The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques

We bought the The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques: Essential Step-by-Step Techniques for Professional Results by Lynda Maynard to help the more advanced sewers get a good grip on finishing details and high-end construction.  

Amazon describes it as:

“Packed with professional techniques and tips, The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques takes the mystery out of the sewing and finishing techniques that many dressmakers assume are either extremely difficult or are only for professional fashion designers.

Fashion designer and expert sewist Lynda Maynard tackles each professional technique with clear instructions in simple step-by-step stages. Once these skills are understood, sewists will embrace their dressmaking projects with more confidence and the ability to create chic, refined looks. The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques unlocks the door to stunning results with better shaping, simpler construction methods, and professional finishing touches. Lynda also explains several seemingly difficult “secrets,” from making bindings and finishing for hems, armholes, and necklines to underpinnings and structuring techniques. Plus, she teaches how to master finishing touches from textured stitches to couching and applique. A complete guide to the fabrics suited to each technique and inspirational fashion photography are also included.”

This is entirely true.  Such a fantastic book. Our take:

Overall, this is a very, very good book. It totally deserves a five-star rating. We am very happy with it. The author and designers present a very well-developed and good instructional manual. It is packed with clear and concise pictures that walk you through, step-by-step, the process of finishing a garment well.

Our big criticism:
We teach a lot of hand sewing and bespoke tailoring/dressmaking; we have to say that our only critique is that this isn’t so much couture sewing technique as much as it is luxury ready-to-wear or high-end dressmaking design and technique.  There is still a difference, though it keeps merging in popular culture with shows like Project Runway and the world of Pinterest and Instagram.

This is all to say:  You will find all kinds of delightful techniques that will be both good to know and very useful, but they are almost entirely all adapted for sewing machines and small production with the home sewer in mind. This is not couture as it is properly understood, but to mention that is the only drawback to this book perhaps makes us snooty pedants. If you are looking for specific examples, the kind of thing that comes to mind is a ditch-stitched double folded bias edge featured here rather than a hand-finished invisibly stitched edge using the same binding. The former is high-end ready to wear technique (among others) and the latter is properly couture.

We would say that this is a good book for a LOT of higher-end home sewers and aspirational sewers because it its so much more approachable than most of the couture techniques would be. It is like a thousand times better than an old standby in the home sewing world like “Vogue and Butterick’s Designer Sewing Techniques“, but if you wanted couture technique properly, then perhaps check out Claire Schaeffer’s series of books on it as well as the various and sundry high-end tailoring and couture books for bridal and menswear.

In any case, this is a nice addition to the library around here, but if you have your eye out for an actual couture manual, you may want to look elsewhere, but this will get you VERY far.

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