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The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting
The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting
by Sarah Veblen
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.55
43 used & new from CDN$ 17.55

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Course of Study, July 17 2013
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The Complete Photo Guide to PERFECT FITTING by Sarah Veblen

It seems to me that the practical value of this book can be judged only by somebody who puts the instructions into practice.

I am disqualified because I bought the book to learn what a protagonist in a novel I am writing must know to run her business.

That said, it seems to me that more than 200 pp in large format, heavily texted with many detail photographs on each page, dedicated to the single topic of fitting a garment to a human body, must cover the model decently enough for polite company.

Now, when I go back to the encyclopedic READER'S DIGEST Complete Guide to Sewing, it seems to me that the DIGEST explains the problems of fitting so tersely that it must assume that all readers have more experience than all readers have; such assumption leaves a beginner baffled when an unexplained variation is at hand. Ms. Veblen's thoroughness in giving pages to variations in each kind of fitting seems to attend to that common problem of how-to books.

Insofar as I have pored through it once over lightly, it looks to me that this book demands a serious commitment to several weeks of trials with a roll of pattern paper and at least one patient model --- two or three compliant volunteers of different shapes would be much better for proving variations. This book is a good project for group study, or a professional course in tailoring.

Although I am not qualified to prove its practicability, I am giving this course of study a top rating for thoroughness compared with other books on stitchcraft in its price bracket.

TP

Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop
Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop
by David Coffin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.24
38 used & new from CDN$ 14.48

5.0 out of 5 stars At The Feet of The Master, July 17 2013
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Making TROUSERS for Men and Women by David Page Coffin

Hitherto, my purpose was served by books providing a general overview of stitchcraft.
This 8.5" x 10" title, covered by light card folded, devotes 140 pp to the single subject of tailoring trousers, including a CD of videos and more info on the author's WEB page. Changing from one extreme to the other is as shocking as replacing a 90 degree wide-angle lens with a macro. The two views sees how particular details function in the whole.

Although most of each page is filled with numerous detail photographs and drawings, the eight point, sans serif type packs an encyclopedic load of information in the text columns. The figure sketches depict models in human proportions as simply as possible while providing realistic presentations of the apparel. Compared to the gorgeous arabesques of other fashion illustrators, Maite Lafuente's sketches look positively primitive, yet they are the consummation of representational art to my sensibilities. Like the watercolours of the late Tony Olney. That is just me.

The author claims mere amateur competence in tailoring. He is, however, a quondam editor of THREADS magazine, and conducts workshops in the craft on both sides of the Atlantic. His modesty bespeaks standards few attain, and he is obviously a professional wordsmith.

All instruction is given with an assumption that the student has acquired some context. Without context, directions seemingly simple and self-evident are doomed to misunderstanding with appalling results. The only way I know to acquire the requisite context, avoiding the costs of trials and errors, is to copy models under the tutelage of a master.

While packing factual information as densely as a textbook, Coffin's style is conversational more than didactic, laden with technical know-how, know-why, and personal reflections acquired over a lifetime of experience. Reading Coffin recalls the years of my apprenticeship in another craft, attending the wisdom of my master. I read this book for pleasure of the author's personality. But that is just me.

If you do not include this book in your craft library, you must find another like it.

TP

Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket
Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket
by Editors of CPi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.15
37 used & new from CDN$ 12.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half-Classed, July 17 2013
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TAILORING
The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket

I have purchased three large format titles under the CREATIVE colophon because they impressed me as being well written, well edited, and well produced. And cheap.

This title, however, is half the size of the others, on a subject that I presume to require as much explanation. Is the subject half-covered? Furthermore, no writer is credited. It is to wonder whether it is written by a salaried editor at the behest of the sales office, or by a ghost writer. Why does the writer remain unknown?

The production is quite as competent as the other two, but a cursory look-through senses brevity, as if each subtopic is cut to fit the page rather than given the pages to fit the cut. There are no ragged page endings common to the other books of its kind.

The signal topics not so thoroughly described in other books are 8 pp about the tools for pressing and shaping fabrics and seams during construction, and 4 pp about hand sewing. These dozen pages might be worth the cost of the book to a reader who has not learned from other sources.

