A stylish guide to classic sewing

Earlier this year, I was approached by the lovely Sarah Gunn from Goodbye Valentino and Julie Starr to contribute some of my projects to their upcoming book. I had been taking part in the 2018 RTW Fast that Sarah organised, and posted some of my garments in the Facebook group, I was well chuffed that they wanted to feature me.

And what do you know, a few days ago my copy arrived in the post, so I could not wait to share my review with you. Also, I’m very pleased to be able to offer one lucky winner the chance to win a copy of their very own!

So read on as to why you MUST have this book…

DISCLAIMER: This is an advertorial feature. I received the paper version of the sewing pattern for free from the designer, in exchange for a review on my blog and social channels. The designer did not review or amend the final post and there were no clauses in our agreement that would prevent me from offering an honest opinion. Please read my Readers Disclosure Policy for more details. You can also check my post onAdvertising Regulations and what influencers are required to disclose.

A stylish guide to classing sewing – who are the authors?

I have been following Sarah Gunn from Goodbye Valentino since I joined in the online sewing community and was in awe of her perfectly on point garments. She is also the mastermind behind the RTW Fast and one of the original Mood Fabric contributors.

Julie Starr is a sewing aficionado herself, a massive Pattern Review contributor and winner of several contests. She is Sarah’s partner in crime for a second time, having co-authored The Tunic Bible, their first book together.


So what is A Stylish guide to classic sewing all about?

Shock horror, this is not a sewing book! And by that I mean that it’s not one of those books you might be familiar with that have loads of patterns etc. Although it does have one pattern included as well (but more on that later).

I would call this a reference book and an inspiration book.

The mission of the book is to inspire sewists and non-sewists to make thoughtful and purposeful investments in garments that are stylish and timeless. The key, the authors state, to sewing (and building, I might add) a successful wardrobe is choosing pieces you can wear again and again.

If you know what my ethos is here on Sewrendipity (or if you forgot, check out my Meaningful Wardrobe post), I am all about timeless pieces and wearing them as much as possible, so you can see how the concept of this book was right up my street.


A-Line Skirt
Gored Skirt
Pencil Skirt
Full Skirt
Button-Up Shirt
Bateau Neckline Top
and Dress
Cardigan Sweater
Twin Sweater Set
Shift Dress
Sheath Dress
A-Line Dress
Trapeze Dress
Fit and Flare Dress
Wrap Dress
Halter Dress or Top
Fitted and Straight
Tailored Trousers
Wide-Leg and Flared
Tailored Trousers
Palazzo Pants
Capri Pants
Jeans-Style Jacket
Trench Coat
French Jacket
Menswear Pajamas

For each garment, the authors cover:

  • History
  • Characteristics
  • Sewing tips
  • Fabric suggestions
  • The Frump Factor (and how to avoid it)
  • How to style it
  • Who wore it
  • Variations

I have to say that being a history geek myself, I really, really enjoyed the history bits! Who knew how much of our wardrobe staples come from the military? I’ll let you discover which ones by yourself.

In addition to all this awesome content, Sarah and Julie have asked sewists from the community to contribute their examples of the garment types discussed in the book and how they styled them. Check out pages 78 and 112 for yours truly.

What I also really liked are these very cute illustrations all over the book, especially Sarah’s and Julie’s portraits by Beth Briggs.

And now… the giveaway! (CLOSED)

In case I did not manage to convey this, I really really like this book (and not just because I got featured). I actually read half of it when I first got it in one go, it was so interesting!

So, courtesy of Sarah and Julie and their publishers, you can also win a free copy of the book. This is open to any entrants in any geographical location. If you are in the US, you will receive the paper version, and an e-book if you are outside the US.

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is to join my mailing list below. If you already subscribe, leave me a comment below to tell me what is your go-to classic garment to sew or to wear. All subscription by email and comments between Friday 6th Dec 2019 and Sunday 8th Dec will be entered in the draw. The winner will be announced on the blog and by email on Sunday 8th Dec.


