Are you a dyed-in-the-wool-crepe vintage lover?
Do terms like "make do and mend" and "afternoon dress" give you a thrill?
Do you worry about matching your gloves to your peplum?
If so, you will love The Complete Book of Sewing by Constance Talbot. Originally written in 1943, this book exists in many editions, and can be found on Amazon for less (often much less) than $10. (Apparently Talbot was for many years the editor of Butterick Fashions and worked at Simplicity Patterns too.)
The Complete Book of Sewing has a little of everything: dressmaking, accessories (including how to craft a turban and other simple hats), tips on mending, a month-by-month seasonal fashion guide, home dec, even a chapter devoted to teaching your daughter to sew! (Sorry, boys.)
Veterans of vintage pattern instructions will be familiar with the sewing and tailoring techniques outlined here and their presentation. There's not a whole lot of hand-holding so the beginner might feel a bit overwhelmed, but it's a fun book to read and full of lovely illustrations and photos too. I love all the practical tips most, like the suggestion of turning an old bedspread into a housecoat (or curtains into a button-front jumper)!
The section on making coats and jackets is especially good and really, how much has changed in the tailoring department? (Don't expect any references to sergers, fusible interfacing, or polyester, however.)
Is some of the information here outdated? Youbetcha and we wouldn't want it any other way. If you're just looking for sewing techniques, there's the Reader's Digest guides. This book is for lovers of a) Forties fashion, b) the history of home sewing, and c) WWII-era home economics.
You can read more about The Complete Book of Sewing here, and see more photos from the book in my Picasa file here.
In these budget-conscious days, this book is relevant (the mindset, if not all the fashion). The fact that a used copy is actually affordable makes it even better!
Anybody know/own The Complete Book of Sewing already? How do you like it?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!