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

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Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch is a passionate home seamstress, a sought-after sewing teacher, and the creator of one of the web’s most popular sewing blogs: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. The blog began as a way for readers to follow Hirsch’s progress as she stitched all 14 fashions from the iconic 1950s sewing book Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing (a Julie & Julia–esqu Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch is a passionate home seamstress, a sought-after sewing teacher, and the creator of one of the web’s most popular sewing blogs: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. The blog began as a way for readers to follow Hirsch’s progress as she stitched all 14 fashions from the iconic 1950s sewing book Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing (a Julie & Julia–esque experiment for the modern sewist). It quickly became a place for Hirsch to share tutorials and lively posts about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. An extension of the blog, Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing is a hardworking reference title packed with lessons on couture techniques and customization, as well as an inimitable pattern collection featuring 25 wardrobe essentials and variations inspired by vintage fashion and Gertie’s spirited, modern style.


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Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch is a passionate home seamstress, a sought-after sewing teacher, and the creator of one of the web’s most popular sewing blogs: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. The blog began as a way for readers to follow Hirsch’s progress as she stitched all 14 fashions from the iconic 1950s sewing book Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing (a Julie & Julia–esqu Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch is a passionate home seamstress, a sought-after sewing teacher, and the creator of one of the web’s most popular sewing blogs: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. The blog began as a way for readers to follow Hirsch’s progress as she stitched all 14 fashions from the iconic 1950s sewing book Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing (a Julie & Julia–esque experiment for the modern sewist). It quickly became a place for Hirsch to share tutorials and lively posts about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. An extension of the blog, Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing is a hardworking reference title packed with lessons on couture techniques and customization, as well as an inimitable pattern collection featuring 25 wardrobe essentials and variations inspired by vintage fashion and Gertie’s spirited, modern style.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dixie Diamond

    My biggest beef with this book is the writing style: I wish Ms. Hirsch had cleaned up her blog-style writing a little bit more in favor of something that sounded more professional and more like something we would expect from someone who bills herself as an editor and a writer. She starts far too many sentences with "Being a [whatever] . . . ". I know she meant to sound approachable, but it makes the book feel a bit flavor-of-the-month and less like a respectable sewing reference. Her section on f My biggest beef with this book is the writing style: I wish Ms. Hirsch had cleaned up her blog-style writing a little bit more in favor of something that sounded more professional and more like something we would expect from someone who bills herself as an editor and a writer. She starts far too many sentences with "Being a [whatever] . . . ". I know she meant to sound approachable, but it makes the book feel a bit flavor-of-the-month and less like a respectable sewing reference. Her section on fabric types wasn't meant to be expansive but I still wish it had been more comparative. Descriptions are nice but less useful to people who don't have samples on hand to determine whether organza is lighter than chiffon. I also wish that she hadn't snubbed quilting cotton wholesale. I thought it was odd that she passed over denin and chambray--the classic casual shirtwaist fabric--in her section on fabric types but included gingham, apparently because it's cute. Most gingham readily available today is either sloppily-woven faux homespun or awful cotton-polyester blend, and the stuff that isn't is usually, well, printed quilting cotton. Furthermore, if you're in the market for a crisp white cotton blouse, you cannot do better than Kona, which is opaque and an absolute dream to handle (as