Without actually following the instructions to make a jacket, I have no way to tell how useful this book is for a beginner or even an experienced seamstress advancing from dresses to heavy tailoring. I am giving this opus a mid rating because a star is demanded to post an opinion. I do not want to downgrade it because it is so much less than comparable titles, nor do I dare to upgrade it because it is so much less than comparable titles. Only a tailor can tell whether it tells all that needs to be told.

TP

Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing
Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing
by Reader's Digest Publishers
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from CDN$ 9.96

5.0 out of 5 stars The Encyclopedia of Couture, July 15 2013
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The READER'S DIGEST Complete Guide to Sewing

These 500 letter-sized pp in hard covers explains everything anybody is likely to do with fabric in the home, all profusely illustrated with line drawings.

Subjects include needles, threads, fabrics, weaves, hand stitching, machine stitching, the sewing machine, tools, patterns, fitting, alterations, darts, pleats, ruffles, shirring, collars, waistlines, sleeves, cuffs, pants, hems, zippers, fasteners, pockets, inner linings, interlinings, for men, women, children, and everything that can be made of cloth for the home. No canvas or leather wear.

Reader's Digest only publishes the most accurate, simple, elegant, and pelucid prose in the English language. Reader's Digest is never confusing or abstruse, but it must be dense and didactic to pack everything done with needles and thread into one tome. So, read slowly, read two or three times, study the illustrations, and chew thoroughly before swallowing.

No serious sewer's library is complete without this encyclopedia.

TP

Sew Everything Workshop
Sew Everything Workshop
by Diana Rupp
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: CDN$ 23.79
38 used & new from CDN$ 10.10

5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare and Wonderful Book, July 15 2013
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Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp

Considering the vastness of the subject, these 240 pp in 7.5 x 9" format, spiral bound between hard covers, is a mere short story. Nevertheless Ms. Rupp has chosen her words so well that she has me feeling that I comprehend all I need to know about the craft to make any garment and drapery that does not demand a Bond Street tailor.

In her kaffee klatch conversation, Ms. Rupp begins by explaining every necessary tool, continues with the care and handling of a sewing machine, and then gets into a few dozen of the most common and practical fabrics. From projects simple enough to delight a child, she progresses step by illustrated step to teach the cuts, gathers, and stitches of garments looking tailor made. I do believe that a beginner of ordinary aptitude will be ready to tailor a jacket by the time one practises all the lessons, although I should expect that it will have to be done twice to work out all the puckers in the seams and pulls around the shoulders.

I have never read a better organized, articulate, and inspiring teacher. Moreover, she advocates that beginners form sewing clubs to make the art a social activity. Clubbing is surely the best way for students to learn and advance their interests; professional scholars call their clubs a college.

SEW is a rare and wonderful education by a rare and wonderful young teacher. She gives me the feeling that I always knew how, but did not know how I knew.

TP

The Fashion Designer's Directory of Shape and Style: Over 600 Mix-and-Match Elements for Creative Clothing Design
The Fashion Designer's Directory of Shape and Style: Over 600 Mix-and-Match Elements for Creative Clothing Design
by Simon Travers-Spencer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.17
26 used & new from CDN$ 10.87

5.0 out of 5 stars A Colophon to Watch, July 15 2013
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The FASHION DESIGNER'S Directory of Shape and Style by Simon Travers-Spencer and Zarida Zaman

Imagination can design fantastic carriages, such as the BatMobile and the flying car that was a promise of the PostWar World 70 years ago. A real automotive designer needing investors and buyers, however, must develop designs from the repertoire of established styles and elements, such as roadster, coupe, limousine, and running board, visor, automatic shift, and turn signals. Likewise, an architect must develop houses from the established styles, such as bungalow, Cape Cod, gable, and mansard.

In this wise, the designer of fashionable wear must know the shapes typifying every era and the various styles of collars, waists, hems, sleeves, pockets, gatherings, and ornaments. Travers-Spencer and Zaman set out to provide this information to wannabee designers, and they do just that with an economical eloquence.