As part of the Book Release, Julie and Sarah arranged a Blog Tour with several creators who are featured in the book’s gallery. Make sure you stop by their blogs to hear what they have to say about the book.


Dec 2  Lori VanMaanen / Blog – girlsinthegarden.net / Instagram –@girlsinthegarden

Dec 3 Andrea Birkan / Instagram – @andreabirkan

Dec 4 Anita Morris / Blog – anitabydesign.com /Instagram – @anitabydesign

Dec 5 Karen Helm / Blog – fiftydresses.com /Instagram – @fiftydresses

Dec 6 Alex Florea / Blog – sewrendipity.com /Instagram – @sewrendipity

Dec 7 Lucy VanDoorn /Blog – myloveaffairwithsewing.com /Instagram – @myloveaffairwithsewing

Dec 7 Cennetta Burwell /Blog – themahoganystylist@blogspot.com/ Instagram – @cennetta_burwell

Dec 8 Manju Nittala /Blog – sewmanju.com / Instagram – @sewmanju

Dec 8 Dorcas Ross / Instagram – @lonestarcouture

Thanks for reading and good luck if you are entering the giveaway!



  1. 6 December 2019 / 5:50 PM

    I’d love to be entered in the giveaway! It might be boring but I find myself making a lot of sleeves tops (Ogden cami of of true bias of the Silk cami from Sew over it ) the which I like to layer with jackets or cardigans. Not counted them, but I think by now I have about 7 of each. I tend to use left overs from other projects to make these. Also I make them as presents, when generosity hits me. 😂

    • sewrendipityalex
      6 December 2019 / 6:03 PM

      It’s such a lovely book! I really enjoyed reading it and I’m sure you will find a lot of inspiration. And yes, basics are they way forward. She says, neck deep in leather trousers making 😬

  2. Jill Ben-Dor
    6 December 2019 / 7:20 PM

    Looks like such an inspiring book – I’m not sure I have a go to classic garment that I’ve sewed over and over but I have a few that I aspire to perfect – button down shirts and tailored blazer. Thanks!

  3. Liz
    6 December 2019 / 7:21 PM

    My go to garment is jeans and are enjoyable to make.

  4. Donna DeCourcy
    6 December 2019 / 7:22 PM

    I love a classic shirt pattern and find that it fits any occasion and you can dress it up or be very casual, depending on the fabric. Love your blog and happy to know you are featured in it!

  5. Rebecca Hurley
    6 December 2019 / 8:12 PM

    My go-to garment is a boat-neck fitted top with different sleeve variations – I think I’ve made more than 10!

    • Migo
      7 December 2019 / 1:56 AM

      I would love to get this book! I can learn to to alternate my style besides spending money on buying new clothes, I can learn how to also repurpose the items that I already have.

  6. Pamela Archer
    6 December 2019 / 9:06 PM

    Thanks for this great opportunity for this new book. I’m excited to get my hands on it! My go-to garment are one of a kind tops that feature either great design lines or great fabric design. It’s always amazing to see how fabric selection impacts the design.

  7. Susan Linfield
    6 December 2019 / 10:53 PM

    My go to RTW garment is a navy polo neck – such a cosy but smart item. A lovely crisp white shirt is always a winner in my eyes. So you can see I am a classics girl.

  8. 6 December 2019 / 11:26 PM

    I like to sew classic shirts and jeans because they are trans seasonal, offer lots of opportunities to tweak the design and can be styled sexy or gru gy and in between. .

  9. Rebecca Taylor
    7 December 2019 / 1:00 AM

    I think this would be a very interesting read! I usually sew sweaters, but I love sewing jackets (even though they are time consuming and finicky Haha).

  10. Kim
    7 December 2019 / 2:34 AM

    I was so happy to find your blog on Pinterest and I’m already a big fan of Sarah Gunn, so I’d love to win this book! I look forward to more of your posts!!

  11. Melody Srygley
    7 December 2019 / 3:06 AM

    My go-to are jeans, and I sew to compliment them! I’m a subscriber, Faster #940, and I’d love to win!

