Monday, October 26, 2015

"Couture Sewing Techniques" Book Review




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.

Good points:



* 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

19 comments:

  1. I bought this book a while ago because I was so impressed with the author's fitting class on Craftsy, the only class that I have actually ever watched to completion. The book has a different cover in the UK but the same title and I agree that it is not to my mind 'couture' but nonetheless, excellent!
    Debbie B

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  2. I agree with everything you've said about this book but I love it anyway. I've had it for a few years and the knit binding is probably my favorite way to bind a neckline in knits. It always comes out beautifully. I have to try some of the other techniques. There is a photo of a petersham waistband and no instructions! There are certainly deficiencies in the book but on the whole it's worth buying.

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  3. I was fortunate enough to win this book at an ASG meeting almost a year ago and have never cracked it open, despite my excitement at the time. Thanks for the push, Bunny, to start using it.

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  4. I agree with you! I have this book, and it is my go-to reference for nice finishes. My complaint is similar to yours - it feels like they ran out of pages so, while it thoroughly explores different neckline finishes, it is spotty when it comes to linings, for example. I wish it was 100 pages longer.

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  5. I've looked at this book in the store and wouldn't mind owning it. I agree with you, the techniques are nice RTW, definitely not couture. Why does everything have to be diluted?

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  6. I agree with your critique. I own this book and although I rarely use it anymore, it does have nicer pictures that any other sewing book I own, and love the spiral bound aspect. It does show some quality techniques, as well. Not a stand-alone sewing book, but it is one of my favorites.

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  7. I have this book and like it but agree with your comments. I thought it was my undiscerning eye that couldn't tell the difference that well between the photos of underpinnings!

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  8. I have this book and like it but agree with your comments. I thought it was my undiscerning eye that couldn't tell the difference that well between the photos of underpinnings!

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  9. I bought this book after buying her fitting CD from Kenneth King and I have found her bindings sections fabulous! You don't have to love or use every single section in sewing books...I think I have bought books in the past for just one technique that I wanted to try and test. She knows her stuff most of the time. Thanks for the great review, Bunny!

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  10. I too have this book. I purchased it on the recommendation of a friend but I was disappointed to discover it really wasn't couture techniques. I will have to take another look at the info regarding the bindings. Seems like it was a good purchase after all! Thank you for your review.

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  11. I have Linda Maynard's Craftsy class called Sewing on the Edge: Finishing Techniques and this sounds like a rehash of that, but slightly expanded. I'm happy with the class and have downloaded the lessons so I can watch it without Internet connection whenever I want to. Has anyone else seen her class AND have the book to determine if there's much difference?

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  12. Her presentation of v-neck bindings in this book saved me when I was trying to bind an assymetrical b-neck. You're right. Her instructions were excellent. I didn't know what I was doing, but she certainly did. The book is definitely a keeper.

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  13. I also have this book. I bought it expecting more couture techniques but it does have some great machine techniques seen in higher end RTW.

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  14. Thank you so much for you excellent review of this book. It looks like a must have for my sewing library. As far as your critique of the 'Underpinnings' section, can you recommend a resource with better instruction on this topic? I'm a general sewer; kids clothes, quilts home decor, etc. But I really want to make clothing for myself. Thanks for everything you do!

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    Replies
    1. I love anything by Claire Shaeffer. Her "Fabric Sewing guide", a huge book, should be in every sewists library. She also has numerous books on sewing couture.

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  15. Thank you so much for the fantastic review! I would have passed this book by because my lifestyle is vary casual, and I hate hand-sewing. However, the actual content of this book sounds like it would be right up my alley: learning new techniques and how to improve my garments to look less Becky Home Ec-y.

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  16. This book was recommended to me quite a few years back and I absolutely love the high waist couture facing and regularly use this technique, but use steel spiral boning rather than the rigilene.

    I echo your comments about Claire Shaeffers books which I also love, along with the dvds in her latest books. Recently needed to find out more when working with Cashmere/Mohair/Wool blend of fabric and my other books didn't cover this................thank goodness I did a google search and found that the book you mention by Claire had a section on "hair" fabrics..........she's a diamond isn't she!!

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  17. love this book, i borrow it from the library every time we're home for the holidays-- going on five times now? i think it might be time to actually buy it!

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