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May 8, 2012

New Sewing Books!

I have three new (to me) books to share!

The first is Deepika Prakash of Pattern Review's 1000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips, my prize for winning the recent PR vintage pattern contest.  Anyone who reads this blog probably knows that I think Pattern Review is the best online sewing community and sewing resource out there; many PR members have tremendous depth of knowledge (think Nancy K. and Debbie Cook) and share it generously (and daily) on the PR message boards.  In fact, nearly all the sewing tips in the book (published in 2010) were contributed by PR readers themselves.

I joined PR shortly after I purchased my first sewing machine three years ago and have received an enormous amount of support from PR members, many of whom became my first blog readers!  PR is also an excellent resource for information about both new and vintage sewing machines; I've contributed a few sewing machine reviews myself.

I loved 1000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips and I know I'll be referencing it often.  I suspect most readers aren't going to sit down with it and read it cover to cover (I didn't), but the book is well organized by category and there are also special sections by Kenneth King, Susan Khalje, and other master instructors who lead many of PR's online classes.  Check it out!

I ordered Kerstin Martensson's Kwik Sew's Beautiful Lingerie off Etsy for a number of reasons, among them that I currently have a lot of silk I want to experiment with and I'm making a slip dress for my SIL.  I was so excited to receive it in time to take it with me on my journey last weekend to suburban South Jersey!

My edition of Beautiful Lingerie is from 1990, and while the photography is dated, the styles of chemises, robes, and nightgowns in the book are timeless.

The BEST thing about Beautiful Lingerie, aside from the clear illustrations and excellent organization, is that it includes fold-out master patterns in multiples sizes (like any standard Kwik Sew commercial pattern).  The book shows you how to create a series of lingerie projects using these pattern pieces, so there's nothing more to purchase pattern-wise.  NOTE: If you are purchasing a used copy off Amazon or eBay, make sure the master patterns are intact; they aren't always!  When in doubt, ask.

My only criticism of Beautiful Lingerie is that I couldn't find a single reference in it to a French seam.  Doesn't that seem strange?

Finally, as mentioned yesterday, I picked up a used copy of Brides in Vogue, a beautiful softcover book from 1984, at the flea market.  Who doesn't like looking at vintage bridal gowns?

Speaking of slip dresses, I have a date with my SIL this afternoon, so I'll be spending much of the morning working on her muslins.  My new pattern, Style 3263 from 1971, arrived yesterday from Canada, so I'm eager to get started on it.  French seams are the first thing listed in the Style 3263 pattern instructions!

In closing, are you familiar with any of these books (or others in the Christina Probert Vogue or Kerstin Marensson Kwik Sew series)?  Have they been useful to you?

Have a great day, everybody!

(You can view more pics of all three books here.)


  1. I have the PR book-got it as a christmas gift. I also have 2 books by Christina Probert, both from the same time period as the bridal book but vogue vintage knitting. The bridal book looks interesting. I'll have to keep my eyes out for a copy.

  2. Love the PR book, it happens to be on my nightstand right now!

  3. Remember the free pattern at Pattern Scissors Cloth called Ruby Slip? It would be useful for a bias silk slip dress. I'd love to see you make that up.

  4. Oh, I hate to be a snarky little brat, HOWEVER my first clever tip? Never stick a needle into a spool of thread like they did on the cover of the PR book ;P It's one of the first things my mother taught me. It damages the thread.

    I love that Brides in Vogue book, gorgeous!!!

  5. All of of the Kwik Sew books are excellent. They might not have the best fashion drawings, but they are very good, info wise.

  6. There are definitely some things that can't be replicated on a laptop, ipad or Kindle and that's sewing books. I recently acquired The Golden Age of Couture - a rather academic read but the pictures are just brilliant and makes me feel inadequate - Sob. Check it out here

  7. I used the Kwiksew book for babies clothes a lot when I had babies. I picked up their swimsuits book for $5 years ago and have also used it a lot since. Once you get past the outdated photos, the basic patterns are good.

  8. I rely quite heavily on the "Swimwear and Actionwear" book from KwikSew to make dance clothes and superhero costumes.
    I was about to email you about the link on Threads magazine's website to the Golden Age of Couture. and see that Ruth has also mentioned it above. I saw the exhibition here in Australia a few years ago and couldn't recommend it more highly - except that of course you couldn't TOUCH the dresses to see how they were constructed. I downloaded the Horrocks' dress pattern but haven't had time to consider making it yet.

    1. Thanks, Jen. That's a wonderful resource!

    2. I have not read any of these books although I really like the sound of the first one. I've been "studying" 2 books I picked up at yard sales last year...a 1977 edition of "Sewing Made Easy" by Dorothy Sara (revised by Irene Gora) and "The Sewing Answer Book" by Barbara Weiland Talbert. Great basic info in each. I teach sewing on my website, so I like to read all kinds of descriptions of techniques.

  9. I have the Kwik Sew Lingerie book and 1000 Sewing Tips. Love them both!

    Peter, I think the reason you don't see a reference to french seams in the Kwik Sew book is that many (most?) Kwik Sew patterns have a more industrial method of construction and the seam allowances are quite small. I have just about all the Kwik Sew books and I especially like the kid ones. Quick, simple and the kids love them. A great jumping off point.

    1000 Sewing Tips is great to keep on the bedside to read short bits. Also, I like that much of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. BTW, I believe Kirsten Marteenson who began Kwik Sew died from breast cancer a few short years ago.

  10. I have two copies of the lingerie book - the most recent one and its 1970's counterpart, which also had patters - great resource for vintage style lingerie.


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