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Weak on technique reference
on 5 January 2013
I had to wait 3 months for my local bookshop to have the copy of the book I'd ordered shipped over from America, which may have coloured my feelings about it... but I'm not sure it's really what I wanted. Part of the big selling point was supposed to be the special line of patterns included in the binding, and I knew before I ordered that I was never going to be terribly interested in those: I've got a backlog of real vintage patterns in styles that I actually like, while I don't favour Gertie's close-fitting sheath dresses/skirts. And I've already got instructions for sewing techniques of the era: I don't need encouraging into 'vintage sewing' because having originally learned from second-hand books I never had any serger/fleece/knits/overlocker shortcuts in my repertoire to unlearn in the first place!
So I was really buying the book in the hopes of having the various directions in my assortment of elderly sewing texts assembled in one place in an easy-to-access and illustrated format, expecting the level of description that Gertie gives on her blog: any other useful elements would be a bonus. Unfortunately, as a previous reviewer points out, this is the weakest part of the book. The written directions for specific techniques are, in the absence of detailed illustration (there is generally only one general photo given), no more helpful than the very similar paragraphs in the period sewing books I already have... useful as an aide-memoire for someone who has previously learnt the technique, but hard to visualise in the abstract. See the minimal instructions for inserting a lapped zip, for example - a subject Gertie earlier covered in far more detail on her blog
Individual projects at the end of the book use a line-drawing step-by-step style which is potentially much more useful, and I may find myself referring back to these. But this is really no more useful than all the scattered hints in specific vintage pattern directions that I have already - I was hoping for a central reference source.
Overall, I'm not sure I'd recommend this for the novice, while the expert will probably own other books covering this material already. I think the target market is the home sewer who already knows how to make her own clothes using modern techniques but wants to 'convert to vintage', while the pattern line is aimed at those who are happy to flaunt their curves (and their tattoos!) I can probably learn from this book with study of the details of the projects and I'm hoping the section on fitting will be useful, as currently I can't even see most fitting problems until they're pointed out to me. But for the stuff I actually need to look up, I suspect I'm going to end up using help from a wide range of other sources as previously... including the author's own (free) website....