Review: Crafty Chica's Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing
By Karen Ballum on March 28, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
You know how they say those who can't do, teach? In my case it's those who can't do, read the heck out of it. I can't sew very well and I'm not particularly crafty, but those themes are a hook for me. Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo, aka Crafty Chica, has both and when I was offered the chance to read it I jumped.
I read most of of Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing in the bathtub. I've had one of those months where it's been hard to squeeze in reading time, so I've been swapping out some showers here and there for bubble baths. Who need Calgon to take you away when you have Crafty Chica? I'd fill the tub and for 20 minutes drift away into Scarlet's world.
Scarlet Santana is smart as a whip. She has two degrees under her belt and is set on the path to success... or so her family thinks until she throws it away to enter the fashion industry. She's landed a job with a successful Arizona fashion house and has secured herself a spot in the competitive Johnny Scissors internship program. All she needs to do is raise the cash and she'll be on her way to the bright lights of New York City. To do that she starts Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing.
Little does she know when she starts the class that she'll be creating relationships that change her life. There's Marco, the record store owner that loans her the space to hold her class and has a whole lot of personal chemistry that might just develop into something besides a landlord-tenant relationship. Mary Theresa, one of her students, is wound tighter than a watch and thinks that to love something is to completely control it. Olivia has decided that she has a new lease on life and is determined that it's going to be a good one. And then there's Rosa, the matriarch/fairy godmother of the class who just may be more than she seems.
One trend that I love in books written by bloggers is that their characters often have blogs. In Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing, every few chapters we are treated to a blog post written by Scarlet. Much like her creator, Scarlet authors a popular blog. I think I love this so much because it reminds me firstly of my much beloved epistolary novels but also because I feel like I get to see another side of the character -- the voice that they create for themselves. I'm sure that you all have a friend whose blog voice is slightly different than their voice when you sit down to have coffee with them. Even when Scarlet is stretched to her limit and hanging on to all the pieces of her life by a thread, her voice on the blog is upbeat and perky. It was a reminder that what we project to others is only part of the story.
That's a bit of a theme throughout the novel. There's Mary Therese who is convinced that as long as you have a plan, go by the rules and pretend that everything is fine, everything will be just fine. One must never crack the facade that everything is perfect, not even to themselves. Meanwhile Rosa's got a whole lot going on under that caring, grandmotherly-type exterior. Even Marco has more going on than Scarlet thinks.
Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing was just what I needed during those moments I snuck away to read. A little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance and a little bit of fashion fairy tale. Don't take my word for it. Check out what these bloggers have to say about Miss Scarlet.
Martha at Hey, I Want To Read That really liked the characters.
I want to go out for drinks and dancing then go home and make something shiny and sparkly and I’m not a shiny, sparkly kind of girl. There’s just something about Miss Scarlet that makes you think glitter is a good idea.
Patty at Broken Tee Pee reinforces my assertion that you don't have to be crafty yourself to enjoy this novel.
It was a fun, fast paced read, perfect for the beach or just sitting inside on a rainy day. You don't have to sew or know how to sew to enjoy the book (ah hem). The characters will pull you along on a fun ride into the past and then into what might be.
Deborah blogs at Books, Movies and Chinese Food points out that the sewing is really only the background to the real point of the story -- the heart.
Even if you don't do a lot of sewing yourself, this book is still a really good read. Yes, sewing and fashion are parts of the story but the real depth is in the people and their heart. It's a wonderful read that is not only fun, flashy and fab but also full of family (yay for f's!).
Disclosure: Review copy provided by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Books.