A Bunch of Sewing Books

I recently got myself some new sewing-related books, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about them with you. (Please bare in mind that I haven’t read any of these cover to cover yet, but I have looked through them carefully.)

top: The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard,Revised & Updated Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Shaeffer, middle: Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi, bottom: Pattern Cutting by Dennic Chunman Lo, Classic Fashion Patterns of the 20th Century by Anne Tyrrell

Couture Sewing Techniques and The Dressmaker’s handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques

You may wonder why on earth I bought two books that are so similar. To be honest, I wonder about that too. I just couldn’t figure out which would be better, I guess.

There are some differences to these books, mind you.

The first one, Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Shaeffer, focuses on vintage couture and sewing by hand.  The vintage pieces pictured in it are gorgeous, and it provides a lot of info on the history of couture and so forth.

The actual instructions however, only have tiny illustrations so they can be a bit hard to follow, especially with more complicated techniques.

As you can see, there’s a lot of text in this book. On the whole I would say that someone looking to make vintage clothes authentically would find this appealing. I myself would be tempted to use the techniques in this book mostly on evening wear, as they do seem a tad time-consuming (or maybe I’m just lazy). But if I ever do make myself an evening gown, I’ll be sure to consult this book.

The second couture book, The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard, is a little more practical than the first one.

The illustrations are large and clear, making the instructions easy to follow:

The thing that makes this a practical book is the fact that many of the techniques are easily useable in everyday clothes, and there’s much more machine-sewing involved.

The examples and illustrations are modern, usually catwalk-shots. This can be good or bad, depending on your taste in clothing. I think a combination of vintage and modern would probably be best.

Classic Fashion Patterns of the 20th Century by Anne Tyrrell

First of all, the title of this book is a bit misleading, as it only covers fashion from 1900 to 1970, and not the whole 20th century. Now that it’s 12 years since the start of the new millenium, and the early nineties are officially vintage, it would’ve been nice to have at least some mention of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in the book. But maybe I’m just a nitpicker.

This is a fantastic book for research. For a costume designer or something, probably a real treasure chest. This book doesn’t cover just vintage clothing, but style in general. For each period you get information on things like fashionable fabrics and colours of the period, what kind of undergarments were used, hairstyles, make-up etc. This information is given about men’s clothing and style as well, which is nice.

The book is a little imbalanced, as over half of it is devoted to 1900-1940 period. This could be a good thing in a way, as the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s do get a lot of emphasis when talking about vintage fashion.

Haven’t tried resizing any of the patterns yet, so I can’t say how hard it is.

what the patterns look like in this book

Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi

There’s been a lot of talk about this book, and everyone seems to love it (at least based on its amazon.co.uk reviews).

I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

I haven’t tried making anything from this book yet, and some of the ideas in it are a little bit too avant-garde for everyday clothes (for my taste at least, but I’m sure someone could pull them off easily), but I still love the book.

The thing I love most about Pattern Magic is that it’s SO inspiring. The wacky designs in it make me want to start experimenting what else one could do with fabric. It’s also interesting to see the conversion process, as every design starts off as a basic block.

Pattern Cutting by Dennic Chunman Lo

This is a really handy book for anyone looking for a basic guide to pattern making. It shows you how to make all the necessary basic blocks, as well as some hints on how to fit and adapt them.

The examples are from modern catwalks, and usually there is a technical drawing or an explanation of how the pictured garment was made, which is pretty awesome, if your a copycat like me.

– Sadie

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3 thoughts on “A Bunch of Sewing Books

  1. Hi, Thanks so much for the info on the books, its really helped me in decided which one to purchase! Great work.

  2. Everything is very open with a really clear clarification
    of the challenges. It was really informative. Your site is very helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

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