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Conversational Threads

Time-Life Sewing Book Set from the 70s

Ckbklady | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi everyone!

Time-Life here in the US put out a subscription series for sewing/needlecraft called THE ART OF SEWING back in the 70s. I would like to buy it, in whole or in part.

Does anyone here have the set, and if so, can you tell me the total number of volumes and possibly also the titles? I have found conflicting accounts on Amazon and Bookfinder, and would love to confirm if some of the listings I have seen are for truly complete sets or not. I’d rather buy a complete set and not fiddle around trying to cobble a set together.

David Page Coffin, of Threads, back in issue #7, recommended the volume on Basic Tailoring, so I trust that the books are wonderful. I know that the cooking series Time-Life did a little later on is the set I’d take to a desert island (although it sure would make me hungry!), so I’m excited to be hunting a sewing set by the same folks.

Any help you can offer would be super, fellow Gatherers! Thanks so much!

🙂 Mary



  1. Cathie | | #1

    Hi there. I'm surprised no one has mentioned these gorgeous books before. In the seventies I noticed several at the Ottawa Public Library, but was not aware the series was very big. Recently, mostly at charity shops, near Montreal, Canada, I have found quite a number of them. Often in French, though. I can't say how many there are in total. Maybe ask the publishing house, if it is still intact. What I do is collect them, when they are in good condition, one at a time. I read French and English, so no problem. Are you aware there are 2 versions of each? The "deluxe" one having an appropriate fabric cover! And they are extra fun, with the 70's look coming back. However, the technical side, plus, in each, a super interesting historical, make them super choices.

    1. Ckbklady | | #3

      Small world! I used to sign them out of the Guelph Public Library aeons ago! I read French too, so if I have to cobble a set together I'll expand my horizons and seek separate volumes in whatever language I can get. I have never seen any copies but the ones with the vivid fabric half-binding - they're the ones I want.

      The publishing house is indeed still extant, but they have no records or archives of their out-of-print subscription sets. A woman at the toll-free line laughed when I asked her and replied, "My gosh, I wasn't even BORN then!" Indeed.

      I have seen ads on Bookfinder and Amazon reporting complete sets of as many as 16 volumes, but I guess I'm doubtful because I'm just too accustomed to the Time-Life cooking sets, all of which always had 28 volumes. I suspect there are more!

      Ah, well, the hunt if half the fun. Thanks for your tips!

      :) Mary

  2. melanie | | #2

    I looked up Amazon UK and found they had 11 titles in "The Art of Sewing" series. and seeing they were so readily available I tried amazon.com, and there were 86 offers all told, one of them offering the set of 16 for $99.99. However if you roll down through the titles on offer you will see that most of them sell for anything from a mere 80 cents up, averaging around 3-5 dollars. My suggestion would be to select the titles you would fancy and order them as you chose. I can understand you wanting these as they are quite incredible - the illustrations are so clear and while the end products are so sophisticated they almost assume you can't thread a needle and everything is explained from the very beginning in great detail. The copies I have, have all been found in charity shops and church sales. The "delicate wear" one for instance demonstrates every conceivable hand stitch and seam, every knitting, lace and crochet stitch you might need as well as all the diagrams for pattern pieces etc. "The Making of Home Furnishings" goes into such detail about cutting and sewing a set of loose covers and blinds one could not really go wrong.

    I hope this helps. the covers of mine are stiff card with attractive fabric designs. Although well used they seem virtually indestructable so I imagine the titles on offer would be in quite good nick - so try http://www.amazon.com and happy hunting


     and good luck.


    1. Ckbklady | | #4

      Hi Melanie!

      Thanks! Great ideas. I may get lazy and greedy and buy the $100 set, since it's half the price of the set I found on Bookfinder - thanks for the tip-off!

       You're right that I could do better buying them a la carte, as it were, but I don't relish the time spent making so many separate purchases. The odds of getting volumes in similar condition will increase if I buy them as a lot, too. (I've always been a sewer, but for a living I was a trade used book dealer for a lotta years, and it made me infernally picky.)

      Also, buying only the titles I want would be tricky - I want them all! :)

      Thanks so much for your help!:) Mary

  3. marymary | | #5

    There are 16 volumes in the set along with a paperback book that is the master index to all the volumes.

    I started collecting them one by one until I ran into an entire set at the Salvation Army.  They are great books.

    I will be happy to provide the titles of all volumes, if you need them.

    1. goldenthreads | | #6

      Ckbklady, here's what I found on amazon.com as description of 16-book series.  Based on comments, I purchased one of these sets.  There are still 3 out there and many many singles, but you are right.  Buying each single and paying the $4 ship charge quiickly got me to $130 vs getting it all from one seller for $155.  CAUTION:  The $99 dollar set,, is missing two volumes. 

