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What are your favorite books?

Véronik_Avery | Posted in The Archives on


I’ve been going through my book collection lately, in order to discard
those who don’t make the cut – they really never did, but I had room for
them back then! This led me to appreciate once more my very, very favorite
books and wonder what are other’s favorites. For the record, these are
some of mine:

-practically anything by Claire Schaeffer (I’m only missing the patch
pocket one)

-David Page Coffin ‘Shirtmaking’ (I wish he’d write another one or

-Susan Khalje ‘Bridal Couture’

-Angelina di Bello’s serie ‘Haute Couture’

-John Marshall ‘How to Make Japanese Clothes’

-Carol Laflin Ahles ‘Fine Machine Sewing’

-Jane Conlon ‘Fine Embellishment Techniques’

-Colette Wolff ‘The Art of Manipulating Fabric’

So, what are some of yours? Also, since I will be getting a new machine
shortly (Janome 4800) which can do user controlled embroidery, I’m wondering
if anyone can recommend some nice books on the subject – it would be very
appreciated, as the local bookstores don’t have anything of interest in
stock and I’ll have to order.

Thank you !

Veronik (in Montreal)


  1. Eve_Benoit | | #1

    My two most useful books are : Fit for Real People, by Pati Palmer & Marta Alto. Informative, practical, fun to read with tons of line drawing, photographs, tips. It helped me solve many fitting nightmares !

    The other one is Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina. This very attractive book shows in great detail how to sew almost any fabric (choosing needle type and size, kind of stitch, best presser feet, pressing tips, etc. etc.). A big help for any project.

    Both are currently available. I ordered mine from Chapters.

    Happy reading !

    1. DH | | #2

      *Veronik... Try this site for the Patch Pocket book by Claire Shaeffer: http://www.hamiltonbook.com I'm pretty sure I saw it there for under $5 (US). They accept VISA/MC now too. HTH... Darlette

      1. Véronik_Avery | | #3

        *Hi Darlette,I probably will, especially at that price - although it will have to be shipped to my american relatives, since they won't ship to Canada.Claire Shaeffer is to me what Martin Scorsese is to my movie buff husband!It's too bad bad that there haven't been more replies posted - I was honestly curious to find out what books would be recommended...Veronik

        1. Ghillie_C | | #4

          *Veronik,I think you have covered most of the good books currently available, there are not that many. I would like to add Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting. This is a textbook for trainee pattern drafters, but has taught me an awful lot about how patterns work.I also look at a few tailoring books published in the 50s - hasn't anything been published more recently on classic tailoring techniques? and my 1930s Weldon's Encyclopaedia of Needlework gets an occasional airing.Ghillie

          1. Karen_Vesk | | #5

            *Wow, it sounds like many of us have the same "classics" in our collections. I'd like to add two that I love that didn't appear on your lists."The Artful Ribbon" by Candace Kling offers "recipes" for some of the most scrumptious millinery flowers from the 1920's that you can imagine. After a day of doing boring mundane straight line sewing, I like to have FUN with colour and texture. "The Business of Bliss" by the Editors of Victoria Magazine, text by Janet Allon may sound like a business-only book, but I found it truly inspirational. Aside from the beautiful photographs, it tells the stories of entrepreneurial women and what they have done to succeed at what they love to do. A real spirit-picker-upper if you have had a crummy day :). It is a reminder to me that I started my business because I love to sew and create.

          2. Debbie_Michels | | #6

            *Ghillie and Veronik, Take a look at Classic Tailoring Techniques: A construction guide for Women's Wear by Robert Cabrera. There is a companion book for men tailoring as well. I am surprised not more have mentioned this wonderful work on tailoring. I believe it is used at FIT. First printing was in 1986. This essentially teaches the form of construction used by tailoring houses all over the world. I would highly recommend this publication.I purchased both books about 5 years ago at a Star Books.

          3. Véronik_Avery | | #7

            *Debbie,I did borrow it ('Classic Tailoring Techniques') fromthe library but balked at its price ($70 or so in can. $s). But I justwon on Ebay 'Tailoring Suits The Professional Way!' , which was recommendedby Mr.Coffin in 'Shirtmaking' - I think that was a pretty safe bet...A few more treasured books came to mind:the first two are from FIT and were acquired 2nd hand- they have great books but usually cannot ratonalize their cost-'Childrenswear Design' by Jaffe/Rosa (there are veryfew books out there on this subject and this one is truly useful)-How to Draft Basic Patterns (Kopp/Rolfo/Zelin)I also used to have a whole slew of 50's patternmakingbooks (I sold most of them) I've only kept the above and 'Pattern Drafting& Grading' (by M. Rohr)I rarely buy fashion mags anymore - at the price they'vebeen getting at, I find it  better to save up for things such as 'CuttingEdge - 50 yrs of British Fashion' (Hamilton Books for $9.95! Great closeups!), 'Modern Fashion in Detail', etc...( _ }r( _ }r( _ }r( _}r    

          4. Marty_Christopherson | | #8

            *All of the above.....But I would have to throw in the Lois Ericson books -"Opening & Closing""What Goes Around""The Great Put-on"She takes you into a different realm? rhelm? rhealm? (one where spelling is optional). "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" does much the same thing for me. I get so excited I want to clone myself so I can read and sew at the same time.The other book I use a lot is "The Sew/Fit Manual" by Ruth Oblander and Joan Anderson. Good solid pivot and slide instructions with a lot of whys thrown in. Makes the hows easier, at least for me.I agree about Claire Shaeffer - she is as good as it gets.

