Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Sewing: Couture Techniques: The Home Sewer’s Guide to Creating Designer Looks

couture techniques 

I’ve been given the opportunity to review a few books in this line, and I chose Couture Techniques first because I knew I didn’t have the slightest clue about what constitutes couture. And I was right!

I thought couture was just a fancy schmancy term for “expensive clothing made by famous designers.” But really, these garments are set apart for a reason. So much thought and care goes into how these pieces are created, resulting in well-fitting, long-lasting, beautiful clothing.

This book was surprisingly easy to understand. I wondered if I’d just be wading through fashion-industry-gibberish accented by pretty pictures of clothing. Instead I found user-friendly charts and lots of great diagrams that teach you how to do everything, from choosing the right fabrics for your purpose to trouble-shooting common problems in clothing design.

You won’t learn how to draft patterns here, but you will learn a lot about fitting existing paper patterns to your measurements. It has never been quite clear to me how to execute those changes, and I’m certain this will be a valuable resource next time I’m working on my pieces.

The only thing I actually missed were more pictures of the final products. Partially so I’d have a better idea of whether or not I’d like to attempt some of the techniques (a tie collar?? I’ve got to see someone looking cute in that before I’ll attempt it!), but mostly because I like to look at pretty pictures 🙂

I’d be surprised if any intermediate seamstress was disappointed in this book. It might be overwhelming for newbies, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check it out. I could have benefitted from some of these tips long ago!

*Note: When looking for this book, I’ve seen the title listed 2 different ways. On the cover it says “Home Sewer’s Guide”, but it is listed everywhere as “Home Sewing Guide”. I don’t know how important this distinction is, but I thought I should point it out. I went with what was on the cover!

Tutorial: Half Hour Skirt

This is *sort of* a repurposed project. I started a skirt a few weeks ago using the Angry Chicken 5 Minute Skirt formula. But for some reason it didn’t work out at all. Maybe I did my calculation wrong, but the skirt was HUGE. (However, I LOVE Angry Chicken 🙂 I feel confident that I did something weird, or my body shape just didn’t work for the pattern, because a lot of people really like that tutorial and I have no ill will toward it 🙂 )

This tutorial can be done using new fabric, or too-big skirts or dresses. The fabric needs to be stretchy, as this is a pull-on.

IMG_4958 The I used fabric is odd. It’s cheapie Wal-Mart fabric, I think it was $1.50/yard. I thought it was a knit, but after I started sewing, it turned out to be a stretchy woven. I have no idea what it’s content is…

So, what I decided to do was use a recently purchased skirt as a template.

IMG_4957 I cut slightly bigger than the skirt. I left a little more at the top because at the time, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about the waistband. I’d originally planned to cut a band and sew it on like the neck of a t-shirt. It turned out not to be necessary, but I plan to try that with a skirt in the future.

IMG_4959 Next I zigzag seamed the sides.

IMG_4961I only turned the hem under and zigzagged it. I’ll watch how it reacts to washing and then reevaluate. But as of now it seems good enough 🙂

IMG_4964 For the waistband I turned it down about 2 inches. For a better fit, the fold is wider in the front than in the back. I wanted it wide enough so I could put a drawstring in if (I mean WHEN!!) I lose weight. I didn’t want to bother with that now because the skirt stays on just fine as it is.

IMG_4965 Ta-da! Finished skirt in roughly 30 minutes. It’s more or less straight at the top and bottom, I’m not skilled enough to round things without a pattern 🙂 I plan to wear this to my husband’s birthday dinner tonight. I’ll have him take some pix of me wearing it and I’ll try to post them tomorrow!