New Books

I’ve bought a couple of new books

Dressmaking Made Easy arrived yesterday. I saw it mentioned on another blog and decided I needed to get a copy. It is a 1920’s sewing manual written by Laura Baldt who was the Assistant Professor of Household Arts at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. It was published by the McCall Company who I guess are the same pattern company that’s still around.

The books has a green binding and very pretty patterned paper cover with a gold background and right coloured squares. The illustrations inside are of very elegant ladies in that unmistakeable 1920’s silhouette. It is a very matter of fact, straight forward sort of book that just tells you how to get on and do it. It doesn’t have any of the scene setting or general chat about the subject that you would get in a sewing book these days.

The thing that surprises me most about this book is how modern it seems; dressmaking techniques have hardly changed since it was published. There are several sections which wouldn’t be included in a sewing book today; for example how to care for hats, how to apply shields to an armhole and a chapter about how to avoid unsuitable fabric such as silk which has been dyed with tin to make it a heavier cloth or linen or cotton which has had chalk or clay added to disguise a loose weave. It is also missing a chapter on zips, I think this is because zips didn’t become common until the 1930’s. Apart from that it is very similar to a modern dress making manual.

The second book is Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. Alice, the teacher at my evening class talked about this book one week and I decided to order it. She did add that it was not really a beginners book, which it isn’t. It is actually a very comprehensive manual for learning about pattern cutting. It goes through stage by stage how to make patterns with hundreds of examples of what an be achieved and exactly how to get the look you want. I really would like to take a year off work and spend my time working through and making up every example but I don’t think this is really very practical! The book also comes with a DVD which I haven’t looked at yet.

One frustration with this book is that at the end of each chapter there is a little test where you make up patterns for various illustrated garments. The problem with this is that the answers aren’t provided and for some of the garments the patterns are quite difficult to devise.

Alice, also recommended books by Winifred Aldrich which might also be worth a try.


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