anyone who does applique can tell you). I agree, too, with the reviewer I read somewhere (Amazon?) who wished that the clothing had been shown on somebody other than a whole series of Gerties. Between the drawings and the photographs, there is an awful lot of Gertie in the book. Not that we don't like her, but she happens to have a figure that lends itself well to 1950's-style clothing, and those of us who have figures that don't would like to see what her designs look like when adapted, say, for my thin shoulders and low bust. Page 84: Half-size patterns " . . . are delineated by odd numbers, rather than the even numbers of misses sizes". Rather, petite patterns are sized in odd-number body measurements (bust 37, for example) instead of the even-number measurements (bust 34, 36, etc.) used for regular misses' sizes. Petites are also proportioned a little differently to fit womanly figures. Juniors' patterns are given odd size numbers (size 11, 13, etc.) but the body measurements are still usually given in even numbers. I have not yet had time to try the patterns but I like the way the directions are laid out, with necessary materials and "Key Skills" in a colored box on the first page of the project. I wish, though, that Gertie had been standing in the picture of the drop-waisted cocktail dress so we could see what it looked like, and I wish overall that the dresses in the examples had been made of lighter fabrics without busy patterns so that their details would show up better. Bloggy language aside, this is a nice book overall and I think would be especially useful as a bridge book between beginner projects and more advanced and demanding dressmaking. I would say it's advanced-beginner level. Despite my kvetching, I'm not at all sorry I bought it. Readers will need to be familiar with standard sewing terms and comfortable with their machines but won't already need to have learned more than basic skills. None of the information here is groundbreaking but she does a nice job of explaining not only what to do, but why it should be done. More advance seamstresses might want it just for the patterns, which are worth a lot more than the price of the book. Update: You know what? Scratch that. I think there is enough good advice here that can be found in other books. It was also pointed out to me that, despite what she says, there are some issues with the patterns. Most obviously, the waist darts didn't match up on at least one of the dresses (the darts in the bodice didn't line up with the darts in the skirt), which is such a basic thing that it's an error that should never have been made. I sold the book. I have other sewing books and I know enough about what I'm doing that I don't need to store this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    The first part of this book is great. Lots of information on vintage sewing techniques explained in an easy to understand way. The art for the book is spectacular. Sun Young Park is a wonderful talent and I look forward to seeing more of her work. The problems are centered around the patterns. First- the size chart doesn't have an accompanying figure to show you where exactly to measure yourself. Not really a big deal except earlier Gertie talks about measuring and recommends using your high bus The first part of this book is great. Lots of information on vintage sewing techniques explained in an easy to understand way. The art for the book is spectacular. Sun Young Park is a wonderful talent and I look forward to seeing more of her work. The problems are centered around the patterns. First- the size chart doesn't have an accompanying figure to show you where exactly to measure yourself. Not really a big deal except earlier Gertie talks about measuring and recommends using your high bust measurement. But it's still not clear if she wants the reader to use a high bust or bust measurement. Second- there are no technical drawings of the garments. There are some artistic renderings throughout, but not all of them match the patterns, nor are they paired with the patterns. And there are no technical drawings of back views. Third- the patterns seem drafted in an intentionally vintage style and lack lengthen and shorten lines. Fourth- some of the patterns seem like they're not just inspired by Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing, but that they are the exact same Vogue patterns. i.e. the portrait blouse, the sultry sheath (she says that she wanted to include a version of that dress but with a different neckline. It appears to be the same dress, slightly different neckline, but same uneven dart placement), and the bow-tied blouse. Anyway, the first part of the book is wonderful, the information for sewing the patterns is ok, but the patterns present a few problems.

