Saturday, April 20, 2024

Refashion book review & giveaway!


Due to a shoulder impingement my sewing activities are at low level at the moment. The impingement causes loss of shoulder motion and discomfort in my left arm, not a great combination with sewing. The upside of it all however, was that I time to browse my refashion/upcycle books, I've collected quite a few over the years. These days, you can find lots of ideas online of course, but if you're like me and love browsing books, feeling the paper etc. well, please read on.

And.... I'm also giving away one of them, see below for the details!

  1. DIY Fashionista - Geneva Vanderzeil
  2. The Refashion Handbook - Beth Huntington
  3. Mend & Make fabulous - Denise Wild
  4. Thrifty Style / Fashion Hacks - Janine Chisholm Sullivan
  5. Recycle Chic - Pieke Stuvel

1. DIY Fashionista - Geneva Vanderzeil

This was actually one of my first purchases on refashion/upcycling and I was pleasantly surprised by the original projects, varying from upcycling clothes to making fun accessories. The idea: make your own unique fashion items for the perfect wardrobe without a the need of a great bank balance.

Even though some projects seem to assume a slender figure (tight fitted mini skirts, sexy tops etc.) most of them are inspiring nevertheless: a feather-hem skirt, a Jackson Pollock-style splatter clutch and fringed anklets. I personally draw the line at heels and headbands with spikes:). 

2. The Refashion Handbook - Beth Huntington

You can still find Beth, aka The Renegade Seamtress, and her book on her blog by the same name. She is self-taught and doesn't 'profess to know all the correct methods of sewing...' Her projects reflect exactly that, 'straightforward fashion' as she calls it, and they may not be mindblowing, but do-able and often practical.

The book starts with some basic techniques (making darts, a french seam, installing a zipper) and then continues with 19 transformation projects with instructions and photos. The bow sleeve shirt and the the embroidered back of a denim jacket are my personal favorites.

3. Mend & make fabulous - Denise Wild

This book was actually recommended by the sadly deceased Jillian Owens (aka Refashionista) and I was not disappointed when I ordered it. Denise not only shows different and practical solutions how mend tears, holes and other problems in a variety of fabrics, but takes it a big step further: how to make it fabulous!

The book contains useful techniques for mending and even though it doesn't have the (maybe traditional) approach with before/after photos, there are lots of inspiring options and photos showing you how to make your outfit fabulous. There's so much to see and learn in this book, it's one of my favorites! 

4. Thrifty Style / Fashion Hacks - Janine Chisholm Sullivan

Thrifty Style (2012) was re-issued in 2021 by the title Fashion Hacks. A new appealing name, but unfortunately no new projects or other apparent changes. And in my opinion Thrifty Style reflected the content better (maybe we should call it Thrifty Hacks then?). The book shows inspiring ways to transform thrift finds or once loved clothes into unique fashion items. The photography and styling enhance a bohemian thrifty style which I find very appealing. 

Clear instructions with different skill levels and illustrations, sometimes I miss the 'before' photo to compare the result with. Despite the lovely ideas, the projects are bases on specific thrift finds that you may tend to try and find yourself (f.e. Sequin dress and Butterfly dress). The ideas, inspiring as they are, may not always be easily transferable to your own finds. Great book if that's not your only goal. It contains 3 full-size pull-out patterns for hot pants, a skirt and a lovely cape!

5. Recycle Chic - Pieke Stuvel

Dutch designer and illustrator Pieke has been engaged to self-made fashion for years. She likes to keep it simple ('that's complicated enough as it is') for the 'lazy seamstress'. Her funny illustrations are adorable and reflect her own unique style. So no photos, but I don't miss them at all. Her projects are (as promised) very do-able (f.e. dress out of 2 shirts or scarfs & scarfs turned into cardigan, tie-dye projects) with clear instructions. As a reader, I would sometimes have loved more white space in the descriptions. 

The book is challenging, not by skill level, but by the original perspectives and variety in possibilities. There are also kids projects, but I personally could have done without them, sorry:). Unusual and inspiring: about 10 pages are devoted to how to create different collars (including the talbot!). And I've never known there were so many possibilities with old tights! As far as I know it's not published in English, so if you're not a Dutch speaker, you'll have to make do with the illustrations and ideas.

Giveaway: Fashion Hacks!

By mistake (or because of the changed title, let's be honest, I thought it was a new book), I bought Fashion Hacks as well as Thrifty Fashion. That's why I'm giving away Fashion Hacks! The (English) book is almost new, so in very good condition and the patterns are not used. Are you a fan of thrifting and excited to get started with this book? Let me know in the comments!

This giveaway is also published on my own blog and I'll pick a winner from all entries. No matter where you live (Australia, Poland or the Nederlands), I'll send it to you, so let me know how to contact you. 

If you're interested in a gentle rating on the books and more details, you're welcome to find out more on my blog!


g.satansbraten said...

First of all: all the very best for a speedy recovery; before 'sewing/crafting cold turkey' sets on too hard (= quite some funny experience of mine during my own life span; despite rather 'minor health problems')

Concerning the books: I'd better leave them to younger ones to bring some serious help into their lives.

Chin up and - again - speedy recovery (there is never too much of this)

Vermaakster said...

Thanks a lot! And you're right, I'm already feeling quite out of balance without my usual sewing activities:), let's hope it won't take too long....

Maria said...

I would like to be considered for the giveaway.

Vermaakster said...

is noted Maria!

Alice said...

I'd love to have this book!


Nancy said...

I would love to win your book giveaway! Thank you for being generous and sharing.

Maria said...


Vermaakster said...

Nancy & Alice: also noted!

trinia said...

Thanxs for your sharing.
Hope you have a fast recovering.I would like to be considered

Vermaakster said...

Nancy, I have good news for you, Fashion Hacks is coming your way:)! Please let me know how to contact you.