Book Review: The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion

Wool - Mood Guide to Fabrics - inside

Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion - Book Review -

Hi, last weekend I popped into the Berkeley Public Library and ran across two recent books, The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion and Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style. Usually new books like these are not on the shelf and have a waiting list so I thought: This is my lucky day!

In this post, I’m going to focus on the Mood book. (I’ll review Lotta Jansdotter’s book later this month.) If you haven’t heard of Mood Fabrics, then you likely don’t watch television or buy fabric. Thanks to the reality TV series Project Runway (more than a dozen seasons so far!), Mood Fabrics is famous far beyond the fashion world. The flagship store in New York City gets more than 1,000 visitors a day. Wow.

So it’s not surprising that Mood Fabrics would author a book on fabric. The Mood Guide opens with a brief chapter on the fascinating history about how this family business got started by Jack Sauma, a Syrian immigrant who studied fashion design in Sweden. You ‘ll also get to see photos of employees, the family members who work for the store, and Swatch, the popular Boston Terrier who roams the aisles of the NYC store. The book mentions that some people come to the store just to take a photo of Swatch. Yep, the dog’s famous, too.You can see him in the photo below.

Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion - inside -

The book cover has a round black circle on it that says “A complete resource from Mood Designer Fabrics.” At 184 pages, with plenty of gorgeous photos, I’m not sure I’d call it a “complete resource,” especially when you consider that Sandra Betzina’s book More Fabric Savvy, is 234 pages long and only focuses on fabric. However, unlike Betzina’s book, which is more of a reference book, The Mood Guide features beautiful photos throughout. I’d call it sort of a combination coffee table/fabric resource book.

As I flipped through The Mood Guide, I wondered who would buy it? Beginning sewists? People who don’t sew but who want to know more about the store because of Project Runway? Intermediate Sewists?

The book is a nice overview of the Mood store and fabric. There’s a chapter titled “Fabric 101: The fundamentals of fabric for sewers and designers,” explaining basic concepts such as cutting against the grain, what’s a lining, interlining, and underlining, and defines terms and concludes with fabric shopping tips from Phil Sauma (Jack’s son), who goes on fabric buying trip for the store. For example, he advises shoppers who are buying a print, to check the fabric before it’s cut. Make sure the placement of the colors are where they should be because a bad print bleeds.

There are chapters devoted to certain types of fabric. Cotton, linen, and hemp are folded into one chapter. Wools, knits, and silks each get their own chapter. The last one (titles “Other Fabrics”) is a hodgepodge of everything from metallic and pleated fabrics to leather, lace, and fake fur.

Wools - Mood Guide to Fabrics -

If you are expecting a book that offers practical advice on how to sew a particular fabric, what needles and type of thread to use, whether you should prewash the fabric, and so forth, you’d be better off getting Sandra Betzina’s More Fabric Savvy.

(For really specific and detailed information on textile terminology, you may want to invest in a copy of The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles (more than 700 pages!). But that book is rather pricey if you buy it new (more than $200) but there are used copies for sale on Amazon, too. I have a used copy of an earlier edition that I got for less than $30 at a book store.)

If you want a beautifully photographed general resource book on fabric, or you’re a fan of the store, this book’s for you.




Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion”

  1. Your review pretty much sums up what I thought when I flipped through the book at Barnes & Noble. I ultimately decided I didn’t need it on my wishlist just for a few pretty pictures when I can find the same and more detailed information elsewhere.

    The Fabric Savvy books are definitely more useful and I use them a lot to refresh my memory when I need to look something up.

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