Book Month: Expanding Your Fabric Horizons


Twinkle Sews: 25 Handmade Fashions from the Runway to Your Wardrobe by Wenlan Chia
Potter Craft, 2009


Linen Wool Cotton: 25 Simple Projects to Sew with Natural Fabrics by Akiko Mano
Trumpeter/Shambhala, 2009

Like Susan Wasinger’s Fabricate, which Mary Beth reviewed last week, today’s books both are great for sewists wanting to explore different kinds of fabrics. Wenlan Chia, whose label Twinkle by Wenlan is well known in the knitting, fashion, and design world, has several knitting books under her belt, but Twinkle Sews is her first sewing book. It has 25 designs — seven skirts, six raglan sleeve tops, six drop shoulder tops, and six spaghetti strap tops/dresses. Of course the biggest factor in deciding whether you should buy this book is whether or not you like her designs and whether they will work with your body. Unfortunately I haven’t seen much in the way of previews of the projects anywhere on the web (Craftystylish shows a few), so this is one to seek out in your local bookstore to see in person.

The look of the garments definitely gets my seal of approval — they are far more fashion forward than the big commercial pattern companies’ fare, with lots of interesting lines and details. I’m excited that they use a wide variety of fabrics — wools, lace, silks, linen, and blends, sweatshirt fabric, synthetics, velvet, eyelet, and many blends. The patterns range in difficulty from easy to advanced, but the easy ones are far from plain. Sizes range from 0-16. A few of the spaghetti strap patterns look like they would never do for the large busted, but there are plenty of voluminous blouses to make up for it.

A few reviewers on Amazon complained about the printable patterns, which are included on a CD that comes with the book. In theory you are supposed to be able to print the patterns out onto 8.5×11″ paper and tape them together, but the reviewers complained about nonmatching pieces, confusion over dealing with printer margins, and the sheer amount of paper consumed. So that is something to keep in mind if you tend to be daunted by this type of thing.

You can’t get much different stylistically from Twinkle Sews than Linen Wool Cotton by Akiko Mano, but I can also see the same sewist loving both books equally. Like TS, it’s a celebration of different fibers and textures, and the projects are all about letting solid fabrics shine. Only this translated-from-Japanese book focuses on natural fibers and is all about simplicity — and it has a variety of projects, only a few of which are garments. They are all clean, serene, sweet, and lovely, and would make great beginner projects. It’s a perfect book especially if you are looking to work with linen or wool for the first time. There are no pattern pieces to deal with, only measurements and diagrams. To get an idea of the projects included, browse the book oh Shambhala’s site.


  1. vanessa says:

    I would love to hear if anyone has made projects from Twinkle Sews. I loved the designs, but as you mentioned am hampered by having to tape together pattern pieces. Plus, it’s so difficult to find appropriate fabrics for these designs. It’s been hard to find any reviews of the actual patterns online.

  2. kathy says:

    I picked up Twinkle Sews at Barnes and Noble last week! I was also really attracted to the gorgeous design details and the organization of the book. Very inspiring.