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Jan 3, 2014

FIRSTS for 2014 -- Book, Pattern, HAT!

I know we're only three days into the new year, but let the clutter begin!

In truth, I ordered my copy of Vintage Couture Tailoring by Thomas von Nordheim a few weeks ago, but I only received it yesterday.

I haven't read the whole book let alone based a sewing project on it, but I can say having read a bit of it last night, it looks great.  One of things that stood out in particular is how the author repeatedly explains that there is more than one way to tailor a jacket (I'm not referring to the use of fusibles or other quick methods) and every couture house had/has its favored style.  I find this freeing; most other tailoring books I own teach their method only and it's easy to believe that if you opt for something different you are, quite simply, wrong.

I have one beef with Vintage Couture Tailoring and it's one others have had too, based on the Amazon reviews.  The type in this book is light gray and exceedingly difficult to read.  In some sections the font size is also teeny tiny; I can't image what the designer was thinking: it must have looked fine on their 32" monitor.  All in all, however, I'm happy to have this book and am eager to grab a magnifying glass and read the whole thing cover to cover.  The section on hand sewn buttonholes is particularly clear and detailed.

This morning on eBay, I happened upon a lovely vintage 40's McCall's dress pattern -- my weakness -- that was especially well-priced so I grabbed it.  The dress and jacket are quite simple but that's fine by me.

Meanwhile, I've been meaning to experiment with making my own newsboy caps but I haven't been able to find a commercial pattern I liked.

At the Salvation Army yesterday, I found this somewhat beat-up vintage wool cap for just $1.99.  My plan is to take it apart and create a pattern based on it.  Somewhat oddly, the entire top is lined with a thick wool knit ski cap that ruined the cap's classic shape.  I cut that out first thing.

That's all for today, friends.  Thank you so much for your many kind comments regarding my rendition of Frank Loesser's (He of Guys and Dolls fame) "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve," sung in my best Steve Lawrence style (or was it more Eydie Gorme?). 

I think I will take the Menswear Sewing class -- I couldn't register today since FIT is closed on account of our recent snowstorm, but I hope to do so on Monday.  Thanks for all your help in making my decision.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. I bought this book for my self just before Christmas, (on your recommendation) and am loving it! itching to do some tailoring now. Hoping to be able to teach some to my students later in the year so better get a move on!

  2. That dress pattern is delicious! I hope it's in your sewing plans for 2014.
    I was looking at those very pages of Vintage Couture Tailoring about the handmade buttonholes just yesterday, wondering whether I should give those instructions a try. I'm taking a class in a couple of weeks that includes handmade buttonhole-making. I'll put Thomas von Nordheim to the test and see what happens.

  3. Love that pattern...sometimes the basic shapes are the best when sewn up!

  4. I made several handmade hats a few years ago for my girls. I did what you did, unpicked a fabulously designed hat to use as a pattern and copy what was inside it (it neoprene!). The hats worked out wonderfully (in pretty prints for kids so they get worn), and are still doing well three years later. Good luck with your hat!

  5. It's going to be really interesting to see you branch out into hat making, and I can't wait to hear how the studies go. :-)

  6. Hi Peter! I read a couple men's clothes tumblrs and found my way to this unique set of videos of men's tailoring super star Rory Duffy from Andrew Yamamoto. Thought you might enjoy. Cheers!

    1. THANK YOU!
      ...the pressing information in those videos is terrrrifffic! I've read about steaming and shaping, but never seen it done so fearlessly.

  7. I cannot wait to hear about your FIT back-to-school adventure!!

  8. Nicole Mallalieu has a newsboy cap. Her designs (when I've used them) are really well written/explained.

  9. I have Vintage Couture Tailoring, and it's proven to be very useful!


  10. I salute your sewing ambitions. thank you for playing that record --i always liked her voice --so full and warm.

  11. Can't wait to see your hat, maybe you should publish it as a pdf? Love the new pattern too, so hard not to go crazy on ebay right?

  12. Apart from the typeface, it's an excellent book. It has more detailed instructions for some techniques than Cabrera and The Classic Jacket books.


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