Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I'm Reading: Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing

I mentioned last week that I was going to be off to the library to pick up Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I was excited to see what all the fuss was about, and to potentially find a good solution for my pencil skirt obsession. Every time I get on Amazon, they suggest this book for me, so it must be perfect, right?


Soooo even though I already had a stack of library books waiting for me, I ignored them and dove right into this one. If I have a popular book, I do like to read and return it as quickly as possible, so the next person can enjoy it.

As you know if you've looked at her blog at all, Gertie's designs focus on vintage and retro looks, as well as couture sewing techniques. The book follows the same ideas (duh). Personally, it's not my aesthetic at all. First, I don't have curves. None. My knees and elbows are about as curvy as I get. So that cute sheath dress that Gertie is wearing on the cover? Yeah, it would look dumb on me. Also, I don't have the right sass to pull off something too unique, and sorry, not many people around here are wearing crinolines in their daily life.

So, the patterns and designs in this book were sort of a bust for me. Even the pencil skirt had a waistband that I just didn't like, plus a lapped zipper. I wasn't really feeling it.

But before you think I wasted my time on this book, think again! I DID find the sections on couture sewing to be fascinating. Daunting, but fascinating. I'm not at a point in my life where hand-sewing is something I'm going to do all the time, in fact, I only do it when I have to, but it's still good to know the techniques. If my sewing machine ever goes on the fritz, I don't think I'll be able to stand NOT sewing if I have to wait awhile to get it back. Am I going to start overcasting my seam allowances by hand? No. But at least I know that I could if I wanted! And maybe when AB is old enough to allow me to sit on the couch and sew by hand, I will do more of it. But for now, if I'm on the couch, 9 times out of 10 she's on my lap. One year old+hand sewing=disaster.

There were also some great sections on tailoring, boning, and underlining. Until I read this book, I wasn't sure what underlining was, but now I feel like I have a good handle on it. Sometimes you need to tuck things into the back of your mind, and if a particular challenge presents itself, the techniques may prove useful in ways you wouldn't have thought of otherwise. As a side note, I think reading the book was supplemented by my deconstruction of the wool suit jacket that I upcycled for AB's winter coat. Pad stitching, hair canvas, etc. would have been hard to understand if I hadn't seen it first-hand inside that coat. If you're thinking about getting into tailoring, I recommend buying a coat at Goodwill or a thrift shop, just to take it apart and see how it was made.

By the way, I got the okay from my bride friend to go ahead with the Pippa Middleton knock-off bridesmaid's dress. The best part? She already bought her wedding dress, and it's a Kate Middleton wedding dress knock-off. Sewing destiny! She also okay'ed the Oliver+S Fairy Tale Dress for AB's flower girl ensemble. I think that Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing gave me some great techniques for special occasion sewing, and I'm excited to put them to work on these two dresses.

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