  3. 4 out of 5

    raffaela

    Update 11/29/19: I've made two clothing items from this author (one from this book, one from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s) and they both came out very well (certainly better than I feared). I'll admit some of the instructions weren't crystal clear to me as a beginning sewist, but since I've been using a sewing machine for several years as a quilter it wasn't that hard to me to figure it out on my own. Plus, there's lots of tutorials at th Update 11/29/19: I've made two clothing items from this author (one from this book, one from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s) and they both came out very well (certainly better than I feared). I'll admit some of the instructions weren't crystal clear to me as a beginning sewist, but since I've been using a sewing machine for several years as a quilter it wasn't that hard to me to figure it out on my own. Plus, there's lots of tutorials at the front of the book (and you can always check YouTube for further clarification). Overall, the (many) patterns are gorgeous and it's relatively easy to tweak them to what you want - I'm very happy with these books and I look forward to making many more items from them. 7/4/19: I've skimmed through this so I'll mark it as read, but I'm not going to rate it until I actually try to follow the patterns. I don't think I'm advanced enough to use this book yet, but when I am it looks like it'll be a good resource.

  4. 4 out of 5

    heidi

    I have been waiting eagerly for this book for months! And it was worth the wait. This book is a bunch of techniques and tips for a mid-level sewist who is looking to start working on vintage and vintage-style patterns. It is not for a novice sewist, one still getting used to the idea of assembling patterns. I really enjoyed reading about all the little things I could be doing to get a more tailored and fitted and classy and stable piece of clothing. Like there's a tip on how to make dress shields, I have been waiting eagerly for this book for months! And it was worth the wait. This book is a bunch of techniques and tips for a mid-level sewist who is looking to start working on vintage and vintage-style patterns. It is not for a novice sewist, one still getting used to the idea of assembling patterns. I really enjoyed reading about all the little things I could be doing to get a more tailored and fitted and classy and stable piece of clothing. Like there's a tip on how to make dress shields, so you have to launder less often. And there are five different ways to finish seams, and a discussion of when each is the most appropriate. There is a lot of hand-sewing, and to be honest, I am not that excited about hand-sewing, but when Gertie explains it, I can understand why it might be the best option for some things. I'm actually kind of nerdily hoping that I get around to making a frock coat complete with pad stitching and shoulder pads and padded peplum by next winter. It would be so classy. The garment selection is reasonably broad -- no pants, but pants are a mysterious beast all on their own. The mix and match of tops and skirts and dresses gives one a feeling of bravery about being able to do it oneself. The one missing item that I regret she didn't put in instructions about is a petticoat/crinoline. There is a brief note about how to attach some crinoline to a skirt lining, but many of the dresses and full skirts are modeled with a crinoline, and it would be helpful if we had some tips on making our own. I was strangely delighted when she said the same thing that I've been thinking since I made the Walk-Away Dress. Without some serious undergarmentage, you end up looking like you are wearing a hospital gown. 'Tis true! But with the help of this book, I am thinking about cutting off the bodice and making the skirt of my Walk-Away dress into a high-waisted skirt. I also agree with the commenter who said it would be useful if there was a section showing the dresses on different body types, but happily Flickr has you covered in that department. I never make anything without looking it up on Flickr first. Overall, I was delighted with this book. It is exactly in my comfort-to-aspirational range. I wouldn't have been ready for it three years ago before I got the hang of garment sewing, so give it to new sewists with care. One of my favorite features is that you get to see the insides of all the garments, so you can really see the construction details she is talking about. That makes it so much easier for me to understand what's going one. Also, the included patterns are printed on real paper. Read if: You have some garment-sewing experience and would like to branch out into either the vintage-y or couture direction. You love a breezy conversational style of writing. Skip if: You are still working out exactly how plackets attach and regard anything harder than "Easy" as currently out of your range. Also skip if you are super experienced at couture sewing. I imagine this will not be the book for you. Also read: Better Homes & Gardens Sewing Book Also watch: Gertie has a really awesome dressmaking class on Craftsy which covers many of these topics as a video tutorial. Recommended!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juju

    I don't normally like to write negative reviews but I just had to for this book. It baffles me that no one else has pointed out all the flaws in this book and have given it such good ratings. Firstly, I just cannot figure out who her target audience is. She goes over extremely basic techniques that is a waste of time for intermediate/advanced sewers but then includes techniques that are beyond beginner level that wouldn't be understood by people just starting out. For me,the book feels like a ra I don't normally like to write negative reviews but I just had to for this book. It baffles me that no one else has pointed out all the flaws in this book and have given it such good ratings. Firstly, I just cannot figure out who her target audience is. She goes over extremely basic techniques that is a waste of time for intermediate/advanced sewers but then includes techniques that are beyond beginner level that wouldn't be understood by people just starting out. For me,the book feels like a random collection of information without a structure or a flow. I feel like she's gone, 'here's so random vintage techniques I know, I'll put them in this section, I think that works'. Without thinking about what people need to know in between that, there is so much more information that could be added in here for beginners or even just to make it less jumpy and all over the place feeling. Lastly, I can't believe this hasn't been discussed more. The patterns are barely usable. I tried a couple and the fit was terrible and I am shocked that she has garments where the darts don't match up. I won't waste my time trying any other patterns in this book cause frankly it's not even worth the muslin. It is nicely illustrated but is that the only reason we are buying books these days? Come on guys, did anyone actually read it before rating it? I get the feeling it was a quick flick through and a yes, it looks pretty, 4 stars. Honestly I regret buying this book. There are so many more useful sewing books out there for beginners through to advanced sewers. It is also an almost replicate of the Vogue New Book for Better Sewing. The illustrations are almost identical, so it lacks originality and isn't even unique idea. Aren't there copy write issues this book could face? Sorry if you enjoyed this book, but if you want a decent book by someone who can actually pattern make and has original ideas this won't be for you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Page

    I appreciate the techniques and vocabulary lessons, as well as the patterns--but her fitting is so sloppy! My momma taught me better than that. You don't want to end up with a dress that looks homemade, and Gertie's do. I appreciate the techniques and vocabulary lessons, as well as the patterns--but her fitting is so sloppy! My momma taught me better than that. You don't want to end up with a dress that looks homemade, and Gertie's do.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marnie

    I've read the book cover to cover but I haven't tried the patterns. I'll come back and modify this review if/when I do. While not as comprehensive and detailed as some of the book devoted exclusively to sewing technique, this book covers a lot of ground for people who want to sew vintage patterns and/or sew using more traditional and couture style techniques. I probably wouldn't recommend this book for a novice. Not only are many of the skills more advanced (pad stitching and bound buttonholes a I've read the book cover to cover but I haven't tried the patterns. I'll come back and modify this review if/when I do. While not as comprehensive and detailed as some of the book devoted exclusively to sewing technique, this book covers a lot of ground for people who want to sew vintage patterns and/or sew using more traditional and couture style techniques. I probably wouldn't recommend this book for a novice. Not only are many of the skills more advanced (pad stitching and bound buttonholes are pretty advanced skills by almost anyone's standard) but a lot of the strongly recommended supplies and materials are more expensive than the average novice would want to spend on a hobby he or she isn't already committed to. This book is, however, a good resource for people who want to take the time to create a beautifully fitted garment that is as lovely on the inside as it is on the outside. There are tips for modifying patterns, adjusting fit, finishing seams and much more. I did find it hard to visualize some of the methods based on the photos and descriptions alone. It seems, for the sake of keeping the book to a manageable length, that some techniques are glossed over more than others, but it should be no problem looking up any method online. Almost all the technical skills covered in this book are also covered in Gretchen's Craftsy courses and the two complement each other nicely. I completed her bombshell dress class and learned a lot from it. I have not yet completed the starlet jacket class as I didn't really love the pattern, as drafted. It does make me a little nervous about sewing up the book's patterns, since they don't adhere to conventional sizing standards and, lack a lot of the helpful technical details that commercially produced patterns usually have like bust and waist points. That's not a big deal on a simple top or skirt but can be really helpful in ensuring all the pieces fit when you are lengthening the torso on a princess seamed jacket. She does now offer a few patterns through McCalls, though and I've already purchased her dress pattern so I may put some of my nearly learned skills to work on that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This is the first sewing book I've read cover to cover. The illustrations are beautiful, the clearly explained tutorials are plentiful, the techniques are useful, and the patterns are wearable and beautiful with many variations. She also gracefully and clearly addresses common fitting issues and presents some of the most common sense and easily tried solutions that I have ever seen, and I've read and tried a lot of methods. No expensive systems or "special" tools, no time consuming wrapping myse This is the first sewing book I've read cover to cover. The illustrations are beautiful, the clearly explained tutorials are plentiful, the techniques are useful, and the patterns are wearable and beautiful with many variations. She also gracefully and clearly addresses common fitting issues and presents some of the most common sense and easily tried solutions that I have ever seen, and I've read and tried a lot of methods. No expensive systems or "special" tools, no time consuming wrapping myself in plaster bandages or duct tape or paper tape to make a "double". I don't even need to turn myself into a pretzel or convince my fifteen year old son that pinning a tissue pattern on his mom is a fun way to spend the afternoon! Gertie doesn't just show you how to cut out and sew together a few beautiful garments...she then shows you how to make modifications--sleeves, waistlines, necklines, skirt types, dart placements, collars--that then allow you, if you are so inclined, to create the wardrobe of your dreams. Patterns? With Gertie's help, we don't need no stinking patterns! (well, maybe a few, especially the ones in her book and the ones she just started creating for Butterick, which are fabulous!). Anyway, if you sew or you want to sew and you don't know Gertie yet, I would strongly suggest you get to know her. She's fun, down to earth, interesting, and wants to share everything she's learned with you.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bekah

    If you are into vintage fashion and want to sew your own garments, this is a great resource for tips & tricks. Can probably glean a lot from this if you are sewing modern garments too. It's full of information, but on the downside, I found it to be a bit too much in some places and not enough in others. The first 60% of the book is just an info dump. Helpful, but a dump nonetheless. Once you get to the patterns & instructions, you will doubtless be flipping back and forth to prior chapters and s If you are into vintage fashion and want to sew your own garments, this is a great resource for tips & tricks. Can probably glean a lot from this if you are sewing modern garments too. It's full of information, but on the downside, I found it to be a bit too much in some places and not enough in others. The first 60% of the book is just an info dump. Helpful, but a dump nonetheless. Once you get to the patterns & instructions, you will doubtless be flipping back and forth to prior chapters and sections to get the info you need. I think this could have been organized a bit better, so it had a better flow to it. But all in all, I see myself borrowing this from the library again in future, as needed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Esta

