WEIDENFELD £10 £10 (P&P FREE) 08700 798 897

Yeah! I Made it Myself by Eithne Farry

But do you want to dress as Joan of Arc?

I'm launching a Slow Clothes movement, patterned after Slow Food. We'll delight in the skills of sewing, the millennia of ingenuity in textiles, the sculptural intelligence in cutting and assembly of garb. We'll enthuse about the satisfaction of making and reworking, and the quiet pleasure of maintenance and prolonged wear; about the way that learning how to do it yourself leads to the realisation that you don't like the way it's commercially done - practically, morally or economically.

Now and again in Eithne Farry's book, there is a line that suggests that she might be a potential SC recruit, as where she confesses that she enjoys gathering ruffles by hand. (An agreeable, repetitive motion, like rattling a stick along railings.) But mostly what she proposes in this manual of DIY fashion are the very opposites of Slow Clothes: the garment equivalents of double cheeseburgers. In just a few minutes, you too can slap together a couple of pieces of cloth, staple the hem, safetypin the neck, and go to a party where you then spend hours telling people how clever you are to have made this dress.

To Slow Clothes-ers, this is an infuriating book. It's laid out (respects to www.carrstudio.co.uk for the enticing design) as a sequence of projects, in which Farry demonstrates a real, rare gift for clear instructions; converting finger action into bullet-pointed prose is not easy. She gives sound advice on the minimum basic kit required - first buy a seam ripper - and an excellent checklist to diagnose what caused which mechanical snarl-up, with the fine motto DO NOT FEAR THE SEWING MACHINE. She has a fab eye for a remnant, to judge from the shirt print on page 16, and her list of style icons is indeed stylish - Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy, Edith Head, Clarice Bean. And yet I ended up wanting to strangle Farry with her own garter-stitch belt.

In part, this was a reaction to the many pages of Farry's non-instructional writing, which trills ("the sort of bag that inhabitants of fairy kingdoms would bring to dances"), blathers ("spend the afternoon eating beetroot sandwiches with squishy blackberries for afters"), and overworks a silly-girly vocabulary "really lovely", "teeny", "nice", "pretty", "when we were little". Her imagery is often off-target, too, as when she writes that the lengthwise grain of fabric is "very strong and dependable, like Cary Grant"; actually his charm was in his suppleness and potential unreliability - that is, he was cut on the bias. Never quite knew how he was going to hang. Besides her fairy-cake tweeness, my desire to stick pins in Farry was also provoked by her faux-modest, but highly self-promotional self-presentation. Entire pages are given over to narratives of her sartorial disasters, moreover some with pictures. Now that constitutes an intrusion into private grief. We'd rather not go there.

Even more space is ceded to fantasies of clothes she has yet to construct - "a sea-green dress fit for a mermaid", "a carbon footprint dress": it's like being made to read the slogans on T-shirts. Then Farry insists that we need to be told to the last thimble what's in her tote bag, what was in her granny's handbag, how she goes outside to look at the trees when couture makes her "feel stressy" or how she wore her Joan of Arc outfit with knitted chainmail collar to the library. Her ditzy-little-me-ishness irritates, since every profession of incompetence is an assertion of superiority. All that insistence that sewing must be fun, fun, FUN, able to be done while also watching TV and anyway abandoned the millisecond boredom sets in. No commitment, no reward in the development of skills. Hey, only third-world sweatshop serfs have to know how to do this stuff properly.

Most depressing to a Slow Clothes-er is that Farry's projects are unappealing, not worth even the minimal effort required. The photographs of her pullover surgical scrub dress, little shoulder cape, and strand of felt lanterns, all of which she treats as successful projects, look poor things despite their witty placement in the layout. I was going to pass my copy of the book to a seven-year-old friend who has started customising her Barbie wardrobe (the initial step for many Slow Clothes-ers), but that puce satin shroud for "flaunt-it girls" drooping from a hanger on page 141 would put her right off. I shall buy her a vintage Vogue Sewing Book instead. Scary, yeah! But inspirational.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
music

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit