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Textile Related Books FAQ: Part 2 of 3

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Archive-name: crafts/textiles/books/part2
Last-modified: 5 Sep 1996

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Sewing books on specialty topics:

NT: Notes on Tailoring
Note about Tailoring:  There are three general methods for tailoring jackets:
        -) classic or custom method: uses horsehair canvas and hand pad
        stitches to shape the front and collars.  Labor intensive, but
        beautiful results
        -) Machine method: Uses a sewing machine to attach interfacing and
        shape a collar and the front.
        -) Contemporary methods: Uses fusible interfacing to shape the front
        of the jacket and the collar
Other aspects of tailoring, such as attaching the lining and making the
buttonholes, have several methods.  Often the methods are labelled as either
classic or contemporary.

Each method has advantages and disadvantages.  Some books (Tailoring in
{SRL,T:} and {TT&CT:}) cover all three; some books only cover one or two

Furthermore, there have been many articles on tailoring subjects.  Many
articles in Threads cover tailoring (including an examination of a quality
men's suit in an early issue!).  Many articles in Sandra Betzina's {SB:} books
cover tailoring and include good tips and suggestions.  In the July 1992
issue, Vogue Patterns started a four article series discussing tailoring.

Singer Reference Library: Tailoring. I bought this book when I needed to make
my first tailored suit in about three days.  This book is suitable as a step
by step introduction to tailoring women's jackets for someone who is an
intermediate sewer.  The book discusses the three methods for tailoring the
collar and lapels: the traditional hand pad stitches, a more modern machine
stitching method, and the contmporary methods using fusible interfacing.
Whenever applicable, the book presents the three methods, starting with the
traditional hand methods and ending with the contemporary fusible methods.
The book also discusses traditional and contempory methods for attaching the
lining, setting in sleeves and making buttonholes.

The _Tailoring_ book covers only jackets and really concentrates on women's
jackets although it does mention men's jackets.  It covers a traditional
collar and a shawl collar. If you read through the book carefully (before you
start!), you can throw away the original pattern instructions and construct a
well tailored suit jacket.  You may need a fitting book to help solve
non-trivial fitting problems. If you combine this book with a more complete
Tailoring book (e.g. Ledbetter and Lansing's book) you will have a very good
introduction to a complete set of tailoring procedures.


Tailoring: Traditional and Contemporary Techniques.  This is a very good and
complete guide to tailoring.  However it is NOT for beginners!  If you have
some experience sewing and want to get into tailoring, I would recommend
getting the Singer book on Tailoring {SRL,T:} and this book.  This book is a
complete reference on all aspects of tailoring, whereas the Singer book is a
good introduction with nice pictures to show you many details.  _TT&CT_ covers
all the traditional and contemporary methods discussed in Singer's book and
goes into more detail for most topics.  The illustrations are simple pen
drawings with 2-4 illustrations on each page.

TT&CT is a dense book and slow going if you try to read it cover to cover.
However if you have time, skim the book and then use it as a constant
reference while making a tailored suit.  The book is well laid out, has room
for notes in the margins and includes 30 pages of fitting and construstruction
critiques (i.e. a check list of common problems to be used during all phases
of construction).

Tailoring: Traditional and Contemporary Techniques.  N. Marie Letbetter and
Linda Thiel Lansing. copyright 1981. Renston Publishing Company.  about ?$30?.
ISBN: 0-8359-7534-7. 385 pages.


Classic Tailoring Techniques: A construction Guide for Women's Wear
Classic Tailoring Techniques: A construction Guide for Men's Wear
both books by Roberto Cabrera and Patricia Flaherty Meyers
copyright 1984 by Fairchild Publications
both books available from Unicorn as of 4/92 (see sewing FAQ for more info)

These books discuss the classic techniques that use horsehair canvas and hand
pad stitching for shaping.  The books do not discuss machine or fusible
methods.  The Women's book includes chapters on: 1) general tailoring
supplies, equipemtnt and techniques 2) chooseing a pattern and making
preliminary adjustments such as the roll line, vents or cuffs 3) fit: taking
measurements, making a muslin, fit adjustments for the muslin, 4) selecting
and preparing fabric 5) layout and cutting, with a section devoted to stripes
and plaids 6) details of the jacket, many types of pockets, attaching and
adjusting a muslin sleeve and then attaching the final sleeve, linings and
facings, a peplum 7) skirts, basic straight with various options, strait
skirts with shiring or pleats 8) pants 9) alterations to labels, sleeves,
lining, waistline and pants.

If you do not plan to use classic construction techniques, you may find some
useful chapters in the Women's Wear book such as: discussions on bound
buttonholes, method of attaching and customizing the fit of a sleeve,
discussions of shoulder pads, many types of pockets on the jacket and in the
lining, notes on a peplum jacket, sections on skirts and pants, many types of
pockets for the skirt and pants, and the sections on fit and alterations.

Several of the sections in the Men's Wear book are very similar to the
sections in the Women's Wear book.  But the Men's Wear book includes quite a
bit of information specific to Men's Wear and if you plan to do extensive
tailoring for both sexes, you may wish to read both books.

The Men's Wear book includes sections on measurements, pattern adjustments and
fit for men's jackets, vests and pants.  Most sections include detailed
information about working with stripes or plaids.  There is a long chapter
(>100 pages) describing the steps in making the jacket, darts and pockets,
making a custom collar, making custom sleeves, fitting a muslin sleeve to
guarentee the correct hang, and the lining and lining pockets.  The section on
the pants includes several types of pockets, and customizations in the crotch
and fly that are traditional in men's tailored pants.

The Singer book on Tailoring {SRL,T:} has a very good introduction to the
classic method.  If you plan to use classic methods, the {CTT:} books provide
many details that the Singer book does not discuss.  The {CTT:} books could be
used with {TT&CT:} since they describes some details that are not in {TT&CT:}
and they have a more casual writing style with more illustrations.  Both
{CTT:} books are illustrated with simple pencil drawings and a few black and
white photographs.  The illustrations in {CTT:} are generally adequate and the
descriptions are usually clear.  The {CTT:} books have some very good tips and
illustrations for working with plaids and stripes.  Both {CTT:} books are
easier to read than {TT&CT:}, but {TT&CT:} is a more thorough general
reference.  Most importantly, the {CTT:} books cover *only* the classic or
custom methods of tailoring.

See also: Tailoring Suits: The Professional Way. Clarence Paulin. {TS:}

See also: The two Power Sewing {SB:} books by Sandra Betzina.  Each book has
quite a few articles on topics related to tailoring.  The Singer book
_Tailoring_ and the two Betzina books would make a very good reference set for
making tailored suits and jackets.  Both books concentrate on sewing women's

See also: Many sewing reference books include a section on tailoring.

C: Couture:

Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing.  by Roberta Carr. published by
Palmer/Pletsch. 1993.  About $30, 208 pages, hardbound.

I (da faq keeper) purchased Carr's book immediately.  I found the
photography to be gorgeous.  The first section of the book describes
the haute coutre houses in the early part of the century. I found
it's history to be facinating. I loved reading the narratives of
the coutre clothes that Carr had designed for herself.

I had not used the book for any technical knowledge, so here is
another person's opinion on the technical aspect:

I found many useful tips in _Couture_, but Carr did not include the extremely
step-by-step instructions that I expected.  The photos of garments are
beautiful, but there are no in-progress photos.  The chapter on bias discusses
bias cut skirts, godets and bias binding.  There are no sections that discuss
designing entire garments with bias cuts (ala Madame Madeleine Vionnet).

_Couture_ includes alot of good tips and many good ideas.  It is not a
comprehensive reference of techniques, but rather an annotated sketchbook of

Note: Robbie Fanning and Claire B. Shaeffer are both writing books on couture
techniques.  As of spring 1993, Shaeffer's book is expected to be published by
Taunton Press in about early 1994.  Shaeffer has written a number of very
good, very detailed articles on couture techniques for Threads.