    The book displays a lack of professionalism. But then again, it's a bargain price to pay for so many patterns (which I have mostly good things to say about). I'd buy it for the Wiggle Dress pattern alone. I think I've sewn it up seven times by now and I know there will be the eighth one to come someday. If you're only interested in the section of the book dedicated to the vintage techniques - save yourself from the disappointment and instead look for something written by a more seasoned author ( The book displays a lack of professionalism. But then again, it's a bargain price to pay for so many patterns (which I have mostly good things to say about). I'd buy it for the Wiggle Dress pattern alone. I think I've sewn it up seven times by now and I know there will be the eighth one to come someday. If you're only interested in the section of the book dedicated to the vintage techniques - save yourself from the disappointment and instead look for something written by a more seasoned author (unless you're truly a beginner).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tisha

    This book was a good tutorial, but I found that the patterns that she modeled weren't particularly well fit to her, which didn't make her tips on fitting believable. This book was a good tutorial, but I found that the patterns that she modeled weren't particularly well fit to her, which didn't make her tips on fitting believable.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mardee

    Great book. Loads of useful information and the illustrations make it easy to understand. I borrowed this from the library but since have decided to order my own copy so I can use it as a reference.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chiara

    Years ago I signed up for a sewing evening school. After completing my first year there, I could not afford it any longer so that I couldn’t complete the second year. The course was pretty basic in nature because you would learn how to sew very simple garments, but I sew them all just once with the teacher’s assistance. But I learned some pattern drafting and some useful skills. After this experience I lent my home sewing machine to a friend, which I never got back. I then stopped sewing altoget Years ago I signed up for a sewing evening school. After completing my first year there, I could not afford it any longer so that I couldn’t complete the second year. The course was pretty basic in nature because you would learn how to sew very simple garments, but I sew them all just once with the teacher’s assistance. But I learned some pattern drafting and some useful skills. After this experience I lent my home sewing machine to a friend, which I never got back. I then stopped sewing altogether for 10 years, and I picked it up again just a month ago, because I bought a new, better sawing machine . And I’ve become quite obsessive (which is surprising since I have a demanding full time job). This book is a great resource with some flaws. I paid a little over 20 euros for it and I got some great tipps on pattern and garment adjustment and a full set of patterns (which would have cost 4 times the book, probably). If you are an absolute beginner, this isn’t the book for you. You should be acquainted with the terminology of sewing and have basic skills such as putting in a zipper or a sleeve already. The book drops knowledge on you in a somewhat chaotic arrangement, but none of it could be deemed “useless” for people in my skill level (which is intermediate beginner, I would say). It’s a reference book you should come back to, and it does its job quite well. The relatable thing in this book for me are the photos of the finished garments - you can see they are home sewn and some hemming could be less wonky. Some people may criticize Gertie for it, but I find it refreshing - perfection shouldn’t be the goal when you are learning a skill such as this. I’ll probably buy all the other books in the series and would definitely recommend buying this.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Merry Love

    Her newer books are much better. There's nothing *wrong* with this book, but the patterns are rather basic things you can get elsewhere. Because it's out of print and expensive to purchase now, pass on this particular one unless you can check it out at your library. Patterns: basic dirndl skirt draft, pencil skirt w/ optional bottom flounce, basic blouse, basic sheath dress, a bow-tie blouse with buttoned back, sweetheart sundress (full skirt, sweetheart bodice), wiggle dress (fitted princess sea Her newer books are much better. There's nothing *wrong* with this book, but the patterns are rather basic things you can get elsewhere. Because it's out of print and expensive to purchase now, pass on this particular one unless you can check it out at your library. Patterns: basic dirndl skirt draft, pencil skirt w/ optional bottom flounce, basic blouse, basic sheath dress, a bow-tie blouse with buttoned back, sweetheart sundress (full skirt, sweetheart bodice), wiggle dress (fitted princess seam dress), shirtwaist dress, suit jacket (peplum blazer), coat dress (coat with dress silhouette).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Oh Gertie! You make me think I really can be the expert seamstress you believe me to be! I love the patterns included in the book. The quick tips and tricks. The color pictures and step by step instructions. I'll have to buy your books Gertie. All of them! And here I'm trying so hard to get rid of books, but this is a true reference resource that will prove handy for many years to come. Oh Gertie! You make me think I really can be the expert seamstress you believe me to be! I love the patterns included in the book. The quick tips and tricks. The color pictures and step by step instructions. I'll have to buy your books Gertie. All of them! And here I'm trying so hard to get rid of books, but this is a true reference resource that will prove handy for many years to come.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Great sewing tips for sewists who want to advance from that home-made look to a more professional result. Wasn't too impressed with the patterns enclosed, though. But other readers may love them. Great sewing tips for sewists who want to advance from that home-made look to a more professional result. Wasn't too impressed with the patterns enclosed, though. But other readers may love them.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Great info for new and intermediate sewers. Has some fun classic advise and patterns to try.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrea McDowell

