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Just a quick note to say that you’ll find the recording of our delightful and instructive Zoom conversation with Sonya here.
Ann and Kay


As you now know from Jillian Moreno’s writeup here, all that time I wasn’t writing my monthly “Wear What You Make” column—I was writing a book!

It’s called The Act of Sewing: How to Make and Modify Clothes to Wear Every Day. I like to think of it as a guide book of mix-and-match hacks for people intrepidly exploring the world of garment sewing. 

Tie-Front Shirt; Shirt lengthened to a dress and ruffle added and Trousers with cuff modification; All Garments in THE Act of Sewing.

Writing a book is a long and lonely endeavor. It began in the fall of 2018, when I put together a proposal. I entered into it thinking I had some experience; after all, I have a creative writing degree under my belt. I’ve had my words workshopped! Needless to say, that wasn’t adequate preparation. It is one thing sitting in a room with a group of people discussing your poem, it’s quite another thing to go through the rigors that are multiple rounds of tech editing, copy editing, and proof reading. 

Top with panel and Skirt with cut-away pockets.

When you knit a cardigan in pieces, the progression of knitting and purling the rows can seem like a crawl, especially when it comes to sleeves! Then you have a blissful moments of satisfaction when the last stitch is made, before realizing there’s so much more to go before you’re wearing the garment. There’s still weaving in ends, blocking, seaming, perhaps the button band or collar need knitting, and my least favorite part: sewing on the buttons. Completing the manuscript was something very close to this experience.

Shirt with V-neck and gathered cuffs, Shirt adjusted to be sleeveless and lengthened to a dress, and Trousers.

I spent five months writing and another three months working on the illustrations. Then there was a ten-month stretch where I was working on it on and off as it moved through the various stages of production, giving my opinions and making decisions. So many emails! In the middle of this, my laptop took a dive off the arm of the sofa and the resulting crack and flickering required a new screen. Then that screen developed a fault and it needed replacing two months later. The timing was not great.

Shirt with cap sleeves and Skirt with in-seam pockets

But seeing my book for the first time, an actual physical object, not ideas in my head or words on a screen—it’s quite a feeling. I am so thrilled to share it with you. Strap in, select your pattern and modifications and away you sew! 

Save it for later. Keep Sonya’s recommendations handy in your MDK account. Here’s how.

About The Author

Sonya Philip is an artist, designer, teacher, and the author of The Act of Sewing. She has made it her mission to convince people to make their own clothes, by teaching classes and selling patterns. When not covered in bits of thread, she can be found knitting another shawl or cardigan. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family and their scruffy terrier duo, Willie and Hazel.


  • My book arrived a few days ago and I have given it a quick read through and bought fabric for a shirt. It is so well written and would make a wonderful gift for a person learning (or relearning) to sew or wanting to learn how to make and adapt patterns. I can’t wait to get started.

  • I was so inspired by Kay’s top that I had to have this book (and Alabama Chanin’s as well). I have experience with patterns, but I didn’t know how to make modifications correctly. Sonya’s directions and illustrations are clear and easy to follow. Now I’m armed with pattern paper and can’t wait to start!

  • That last outfit, ZOMG!! The colors, so gorgeous!! Immediately grabbed for my inspiration file.

  • I’m so glad you made it to the finish line. I’m very excited to get mine. Thanks for the great zoom hour, so nice to see you in your studio and be invited to just hang out.

  • Sonya, your book is informative, inclusive, inviting, and—just what I need—inspirational. Thank you for a job very well done!

  • Congratulations! Your analogy is perfect! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

  • When my daughter was 4 (1988) I purchased a sewing machine and made her cute little sun dresses. I was disciplined enough to alternate my knitting projects with my sewing projects. I had an entire room for my projects and my social life revolved around my knitting and sewing. I am thinking of purchasing some fabric today to make pouches for my circular needles. And it’s only because of home economics that I know how to sew. That dates me !

  • Thanks for a link to the recording! Bad weather got in the way of watching it live. Do you have a search mechanism so that we can easily find previous zoom sessions you have hosted?

  • Four great outfits.
    Love the analogy of knitting a sweater – writing a book.
    Can not wait till my book arrives.

  • My copy arrived this week and I’m excited to get reacquainted with my sewing machine. I’m retired and haven’t made clothes for myself since my young adulthood when I sewed most of my work wardrobe. My body has changed and now I find I have no idea which patterns will fit! I know this book will be my path back. Thank you Sonya for making sewing accessible and exciting for the experienced and the novice sewer!
    PS I love seeing all the outfits you put together but I’m even more impressed with your “clog wardrobe”. Could you share the brand(s). The colors are fabulous!

  • LOVE this book! I’ve read it through it’s entirety once and am starting it again. I find I miss things on the first read because I’m so enthralled with the whole book. When first out of high school I made most of my clothing. Then I started Medical School, then on to my career, and “making” got left behind. I retired in 2020 and I’m like a kid in the candy store! Knitting—such beautiful new patterns and Yarns that were not available in the local 5 and Dime back in the day! Sewing—-I’ve had to totally relearn everything! And this book is just perfect for a restarter like me! Even though this has been an awful year with the pandemic, I’ve LOVED my making time and being home. Thank you Sonya, for this beautiful book!! And, I adore your shoes

  • My book is on order! I’m looking forward to getting back to sewing. I’m overly tall, and finding pants that are long enough has always been a struggle. Excited to delve into a new rabbit hole!

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