PP: Sew Any Patch Pocket (Claire B. Shaeffer)

Covers many variations of patch pockets (however neither Diane nor I was able
to find directions for the pocket on the front cover!).  I found layout
slightly ackward, but reasonable and not too repetitive.  The third section of
the book includes all of the directions that apply to all pockets (e.g.
methods of applying facing, methods of sewing the pocket to the garment, etc).
The middle section is a collection of pockets with the basic directions for
each pocket.  The directions for each pocket usually refer to the instructions
in the third section so you will have to flip back and forth a few times.
This book has numerous variations and this is it's strongest point.  Shaeffer
includes half a dozen (or more?) ways to face and line a pocket!  She also has
3 or 4 ways of attaching invisable patch pockets and several options for
bellows-style pockets.  Illustrations are pen drawings and are sufficient and
plentiful.  paperback, approx $12.

SASiP: Sew Any Set-In Pocket (Claire B. Shaeffer)

Covers 46 designs of set-in pockets.  The first half of the book covers inseam 
pockets while the second half covers slash pockets. Both include pocket 
variations from designer ready to wear.
118p softbound b&w illustrations. Published by Chilton Book Co., 1994.
$14.95 ($18.95 Canada)
1-800-695-1214 phone
1-215-964-4745 fax

S: Shirtmaking. David Page Coffin

A Tauntaun Press publication. I got the video and the book together. I enjoyed
watching the video because he's very good at the instructions. The book is
well laid out with good illustrations.  He has some common techniques presented
in an easy to read fashion. I'll be trying them out on some shirts I just
cut out.

NSBC: Notes on Sewing Books for Kids
[ (Carolyn Peterson)]

I think _Let's Sew_ is a good beginning sewing book.  After an older teen or
adult has the basics down from this book and wants to do more on their own, I
suggest _Mother Pletsch's Painless Sewing with Pretty Pati's Perfect Pattern
Primer_ by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch (list $7.50).  It expands on the
basics with additional information about selecting thread, fabric,
interfacings, etc.  There is basic fitting information, more pressing
techniques and more basic sewing tips.  It could also be a good review and
update on sewing techniques for someone who hasn't sewn for years, but wants
to start again.

MFSB: _My First Sewing Book--Hand Sewing_ by Winky Cherry. (list price $8.50)
[ (Carolyn Peterson)]

This book is written for the 5-11 year old child.  The projects in it are made
of 2 identical pieces of felt, which are whip stitched most of the way around
the edges, stuffed and whip stitched shut.  The projects are very appropriate
for that age group.

What I didn't like about the book: The sewing supply list includes thread
snippers--it took a while to convince my 5 year old daughter that it was ok to
use scissors to cut the thread.  The recommended needles and thread were a
nuisance to locate--finally just used regular thread and needles I had on
hand.  I didn't care for the instructions for knotting thread and finishing
up.  The book is written in an awkward rhyme.

I am usually a big fan of Palmer/Pletsch books, but was disappointed
with this one.  It is the only one I have found that is geared toward a
student that young, though.

LS: _Let's Sew--A Beginner's Sewing Guide_ by Nancy Zieman. (list price $5.95)
[ (Carolyn Peterson)]

This book is written for the teenager and pre-teens.  It starts out with a
reasonable supply list (IMO), explains the parts of a sewing machine and a
serger, covers some information about information on patterns and some
information about selecting fabrics.  The fabric information isn't extremely
detailed, but has very basic information for a beginner.

One odd point was the book jumping into how to lengthen and shorten patterns,
with little or no other fitting information.  The cutting and marking
information is good, but I did feel *old* when I noticed tailor tacks weren't
on the list of marking methods!

I thought the sections on seaming, finishing seams and pressing were well
done.  It covered facings, casings, hemming, darts, gathering, a wrapped
corner collar, zippers, tips for knits, closures, setting in sleeves and
putting in waistbands.

The book uses new sewing gadgets and techniques, to make things easier instead
of insisting you learn the old, hard way first.  Example: for hemming, it
suggests you may want to machine stitch or fuse the hem on the first project.

End of Part 2

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