    It's a great sewing book. The clothes in it aren't ones I want to sew for myself right now, so the library copy is going back and I will put it on my list for future purchases. But the clothes are lovely and well-constructed, the instructions are good, and there are darts! for shaping! in the tops and skirts. (To see why I find this worthy of two separate in-sentence exclamation marks, see my recent reviews on other sewing books.) The author is the model, and she's a grown-up woman who looks lik It's a great sewing book. The clothes in it aren't ones I want to sew for myself right now, so the library copy is going back and I will put it on my list for future purchases. But the clothes are lovely and well-constructed, the instructions are good, and there are darts! for shaping! in the tops and skirts. (To see why I find this worthy of two separate in-sentence exclamation marks, see my recent reviews on other sewing books.) The author is the model, and she's a grown-up woman who looks like a grown-up woman, so you can be sure that if you are ready to put in the time and effort to make the clothes as directed, you will end up with well-constructed professional-looking clothes that you will want to wear. ETA: I've revised my earlier opinion somewhat: Yes, this books is worlds' better than Improv Sewing and other sewing books I read last year; yes, the front-matter is decent in terms of information, exposition, and communication, and you will learn about a lot of fun sewing techniques. But some of the projects in the back are not well done, as has become apparent with more experience and more exposure: This is the portrait blouse from the book. It does not fit Gertie--she's shaped it, but not to herself. It needs to be both shorter and more fitted in the waist. A later version by the author: Better, no? Anyway, if you're going to read it and use the patterns, check out other sources for fitting. And for god's sake, press your seams.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    This book exceeded my expectations. I'd heard a lot about it so decided to borrow it from the library thinking that I'd skim the majority of it because it would be aimed at beginner sewers and might photocopy a few of the patterns. Instead I found it a fascinating read. What this book covers that a lot of sewing books don't is not only making vintage inspired garments but how to effectively reproduce vintage garments with the resources available to the modern sewer. I found the section on the di This book exceeded my expectations. I'd heard a lot about it so decided to borrow it from the library thinking that I'd skim the majority of it because it would be aimed at beginner sewers and might photocopy a few of the patterns. Instead I found it a fascinating read. What this book covers that a lot of sewing books don't is not only making vintage inspired garments but how to effectively reproduce vintage garments with the resources available to the modern sewer. I found the section on the difference between the fabrics available to home sewers 50 years ago compared to the home sewer today particularly useful and interesting. While the book does cover some very basic techniques (like making and drafting a dirndl skirt) it also provides some considerably more difficult projects. The vintage sewing techniques presented in the book are explained well and the information on adapting and resizing patterns is also a great addition. The photographs of the inside of some of the finished garments are also a great idea which I wish more sewing books would take up. This book might not offer much to a very advanced sewer, but for those of us with intermediate skill levels and an interest in sewing vintage it's a great resource. I'm considering buying a copy to keep as a reference book. I'm yet to try any of the patterns but plan to very soon. My only issue, and it's a minor one but I noticed a few other people had also picked up on it, several of the garments in the photographs look like they need an iron!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I like Gertie's blog very much, and I love her bright, super-femme, mid century choice in styles (if not so much the extremely literal interpretation of the clothes, and the tattoo-covered/pink hair/Bettie Page bangs styling that always seems to go hand in hand with this aesthetic). As a bonus, her measurements are close to mine, so these styles tend to work for me, and I can get a preview of how stuff might look. I hate, so much, that the patterns are printed on top of each other on front and b I like Gertie's blog very much, and I love her bright, super-femme, mid century choice in styles (if not so much the extremely literal interpretation of the clothes, and the tattoo-covered/pink hair/Bettie Page bangs styling that always seems to go hand in hand with this aesthetic). As a bonus, her measurements are close to mine, so these styles tend to work for me, and I can get a preview of how stuff might look. I hate, so much, that the patterns are printed on top of each other on front and back of the paper, necessitating a bunch of tedious and supply-requiring tracing. I mean, why?? That would be a relatively small change in the production of the book, surely, but adds gobs of time and effort on the other end. I've only made one of the styles so far--the portrait blouse, which was super-easy and a great basic. I definitely cut some of the labor-intensive steps because I'm lazy and like to finish stuff, even going so far as to omit the zipper,and it still turned out fine. I've bought the fabric for the wiggle dress and tie blouse and can't wait to get started. Once I finish all that damn tracing, that is. Overall, a good buy lovers of vintage styles, though I will be doing plenty of editing to suit my low maintenance sewing style--no lapped hand picked zippers or bound buttonholes for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carolynn

