My most recent purchase was The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard. Whenever I think of couture techniques, I think of Claire Shaeffer, so I couldn't help comparing the two approaches to couture sewing. Many of the techniques in Maynard's book are not "couture" in the Claire Shaeffer sense of the word. Where Shaeffer's techniques are traditional and learned in a Paris atelier, Maynard's techniques seem more contemporary and bring to mind Fashion Week in New York. The techniques are divided into three categories:
- Bindings and Finishes e.g. Banded V-neck on knit fabric, Banded V-neck on woven fabric, Piped double-fold bining on woven fabric, and Baby French binding
- Design Details: On Show e.g. Channel-stitched accents, Petersham "Peek" seam, Hong Kong finish on the outside, and Button-on Garment Sections.
- Design Details: Concealed e.g. Couture Waistband, Organza "Bubble" hem finish, balanced dart, and couture dart.
I like the way the book is organized. The first section of the book is a "couture technique selector" in which the included techniques are listed with short descriptions, thumbnail photographs and page numbers. I can browse the section, select the desired technique then flip to the directions in the body of the book. The instructions for the techniques are clear and the photographs enhance the instructions. I also like the spiral binding which allows the book to lay open next to the sewing machine for easy reference.
Maynard's book contains both style details and construction techniques. For example, there are several methods on applying binding to edges. One might find the same techniques in a comprehensive sewing book like Vogue Sewing, not a book on couture sewing. However the use of these techniques goes beyond the basic instructions and elevate the garments beyond typical home sewn garments.
I have never met a sewing book I didn't like and I admit I didn't need this book (especially since I plan to buy the revised and updated edition of Claire Shaeffer's book when it's released). But, I'm sure I will eventually use one or two of the techniques. After reserving it at Borders, I went to the store planning to look through it objectively and critically before making the purchase. I was fully prepared to walk away if it didn't meet my expectations. Who was I kidding? Isn't that the way an addict deludes herself? I was convinced I was meant to own this book when I got to the register, presented my Borders Rewards card, and got a 33% discount! After I buy Claire Shaffer's book, I won't buy any more sewing books – and I mean it.