       In addition to the 16 books, there is also a 1975 book by Time-Life called "Art of Sewing:  the professional look", and there is also a separate index.  I sprung for it all with the intention of NO MORE SEWING BOOKS FOR A WHILE!!!  However, I've really surprised myself re:  how freuently I refer to a book or illustration when working thru a project.

      Good luck.    Hope this helps

      Time-Life International Hard Cover 1975 Complete set of 16 books: The Classic Techniques, The Custom Look, Shortcuts to Elegance, Traditional Favorites, The Personal Touch, Basic Tailoring, Exotic Styling, Novel Materials, Delicate Wear, Creative Design, The Sporting Scene, Boutique Attire, Making Home Furnishings, Separates That Travel, Decorative Techniques, Restyling Your Wardrobe.






      1. Ckbklady | | #8

        Hiya Goldenthreads,

        Thank you so much - I've written down the titles you gave me and the hunt is on!

        I did notice that the $99 set was not complete, and I was unimpressed overall with the seller ratings. I know that a good set will come along and I'm willing to hold out for a good one.

        :) Mary


        1. jatman | | #27

          Hi Mary - I was looking on Amazon for some other stuff and looked this set up, too and found that there is a $100 set that is complete listed, too.  The book seller has a good rating and if the S & H is only $3.99 for the set it might be a really good deal.  Also, the condition is listed as 'collectible'.  Here is the link (hopefully):


          It's at the bottom as it's the most expensive one but I strongly suspect that the others listed at .01, 2.50, etc are only for one book and not the set since that would just be crazy!

          If you get them, please let us know if they were worth it.



          1. Ckbklady | | #28


            I wish I'd seen that listing - thanks for calling it to my attention. I won't act on it, though, since yesterday I won an incomplete set (12 volumes for $26 and $14 shipping, so about $3.25 per book) and now only seek the remaining 4 volumes. I'm intrigued, though, because one of the titles listed in the set I won doesn't appear on Goldenthreads' list. Perhaps there are more than 16 books? I love a good hunt!

            The mystery book that is included in the group I won is apparently titled "Fabrics Covered", although I must say that sounds odd, since it's not a proper phrase. Not Time-Life's usual style, so I am curious to see just what will come out of the shipping box.

            I'll get to the bottom of this and will report in when they arrive.

            :) Mary

          2. marymary | | #32

            Mary, perhaps the "Fabrics  Covered" is referring to the covers of the books.  They do have fabric covers.

            I looked at the list in the Master Index and there is no book by that name.  There are only 16 books for this index of the Time Life books that was published in 1976.  We know full well that publishers don't leave well enough alone, so there may be more books.  Would love to know that too. 

          3. Ckbklady | | #33

            Hiya Mary!

            Thanks! I got an email back from the seller this morning - he admitted that he had wrongly recorded 13 titles when there were only 12 books in the lot. I immediately guessed that "Fabrics Covered" was the wrong one.

            I'll have to hunt for a Master Index now - that'll be fun!


            :) Mary

    2. Ckbklady | | #7

      Hiya Mary!

      Thanks! I'm happy to know that there's an index I should seek too.

      How great that you found a whole set! I hope to do the same. Awesome that you found them in a thrift shop, too. I'm a huge Goodwill fan - it's where I got my 1908 treadle sewing machine and cabinet, and every piece of dress-up clothing I own.

      I think Goldenthreads listed the titles of the set in the post below yours, but thank you so much for offering to list them!


      Mary (cool name, huh?)

      1. marymary | | #9

        Mary, hope you find the entire set.

        Do you have the Singer books that are about a decade or so newer that are similar?  Can't remember exactly when Singer started this series.  I find them to be very helpful, too.

        I collect old sewing books and love to find them for little money in thrift stores.  I will, if necessary, spend the money to acquire one that I think I just have to have.

        1. Stillsewing | | #11

          Thanks for alerting us to this series of books. Years ago I picked up the one on restyling of clothes in a second hand bookshop. I have found it very interesting and have used it many times for info and inspiration. I did not realize that it was part of a set/series of books.Does anyone know where the series was retailed? My feeling was that it was aimed at the US and probably Canada. If it was sold in the UK and Ireland I would certainly like to hunt down the other titles in the various second hand bookshops that we have here.

          1. Ckbklady | | #16

            Hi there, Stillsewing,

            I noodled around a bit on Bookfinder.com and found you some answers. Yes, it appears that the series was released in Europe - it was simultaneously published by Time-Life in Holland starting in 1975.

