Simple Modern Sewing: A womens pattern book review

8 pattern pieces, 25 garments. A pattern book review by Once Upon a Sewing Machine

I have spoken before about my love of the library. If you’ve never looked before, it can be a huge sewing resource. When I see a pretty sewing book that tempts me run through my Amazon suggestions I always do a library search first. It is a great way to give a trial run to a sewing or craft book.

Since I almost never actually sew from books up on my shelf, this mostly is an exercise in reminding me to save my 20 bucks for fabric. I am very lucky, I have a large metro library system. If a book is somewhere inside of the 40ish libraries in the system they will send it to my home library. How’s that for service. I have had pretty good luck finding lots of sewing books. If you are in a smaller system, or single library, your options maybe more limited- but I bet you can still find some hidden gems there.

My last trip I picked up a women’s pattern book and a girl’s pattern book. Today I’m going to show you what I made from Simple Modern Sewing.

Women's peasant top patternThe layout is that with the 8 basic pattern pieces included you can create the 25 garments in the book. Ranging from tops, pants, skirts, dresses, and jackets. Typically each garment has a base piece- and then the more complicated items build from there.

I started with the Short Raglan Sleeve Top (you may know it as a peasant blouse/top). Maybe it’s just me but once you put elastic in the neckline you have yourself a peasant top.

Peasant Top Womans

This is one of the basic patterns. I used a linen blend I had on hand. The lighting is weird/not available this time of year, but this is actually a pretty true color. It’s a cranberry-purple. So skipping to the end I will say I really like my new top. It isn’t what I would necessarily pull of a shelf in the store, but after wearing it for awhile I think I’ll make more.

So let’s break it down.

Who is this book NOT for:

If you would ever refer to yourself as a beginner sewer, may I recommend you walk slowly away from this book. No sudden moves. The direction are compact and a bit confusing. The supporting diagram simultaneously walks you through 10 steps managing to make all of them look really hard.

If you have a general idea of what you need to do, you should be fine. But this would not be the place to learn how to sew any of these garments.

Who this book IS for: 

If you have ever thought to yourself I would like to draft my own pattern blocks, but starting from scratch seem really time consuming. And you have an idea how you would go about drafting those pieces.

From my understanding if you are familiar with sewing from Ottobre or Japanese sewing books, you will have a leg up here.

photo (4)When I first unfolded my pattern page I didn’t think it would be too terrible. But the lines do crazy things, I’m not sure I have it figured out frankly. The overlays are super confusing. If I owned the book I would highlight my size to trace, that would make it much much easier.

I made myself an extra small…Right…So I would say since the sizing runs XS-L that would give you a huge range. The truth is there seems to be a rather small difference between sizes and no difference at all in length. I would say these blocks will work if you are RTW size 6-12 ish. Except the length. I’ve mentioned I’m 5’4″ right? A towering woman!

Simple modern sewing

See that top stitching? That is the original hem.  It landed just at the top of my jeans line (these are not low rise) with both arms down at my side. I drafted and cut a band to run across the bottom. I adapted the hemline to have a little bit more shape, and added 5″ to the shirt. It’s just right now.

womens peasant top patternThe neckline will actually lend itself to some interesting twists, and it’s different than I’ve made this style of top in the past.

The Verdict

This book is not for everyone. However, I’m actually really considering buying it for my shelf. I’m working on a pair of pants now, depending on the success of those it may just be worth the investment.

Simple Modern Sewing book review

What’s that noise? End photo shoot.

Do you have this book? Have you used it?

Happy Sewing,



  1. I can’t get over how pretty you are. If I looked like you I’d be all over my blog! This is me Monday, this is me Tuesday….

    Anyways, I do remember your library tip and it’s been on my list forever to go interrogate the metro library system & see what they’ve got!!!
    Amy mayen recently posted..Tween Sewing Project For Boys |Hangout HoodieMy Profile

  2. Rachel….I can’t believe you were nervous about a photo shoot of yourself! You looks o natural in front of the camera. I always think I look goofy or angry or confused in my pics! Your photos are great!

    And I just looked, my library has this book. I’m going to have to check it out! I can’t wait to see what you are going to make with the pants!
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  3. Yep I do have the book.I got it last week. My first attempt was on the long pants and it came out very well.loved it. Good lucky on yours. I thought of sewing the rangler sleeve blouse next.thanks for the tip on the length.

    Yeah the pattern page WAS confusing.

  4. Thanks for the book review! I LOVE our library! ‘Don’t have this book, but may check our library for it. I really like your top! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures
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  5. We love our library system, rarely ever have to buy any books at all because they have almost everything. They also have free computer classes, too :)
    Wonderful top you sewed, the cranberry-purple color is gorgeous!
    Rachel recently posted..Weaving Rubber Band BraceletsMy Profile

  6. Rachel, this colour looks fantastic on you :)

    The pattern page looks like soemthing I remember from when I was young. We had a few Burda magazines at home with pattern pages that looked very similar to that.

    I am this close to start sewing for myself!
    jenya recently posted..Bumblebee dress and giveawayMy Profile

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