Monday, September 26, 2011

Couture Sewing Techniques


When I was growing up we had a book in the house that I considered the sewing bible. If ever I was was stumped on a particular application I would pull out the old Vogue Sewing Book and it would have clear, well-illustrated instructions on how to insert an invisible zipper or chain-weighted hems. While informative, it was not terribly inspiring.

Back in 1995, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art staged a stunning exhibition on Haute Couture. The beautiful catalog of that exhibit joined the Vogue Sewing Book as one of my go-to books, this one providing the source of inspiration which the other was lacking.

I don't do much sewing other than tailoring these days, but when I do, I have been using a new reference, Claire Shaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques. Not only does her book provide the type of technical detail that I found in the old Vogue Book, but stunning examples of real-life couture garments and the application of those techniques, as well as a chapter on the history of haute couture, including the maniacal attention to detail, like matching the stripes on bound buttonholes, for example.


Claire recently sent me a copy of her newly revised and updated Couture Sewing Techniques, which includes a new chapter on designing with special fabrics, and tons of fantastic and inspiring photos taken from her countless visits to ateliers, museums, and from her own extensive collection of couture garments. If you don't already have a copy, I can highly recommend it, and even if you do, you may want to consider the upgrade. As I flip through the pages I am already planning my niece's wardrobe. Is four years old too young to be wearing couture?

Mmm, no.