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Which sewing book should I get?

Elizard | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi everyone,
I own High Fashion sewing secrets and couture sewing techniques by Claire Schaeffer. I’d rate myself as a rather advanced sewer, looking to find some new techniques. I and am wondering which of the following books I should get.
Couture: the art of fine sewing by Roberta c. Carr;
Haute Couture by the late Angelina di Bello;
Clothing construction bu Evelyn Mansfield.
If you know anything about these or other sewing books please let me know.
Thanks, Elizard.


  1. rekha | | #1

    I'd rate myself as a rather advanced

    In that case you have all the resources to generate new ideas by a little bit of lateral thinking.

  2. BernaWeaves | | #2

    I have "Courture Sewing Techniques" by Claire B. Shaeffer and "Couture, The Art of Fine Sewing" by Roberta Carr.

    "Courture Sewing Techniques" by Claire B. Shaeffer

    You already own this one, so you know what it's like.  Beautiful photos of garments by  designers you've of, and lots of info on the hand sewing techniques used in couture garments as well as machine sewing.  Descriptions of why you would use hand sewing vs. machine sewing for each technique.   Excellent line drawings of all the techniques.

    "Couture, The Art of Fine Sewing" by Roberta Carr

    This one is a bit disappointing.  The photos of actual garments are homemade garments that are very tacky and dowdy looking.  The fashion drawings of garments are very dated (1980's?).  The line drawings are more primitive than the previous book.  And she focuses more on using the sewing machine, while real couture would do hand sewing for the same technique.  That said, there is some very good machine sewing information in the book that I haven't found anywhere else.  However, the photos and drawings really turn me off.

    "Fine Embellishment Techniques, Classic Details for Today's Clothing" by Jane Conlon

    You didn't ask about this one, but it's a wonderful book.  It's all about embellishments, and the ones in this book are VERY classy looking, and simple to do.  The photographs of the clothing are inspiring, and the line drawings are very well done.



  3. Ckbklady | | #3

    Which sewing books should you get? In a word - ALL of them! (Giggle) Forgive me - I'm crazy for sewing books and want 'em all.

    I note that you want "new techniques" - you aren't likely to find new ideas in the books you list - many are quite old. That said, most "new' design ideas are a twist on old ideas. You may look at the oldie goldies and imagine something entirely new. Old ideas are classics for a reason - well-constructed and reliable with room for personal expression.

    For advanced techniques, I can't recommend highly enough the following:

    PATTERNMAKING FOR FASHION DESIGN by Helen Joseph Armstrong (a textbook that feels very Project Runway, but is a wonderful "menu" of clothing elements - pick a few, put them together and create something unique!). Because it's a design school textbook it's correspondingly clear and methodical (but pricey - it's a fancy big hardcover - but you may be able to find one used).

    DRAPING FOR FASHION DESIGN by Hilde Jaffe & Nurie Relis (out of print and tricky to find - try http://www.bookfinder.com for a used copy)

    and of course the lovely, warm-hearted book, my favorite for train trips - better than a novel:

    MAKE YOUR OWN PATTERNS by Adele Margolis (recently reprinted as MAKE YOUR OWN DRESS PATTERNS by Dover Publications and reviewed in the most current issue of Threads). I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book - it's a menu of design elements - pick a collar, a sleeve, a cuff, a bodice from the many design instructions in the book and make something uniquely yours. I've been using this book for 20 years, and just bought 4 copies of the reprint for Christmas gifts. It's not just about dresses (why they retitled that I'll never know) - it's a $20 roadmap to fashion design. Love it.

    and for a lovely trip into ballgown land:

    BRIDAL COUTURE by Susan Khalje

    If you're advanced I'm guessing that you want more than construction techniques. If you're trying your hand at designing there are no better books, in my opinion.

    I agree with the other poster's view of Roberta Carr's book - the drawings and pictures don't do her great methods justice. I have an old measuring tool set from Angelina Di Bello of Montreal courtesy of my Mum-in-Law, who took classes with AB. I bet her books would be great.

    I suggest that you try your local library for these books (and any area college with a sewing program - you can usually walk right in and browse the stacks, although I'd introduce myself at the circulation desk first so they can point you towards the sewing books) so that you don't have to judge a book by its cover or buy any sight unseen.

    There aren't many fashion sewing books coming out these days - the reissue of Vogue Sewing and the Margolis book are about it. I fervently hope that the popularity of the TV show "Project Runway" will create a new market for fashion sewing information and revive the sewing book publishing world. Just look at the boom in knitting books since knitting became "hot"! May sewing be touched with the same magic and offer us new fashion sewing books to inspire us further...

    Happy sewing and reading!

    :) Mary

    1. Elizard | | #4

      Thank you all for your comments so far. It's given me a lot to think about. I'd love to hear more.
      About Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margois, the review on amazon.com said it was more a fitting of a basic sloper, than pattern drafting. Would it be possible to use a sloper I have already created, does it talk about ease in the design?
      Always happy to hear more info.
      Thanks, Elizard

      1. Ckbklady | | #5

        Yes, I should have been clearer - the Margolis book is about manipulating slopers and the Joseph-Armstrong book is about pattern drafting. I use both together - draft a pattern piece from the JA book and fiddle with the pieces a la Margolis.

        By talking about darts for fitting and giving examples of loose-fitting and snug design elements, Margolis addresses ease.

        Since the book is a recent reprint it will shortly be everywhere. If you're in North America there's a good chance that you'll see it on the shelves in bookshops and in the listings for book clubs. Do check it out - it's a fun interim step to take commercial patterns and "Margolisize" them!

        :) Mary

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