            The titles listed on Bookfinder that are for sale by Euro sellers have the same titles as the American volumes, so I bet you can use Goldenthreads' list of the American volume titles from earlier in this discussion as your watch-for list.

            Title matches can be tricky. Time-Life also published a cooking series both in the US and in Europe in the 70s, and there were at least 5 titles of the 28 volumes whose titles didn't match across the oceans. But the sewing set appears to be safe!

            So happy hunting!!

            :) Mary

          2. Elizard | | #17

            I hope you don't mind my jumping in. I've been following this post with interest, I'm wondering what type of books these are, I own a translated copy of Sewing for Style, from the Singer reference library, and must admit that, that book isn't my type. are "The art of sewing" and the Singer reference library in any way similar?

          3. marymary | | #18

            The Time Life books and the Singer books are similar in content.  The graphics and pictures depict their respective decades.

            I thought Singer's "Sewing for Style" was one of the best of the Singer books, at the time.  I was making jackets and more tailored clothes then. 

            Elizard, why do you find "Sewing for Style" not your type?  If you elaborate a little more, we might be able to help you decide if the Time Life books or the other Singer books would be something you would like.

          4. Elizard | | #20

            Hi Mary,
            I looked at the book last night and found that the techniques themselves were all right, (quite similar to other books though. The stuff that I find the most unusable is on decoration and wardrobe planning, and inspiration. The pictures themselves seem rooted in the 80's (though that was when it was made, so I really shouldn't complain).
            what I am wondering is, how much "time-based" info is there in these books? What kind of info, basic, advanced.
            Also I must echo the comment to Ckblady from the lady in the phone at the publishing house. "I wasn't even born then", I'm much younger than you think :)
            Please take that into account!

            Edited 1/4/2008 4:54 am by Elizard

          5. marymary | | #22

            Elizard, you won't find much "modern" inspiration in either the Time Life or Singer books, if you are looking for wardrobe planning.  You will find timeless techniques.  Once you get inspiration from somewhere else, you can translate the "how to" from these books.  If you are very creative, these books will give you inspiration.  The "Sewing for Style" is more how-to than inspiration.  To me, the instructions in these books are basic to intermediate.  To someone else, they might seem advanced.  It all depends upon your skill level.

            As melanie stated, the Time Life books have great graphics and drawings, the Singer books great pictures.  What comes to mind immediately is the instructions for handbags in each.  In the Time Life books you can learn how to make a beaded evening bag.  In the Singer books, you can learn how to make a clutch purse.  In the Time Life books, you can learn how to work with real fur.  In the Singer books, no mention of real fur.  Different times.

            No one book has everything you want to know.  That is why I have a room full.   

            The Singer books do sometimes have different covers for the same insides.  I bought the machine quilting book thinking it was a new one only to find it was the same as the one I had.  Had a friend who wanted to start learning to quilt, so it was a "good thing". 

            Only you can really decide if any of these books are for you.  You might want to find a single one of the Time Life books and compare it to the Singer book that you have. 

            Since you are apparently younger than some of us, it might take you a while to appreciate these old books.  The first vintage book I bought was published in the 1920s.  I bought it so long ago, I don't remember where or when.  I was fascinated by the social commentary.  The drawings are not women with figures.  They are rectangles with heads, arms, and legs.  I realize this was the flapper generation, but this book went too far to cover up that women have shape.  Now, I find it interesting in the details of sewing. 

          6. Elizard | | #23

            Hi Mary,
            I will lend one of the sewing books at the library, at some point when I get round to it, I have the choice between Creative design, Basic tailoring, The classic techniques and The professional look. These are all the books in this series that Denmark owns.
            (Also it is not fun having to transport to many heavy bicycle bags filled with books home :), and books take up lots of space!
            You're right about older books telling of past times, they are very interesting, but I guess it is the difference between when it is "last season" (so to say, hope I'm not offending anyone), or when it really starts getting old like talking about Madeleine Vionnet. Now a days I'm also a slight destructionist, looking at the small details on clothing - for example in museums. You have been very kind in answering my questions, I appreciate it. I would just like to ask a final one, what do you mean by the 'flapper generation'?

          7. marymary | | #25

            Elizard, in the 1920s women in the U.S. began to claim independence.  They cut their hair, shortened their dresses, drank bathtub gin, and danced fast.  They were called "Flappers".  Do a search and you will see what I am talking about.

            You are right about "Last Season" not being particularly interesting.  I think the Time Life books could be old enough not to feel as left overs.  The Singer books might not be old enough, but I still think they are a good resource for learning the basics. 