    Hey, all you sewists, listen up! If you haven't made the acquaintance of Gretchen Hirsch yet, this may be the time. Bored with run-of-the-mill patterns that barely give you darts to admit you actually have a shape?Then this book's for you. Gertie introduces you to slow sewing (hand work)--not to say everything is done by hand, not even half--just the details. She teaches you step by step what's important and how to do it in a conversational manner that's really easy to follow. She also gives you Hey, all you sewists, listen up! If you haven't made the acquaintance of Gretchen Hirsch yet, this may be the time. Bored with run-of-the-mill patterns that barely give you darts to admit you actually have a shape?Then this book's for you. Gertie introduces you to slow sewing (hand work)--not to say everything is done by hand, not even half--just the details. She teaches you step by step what's important and how to do it in a conversational manner that's really easy to follow. She also gives you patterns for a wardrobe of vintage-inspired clothing (and how to make alterations for different necklines, collars, etc.), so you can go on to make a wardrobe of your own tailored, custom-fitted clothing that will last for years and will be like a dream to wear, the fit is so good (with multiple-sized patterns on paper, not tissue). This book is definitely scheduled for my sewing shelf, and I am looking forward to the next thing by Gretchen Hirsch. Now, with Collette Wolfe's book, "Fabric Manipulation," (really it's making beautifully worked fabric with sewing, folding, etc.), you can make a designer-original wardrobe even Katherine Hepburn would have been proud of. Please, check it out. I'm sure many of you who love the quality of vintage fashions from the late '30s-'50s will be itching to get this book for your very own.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy Isham

    I liked this book and it was one of the pioneering books bringing insight into vintage sewing techniques and updates some classic patterns into realistic sizes for todays women who tend to be taller and bigger. The sizing also takes into account that the modern woman does not wear control garments as a rule - so the waist sizes are more based on the modern bust to waist ration. Its an excellent book with a lot of information. I think if I had written this book ( had I this much knowledge and exp I liked this book and it was one of the pioneering books bringing insight into vintage sewing techniques and updates some classic patterns into realistic sizes for todays women who tend to be taller and bigger. The sizing also takes into account that the modern woman does not wear control garments as a rule - so the waist sizes are more based on the modern bust to waist ration. Its an excellent book with a lot of information. I think if I had written this book ( had I this much knowledge and experience) I would have structured the techniques around the patterns, not left reference points from the patterns. As it is, its aimed at people who have more knowledge of sewing than I do, yet it teaches some techniques that I already know, so it's a bit confusing. I liked 'Love at First stitch' more than this, not only are the techniques introduced by patterns and projects, but the patterns are chosen closely to teach sewing. A lot of the projects require large amounts of expensive fabrics that I don't feel I could do justice to right now. A much more experienced sewist with fitting skill would have more fun with this book, right now, its a coffee table book for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I love Gertie's blog, so of course I love Gertie's book! Some thoughts: -Ten patterns! What a deal! -Some of the tutorials (like bound buttonholes) are on her blog already, so I felt familiar with a good chunk of the content. Obvs. But it's still aweseome! -This makes me want to dress Mad Men. -I think I'll end up buying this for myself eventually, but many of the patterns are slightly more vintage-stylized than I like to dress on an average day. However, that kimono sleeved wiggle dress will be MIN I love Gertie's blog, so of course I love Gertie's book! Some thoughts: -Ten patterns! What a deal! -Some of the tutorials (like bound buttonholes) are on her blog already, so I felt familiar with a good chunk of the content. Obvs. But it's still aweseome! -This makes me want to dress Mad Men. -I think I'll end up buying this for myself eventually, but many of the patterns are slightly more vintage-stylized than I like to dress on an average day. However, that kimono sleeved wiggle dress will be MINE! In conclusion, I love Gertie and I love that Gertie has inspired me to get into tailoring. Today, I conquered my fear of bound buttonholes!

