1. The book looks luscious itself! My fave crafting snack would have to be M&Ms, so as not to get it on my (most often knitting) project.

  2. Craft books are the best snack ever. But seriously I prefer green tea and grapes or other fruit that doesn’t stain. I don’t like greasy things when I craft, even though I looove popcorn 🙂

  3. My favourite crafting snack has to be chocolate hob nobs and a big cup of coffee.
    If l’m working on something that really can’t have chocolate near it l would have to have fruit pastilles.
    Thank you for writing a lovely blog, as a new sewer / quilter l find it very inspirational.

  4. loving the slippers (i may have had a young body but inside i’ve always been about 80!). the wigs are fab! my kids would love them!like, fingers totally crossed dude!

  5. I like snacking on a good cup of filter coffee and a chocolate chip and hazelnut cookie. Or if it is hot weather, some ice cold Dr. Pepper. Some of my crafting experiments really suit their slogan; what’s the worst that could happen!

  6. Sounds like a great book. I love chips but they definitely aren’t an ideal crafting snack, all those calories and greasy finger! M& Ms are pretty good though!

  7. My favourite snack when crafting is handmade chocolates but, unfortunately, I don’t often have any around 😦

  8. Oh, I read about this in a magazine a while back, it looked really interesting! I don’t actually snack while crafting (takes too much time to stop and wipe your hands all the time 😉 ) but I love a bottle of coke zero by my side…

    Thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  9. The Sweat Shop Sewing Cafe sounds like a great place. Love the wigs and the slippers. I only snack when hand crafting and my favourite would be a strong hot coffee with any homemade cake available.
    Teresa x

  10. Ooh, tricky one! I’d love to say my favourite crafting snack is homemade Chelsea buns and fresh coffee, but buns are so sticky that I’d have to take a break from my crafting to actually eat one! OK, so how about, I craft and craft, then take a break to eat a sticky bun whilst flicking through some craft books? Yeah, that sound good. Darn, I’m hungry now… 🙂

  11. Love those tartan blanket capes / ponchos!
    My favourite crafting snack has got to be tea & toast – the snack of champions. The toast should preferably be French-style sourdough bread from Paul’s Bakery, spread with real butter. If I’m feeling especially indulgent I may add a smear of my mum’s marmalade. I’m on my last jar: she died in 2007.

  12. What a fabulous book, and great review! Love the slippers too. I was just thinking another book on my wish list, when you mention ‘giveaway’ – woohoo! That would please my bank balance no end. My favourite crafting snack has to be a pint mug of tea and any kind of plain biscuit (preferably Ginger nut). Anything with chocolate and you risk leaving a chocolatey smudge!

  13. What a great book. My crafting snack would be the classic tea and digestive biscuits, preferably dark chocolate ones. Happy dunking!

  14. For me its a glass of milk and a rich chocolate brownie but then I get chocolate over whatever I am working on.!

  15. What a fab book! I’d take the freshly ground coffee and the fruit cake without the marzipan. Though I’m usually a tea and chocolate girl when I am sewing.

  16. It’s OK to still do these things over 40. What was “trendy” becomes “loveably eccentric”. I’m a snack-a-holic, but crafting occupies my mind and hands, so I don’t snack much. Just a nice cup of tea every now and then – well away from my sewing!

  17. Crafting snacks – this is terrible, I do not snack and craft, drink 7-up, with a screw top. I am terrified I will get something on my work. Sound dumb I bet, but true. I really like krispy kreme donuts, just once in awhile. Self control goes out the window when I buy a box. They come in a box of 6, but when I open a box – 4 are gone right a way, everyone in the house has to eat just one.

    I like your review of the book and I would love to win one. I knit a little, a wig? Maybe, for a kids play but walking around the streets of Paris, it makes me laugh just thinking about it.

  18. I love the book cover!! My favorite crafting snack? Popcorn. Chocolate covered peanuts! And Chocolate Cherry Trail Mix. Let’s not forget the apple slices! Cheers! Theadora

  19. think the book would be a very interesting read. My craft snack would be a packet of fruit pastilles and a large cup of tea.

  20. The book really appeals to my misspent youth, making things to go out in on a Saturday night! Now the slippers are more up my street & I have some Green Toile Du Jouy Fabric that I got from the charity shop to make into cushion covers etc. but it would definitely look better on my feet!!
    To assist in my sewing spree I would need to have a ‘mug’ of black coffee with ‘plum bread’ & butter, yum yum! 🙂

  21. Oh I love that floppy hat!! I usually don’t snack while crafting for fear of ruining what I’m working on. I’m kinda clumsy….

  22. Oh wow, that book looks fab, right up my street! Um…definitely a black coffee and..oooo..what snack? weirdly, at the moment I’m munching my way through a box of marzipan fruits my Mum gave me, but usually I’d have to say some kind of white chocolate 🙂 x

  23. Mmm. Cake is the best snack for everything, really. With a cup of tea. Although it does make for sticky fingers. I rather like dried apple rings to nibble whilst I knit or sew. Looks like a lovely book. Laura x

  24. What a fantastic cafe it must be, coffee, cake and sewing all together! recipe for success. My ideal crafting snack would have to be my daughter’s oat and raisin cookies less messy than cream cake.

  25. Ooh, the hat, slippers and fishnet sweater are lush… Says another 40-something 😉 Favourite crafting snack…wasabi peas, but not just any wasabi peas, M&S wasabi peas, washed down with a cafetiere of black coffee. X

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