I think I actually have the 1971 edition, but either way, this is the most beautifully detailed book I have ever read about sewing, and contains a ton...moreI think I actually have the 1971 edition, but either way, this is the most beautifully detailed book I have ever read about sewing, and contains a ton of things I would never have been able to extract from modern patterns. Even the modern books like the Flesch and Palmer books don't have the crazy nitpicky details that make sense like this one.
Like did you know that clothing used to have a top fabric, interfacing, underlining, and lining? I didn't, but I do now. I have just been eating this up because the things I am learning make the gaps in my sewing knowledge obvious. I think it would be overwhelming for a newbie dressmaker, but for someone with a few years of experience, it's amazing.
I finally finished this, and I feel like I have a much better grasp on the "expected knowledge" of sewing. It gives me the vocabulary to talk about questions I have.
Read if: You are interested in vintage sewing, or in sewing fitted garments.
Skip if: You are a drape artist, or you want something more about modern styles and embellishments. (less)
I have been waiting eagerly for this book for months! And it was worth the wait.
This book is a bunch of techniques and tips for a mid-level sewist who...moreI have been waiting eagerly for this book for months! And it was worth the wait.
This book is a bunch of techniques and tips for a mid-level sewist who is looking to start working on vintage and vintage-style patterns. It is not for a novice sewist, one still getting used to the idea of assembling patterns.
I really enjoyed reading about all the little things I could be doing to get a more tailored and fitted and classy and stable piece of clothing. Like there's a tip on how to make dress shields, so you have to launder less often. And there are five different ways to finish seams, and a discussion of when each is the most appropriate.
There is a lot of hand-sewing, and to be honest, I am not that excited about hand-sewing, but when Gertie explains it, I can understand why it might be the best option for some things. I'm actually kind of nerdily hoping that I get around to making a frock coat complete with pad stitching and shoulder pads and padded peplum by next winter. It would be so classy.
The garment selection is reasonably broad -- no pants, but pants are a mysterious beast all on their own. The mix and match of tops and skirts and dresses gives one a feeling of bravery about being able to do it oneself. The one missing item that I regret she didn't put in instructions about is a petticoat/crinoline. There is a brief note about how to attach some crinoline to a skirt lining, but many of the dresses and full skirts are modeled with a crinoline, and it would be helpful if we had some tips on making our own.
I was strangely delighted when she said the same thing that I've been thinking since I made the Walk-Away Dress. Without some serious undergarmentage, you end up looking like you are wearing a hospital gown. 'Tis true! But with the help of this book, I am thinking about cutting off the bodice and making the skirt of my Walk-Away dress into a high-waisted skirt. I also agree with the commenter who said it would be useful if there was a section showing the dresses on different body types, but happily Flickr has you covered in that department. I never make anything without looking it up on Flickr first.
Overall, I was delighted with this book. It is exactly in my comfort-to-aspirational range. I wouldn't have been ready for it three years ago before I got the hang of garment sewing, so give it to new sewists with care. One of my favorite features is that you get to see the insides of all the garments, so you can really see the construction details she is talking about. That makes it so much easier for me to understand what's going one. Also, the included patterns are printed on real paper.
Read if: You have some garment-sewing experience and would like to branch out into either the vintage-y or couture direction. You love a breezy conversational style of writing.
Skip if: You are still working out exactly how plackets attach and regard anything harder than "Easy" as currently out of your range. Also skip if you are super experienced at couture sewing. I imagine this will not be the book for you.