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Vintage sewing pattern illustrations show such care. They showcase the clothing-to-be-made in the best possible way. They show technical skill that few illustrators can match today in their hand-painted illustrations (hand-painted!). Which is why it so amusingly odd that they models in the pattern illustrations are so often doing something so bizarre, so truly inexplicable, that it’s simply bewildering. Which is where Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion comes in.

The books showcases snark-tastic jokes about the strange goings-on in vintage sewing pattern illustrations. The jokes are laugh-out-loud funny, with many of them revolving around explanatory chatter of the models between themselves. Sometimes there are comments on the sexism, strange styles, or the otherwise unexplained. If you’re unfamiliar with sewing patterns, or not a fan of vintage illustration or design, the book may have limited appeal, but for those with such interests, it’s fantastic.

I’ve enjoyed cross stitch my whole life and I think that this inspirational book will help introduce young women to the glories of both. The book explains the basic stitches — and basic life stories — for 30 strong-willed and accomplished women. Each pattern is an illustration of each stitch, in color, so this is a great way for beginners to learn cross-stitching.

Plus, as they stitch, young people can ponder the inspiring stories of the women they stitch. Lovely hard-bound binding, quality photos, illustrations, and layout — not to mention the brief yet well-written biographies — all make this a perfect gift for the would-be strong (young) women in your life.