500 elements of clothing construction are shown in line drawings, and as many are illustrated by models. An additional 40 pp of the 140 in this colourful, 7.5" x 9.5" paperback tell how many designers develop their creations from writer's block and inspiration to the modelling runway and sales rack. About fifty fabrics are illustrated with a few words explaining how each is used. These steps of the design process are, I believe, essential learning for everybody interested in the rag trade, yet they are hardly mentioned in passing by most of the two-dozen books I have purchased to acquire an understanding of this vast industry covering everybody outside of nudist camps.

In my small collection, this is the second title from BARRON that gets top rating from me for design, production, content, practicability, and fitness for purpose. This colophoin bears watching. Kudos to the authors, editors, and marketing office.

TP

Cool Couture: Construction Secrets for Runway Style
Cool Couture: Construction Secrets for Runway Style
by Kenneth D King
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.24
39 used & new from CDN$ 8.42

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Encore, Professor King, July 14 2013
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COOL COUTURE by Kenneth D. King

During the second year of apprenticeship, everybody believes one is a grossly underpaid master. Formal instruction peaks out during the second year, but it takes a decade to learn the skills not taught which distinguish professional from amateur. The general rule is that 10,000 hours of diligent study and practise are needed before serious learning begins.

A designer for the stars, Professor King relates some of the tricks that he picked up over his lifetime on the seamy side --- with real seams. In 175 8.5" x 10" paper-covered pages, he explains how a pro finishes problem stitchings of shoulders, button-holes, pockets, and linings, and then proceeds to tell how to make ruffles and decorations that distinguish the pros from the amateurs. His procedures are profusely illustrated in exhaustive detail for students eager to get ahead of themselves.

I have been perusing a couple-dozen books about the rag trade to acquire the mental baggage of a protagonist in a novel I am writing. Whatever the practical value of Mr. King's experience, and I believe it is considerable, his professional touches inspire me with the special mentality of my lady in couture. Finally, I am beginning to see dress as she does. Now I can write her without reading further; my character gains verisimilitude from the professor.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson in this book is learning to criticize one's work with a professional eye.

Unhappily, I lack the experience in this trade to know what a top rating is, so I hold back on my estimation due to my shortcomings, not his. I think everybody would benefit from more of the Master's experience, in a bigger book.

TP

New Worlds to Conquer: America's Most Dashing 1920s Adventurer Explores South America
New Worlds to Conquer: America's Most Dashing 1920s Adventurer Explores South America
by Richard Halliburton
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.14
13 used & new from CDN$ 17.64

4.0 out of 5 stars The Paths of VainGlory, July 14 2013
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New World's to Conquer by Richard Halliburton
375 pp paperback set in 12 point type

Before the 747, before McDonald's, before the yanqui dollar, exotic romance began over the nearest horizon. During the interbellum years, Richard Halliburton's intensely personal accounts of his travels in storied lands, written in the florid prose of his generation's Ivy League schooling, were received as avidly as reports of the first landing on the Moon. Halliburton was my childhood ideal; I dreamed of following his trails as he followed the steps of Ulysses, Marco Polo, and Columbus. Halliburton was a one-man NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.

Of the five books Halliburton wrote, New Worlds To Conquer relates his adventures in Latin America, retracing the exploration of Cortez through torrential Gulf rains to Teotihuacan, Balboa's trek through the jungle across Panama, Pizarro's quest for gold to the Lost City of the Inca, the trails of convicts who expired in the mosquito swamps around Devil's Island, living on Robinson Crusoe's island, and swimming the Panama Canal through waters infested with alligators, barracuda, and ships' garbage.

The adventurer was not a happy wanderer. He remarks on his inability to feel the social bonds that make home and family. He experiences his world as a romantic isolate; other people enter his accounts only insofar as they are portrayed as poetically as the prehistoric marvels. His feats, such as swimming the Hellespont like Leander, climbing the Matterhorn like Whymper, and jumping 70 feet into the sacrificial sink-hole of the Mayas, were not the calculated risks of a professional dare-devil like Eval Knieval, but the impulsive vanities of a charmed dreamer, done without training, preparation, equipment or adequate support. Richard resolved to climb Popo with his feet bound in rags after he burned his boots by drying them close to his campfire; the God of fools and drunks rode on his shoulder.