          5. A.J. | | #9

            *Hi,I love C.Shaeffer's books, but I also have a bunch of old, out-of-print books, that I 've found to be great. In the cutting department I rely on M.Rohr, N.Bray, J.K. Wilson, Cutler, Master Designer and Mitchell System publications.When it comes to tailoring, I have found C.Poulin's, Strickland's, and Master Designer's,Cabrera's books very helpful.Other favorites: "Shirts and Men's Haberdashery, 1840s to 1920s", "Fine Machine Sewing" "Sewing Linings."Well, perhaps I have too many favorites, but each book helped me to understand some aspect of cutting/fitting/tailoring in a particular way, and for that, I am indebted to their authors.And thanks for this forum, where I got advice on what to look for and where.A.J.

          6. Sarah_Kayla | | #10

            *I don't know if my favorite book exists yet. What i have been lookfing for is a book that gives diagrams for those cool loose fitting dresses from the 20's & thirties. I Once saw and foolishly didn't buy a needlework magazine from the 30's that gave measurements for a cool flappery dress. Does such a book exist???Thanks!s

          7. Véronik_Avery | | #11

            * Hi Sarah,I did see such a book once, in acostume department; if I recall correctly, it was by Butterick and hadbeen printed in the 20s and concerned itself mostly with draping.Have you seen Betty Kirke's bookabout Madeleine Vionnet? She features diagrams of over 35 patterns (I think),in additionto the excellent text and photography. It is, however prettypricey, at $ 70 usd (but worth it).I was also given another book whichmight interest you, in regards to 20s & 30s cut: "Patterns of Fashion2 : Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C.1860-1940". The Amazoncustomer review says something about 'this being good for Halloween' andI have to disagree - the author includes abundant info on construction,as well as her fabulous pattern renditions; lots of Vionnet there too,as well as other designers (famous & not)and it's only $28. Check thereviews under her other title, they describe all her books much better.<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0896760839/o/qid=968547685/sr=2-1/104-9309100-3034337>Véronik&nbsp;

          8. Mary_Strachan | | #12

            *>In these wonderful days of the Olympics from "down under"Some of my favourite books are Roberta Carr and "Coutoure Techniques" Sandra Betzina and "Power Sewing" and "More Power Sewing"I also have Claire Schaeffer's book on "Coutoure Techniques"I appreciate very much the precision of these texts

          9. Krishmaa_Jendayi | | #13

            *Greetings EveryoneI'm looking for a book called "Core Draw for Quilters and Fiber Artist." The author's first name is Jan (I think), can't remember her last name. Does anyone have a copy that they want to sell or know where I can get a copy. I've check so many "out of print" sites, but to no avail. Help!!!!! I need this book!ThanksKrishmaa in Atlanta

          10. Véronik_Avery | | #14

            *Hi Krishmaa,you'd better hurry and call these folks - apparently, only a few copies of "Corel Draw for Quilts & Fiber Artists" by Jan Cabral are still available. Here's the link:"CorelDraw for Quilters and Fiber Artists,Versions 3, 4, 5, and 6 is OUT OF PRINT. Currently Available ONLY by calling the Museum of the American Quilter's Society Bookstore at(502)442-8856 (they still have a few copies). "Good luck!Véronik

          11. DonnaCouture | | #15


            I have been looking for those tailoring books/videos by Roberta Carr.  Can you let me know who I can purchase them from?  (I already tried amazon to no avail)

            Thanks! Donna

          12. marymary | | #16

            Donna, here: http://www.amazon.com/Couture-Sewing-Roberta-C-Carr/dp/0935278281 is one of her books on Amazon.

          13. DonnaCouture | | #18

            Hi MaryMary,

            Thank you for the info.  I actually have both of those books.  They are wonderful but didn't address what I needed to find. 

             I was looking for Roberta Carr's video on tailoring with no success.  However, the other book on tailoring mentioned on amazon, I did purchase recently, and it is fabulous!  The pictures are clear and up close, and it answered my questions I've had on tailoring.  Thanks again for being helpful! 

            Sincerely, DonnaCouture


          14. sewwestcoast | | #19

            Hi - http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Roberta+C.+Carr&sts=t&x=59&y=14

            Abebooks is a great site for finding books - even out of print ones. I have always been really happy with any books I have ordered.

            Take care,


          15. sewfar | | #20

            I received "The Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques" for Christmas. I had admired it because I have no interest in getting into machine embroidery and this book will give me many options for fine detailing. I also love "Power Sewing" and often refer to Nancy Zieman's "Fitting Finesse" as well as an older copy of "The New (...well not so new now...) Vogue Sewing Book" purchased at a library sale. I am always on the look out for copies of the books I check out over and over again at the library. The photo copier has become my best friend. Alibris has been a good source for cheap older copies of favorites especially since my local library seems to be purging its shelves of many of the older books. They respond and ship very quickly.

          16. DonnaCouture | | #21

            Hello SewWestCoast!

            So sweet of you to give more info regarding books.  Thank you so much for taking the time.  I really love this gatherings site with everyone.  It's such a nice community of like minds!  Once again, I thank you.


  2. katina | | #17

    Hello Veronik

    Secrets of the Couturiers - Frances Kennett

    Fashion in Detail - Avril Hart and Susan North

    Decorative Dressmaking - Sue Thompson

    These are probably all OOP, but should be obtainable through used book dealers.

    Frances Kennett also did a book "Exclusively Yours, Original Fashion Knits from the World's Top Designers" which should appeal to you if you don't already have it.

    The Victoria and Albert Museum put out some excellent books on costume and textiles.


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