Review: Built by Wendy: Dresses book

Thursday, November 29, 2012

At Five Eighth Seams we pride ourselves on having a vast selection of patterns and pattern books. On our bookshelf, we keep everything from One Yard Wonders to books just for little boys. A lot of these books, like the beloved Sew What You Love that Laura tackled this summer, are project orientated. Meaning, they come with a variety of projects from clothes, to bags, to home decor. Built By Wendy is NOT one of those books.

A lot of our students flip through books and look for projects they like. While many of our pattern books are perfect for this kind of inspiration, Built By Wendy just isn't one of those project books. People might be disappointed to buy the book with the intention of making one particular dress only to learn the work that would go into adjusting the main pattern to making that dress...especially beginner sewers.

Built By Wendy only includes pieces for three patterns: the shift, the sheath, and the dirndl. That's it. But, from those three full patterns the book shows you how to make adjustments to the neckline, hemline and sleeves to create 25 different dresses. It's a good look into the world of pattern drafting or more accurately pattern adjusting. The book tackles fit in depth as well as practical solutions for making patterns work for you.

I recently jumped into the Built By Wendy book with the intention of learning some basics about how patterns really work and how to make dresses from patterns that actually fit...the first time. I've been able to learn those things as well as some great tips from Wendy -- who's an established independent NYC-based fashion designer -- like why she doesn't use 5/8" seam allowances and how to make the most flattering darts.

My very first Built By Wendy dress.

I've got a ton of ideas for dresses based on the ones in this book. It's really freeing to think of making dresses this way. I encourage any serious sewer to pick it up. But, just remember, you shouldn't be thinking of any particular project with this one...instead think about expanding your sewing creativity and letting go of the pattern instructions for once.

Obviously, you've gotta love dresses for this one. But, be sure to check out Built By Wendy: Knits and Built By Wendy: Jackets to learn more about those kinds of projects. We'd be happy to order them for you if you'd like.

And, for a limited time, Five Eighth Seams is offering a special promotion so you can pick up this book for less. Enter promo code: WENDY online or mention this blog post in the store and get 15% off!


  1. Thank you for sharing this post , it was very interesting and i loved the idea behind it

  2. Thank you for this post , i enjoyed reading it , looking forward to read more of your work .

  3. most wonderfull post
    thanks for sharing

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