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49 Sensational Skirts: Creative Embellishment Ideas For One-of-a-kind Designs [Paperback]

Alison Willoughby
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 1 2008

Alison Willoughby, an innovative textile designer who made her mark in the fashion world as "skirtgirl" for her work on hand-constructed intricate skirts, gives a complete sewing rundown in this fabulous guidebook. Throughout its accessible chapters, this resource shows how to give a new lease on life to a favorite old skirt, transform thrift store finds into runway-worthy fashions with clever customizations, and how to make and decorate a skirt from scratch using the handy bound-in pattern template. With 49 fabulous skirt designs plus one sassy miniskirt, core techniques are illustrated with step-by-step photographs--from sewing fabric into seams, pleating, and ruching to screen printing and adding embellishments.

Sewers of all levels--no previous knowledge necessary--learn how to manipulate fabric to create amazing effects such as ruffles, loops, and layers; produce unusual decorations using beads, buttons, badges, ribbons, and myriad found objects; and to create unique prints and patterns with pens, paints, and foil. Step-by-step instructions for making a wide range of skirts are included, plus instructions for numerous stitch techniques, construction and deconstruction, decorative stitches, and descriptions of various fabrics, fastenings, and finishings. Rounded off with a special section on inspiration exercises to get creativity flowing, this crafter's companion has all of the information a sewer needs to begin creating custom fashions.

Product Details

Product Description


"Allison Willoughby's circle skirts...are strikingly attractive." - The New York Sun, in the review of an exhibit at Pratt Manhattan Gallery

"If you know and admire Alison Willoughby's work, then [this book] is an absolute delight--and an absolute must!" - Suite101.com

"Alison Willoughby doesn't just want you to see her work--she wants you to make it yourself." - Whipup.net

"Detailed photographs and easy construction techniques ensure even beginning seamstresses success in creating a unique garment and stir the imagination of the more experienced." - Monsters and Critics.com

"It's pretty, it's practical, and it's simple, too...This might very well be one of the top ten sewing books you will ever need." - Make It Mine

"Unleash your sewing machine and get your hands on this book." - Bangor Daily News

"Full of innovative new ideas for creating an outfit out of the ordinary." - Knitting News

"The author's color and design sense are fantastic, and I'm intrigued by her practice of recycling thrift store finds." - Fiber Art News

About the Author

Alison Willoughby has been running her own business in London since graduating from The Royal College of Art. She has exhibited, sold, and lectured internationally.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate product description July 25 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book content is exactly what the product description states it is. The explanations are clear, concise, easily readable and supported by inviting pictures. The embellishments require no sewing skills beyond the most basics. Skirts from our closets can be given new appeal while bringing colors and fantasy into our lives, a must at any ages.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and inspiring Nov. 23 2008
By Terry Weiss - Published on Amazon.com
I had been avoiding this book, as I really do NOT need any more books on making things - I own about everything ever published and had promised myself no more. Then I saw it in a store and leafed through it - and bought it! I will not kid you - you would be nuts to make any of these skirts if you are any larger than a size 8 - maybe a 10 for one or two, but only a couple. And my size 8 days are longer ago than most of the people who might buy this book were born! However old and pudgy I may be, I still make unusual clothing out of recycled clothing from thrift stores, and I thought this book had some inspiration and ideas worth enjoying. I'm glad I bought it and like leafing through it periodically.

That said, I would like to rant a minute: all the books about making clothing out of recycled thrift clothes with odd styling and peculiar decor are aimed at teeny and tiny sizes - and young and younger ages. Believe me, those of us who were both those things in the 70s and loved doing that very thing then, are still interested. Well, some of us are! I make skirts, shirts, and dresses out of mens shirts, linen calendars, neckties, cut up overalls, machine felted sweaters and vintage dresses - and have been doing it for decades. People stop me on the street and tell me they love my clothes, and occasionally someone asks me if I sell them - I don't. I get peeved at the assumption that women my age and size aren't into recycled couture books. I may not be emphasizing my hips - or even acknowledging them! - but I still make and wear some pretty fun and unique clothing. It wouldn't kill the publishers to keep this in mind - and might well increase sales if they do.

Okay, enough said on that subject - until I review another book about recycled clothing, anyway. However, I would recommend 49 Sensational Skirts as a fun approach to making and remaking garments.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what you're looking for. May 14 2011
By JeanJamie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this book because it seemed like it would inspire/teach me to make Anthropologie-esque skirts. I've had it for over a year now, and every time I take it off the shelf I get more frustrated with it. The cover promises lots of fun ideas, but it's really just an artist's portfolio in book form. The vast majority of the skirts are either too poofy, heavy or just too utterly ridiculous to be worn in daily life. For instance, the skirt that suggests you combine silk flowers with toy plastic food. Really? Imagine sitting in that.

There are some fun ideas--but they mostly involve lots and LOTS of repetitious work, and almost all the skirts have circles of something on them--see cover. How many ways can we put circles on dresses? Ribbons, flowers, paint, rolled fabric, folded fabric, buttons, etc. It's really not that creative overall. If you're looking to spend hours and HOURS to make a skirt into a piece of art (an unwashable one!), this is for you.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be young and brave Sept. 3 2009
By Isabel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm glad I bought this book, but I can't use most of the patterns "as are." If I did, at age 65 (but not looking quite that), the skirts would wear ME instead of the other way around. There are many springboard ideas that I can tone down and still enjoy wearing something creative.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great resource in teaching textiles at secondary school level Oct. 24 2009
By K. Branson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really great book when you need a project for secondary school students who have some basic skills in construction techniques and surface embellishment and its time they ventured out into a more creative approach to their work in fashion and textiles. It could be used as a starting point when discussing intellectual property, counterfeits and 'knockoffs'. The main purpose is to demonstrate to students that they can start with the ideas and inspiration from a designer's work, but focus on their own interpretations. Why copy someone else's work exactly, when they can develop their own individual creations, and use Alison Willoughby's work as their inspiration
The images are excellent, the information and directions are logical and very easy to understand, and best of all there is an Alison Willoughby pattern to use as a starting point. What a talented young lady!!!
2.0 out of 5 stars Sensational but very time consuming July 25 2014
By Lee Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The skirts are not just simple ways to embellish and make a skirt special. Although beautiful, each would take many days and hours to complete.

This would be ideal for someone who wanted to make a work of art that her friends would marvel over. There are needlework projects that I would spend this kind of time on. These skirts did not look worth it to me. For me, there is not an heirloom quality to them.
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