Martha and Me

My usual post Shabbat lunch activity is going to the library. This week this new Martha Stewart book was on the shelf and I decided to take it home. Martha Stewart is the master of re-cycling. What I mean by that is that she is very good at taking ideas that have been out there for a long long time and re-packaging them as her own . The beautiful photography helps a whole lot.

What I find the most irritating about Martha's approach are projects like the beautiful no-sew Ultrasuede wrap skirt. It is so easy that a beginner might think about attempting it. The only  thing is, that Ultrasuede retails for about $60 per yard. How many beginners would be comfortable shelling out $120 for a beginner project?

One of the projects is a child's dress made out of a man's dress shirt. My 1940's sewing books are filled with projects , including little girl dresses made out of men's dress shirts. One sees similar projects in the hippie inspired craft books of the 1960's and 70's and again in some of the hipster craft sites like Never the less, it is a cute idea.

Tabitha's birth gift dress
I had made such a dress for Tabitha when  she was born. I found a lovely Tommy Hilfiger blue floral print shirt at my favorite thrift store. I smocked the front yoke. It was very cute. 

For Tabith's first birthday,  I decided to make a simpler dress. The shirt was also from the same thrift. I loved the print. I used the dress shirt pocket on the front skirt of the dress. Tabitha is on the cusp of walking. I'm sure that as a walking girl she will need a place to put treasures collected on her adventures. I didn't use the pattern provided by Martha Stewart. Instead I cut a rough dress shape and gathered the neckline with elastic. Martha suggested a drawstring, but that isn't safe for teeny children. I added another row of gathering on the bodice.

My kids egged me on to add more embellishment. Had I been on my, own the dress would have been lace free.There is lace on the hem and on the seam above the circular ruffle.I used a decorative stitch to sew down the pocket.

When I make baby clothes my kids start talking in high pitched voices . "Oh that's so cuute." Yes, even the boys, even the one who is a black belt in karate. Each time I make baby clothes I have to promise them that I will make clothes for their kids. I'm guessing that if I end up getting diagnosed with a terminal illness before they start having kids, I will just have to make lots of baby clothes  before I check out.
Tabitha's new dress

As for the Martha book, I liked the projects better when they appeared as features on her webpage ( again recycling). It's a bit of a fancy book and a big investment for not all that much information. If I were a beginner I would invest in a bunch of old sewing books from the 1930's and 40's. I have actually listed a few in the Amazon box on the right. Many are available for less than $5 each, unlike modern books they are jammed with ideas, rather than doling them out  one or two per book. Then I would check out websites like and for inspiration. You will have tons of ideas to play with and enough money in your wallet to buy terrific fabric.


  1. Thanks for the review...I had the same thoughts about the book! What bothers me the most about Martha's sewing is the recycling of ideas like she invented of the reasons why I would not purchase the book or recommend it!

  2. Carolyn,

    at least I took it out of the library!!!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts