Readers, this is a big week for me: the completion of my 4th year of sewing -- it's like my college graduation!
Partly to celebrate, I treated myself to a new sewing book yesterday -- new to me, I mean -- Roberta Carr's "Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing" from 1993, which I cannot believe was twenty years ago but whatever. Did I also treat myself to her somewhat-pricey-even-though-second-hand couture sewing DVD too? You'll just have to wait and find out.
I can't really remember how I stumbled upon the Carr book -- I know: it was recommended by Susan Khalje in the appendix of "Bridal Couture." I read some reviews on Amazon, then more on Pattern Review, and the next thing I knew I was clicking "Proceed to Checkout."
It's not like I need another sewing book, but it's not about need. I read sewing books (and watch sewing videos) the way some people consume mysteries -- as escapist entertainment. Yesterday I watched Claire Shaeffer's "Couture Techniques Workshop" video and found it as enjoyable as a Deanna Durbin musical. Am I actually learning anything? I think so -- if only where to look when I need to thread trace my stitching lines -- couture-y stuff like that.
Confession time: I already own approximately FIFTY sewing books (I keep unearthing more as I sort through various piles, so the list keeps growing). Many I've purchased, some I've been given, a few I've even found in the trash, but somehow they all ended up in my possession. I would say that of these fifty, I probably refer to roughly ten on a regular basis. But I still like to have the others. As I said, they're my entertainment.
Here's my book and video list, unsorted. An asterisk means I refer to it often (and if I don't that doesn't reflect on the quality of the book so much as how relevant I find it to my current projects and interests). Sometimes I've added an author if the book has a somewhat generic title or one that's similar to others.
Any of your favorites on the list? Any glaring absences?
Fit For Real People (Palmer, Alto)
10-20-30 Minutes to Sew (Zieman)
The Practical Guide to Patternmaking for Fashion Designers, Menswear (Knowles)
The Complete Book of Sewing (Talbot)
McCalls Step-by-Step Sewing Book
Kwik Sew's Beautiful Lingerie
Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing
How to Make Hats & Accessories: Introduction to Making 1940's Fashion
Easy Ways to Sew & Save (Vintage booklet)
How to Make Clothes That Fit & Flatter (Adele Margoles)
Vogue's New Book For Better Sewing
Fine Embellishment Techniques (Conlon)
Fashion Design On A Stand
Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit
Precision Draping: Using Vintage Techniques to Create 1940's Fashion
Making Trousers for Men & Women (Coffin)*
The New Sewing Essentials (Singer)
Sewing Magic (Hellyer)
Pattern Review's 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts
Dorothy Moore's Patternmaking & Dressmaking*
The Art of Couture Sewing (Nudelman)
Singer Sewing Book (1969 edition)
Kwik Sew Method for Menswear
Make Your Own Dress Patterns (Margoles)
How to Make Sewing Patterns (McCunn)
The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction
Creative Clothing Construction (Bane)
Sew Everything Workshop (Rupp)
The Vogue Sewing Book
Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1995)
Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1978)
Patternmaking for Fashion Designer (3rd Ed., Armstrong)
Claire Schaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide*
Couture Sewing Techniques (Shaeffer)*
High Fashion Sewing Secrets from the World's Best Designers (Schaeffer)*
Tailoring: The Classic Guide... *
Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques
Simplicity Fabric Guide
Singer's How to Sew Fashion Knits
Singer: The Perfect Fit
Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Menswear*
Singer: Sewing For Special Occasions
Cool Couture (King)*
Singer: Sewing For Style
How to Make Men's Clothes (Rhinehart)*
Bridal Couture (Khalje)*
The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques (Maynard)
Modern Pattern Design (Harriet Pepin, PDF)
Designing Men's Overcoats (Harry Simon, PDF)
Tailored Jacket (King, PDF)*
Sewing for Men & Boys (Simplicity, 1973)
I also own a few videos!
Industrial Shortcuts for Home Sewing (including "Shirts, Etc.): Margaret Islander
Jackets for Real People: Tailoring Made Easy
Couture Sewing Workshop - Basics
Linings A to Z (Betzina)
Given that I own ten times more books than videos, I guess I enjoy books more. What I don't like about videos is that you often have to sift through too many two-minute segments when you first watch it to get the gist of it. Generally I prefer a video that takes you through a specific project from beginning to end ("Shirts, Etc" is particularly good at this); for a single technique I'm more likely to refer to a book. (For learning hand stitching, however, I prefer video; drawings usually leave my puzzled.)
In closing, readers, do you have a single favorite sewing book (or two or three) or video that truly made a difference in the way you sew?
What makes a sewing book (or video) work for you -- or not?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!