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Subversive Seamster: Transform Thrift Store Threads Into Street Couture

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  131 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
It's time to get subversive, again! The downtown divas of "Sew Subversive" are back with another happy helping of straightlaced sewing advice for stylish results every time. Transform tacky bridesmaid gowns and pleated pants into picture-perfect tops, skirts and accessories. The two Melissas and a Hope deliver 30 great projects that are achievable for even the new sewer. " ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Taunton Press
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Aug 04, 2008 Nikkishell rated it it was ok
Shelves: craft
I was sent a copy of the book Subversive Seamster for review. Subversive Seamster follows Sew Subversive and is published by Taunton Press. It is the creation of The Stitch Lounge Girls: Melissa Alvarado, Hope Meng and Melissa Rannels. The Stitch Lounge is an urban sewing studio in San Francisco, where you can rent time on a sewing machine or take classes.

Subversive Seamster shows you how to refashion your thrift store buys using many simple but effective techniques. It shows you how to take tho
Feb 02, 2010 Lana. rated it it was ok
Shelves: diy, fashion
The "Street Couture" in the title certainly caught my attention, but I was overall, a little disappointed in the look of the projects (is this what Street Couture is about?)

- Includes instructions on how to make Ms. Double Trouble (a personal duct-tape dress form)
- Projects were in the easy and medium level - but they do not yield extradinary results
- Some good techniques (e.g. fitting, rouching, adding ruffles, creating embellishments) that could be transferred to other projects
- Inclu
Feb 25, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Hmm. I appreciate the concept: Upcycling is fun, affordable, and environmentally friendly. One of the more useful sections involves making a dress form out of duct tape. Since dress forms are helpful but really expensive, this could be a relevant skill to have. I liked a few of the projects, in particular, earrings made out of an old leather vest. But I found that most of the projects were either not that stylish, or novelty-type pieces that you probably wouldn't wear every day. However, whether ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Jayme rated it it was ok
Shelves: crafting, 2009
This was an okay book. The projects in it were for the most part not something I would wear. They really don't look all that nice. The one good thing about these kinds of books though, is that they do give you ideas for projects of your own.
Oct 22, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
When I attended Craft Con ( in San Francisco this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Stitch Lounge ( as part of the walking tour. While there, I bought a copy of Subversive Seamster as a souvenir.

This book is a terrific addition to Sew Subversive (the authors' first book:

The difference between this book and Sew Subversive is that this one focuses more on reclaiming thrifted clothes. The first book contains a lot
Jan 10, 2016 Krista rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-find
This is one of the best books of the genre. Great background sewing information. Most of the projects are cute (there's always a few that I would never, ever wear) but some of the cutest and most wearable things were not explained (ex. directions to make the skirt, but not the matching shirt). I love the idea of making a dress form, but don't know if that's a project that I'll tackle. I'll have to look around for their other book.
Cynthia Libby
Jan 31, 2015 Cynthia Libby rated it it was amazing
I'm not likely to make the projects exactly as shown. But I don't think that's the point.

I will be using the techniques described. I've been sewing for many years but mostly from patterns. This book gave me lots of ideas for customizing.

