The "Dressmaker's handbook of couture sewing techniques" by Linda Maynard is one of those rare sewing books that I got from the library and now have to go out and buy. In my opinion, and apparently that of others, this is NOT couture. The book is populated with scrumptious haute couture runway fashions but these are merely backdrop and lovely eye candy.
HOWEVER, I love this book and highly recommend it.
* The book is spiral bound, perfect for laying out next to your machine.
* The photos are very clear, close up and large. Any beginner could take this book and follow the directions to achieve a successful result. It is like having a patient teacher looking over your shoulder.
* This is all about machine sewing, not the hand techniques of haute couture. That doesn't lessen the value of the book in any way,however.
* The chapter on bindings is fabulous and makes the book worth buying just for that.
* The book covers many design details: collars, hems, waistbands, pockets, linings, and so much more. The techniques given are what you would find in high end RTW.
Not so good points:
* There is a section on "Underpinnings". It shows large photos of skirts backed with various backings. The technique is explained well enough but the photos are cropped in a way that really makes it hard to see the difference the author is trying to show that backings make. It may be the lighting, or the fact of being too cropped to make the point, or the circular closeup photo layed on top, but the five pages devoted to this technique could have been done better visually to make the point. It is hard to discern.
* In the chapter on linings only two fabrics are mentioned, silk crepe de chine and acetate satin (!). I have seen couture garments lined with silk habotai and silk charmeuse but these fabrics are not mentioned and I don't get that. In all the haute couture garments I was fortunate to see up close at Shaeffer's retreat, none had acetate linings that I remember.
* A serger is shown as a tool of couture (?) but not once mentioned in the book. While I don't see it being mentioned in the lessons, why is it shown as necessary? It's not.
All that being said, I LOVE THIS BOOK and will buy it. I think the section on bindings covers more possibilities and the correct technique for them than any other book out there. I would love to have this book with it's spiral binding to reference for sewing bindings on all the various fabrics mentioned. They do require different techniques and they are all here.
I highly recommend this book for beginning sewists as well as all others. Do not be put off by the title as this really is a book about just sewing better, in my opinion. Newbies, inside you will find large pictures, closeup and clear, showing how to do many techniques that will bring your sewing a more quality look. It's the sort of teaching that will remove the "loving hands at home", "Becky Home Ec-y" look. There are wonderful lessons on v-necks, hems, waistbands, collars and more that are really the sign of high end ready to wear. If you are not into the time investment or hand techniques of haute couture, but want a Neiman Marcus look this book will get you there. I learned much from this book. It is really good and I am off to Amazon to order my own copy! ..............Bunny