Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing: A Modern Guide to Couture-style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques

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I have read some old books on sewing techniques, and some new books on sewing with current methods.  The problem with old books is that they do not always translate into modern fabrics, haberdashery and obviously don’t take advantage of modern advances.  The lovely thing about old techniques is that they aimed to give a lovely finish, what I would consider to be couture in modern day terms.  I think we have become so used to ready to wear clothes, and everything being manufactured rather than sewn that we have lost some of the beautiful finishes and details that can be achieved. I know what I know, but I also know that there are so many other ways of doing nearly everything, and it is a case of finding the best method for you that achieves the results you want.

I have followed Gertie’s blog for some time now.  I think Gertie works for me a she is a new sewer, with modern perspectives who enjoys using vintage techniques and designs.  Also, the book has full sized, traceable patterns in it and she models the clothes herself.  She is a curvy woman, not big, but a normal, human woman with good curves, so it is lovely to see what a real person may look like in a garment.

The book discusses general things like sourcing and tracing vintage patterns (now I feel bad as I usually just use the pattern rather than tracing it), and fabric selection.  It then discusses vintage techniques, stabilising and tailoring.  It concludes with sections on patternmaking and fitting, including a section on good foundation garments) before moving on to the pattern section.  I feel that the book talks at a fairly easy yet comprehensive level.  It doesn’t get bogged down in heavy, technical details, but does give plenty of information.  It has a friendly, encouraging, almost chatty tone making it more readable than many sewing books.  It is quite dip-in-and-out-able.

Finally there is the pattern section.  There are ten patterns; one jacket, five dresses, two blouses and two skirts, each coming with ideas for variations and discussions on how these variations might be achieved.  Gertie has her own sizes, so be sure to check your measurements against the chart provided – it is US size based (

I have only used one pattern so far, the wiggle dress – move over Joan Holloway.  I have made two dresses from this pattern as I loved the first so much and then found some fabulous plain green cotton with a slight stretch in it and could’t resist running another  up.  The other reason I wanted to do it again was to have a second attempt at underarm gussets, as I had bought some sheer organza so could follow Gertie’s instructions more precisely in the second dress.

I am so pleased with this book that I have already pre-ordered Gertie’s next book,  Gerie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s, and I never buy these types of books without first checking that there is something I want to make (and don’t already have a pattern for) in it.  Fingers crossed for some high waisted capri trousers, and possibly Katherine Hepburn wide legged trousers too……..