          8. Elizard | | #26

            Hm, interesting, also known as garconne(s)? thank you for your help, I will look into the books at some point.

          9. Cathie | | #34

            Hi ladies. I was hoping the book series hunt would expand. I have 2 other series, though perhaps missing  a few volumes still.  From the 60's I have Creative Hands (in French called de fil en aiguille). I have mainly in French. They begin with measuring oneself, and pattern making (simple),  go on to fitting, and get progressively more complex. Also, historical garments are photographed. And lots about knitting. Very helpful, i.e. on skirt fit (fit is my nemesis).  Reprinted in 70's too. Then, I also have les doigts d'or ( means golden fingers). These include actual size patterns, in a back pocket, and are on knitting, sewing, and embroidery. This series is from the 80's. Both series also came in magazine form too. Although styles change, there is a ton of technical info here. I love romantic and comfortable clothes. For example, the Bohemian skirt, and peasant blouse from this last series could be used as is. And, lots of pretty sun dresses. We can modify where needed. I find these books, generally one at a time, for about 50 cents, at charity shops. Also, there are some amazing pattern re-drafting books, and one on skirt drafting, from early 70's, by Angelina di Bello. One on pants which I never saw. In French or English. A must have for those with fitting issues, especially. Again, I got for 50 cents each.


          10. Cathie | | #35

            Oh, forgot another amazing series. An Arabic series, of total pattern drafting (amazing drawings and diagrams). The charity shop told me it was "Chinese "(?!). I can't even tell you the titles, as can't read them, but, one can get someplace merely by looking closely. I did get some hints on improved bust shaping for my 46 D  to DD bust, and all the waists are cut curved, which works for me, as are the hips, which I need too. Their idea of the female shape is very curvy. Men's and children's clothes also included (mainly Western style, a kind of French/Arabic look). Fun.

          11. Ckbklady | | #36

            Ohh, I remember Creative Hands! They were wonderful. I used to get them out of the library in the 70s. Now I'll have to add THAT series to my watch-for list!

            Thanks for the reminder!

            :) Mary

          12. maggiecoops | | #37

            I've just found this discussion and it's cost me money! I had the soft furnishings book back in the late 70s but wasn't aware it came from a larger series. I love old sewing books, not because I'm old, but because the new sewing books don't give such comprehensive cover when showing techniques.

            I recently bought sewing machines for a close friend, my daughter in law and my future daughter in law. I sourced some modern how to sew books, lovely as coffee table items but useless if you wanted to learn how to sew. I used a book group I buy from now and then, and bought the Mcalls sewing in colour, and the Vogue sewing book. Looking at my old copies showed how little had changed since I started sewing. The basic principles of sewing techniques have changed very little if at all. All that changes is the presentation style of the publishers.

             I lent all three at different times my old pattern drafting books, and helped them construct basic blocks. The sewing books which are almost facsimiles of the 50s and 60s publications contained just about everything they needed to start producing stylish garments.  My copies contain the styles in vogue then, but the techniques used to make them are identical to the techniques we use now.

            I bought myself the Sandra Betzina Fast Fit book, only to discover everything in it was contained in one chapter in my copy of Mccalls sewing in colour which I bought in 63. So I like the older publications as you get it all, not in dribs and drabs. Now I'm waiting to see if the Art of Sewing books I've bought, will prove to be as comprehensive as my old 50s and 60s publications.

          13. jatman | | #38

            Hi Maggiecoops!  Where did you get the Art of Sewing series?  Was it an Amazon.com purchase or from someplace else?


          14. maggiecoops | | #39

            I got it from Amazon, the damaged one as I'm not interested in collecting but using them. I got one other ,techniques from a seperate seller, and ignored the restyle your wardrobe which was missing. When you look at my bookshelves you can see the books I refer to constantly, and those which I find are just coffee table items. The ones I use are worn, fingermarked, bruised but loved, the others are pristine. Same with my cookery books, pristine covers means Mags made a mistake, the covers are more informative than the insides. I'm finding that with a lot of the "How to " books being printed now, they're noy much more than tasters, but expensive for all that. So I like to get older publications, my pattern drafting and block manipulation books cross the time divide beautifully. Look closely at current fashion and you'll find the basic shapes haven't changed much since flat pattern making became popular. All that changes is the detail,  need inspiration, buy a few top end glossy fashion mags and look carefully at what's being made. is it a fitted sheath, a twist on a blouson , a bias cut, what's the detailing, collars, high closing low closing, plunge necks, cowls, and so on. I bet most home dressmakers  have every single type of detailing in a stash of purchased patterns, but just need to use a reference book to learn how to adapt them to other styles or sizes. Old "how to" books gave all that info in sufficient detail for the reader to be able to tackle a task with confidence with the open book at her elbow as a tutor.

