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Books for the new year

GailAnn | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello Ladies —  What are your favorite sewing, designing, pattern making, detailing or other books.  In or out of print.  I have room for about 10 or 12 books in my 2008 budget.  So please tell me your favorites……Gail


  1. Ckbklady | | #1

    Hiya Gail!

    Happy New Year!!

    I can't think of them all off the top of my head, but two that come to mind immediately are by Claire Shaeffer:



    Also, I want to mention a very new book out that I just got through the Crafter's Choice book club by mail. Amazon says that the book won't be out until February, but CC had it already - must be a book club ed:

    MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES by PatternMaker with Marie Clayton (New York, St.Martin's Press, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0-312-37664-2)

    It's a 130-page hardcover book with a CD-ROM of customizable patterns for women (and one pattern for little girls). You load the CD, input your measurements and the software creates exact life-sized pattern pieces on regular printer paper and adds marked tape lines to show you where to scotch-tape the pieces together to cut out the fabric.

    The designs are a bit young but aren't too wacky - there are some nice very basic tops (think See & Sew-type patterns) and plain shift dresses and a tulip skirt, a child's dress, a classic tailored shirt and others. There's a wonderful double breasted cropped jacket, sort of military, that I will start with when the holiday hubbub subsides. I don't know yet how good the instructions or patterns are, but if they fit as they promise, it could be a hoot. But a caveat - the models in the photos are all early 20s and slim as reeds - the pattern software may have corresponding measurement limits. I'll report in when I get going on the coat, because I'm sure no reed!

    Also, I wanted to mention: I went crazy buying sewing books a few years back and later found that many of them weren't the joy I'd hoped. Now I mostly sign out books from the library and "test-drive" them - if I'm sad they're going back at the end of the month, they go on my buy list. If not, I breathe a sigh of relief that I saved the room for books that matter more. Maybe that can help you find the best dozen for 2008.


    :) Mary


  2. Elizard | | #2

    Hi Gail,
    apart from Couture sewing techniques by Claire Schaeffer (which I own and enjoy), I'd like to suggest some books by the (late) Canadian author Angelina di Bello.
    One of the books is also referenced in Couture sewing techniques.
    It is Haute Couture Techniques,
    the full bibliography (as far as I know) is as follows:
    Haute Couture Techniques (tome 1)
    The fitting book/pattern modifications (tome 2 volume 1 and 2)
    Essential Stitches, Seams and Accessories (tome 3)
    All about pants (tome 4)
    Designing (Drafting) 12 Unique Classic Styles (Tome 5)
    and personalized dress form construction/completion book 1 and 2.
    She had a program on tv Ontario in the 60's/70's, pins and needles.
    The books were originally published in French, it is quite hard to find them in English if at all. If you are interested you should definitely try abebooks.com .
    I myself had to compromise - and got a set of Tome 1, tome 2 volumes 1 and 2.
    I am very happy with them; Tome 1 talks about the construction of skirts the haute couture way (preferably one should get a later version than 1970 - as it is slightly lacking).This was also where I got the info on the marking with pins.
    Tome 2: measuring yourself, comparing that to the pattern, changing the pattern, fitting. Plus making a dress form of gummed paper. These are available in the Us/Canada.
    If you have some knowledge of French, and a good dictionary it should be possible to read them if French.

  3. Elizard | | #3

    Continuing my previous post with the rarer European stuff.
    Anatomisk tilskæring (contour cutting) by Preben Hartmann - this is a series of 4 videos from the 90's showing how to drape a pattern on the body using brown paper, sticky tape and scissors. But you will need to understand danish :(
    Drapering (draping) by Eduard Van Rijn.
    Originally in published in Dutch it was translated into danish in the 90's and is out of print. It bases itself on the authors experience of the Haute couture houses in Paris and the method of draping patterns on the stand. including asymmetric drapery for a dress, and (proper) collar draping.

    1. GailAnn | | #5

      I speak English, some Danish, and a limited amount of Arabic.  I'm ashamed to say that I only read in English.  This I think must be a difinition of "American".  Others are so much more inclined to speak and read our language than we are willing or able to speak the language of others. 

      Self-centered, I suppose. 

      Thanks, Gail

      1. Elizard | | #7

        Hi Gail,
        I must say that I am surprised, I hadn't expected someone to know (a bit?) of danish - due to the fact that Denmark is so small a country, so far away from the US. I myself speak (and read) danish fluently - having lived here all my life. The aforementioned danish book and videos are nearly impossible to get, apart from the libraries where they are abundant.
        I have a few links for the videos; about the author/system http://www.anatomisk-tilskaering.dk/html/forord___index.html .
        and the main page http://www.anatomisk-tilskaering.dk/index.html.
        I'm afraid I haven't been able to find a reasonable translator though:(
        I have attached a picture from the website, believe it or not the pattern is for a jacket!

        1. GailAnn | | #8

          My Grandmother imigrated to the US from Denmark about 1915, alone, "at the age of confirmation" (which I take to mean anyage between 13 and 17), no family, no friends, "Not enough money to buy a stamp to write home for money."

          She married, had three children, divorced (big scandal), and married agian.  I loved her.  She sewed all the time, although she didn't teach me to sew. 

          That picture looks like some of the patterns she just cut from newspaper!  Gail

  4. Brine | | #4

    Do you read German? Burda has a hard cover book, Naehen Leicht
    Gemacht, which seems to be pretty comprehensive. I do read German, although not terribly well, and have found it very useful. It has many pictures which are self-explanatory.

  5. scrubble4 | | #6

    Hi GailAnn:  In addition to Clare Shaffer's books already mentioned, I love my Shirtmaking by David Coffin.  This is all from memory and my memory is very liberal with spelling so I apologize for any errors in the authors' name spellings. 

    The really neat thing about David's book is the detail he gives for seemingly simple but important sewing techniques.  Even if you never plan to make a shirt the instruction about draping a shirt, and the sewing techniques he explains as to the "why of" as well as the "how of" are absolutely wonderful.  You can get it off ebay as well as Amazon. 

    I have recently ordered a couple of other books that I haven't yet recieved; but hear the advice of (again from memory - Mary) in suggesting the library route first.  I have also been searching out fitting books and want to test drive a couple from the library before I buy. 

    Happy reading.  Scrubble4

    1. GailAnn | | #9

      I have and appreciate Shirtmaking.

      I was in JoAnn's last week and on display, as an advertisement for classes was a dress with a shirt collar.  The collar had been stitched all the way arround from left to right so that the right side of the collar was wrinkled and wouldn't lay straight.  I thought it bespoke very poorly of the teacher, who seemed unwilling to sew half the collar then turn the collar to sew the other half.

      A very small but important detail.  Gail

  6. Tatsy | | #10

    Two of my favorites are Secrets of the Couturiers by Francis Kennett and Fine Machine Sewing by Carol Ahles. I also got a kick out of reading Saturday Night Hat, which describes how a design student in NYC got her business off the ground because she covered a bad haircut with a wild hat. It also has directions for making several basic types of hats. A charming book.

    I don't think it's so strange that so many people on this thread speak and/ or read foreign languages. It's probably part of the same reason we got started sewing in the first place. Our mothers and grandmothers handed down the important parts of their European upbringings to us. I can speak and read and cook in French and can read German and Spanish because of the exposure to those languages where I grew up and where I live now. Mom started us girls crocheting at three to keep up busy and we were embroidering by five.

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