Friday, June 18, 2010

Sew Classic: 1970's Vintage Sewing Books

Book Reviews:
Complete Guide to Sewing by Reader's Digest
The Vogue Sewing Book
Sewing Book by Better Homes and Gardens

How-to-sew books fall into a wide range of types, from those that cover project based sewing instructions, to specific tips on sewing. Probably the book with the widest coverage of sewing instructions and techniques is the Guide to Sewing by Reader's Digest. With excellent detailed drawings that show step-by-step instructions in nearly every type of sewing application, this is perhaps the best encyclopedia to refer to as you sew. The older editions are best, and can be found from the 1970's and 1980's. The version we show is dates from 1976. It has 410 pages on fashion sewing for women, men and children. This is followed by 74 pages of home dec. techniques and projects. Craft projects fill the final chapter.

Fashion sewing was defined for decades by the Vogue Sewing books in several editions. This thick, 464 page volume is full of suggestions and step-by-step instructions for better dressmaking as defined in the 1970's. Today it provides great insight into fashion sewing, with many methods that are common to dress design. It also includes a men's wear section with tailoring instructions.

The Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book is a fun take on the sewing manual, as it has a ring binder style cover. This book was written for the home sewer, and contains many tips for family sewing and sewing crafts. If you sew vintage, the dresses you are making are probably shown in this simple but complete manual. It is arranged by topic, much like a cookbook.

Complete Guide to Sewing, Reader's Digest, 1976

The Vogue Sewing Book, Revised Edition, 1973

Sewing Book, Better Homes and Gardens, 1970


Ellen van Engelen said...

I've been wanting to buy one of these books, but I just can't choose!
Which one of them would you recommend?
Does any of them explain how to draw and alter your own patterns or do they come with basic patterns?
And does any of them have a pattern for these sixties cigarette pants?
I've been drawn to the better homes and gardens one, because it has such nice illustrations and it looks more sixties.
But from the pictures I saw from it, it didn't seem to have a lot of patterns.
(by the way, do you know if there's a lot of difference between the 1961 and 1970 edition?)
Sorry for the question overload!

Jen O said...

Nearly all 'how to sew' books are written for people who are using store bought sewing patterns.

These books usually offer more information to supplement the pattern directions that came with the purchased pattern.

The 3 sewing books that I reviewed here are all great. The Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing is probably the most popular. But you won't find any instructions for making patterns, or any free patterns inside these books.

The process of making a new pattern is called 'drafting' when it is drawn onto paper with rulers. 'Draping' is the process of creating a pattern using fabric on a dress form.

Usually books on pattern making are texts for students who study fashion because most of this process requires a teacher or tutor's help. Textbooks written by Connie Amaden Crawford or Helen Joseph Armstrong are popular and can be found for sale online.

I hope that helps to answer your question about patterns.

Ellen van Engelen said...

Thanks a lot!
I have a book like that (metric pattern cutting - Winifred Aldrich).
It's a great book, but the style is sometimes a bit too eighties and I don't sew often enough anymore to have enough insight in the patterns to change them any way I want.
So I thought it would be great to find a similar book from the sixties.