|Couture: the art of fine sewing / Roberta Carr
Vancouver, WA: Palmer/Pletsch, c1993.
Starting the year's book reviews off with an interesting find! I heard about this book just recently when someone on PatternReview mentioned it in reference to Spanish Snaps, a technique I'd never encountered before. So as usual, I looked it up to see if I could find a copy through the library system. I found one copy in one library in all of Canada -- and when it arrived, I realized it was from the library in the small town I grew up in. It was pretty battered, and I had to wonder if it had been borrowed by people I'd known in the years since its 1993 publication date -- had it spent time in the home of my junior high school home ec teacher? Or even my own relatives or friends? Had I ever picked up this exact book in the library and looked at it back then? What a serendipitous delight it was!
That made my reading experience special. But I also enjoyed this book for the inspiring content. It's very of its time -- the photos of the many garments are SO 80s (of course I do love the 80s and find this a plus, for me!) And the instructions for various techniques are illustrated with line drawings, not photos. But it has a lot of useful and intriguing tips.
It starts with a few chapters on the concept of couture -- she calls it "The Couture" which is a bit strange, but hey. I skimmed over these as I don't really agree that just being handmade and personalized makes something couture. However, the rest of the book deals with technique, and that is where it shines.
There are opening sections on essential fabric prep, pressing, and details (like making a Dior rose). Then there are sections on darts, seam finishes, bias, piping, gathers & ruffles, the princess seam, lots on sleeves, shoulder pads, buttonholes and pockets. As someone else mentioned in a review on Goodreads, there is nary a mention of a zipper, which is a bit of an oversight. However, what is included is great. There is clear explanation and lots of diagrams and drawings. There are a handful of large colour images in an insert, and they are all glamorous in the biggest 80s way. But there are a few that I really liked and would consider as real inspiration.
She also talks about some of the big designers and their signatures (she really loves St Laurent...) And there are some examples of those as well.
I like that it's not just dry instructional but also includes a clear love for the idea of couture and creativity. Her examples are clear on the how-to, but also on the encouragement to use these for your own ends, to add them and adapt them and make sure you are taking the time to add quality and something extra to your work.
I liked this one so much that I ended up ordering myself a copy. Now I can sift through it and try new details at my own pace. I'm loving a lot of the buttonholes, including the Spanish Snaps that originally brought me to this book. And the sleeve and pocket ideas are also calling my name... I think this is going to bring me a lot of enjoyment this year.