          15. jatman | | #40

            Is there a pattern drafting book that you would recommend?  Something for an intermediate sewer who hasn't created many of their own patterns but would like to?

            I have to say that the books I use most show it, too.  Especially the cookbooks!


          16. maggiecoops | | #41



            Pattern Making By the Flat Pattern Method by Norma Hollen,

            I use 4 books, Make your own Dress Patterns, published in 77 author Brenda Redmile,  it uses metric measurements, which are more accurate. Her trousers block isnt bad but Iprefer the one in my other older book. Pattern Cutting, The cut is closer to the European cut and more flattering as it doesnt create what my daughter calls a camels foot. That horrible display of the crotch area due to pulling of the fabric because the cut doesnt flatter a female.

            Pattern Cutting by Margaret Melliar and published in 71 http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b/002-4489573-6344056?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Pattern+Cutting+Margaret+Melliar&x=18&y=17

            The drawings are old fashioned but the principles she use are bang up to date.She shows how by manipulating the basic block you can construct just about any garment and that includes lingerie and bras.

            Pattern Cutting for lingerie, beachwear and leisurewear by Ann Haggar. I had the 1990 copy and lent it to friend who taught sewing to teenagers, and went it walk about, so the school replaced it with the 2004 edition eventually. The basic block construction details can be a bit off putting as they look so busy and complicated. What I did for another freind was re write the instructions on a length of wall paper, and another length of wall paper drew a block with all it's identification letters, dots, lines. and colour coded them. As she started to draft her blocks she could she could quickly scan my over sized views and check her own against the example at every step. The blocks were very accurate.

            My daughter gave me Bias Cut dressmaking by Gillian Holman. The basic blocks in all the books are very much the same. This book explains nicely how you can take the basic blocks and use them to create that most wonderful garment, the bias cut dress, skirt, blouse, knickers, teddy. They skim all the lumps and bumps, and make you feel great because on the hanger they look long and lean, but they go round you with ease.

            I have to tell you, you can have all the books ,  but you will need someone to measure you accurately. I taught my DH and my eldest son and my daughter how to do it. Now I'm a widow, my daughter lives miles away, my eldest son now in his 40s would prefer to measure a length of wood.  As my shape has changed so dramatically over the past few years, I desperately need to construct some new basic blocks, so I'm hoping to persuade my future daughter in law, who dress makes, to measure me and teach her how to fabric drape to create basic blocks.  

          17. jatman | | #42

            I have printed your post and will start looking at books.  Thank you SO MUCH for all of that information!


          18. Stillsewing | | #19

            Hello CkbkladyI certainly will look out for them now. The standard of the instructions and diagrams/photos made them easy to follow I will certainly use the list that Goldenthreads mentioned and watch out for them. One money saving factor - I just don't have the room in this small house to store any more books, I generally buy on a need to use rather than than it is of interest. However I shall keep the list of titles in my diary and hope to get lucky.Again thanks very much for taking the trouble to look that up for me.Mary

        2. Ckbklady | | #14

          Hiya Mary,

          Oh, yes, the wonderful Singer set. I have them all. They came out over a few years in the late 80s and early 90s. They didn't do a subscription set- they were each sold singly. 

          I'm a thrift shop old book enthusiast too. I was a book dealer for a long time, and never liked anything as much as my "hunting trips". I've had much more success with sewing books than cookbooks (my area of expertise) in thrift shops.

          How do you decide which ones you have to have? I just want 'em all!

          :) Another Mary

          1. melanie | | #21

            Just one interesting thing regarding the Singer books. You were right about the time of their publication. my hardback versions are shown as 1986, by CyDeCosse Inc., I think the paperbacks came a bit later though credited to Cowles publishers this time but all in the familiar black covers. But now what intrigues me is that I see the same titles advertised with different covers, although still retaining the black heading. I bought "The Perfect Fit" (brilliant!) recently, one of the Singer ones I didn't have and was on the point of falling for "Tailoring" when I realised it was the identical Singer book I already have, so this is something to watch out for if one already has some of the Singer books to avoid buying duplicates.

            The main difference I would note between the two series, Time/Life and Singer, is that the former relies on superb drawings and diagrams while the latter favours photograps of every technique. It's so tempting to have both!

  4. User avater
    Nik-ki | | #10
    1. GailAnn | | #12

      Surely, surely, I didn't read this correctly!  2 cents plus shipping?

      "If it looks too good to be true.............................."