Recommended for people like me that want to be creative but need inspiration and guidance.
Aug 23, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it
Okay, so I'm not sure how many of the projects I would actually make. Of course, part of that is with the thrift store, it all depends on what you can find. I've already made plans with friends to make duct tape dummies of ourselves, so the book is totally worth a look for that alone. I like that the models, who from what I can tell are often also the authors, are not all the same body type, and that not everyone in the photos is a size 6 or smaller. The styles tend to be a little younger than I ...more
Nov 12, 2011 Lois rated it it was ok
Shelves: how-to, sewing
Just the idea of "Ms. Double Trouble," your personal duct tape dress form, is worth a look. wear a large tshirt that's long over your hips. add plastic wrap to cover your skin or clothes to mid thigh & up to your neck. get a friend to wrap duct tape snugly around you starting at the bottom. leaving a little tshirt or plastic wrap hanging out. below the bust, stop & contour the chest as shown in the book. etc, etc, cut it off center back, close back up with more duct tape, stuff with batt ...more
May 11, 2010 Libby rated it liked it
Shelves: hobbies, non-fiction
I think this book is most useful for the tips it give you about thrifting and general smart tricks to make good use of clothes you may find. However, most of the projects they showcase are too immodest for me to wear. Also, I wonder if the time it takes to find things you might want to wear and the time it takes to alter them, would offset the money you save by buying things second hand. (it seems their goal is to save money. It might be worth it if you have other motivations) I must say, though ...more
Jan 13, 2008 jess rated it liked it
Shelves: craft, 2008
this book delivers on it's promises. it explains re-fashioning common thrift store crap into more wearable items. the authors provide a variety (although, by no means, exhaustive) of tips and tricks that can bring new life to turn bridesmaids dresses into "corset-style tops" & polyester old-man pants into sort of cute shorts. a lot of the ideas were not my "style," so i would never make them and i have no desire to own the book (thanks, carnegie library system!), but the pretty detailed walk ...more
Martha Bishop
Jun 29, 2014 Martha Bishop rated it did not like it
Prolly the worst sewing/recycling book ever.
Sarah Kingston
Dec 27, 2007 Sarah Kingston rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: thrift shoppes, sewers, recyclers
Shelves: crafty
This book has some great, great ideas. I don't know if I will use the exact patterns, but just the ideas are enough to open up new worlds of possibilities to people who shop at second-hand stores for clothing. You don't need specific sizes, nor even clothing. They use old purses, tablecloths, all sorts of awesome stuff. My favorite project, though, is the dressmaker's form made of an old T-shirt and duct tape. The most green clothing is the stuff you already own, no matter it's origins, but seco ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Sara rated it liked it
Neither awful nor fantastic. Full of all the regular fillers found in these sorts of books -- you know, three slightly different leather armbands -- but there were a few good ideas. The skirts section was definitely the best, so if you're looking for tons of new skirts pick this up. One (possibly two) potentially cute tops.
And it's always nice to see outfits that aren't specifically intended for size-0 stick insects.
Feb 16, 2010 Rabya rated it really liked it
Great book, with easy instructions, photos and tips. Probably have a lot of supplies at home, like old sweaters, socks, and don't need to go to a thrift store. Excited to do the sweater projects- turning into mittens and socks. For sports fans- ideas to use old jerseys and transform into skirts and mini toiletry bag. Also includes a "Sewing 201" tutorial- of going beyond the basics of simple button repair.
Apr 15, 2009 Susie rated it liked it
Shelves: diy
I had to read this for my teen lit class (decided to pick a non-fiction for once) and I was surprised at how good it was! The guide on making your own form is worth the price alone (or the time it takes to get it in from the library)! Not all of the clothes they create in the book look as great as you like, but the idea is there and even more important to guide on how-to.
Mar 16, 2012 Lotus rated it it was ok
I thought this one was okay, I learned some interesting things like lettuce edging that I did not know how to do and a lot of the projects got the creative juices flowing. Otherwise, there wasn't anything much in this book I was exactly interested in making. Worthwhile for inspiration & tips though!
Jan 13, 2008 Pam rated it really liked it
Shelves: sewing-crafts
Taught me how to branch out creatively. How to shop at the thrift store with a broader view of what can be transformed. Cute and doable instructions for a duct-tape dressform. Only critique would be that some of the designs are too young/boho for me.
Jun 08, 2010 Kim rated it it was ok
Shelves: summer-2010
I don't know why I even checked this out. I cannot learn to sew--not by reading about it, not with someone showing me, just not at all. I did read with interest the instructions for making a dressmaker's dummy out of duct tape and plastic wrap.
Aug 12, 2008 Liz rated it did not like it
i cannot believe how all of the photographed examples look rushed and poorly finished, if not all-over poorly constructed. The basic instructions are solid, but poor examples coupled with sleek design is a huge turn off.
Jul 19, 2008 Stacey rated it it was amazing
A friend and I used the instructions in this book to make dress forms by wrapping each other in duct tape. They both turned out great and mine has already proven to be quite useful as I sew clothes for myself.
Mar 20, 2008 Erika rated it liked it
Shelves: sewing
There are some great ideas in this book, some I really like, some are just not my style. But the book is put together well with nice instructions and great pictures. A fun book to look through!
Sep 23, 2009 Kricket rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2009, fashion
some fun projects here for re-making old clothes into new styles. published in 2007, it's already showing its age a little bit, but i found a couple projects to add to my to-do list.
Jane Dugger
Feb 25, 2011 Jane Dugger rated it it was ok
Great concept but the transformations left me a little wanting. I didn't see anything that I might possibly remake into something I would wear.
Dec 15, 2007 Teresa added it
I know the ladies who put this book out, and I can't wait to see what they've been working on for the last year.
Nov 04, 2010 Jillian rated it liked it
A few cute projects, but I'm glad I got it from the library, rather than bought it.
Alysnyder Snyder
Aug 27, 2009 Alysnyder Snyder rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-to-own, crafty
Great ideas for creating new clothes from Goodwill basics.
Mar 10, 2009 e rated it liked it
Shelves: kraftz
just you wait until I get my machine.
Dec 28, 2008 Alison rated it liked it
a gift from my boss!
Jan 15, 2012 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: craftyresources
a great idea book
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