i received my copy over the weekend. the book is gorgeous, but i definitely have some opinions about it. they are my opinions, mine alone, and not intended to be upsetting. i think gretchen’s book is an important addition to the sewing book library, especially for a new generation of sewasaurus rexi. the retro vibe portrayed in the book is absolutely unique and well-presented. adventures in dressmaking also has a great mini-review up, highlighting a lot of my favorite bits of the book.
Book Index/Chapter headings
-Stabilizing and Tailoring
-The Pencil Skirt
-The Sultry Sheath
-The Scalloped-Waist Skirt
-The Sweetheart Sundress
-The Wiggle Dress
-The Shirtwaist Dress
-The Suit Jacket
-The Coat Dress
PaperBack or HardBound?
the perfect in-between: hardbound with a spiral.
Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?
the illustrations are truly wonderful, whimsical, and inspiring. the technical drawings are not so much technical so much as additional fashion illustrations for inspirational or planning purposes.
the photographs all portray gretchen wearing her own creations, which is great on several levels: it’s fabulous to see a real woman with real curves who had real fitting concerns to deal with sporting these fashions. also, “knowing” gretchen through the sewing community (and once, IRL), you can really relate to her in these fashions and try to picture yourself in them. much more effective than a technical drawing!
after all of that, i still have some ambiguity. i think it is because so many of us in the community have eagerly followed gretchen on her journey these past three years. on one hand, it’s wonderful to see gretchen have an opportunity to present, in a printed and professional fashion, some of the techniques we watched her develop on her blog, as illustrated by her variations on the portrait blouse and the button-back blouse, as well as her trademark peter pan collar and tailored wool coat.
on the other hand, having had a chance to “take part” in many other garments via the blog, i can remember which resources she utilized (such as susan khalje’s bridal couture, which played a critical role in her show-stopper of a yellow dress). it’s not my place to say, but i do feel uncomfortable that i can immediately reference, for myself, possible sources for the information that gretchen presents in the book–either because gretchen credited them extensively on her blog, or because i remember reading those sources myself, or because i have also taken classes with some of the teachers acknowledged near the end of the text. i would wish that some of these references had been more clearly marked out as sources for both inspiration and additional information (and credit), especially because gretchen covers a LOT of ground over the course of her text: in some ways, more of an appetizer than a main course. knowing explicitly that these sources are out there would be a great way to encourage more novice seamstresses purchasing the book to keep going with their explorations.
HOWEVER, at the end of the day, i think gretchen did some wonderful work with the way she presents her information and her patterns. the voice with which she describes all of her efforts is unique and fresh, and i think it’s really brilliant and innovative that each pattern comes with suggestions for variations (the 40s-style version of gretchen’s shirtdress will be making its way into my repertoire). more importantly, gertie’s new book for better sewing, much like the colette sewing handbook, speaks to a new generation of seamstresses looking to express themselves via fashion and sewing–and speaks to it eloquently about a wide range of topics that will leave any novice eager to dive farther into the sewing pool for more information.
i will be eagerly scouting the PR boards for women working with the patterns, to see how they work for people, and to see how other seamstresses respond to the book. even with my qualms i was thrilled to purchase such a fresh new take on a sewing book and, more importantly, support one of our own in the sewing community.
have you received your copy yet? what do you think?