      Edited 1/2/2008 2:29 pm ET by GailAnn

      1. Stillsewing | | #13

        I placed an order recently with Tauntons for some books and there was an offer of "free postage". I placed my order and the postage costs turned out to be higher than the cost of the books. I would suggest check out the shipping costs first!!

    2. Ckbklady | | #15

      Hiya Nik-ki!

      Thanks so much for finding that - I'll enjoy perusing the options!

      :) Mary

  5. quixotesmom | | #24

    At one time I had the com,plete set and I think it was 20 books. I may have given them to a charity shop when I quit sewing for a time. Need to go look(I have never seen a book I didn't buy) in my VERY large stash. Any one of them was complete on its own and worth reading. The covers were a lot of fun. Imagine a pair of hip huggers made out of those bright loud prints. Each cove matched it's contents. Tailoring a nice wool, etc. Good luck with your search. Every time I think I can give something away it comes back to bite me. Pat

    1. Ckbklady | | #29

      Ooh, I know it. The number of times I've been in a used bookshop and seen a book I used to have, I flip through it, and then realize I should never have given it away in the first place, and then buy it again, all the time kicking myself for paying for something twice. I know that one well.

      If you think the set was of 20 books, then maybe the mystery-titled one I am about to receive is legit. I'll write up a little list of the parcel contents when they arrive so we can all see how complete our sets may be. I hope you find you still have yours!

      :) Mary


      1. solosmocker | | #30

        I am finding this entire quest fascinating. Please keep us posted on the next chapters of this saga search. I have about ten of the Singer books purchased back when they were new. I still find the one on serging indispensable and highly recommend it. I have used it often. solo

        1. Ckbklady | | #31

          Hiya Solo,

          Oh, yes, the Singer serging book is wonderful. I use the Singer set all the time. I used almost every page of the Sewing For Special Occasions book when making my wedding dress.

          The Time-Life set is interesting to me because although it sounds like it mostly teaches very classic techniques, it will have wonderfully dated fashion photos. I was a kid in the 70s and would jump in a time machine and go back there tomorrow if I could, so I can't wait for a bit of "memory lane" fun.

          I'll happily keep you posted about this saga-  I'm sure there are others on the board here too who would like to know more about the T-L books, especially the final answer on the number of volumes.

          :) Mary

  6. Ckbklady | | #43

    Hi everyone!

    The Time-Life sewing book (partial) set came in the mail today - wheeee! So in the end, there indeed were 12 books in the box (not 13), listed here:













    (And as a bonus, when arranged in this order, the spines of the books reward you with a rainbow! :)

    So there remain 4 titles for me to seek:





    (oh, and the MASTER INDEX)

    I'll have to see where these titles fit in the rainbow scheme!

    I've noticed other titles that some online booksellers say are part of the Time-Life set.  They may be the Euro versions, otherwise identical to these American books:




    I can say having flipped through these that they're wonderful! I could blather on about each one, but maybe it's more useful if anyone has questions about a particular volume that you ask me here and I'll post a reply.

    The charming thing about these books is that they were once owned by a woman who was a notary public. She must just have become a notary around the time she bought the books, since she practiced franking her seal and signing her name in a couple of places in a few of the books. So I have notarized sewing books - that sure makes them official!! Nutty!

    :) Mary


    1. marymary | | #44

      Mary, you make me want to rush into my sewing room and start reading them all over again!  Now, I am going to have to hunt for the three that appear to not be part of the original set.

      Glad you got yours and are happy.

      1. Ckbklady | | #45

        Thanks, Mary Doubled!

        I'm impressed with the series' emphasis on terrific designers like Chanel, Vionnet and Galanos. I'm going to curl up on the couch with them this evening (the books, not the designers).

        I'm not yet convinced that the three titles I listed are even part of the set, but it does sound like they ARE Time-Life books, and are sewing books, and that's good enough for me.

        It's sure fun to read about sewing when we're not, isn't it?

        :) Mary Singular!

        1. marymary | | #46

          Mary, (singular), I tried searching for the three extra books you listed and could not find them anywhere.  Where did you find them?

          I love these books too for their timeless appeal and directions.  I realize that some of the pictures and graphics may be a bit dated, but the information is not.

          I almost hate to mention another set, but have you come in contact with the Women's Institute books from the early 1900s?  I have a set of those also.  At least, I have what may be a set.  They published them in a variety of ways and sometimes put two books together.  It was a correspondence course that you got through the mail.  There are a few books that were not part of the course that I am still looking for. 