  24. 5 out of 5

    ivana

    At first my mother and I were slightly disturbed at some of the photos (clearly strained seams, puffy underarms, uneven hems, etc), but then decided to forgive Gertie - thanks to a book voucher, I didn't have to contribute a lot of my money towards it; I found her blog and read that she'd put on a bit of weight while writing the book (hence leading to the strained seams); and finally because it's so darn pretty! I haven't made any of the patterns yet, but it has persuaded me to finally try one o At first my mother and I were slightly disturbed at some of the photos (clearly strained seams, puffy underarms, uneven hems, etc), but then decided to forgive Gertie - thanks to a book voucher, I didn't have to contribute a lot of my money towards it; I found her blog and read that she'd put on a bit of weight while writing the book (hence leading to the strained seams); and finally because it's so darn pretty! I haven't made any of the patterns yet, but it has persuaded me to finally try one of the vintage patterns I've been hoarding.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    It was at my library, so I checked it out. I think it took me 30 minutes to work my way thru it. I'm not enamored of 1950's styles. I didn't think there was anything enlightening for an advanced sewist. Maybe there are gems hidden in there, but there just wasn't enough in this book to draw me in. Now, if she were featuring styles from the 1930s, I might have found the pictures inspiring and might have wanted to try the patterns. Could the title have picked more buzz words? Perhaps my expectations It was at my library, so I checked it out. I think it took me 30 minutes to work my way thru it. I'm not enamored of 1950's styles. I didn't think there was anything enlightening for an advanced sewist. Maybe there are gems hidden in there, but there just wasn't enough in this book to draw me in. Now, if she were featuring styles from the 1930s, I might have found the pictures inspiring and might have wanted to try the patterns. Could the title have picked more buzz words? Perhaps my expectations were just too high for a book that uses the word BASIC in its title.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I really like the design of the book. I would have hoped for more pictures in the tailoring and fitting sections however this is not a book specifically about these things. I can get the information I need out of reference books. I enjoyed the writing style. Overall an enjoyable and educational book. I think that Gretchen achieves what she set out to accomplish with this book, it is definitely an extension of her blog. The patterns are lovely too!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gaile

    An excellent instruction and resource book for gals who like vintage clothing. This book is not only worth buying, it is a keeper! The only draw back I found in this "how to" book is that the author uses herself as a model. I think the tat-toos on her arms distracts from the clothes she is modeling but that is only my opinion. It may not bother the rest of you. I think she should have hired someone else to model the clothes. An excellent instruction and resource book for gals who like vintage clothing. This book is not only worth buying, it is a keeper! The only draw back I found in this "how to" book is that the author uses herself as a model. I think the tat-toos on her arms distracts from the clothes she is modeling but that is only my opinion. It may not bother the rest of you. I think she should have hired someone else to model the clothes.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eqotu Nobobeme

    Beautiful. Excellent instructions and detailed information for creating beautiful modern vintage clothing. And the best part, the patterns are included. I can't wait to start sewing for my inner Betty. Beautiful. Excellent instructions and detailed information for creating beautiful modern vintage clothing. And the best part, the patterns are included. I can't wait to start sewing for my inner Betty.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    nonfiction/sewing. Super well-done tome from blogger/seamstress superstar Gertie. Would recommend for anyone interested in sewing and vintage style. Patterns are customizable and Gertie offers lots of insight into making things fit just the way you want them to.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Korri

    While I love the idea of bound button holes and underarm gussets, I am not overly blessed with patience so I don't think I'll be using many of the lovely tailoring techniques Gertie outlines in this book. What gorgeous inspiration, though. While I love the idea of bound button holes and underarm gussets, I am not overly blessed with patience so I don't think I'll be using many of the lovely tailoring techniques Gertie outlines in this book. What gorgeous inspiration, though.

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