  12. Kath Florida
    7 December 2019 / 3:16 AM

    I’ve been making easy popover tops lately that have various sleeves and bands. I would love to read and learn more about the classic pieces in the book.

  13. Linda Dinnocenzo
    7 December 2019 / 5:52 AM

    My go to basic garment is currently the t-shirt. I wear them all the time and am currently trying to perfect the v-neckline and the fit. Since I usually wear them daily I can’t have too many. Right now I’m using the “concord” t-shirt pattern by Cashmerette although I have used others in the past. I would also like to find a go to women’s trousers pattern and women’s jeans. I have acquired a few jeans patterns that I would like to try but I haven’t dived in yet. Thanks for offering this wonderful giveaway!

  14. Mihaela Melinte
    7 December 2019 / 8:15 AM

    My go–to classic garment is the Tunic. I use the patterns from “The Tunic Bible” book. I’m a subscriber who admires your fashion style!

  15. Shanne
    7 December 2019 / 11:21 AM

    I’m in the middle of rebuilding my wardrobe, very slowly, from stash with the odd bit of RTW on sale, as most of it had to be donated elsewhere 18 months ago* so any tips on how to create a useful and usable wardrobe would be fantastic. I’d love to have this book.

    * picked up the smell of cannabis that had driven my very allergic daughter home, clutching her stinking wardrobe which then transferred to the rest of the flat. That stopped me continuing to wear my classics, sadly much that was over 30 years old. And I lost weight, which meant none of my trousers fitted any more. She lost 90% of her wardrobe, I lost 70%.

  16. 7 December 2019 / 2:03 PM

    Scoop neck tops are my current sewing go to – comfortable, flattering and they with everything else in my wardrobe. This book looks great and I love the how to avoid the frump factor idea!

  17. Melissa
    7 December 2019 / 3:45 PM

    Looks like such a fun and useful book. Congrats on being included in it! 🙂

  18. Bonnie-Rae
    7 December 2019 / 5:54 PM

    Looks like a great resource for stylish & classic dressing tips. I could use that guidance!

  19. Kim Spencer
    7 December 2019 / 10:02 PM

    Book looks fantastic, I love to sew all sorts for my wardrobe, but lately it’s been jumpsuits, once I got the crutch measurement right 3 so far, love them. I am always on the hunt for a good go to book for inspiration.

  20. Heather Myers
    8 December 2019 / 2:33 AM

    Congratulations on being published! My classic is straight tailored pants. I’m still working on the perfect fit.

  21. Jenni
    8 December 2019 / 2:56 AM

    This would be such a useful book. I sew lots of things but can’t always work out how to style them appropriately. My go to garment is a button up shirt because it is relatively easy to style. (And I get such a sense of achievement when it’s finished)

  22. Adecia
    8 December 2019 / 4:14 AM

    Just found your blog and look forward to reading your posts. Would love to win!

  23. Angie
    8 December 2019 / 11:02 AM

    I am glad I found your blog. I look forward to reading your content. Please add my name to the giveaway.

  24. Mary
    8 December 2019 / 4:20 PM

    This looks like great capsule wardrobe inspiration!

  25. Kath Johnson
    8 December 2019 / 4:54 PM

    A giveaway! What a lovely idea. It’s a “must have” book, always something new to learn. First though I would like to say how pleased I am to have found Sarah and Julie on Pattern Review when I joined a few years ago.They have been such an inspiration as well as being encouraging and supportive. What I consider to be one of my classic sewing patterns is that for a T shirt. I have sewn it and adapted it in so many ways from dresses to tops with high necks, scoops, slash, Bretons, colour blocked, top stitched, long sleeves, short sleeves, plackets, buttoned neck and so on! T shirts whatever form/ style they take are to me a classic wardrobe piece, they are popular, always in fashion and can be dressed up or down for any occasion.
    Congrats Serendipity on being featured In the book and thanks to all those sewers who blog! Kath Johnson (aka HRigg)

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