          1. Ckbklady | | #47

            Hiya Mary Squared,

            I found the three mystery titles a couple of weeks ago when I typed in "Time-Life" as the author and used the keyword "Sewing" in the main search page at http://www.bookfinder.com. I haven't been back to see if they're gone.

            I see a bit of dated stuff in these Time-Life books, but I gotta tell ya, I'd wear most of that today! (Except for the bulletproof polyesters - I DON'T miss those!)

            Yes, I know the Women's Institute, but only their little cookbook set. They wrote sewing books too? Oh, brother - here we go again. (Kidding! Thanks for the tip!) What are the titles of the WI books?

            :) Mary 1.0


          2. marymary | | #48

            Mary 1.0, I did some research about the Women's Institute sewing books and apparently there are 37 books total.  I don't have that many.  Some of those may be duplicates of the single books.  Here is a link http://www.biblio.com/search.php?stage=2&ocx=3144d049309087111211431314610&start=1&order=priceasc&per_page=20&minprice=&maxprice=&signed=&format=&first=&dj= to a list of some of them.  These books don't have pretty pictures, but do have a lot of sewing information, some that would be considered couture.

            I tried to find another web site that sold great vintage books and pamphlets a few years ago, but can't find it.  Maybe it was taken down. 

          3. Ckbklady | | #50

            Hiya Mary 2.0! :)       (Gosh, I love lame jokes!)

            OH, NOOOOOOO! 37??? Here we go again! I'd better start tossing hubby's golf books to make room on the shelves (kidding). Thanks for the tip!

            I like Abebooks too, but usually check Bookfinder since it includes Abebooks listings. It's like the Metacrawler of book search websites.

            :) Mary (the beta version, giggle..)


        2. quixotesmom | | #52

          Which book(s) have the designer's work. I don't remember. Darn, I wish I could find mine.

          1. Ckbklady | | #53


            Several of the books have articles that mention designers. These are introductory articles in the books, and do not go into detail about their specific techniques- no line drawings, and rarely pictures. Nice contextual lessons, though and sometimes further into the book one can find examples of their work used as illustrations. Check it out:

            NOVEL MATERIALS - Rabanne, Courreges

            SEPARATES THAT TRAVEL - The Missonis

            DELICATE WEAR - Chanel, Vionnet, Stavropoulos

            THE CUSTOM LOOK - Worth, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga (some super large pics of dresses), Norell, and then peripherally: Courreges, Cardin, Ungaro, Galanos, Missoni, Antonelli, Norell, Saint Laurent, Valentino

            BOUTIQUE ATTIRE - Quant

            THE PERSONAL TOUCH - Worth, and a lovely pictorial article on fashion's namesakes, like Lord Raglan, The Duke of Windsor, and Nehru and his jackets, and trendsetters Jackie O, Elvis and Greta Garbo.

            I've ordered the remaining 4 volumes through Bookfinder/Abebooks, so when they come in I'll add their details to this list.

            :) Mary



          2. marymary | | #54

            From the Master Index:

            Vionnet: CL(The Custom Look) 12, 57, CT(Classic Techniques) 11, DW(Delicate Ware)9-10, 11, PT(The Personal Touch) 13;' bias-cut designs of, CL 12, DW 9-10, 45; fitting method of, CL 55-57; gowns designed by, DW 11, ES 68-69

            Valentino: CD(Creative Design) 140, CL 14, 23, 52-53; sketch of evening dress by, CL 21; workroom of, CL 58-59

            Chanel CL 12-13, 57, CT 10,11, SE(Shortcuts to Elegance) 13, 123, ST(Separates That Travel) 23, designing dress, CL 57

            Rabanne: NM(Novel Materials) 9, SE 124, fashions designed by, NM 9, 10, 11, SE 124

            Courreges, CD 9, CL 14, NM 8, 147, SE 124; capes designed by, SE 125, sketch of dress designed by, CL 16

            Worth: CL 10-12, 91, 92, PT(The Personal Touch)40, RW(Restyling Your Wardrobe) 11; bell sleeves of, PT 40-41; garments designed by, CL 41, PT 40-41; jacket restyled by RW 11

            Will enter more in the next message.


          3. Ckbklady | | #56

            Oh, Mary Mary,

            Thank you, thank you!

