Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What I'm Reading: Couture Sewing Techniques

Last day to save 25% on A Sewist's Notebook! Use code MEMORIAL25 during checkout. Offer valid in the US only.

I used to think I was too busy for couture. Toddler in the house! No time! Must sew quickly! But aren't all projects, even long ones, made up of short bits strung together? After months of Amazon suggesting that I read Claire Shaeffer's famous book, I finally grabbed Couture Sewing Techniques at the library and gave it a try.

This is the revised edition, which contains different photographs than the first as some were no longer available. I imagine that whichever edition you read, you'll come away from this book completely overwhelmed, inspired, and bursting with new ideas. This book is dense. By the time I got to the end, my brain was saturated with hand stitches, seam finishes and hems of all kinds.

The first half of the book focuses on technique (hand stitches, shaping fabric, closures). The second half shows how to apply these techniques to specific garment types, like skirts or pants. Throughout the book are scattered tips from Claire Shaeffer, sidebars on random topics, and photos of couture garments.

You could easily spend a week looking at the photos alone. I'm tempted to find a copy of the previous edition just to see more! The garments in this book have some truly astounding detail, innovation, and quality.

Honestly, there is a LOT more to say about this book than I can report here. I'll keep it simple: if you're a beginner, you'll probably be very overwhelmed. If you're an intermediate sewist, you'll be challenged (in a good way). If you're advanced, you've probably already learned the value of couture techniques and will find this to be a great reference.

The biggest lesson I learned was this: I DO have time for couture techniques. If there are women in Paris waiting six weeks for a muslin that's being sewn by hand, then I think I can be bothered to hand-sew a hem every now and again. Why not pick and choose the best of both worlds? 


  1. I have this book and love it. It's full of invaluable info.

    1. I have a feeling I could read it three times and not catch everything!


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