Royalties afforded Halliburton a house high on the slopes overlooking Carmel, but before he would retire to his home, he set out on one more beau geste before Thor Heyerdahl took the glory from sailing across the Pacific in a junk built by Chinese shipwrights using traditional methods. He lacked the patience to let them drill holes for pegging the timbers by burning through with hot rods; he persuaded them to use an auger bit. Immediately after posting his account of the constructing to his publisher, he set sail from China into the oblivion that holds Amelia Earhart. Did he decide to drop out of sight on some island paradise? Did he founder in a tropical cyclone? Was he annihilated by the pirates of the China Seas?

I suspect that his life lost its charm when a modern impatience overruled the legends that inspired his travels. You see, the hole drilled by a red-hot iron rod is rough, fire-hardened, and smaller than the peg it will hold. It expands to accommnodate the peg as the rod's heat drives out the wood's moisture. Once launched, the ship's timbers swell with sea water to hold the pegs tighter than heat-fitted iron rims around wheels. Halliburton's modern brace and bit left smooth holes exactly the size of the pegs, with no differential swelling when the ship was in water. As a result, the timbers separated the first time they were struck by rough seas, and his junk disintegrated before his crew could rig any flotation device that might have carried them to a coral island, or until found by air-sea searchers.

Halliburton's adventures seem quaint period pieces today, but rereading them takes me back to a previous century when Africa was the Dark Continent, the Amazon was still unexplored, the world was not shrouded in the smoke of fossil fuels, and the sights were not thronged with tourists --- and tourist trappers. I would buy all his books to read again if they were available in KINDLE edition.

TP

The Fashion Designer's Textile Directory: A Guide to Fabrics' Properties, Characteristics, and Garment-Design Potential
The Fashion Designer's Textile Directory: A Guide to Fabrics' Properties, Characteristics, and Garment-Design Potential
by Gail Baugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.32
29 used & new from CDN$ 26.32

5.0 out of 5 stars "10", July 14 2013
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The Fashion Designer's TEXTILE DIRECTORY by Gail Baugh

Among the two-dozen books I have purchased this year to get a feel for the clothing industry, BARRON's profusely illustrated title of >300 pp in 8" x 9.5" format is faultless for design, construction, production, and content. It could be made larger and more expensive to include everything known about every fabric ever made for every purpose, but it cannot be made more useful for cutters and stitchers needing a compendium of the fabrics currently available. And the colourful illustrations enable readers to identify the textiles on sight.

Ms. Baugh explains how each fabric is made, of what it is made, for what it is used, how it is worked, and the care it needs, with illustrations of the styles most suitable. She groups materials as staples, specialties, luxuries, and ornamental, natural and synthetic. She emphasizes the collateral effects that manufacture and disposal makes on the global environment and the conditions of the people who work in the industry.

Paradoxically, a perfect work of art, utility, and responsibility leaves nothing to say for review. This book is literally awesome.

TP

The Fashion Sketchpad: 420 Figure Templates for Designing Looks and Building Your Portfolio
The Fashion Sketchpad: 420 Figure Templates for Designing Looks and Building Your Portfolio
by Tamar Daniel
Edition: Diary
Price: CDN$ 15.85
40 used & new from CDN$ 6.91

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ready-to-Design Ready-to-Wear, July 12 2013
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FASHION SketchBook by Tamar Daniel

I bought the 8.5" x 11.5", spiral-bound, FASHION SketchBook for the page of 70 small line drawings of construction styles (collars, lapels, waists, cuffs, etc.) shown in the preview, along with 3 pp of glossary. I want to learn the elements of clothing design.

The remaining 58 sheets of heavy paper stock is printed on both sides with 400 female outlines in runway stances, just dark enough to see, too faint to register in photocopies, for overdrawing and overpainting clothing.

The publisher believes that designers want to save the time of sketching clothes hangers, and wannabees are happy to be relieved of learning how to draw the stylized, long-legged fashion figure. Anybody with 401 ideas will have to buy another SketchBook, or learn how to draw.

It seems to me that professional designers can sketch figures in the exact pose and size envisioned with less bother than conforming to templates, and wannabees who have not learned to sketch a standard figure are very likely to need some study for rendering drapery well enough to show. Furthermore, both pros and wannabees need male figures and children along with female models for El Greco. But, what do I know?

TP

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