            :) Mary

          4. quixotesmom | | #58

            Hooray! ! I found my set. I have 16 so that must be complete. Just a brief glance thru a couple and I don't know why I ever considered giving them away. Probably because  the fabric covers and styles are so 70's but the techniques are timeless. I see someone has mentioned another set. Was this the "Creative Family Workshop"? Not a lot on sewing but I'm going to give them to my 10 year old grand daughter. She's already very "crafty". If anyone is wondering how I lost a large 16 volumn set of books its because I have a 5000sf house plus basement and a 2000sf studio and I'm not cleaning this place out. I'll teach my kids to not have cleaned up their rooms. Pat

          5. jatman | | #59

            When my parents and I  lived in the same city I lived in fear that they would die and I would be left responsible for cleaning out their house and storage unit.  They did one better than that and decided to move and I had to effectively pack it all up while they watched the look on my face doing it.  If you are looking to get revenge for your children's messy rooms you are going about it the right way!

            I envy your studio space!  Glad you found your books!


          6. marymary | | #55

            Missoni: ST 36-39; separates designed by, ST 36-39; sketch of ensemble designed by, CL 18-19

            Stavropoulos: CD 32, DW 44-46, 46-49; designing of gown by, DW 46-49

            Balenciaga: CL 12, 90-91, 92, 93, CT 9, SE 10; coats by, CL 94, 97, SE 10, 11; gowns by, CL 88-89, 90-91, 94-97; influence of, CL 13; suits of, CL 94, CT 9

            Schiaparelli: CD 8,9,10, 11, CL 9, 13, ES 13

            Norell: CD 10, CL 9, 13, ES 64, sketch of evening pajamas designed by, CL 20

            Saint Laurent: CD 140, 141, CL 9, 14; sketch of pants suit designed by, CL 20-21

            Galanos: ES 64, 91; sketch of dress designed by, CL 18

            I am sure I have left some out.  If anyone wants any designer in particular, let me know.  My eyes start glazing over with so many CLs, CDs, etc.  If you can't figure out which book each of the letters represent, let me know that too.  I tried to spell each one out the first time I used the abbreviation.  The abbreviations are used in the index.

            Edited 1/19/2008 1:59 pm ET by marymary

          7. Ckbklady | | #57

            And again, Mary, Mary,

            Ditto, ditto - thank you, thank you!

            :) Mary

    2. Elizard | | #49

      Hi Mary(s)
      The libraries in Denmark own four titles in this series:
      Creative design (1975)
      Basic tailoring (1975)
      The classic techniques (1974)
      and one of the three 'mysterious' books: The professional look (published in 1973 - note earlier date than the others, apparently).
      I haven't lent any of them, this was what I could read on the net.
      Also you might want to check abebooks.com for ridiculously low prices!
      Have you found out who the notary was?
      Elizard (and I'm not a Mary :P )

      1. Ckbklady | | #51

        Hiya Elizard,

        Thanks for the lookup - I bet that The Professional Look is a European version of a title in the US set, but I'll noodle around a little more to find out. It's funny that of the four remaining books I sought, your library has three.

        I did indeed browse Abebooks today, thanks, and found Bookfinder-to Abebooks- to Amazon sellers of the four remaining titles I sought and bought the lot for a couple of dollars per book and a couple more dollars per book for shipping. Used books can be a bargain if you really hunt.

        I can't read the notary's last name, alas - on none of the books is it clearly readable but her first name was Audrey and she worked in Minnesota. I'm very grateful to her - she really looked after these books.

        You may not be a Mary, dear Elizard, but you're an honorary Mary!

        :) Mary


  7. Ckbklady | | #60

    Hi everyone,

    I received the final four volumes in the set, and just wanted to add a few comments that may help others decide if they wish to hunt down these volumes:

    The book, CREATIVE DESIGN, is a comprehensive volume on pattern alterations, with some lovely sweater knitting patterns in the back.

    The book, EXOTIC STYLING, has fascinating articles on the history of silk, on the exotic film costumes designed by Edith Head and on the ornate embrodery done on clothing for royalty in China. It has design and sewing ideas for caftans, dashikis (described as an African tunic). Lots of inspiration!

    The book, BASIC TAILORING, has wonderful articles on the history of men's bespoke tailors in England, and on the history of wool. It then goes blow by blow through every aspect of tailored wear.

    The book, THE CLASSIC TECHNIQUES, is the most basic book in the set. It introduces the sewing machine, iron, needle and thread with both engrossing articles on their history and basic instruction for their use. The book introduces us to patterns, fabrics, marking and cutting them, assembling, a little fitting, and then to basic sewing. It's a super intro book, with a wonderful article on the history of sewn clothing (with a photo of a 3000-year old Danish shirt!) and with the most delightful photo essay on the 19th century art of copying patterns from the clothes on porcelain dolls. I carried this one with me everywhere for several days and simply couldn't put it down.

    Overall, I'm hugely impressed with the series, and now will get going on finding a copy of the Master Index so that I can get the best use out of the set.

    Happy reading and sewing to all!

    :) Mary

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