Book Review: "Sewing Green" by Betz White -- fun projects, easy-to-follow patterns & instructions, solid background info

review of Sewing Green book
Browsing the shelves of my local library, I discovered Sewing Green. Its emerald green cover caught my eye, and the subtitle closed the deal -- "25 projects made with repurposed and organic materials."

I don't think author Betz White would mind me checking her book out of the library instead of buying it. Every page trumpets her message about consuming less and repurposing more. But that's not the only reason I like the book.

Cool projects to try yourself

Most of the book is devoted to 25 projects, each with detailed instructions and photos. My favorites are the tyvek tote (made from plastic mailers), beach bag (old placemats), auto sunshade (juice pouches), and "take-it-easy" lounge pants (sheets). Betz even found a way to repurpose shirt cuffs into wallets -- not that different from my phone case.

phone case from shirt cuff
My cuffs don't have a book. Yet!
Each project includes a materials list, at least 1 photo, and in most cases, a pattern. Betz's step-by-step instructions look easy to follow, but I'll report back after I actually try one of the projects.

Profiles of "eco innovators"

Sandwiched between the projects are 2-page profiles of artist-entreprenurs who work with repurposed or organic materials. These bios are meaty enough to be useful and even inspiring. Not every green artist starts out that way. One was even the VP of a investment company! And I am definitely checking out Swap-o-rama-rama! (Not just because of the name, either!)

Interesting asides

Civil War nurse
I'd rather be upcycling.
Betz has done her research. Throughout the book, she adds interesting facts or historical background related to the project she's presenting. In a sidebar to her "Penny rug trivet and coasters," she describes the history of penny rugs (starting during the U.S. Civil War by homemakers repurposing fabric scraps). I love tasty trivia nuggets like these!

Useful tips and resources

The book begins with a brief, helpful guide to thrift store shopping -- what to look for and how to prep materials after you bring them home. Betz also identifies new organic sewing materials -- what they are and why they're green. 

Betz includes links to useful resources throughout the book and in a short section at the very end. One of my favorite parts of the book is her succinct guide to tools and techniques. I think I finally understand what felting is!

Just one complaint

The only thing that bothered me about Betz's book is that it's TOO green. The projects are not only made from repurposed or organic materials -- they often are designed to serve an environmental purpose, like re-usable sandwich wraps and a draft barrier for the bottom of a door.
Eco yurt dress
Betz's dream home? Dream dress?  Just kidding. Really.
I don't mind the projects themselves -- rather, it's Betz's tone. Like her intro to the auto sunshade made from juice packs:
"One way that global warming really burns me up is when I have to sit on a hot car seat. Ouch!..This sunshade design uses empty Mylar juice pouches to reflect intense sun rays, keeping your car cool so that you don't have to rely so heavily on the A/C....You'll find it disturbingly easy to collect a boatload of drink pouches after nearly any Saturday afternoon kids' soccer game, since this drink (and packaging) has become a standard offering."
I feel guilty. And I don't even have kids! Or use my A/C. Much. If I take that "greener than thou" tone here on the blog, let me have it, with both (rain) barrels!

So the next time you're at the library, take a look at Sewing Green. Or check out Betz' blog.


  1. Looks like a good book to check out. Hmm, maybe a book in your future??? Or maybe sell patterns in your etsy shop for those wanting to do some of the recycled projects themselves.....

  2. I don't know -- books are a lot of work. I want to get this blog thing down first.


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