Currently Reading: Couture Sewing Techniques

I don’t often just sit around reading sewing instructional books for fun, but this book is just so much more than just a sewing manual.  I first encountered Claire Shaeffer several years ago at the Costume Society of America Symposium.  She gave a presentation on the topic of identifying Chanel couture, even if the label was missing.  I was just blown away at her research on the topic, and her study extends far beyond Chanel.

I’ve long lamented the way online sellers sling around the C word – Couture.  But I honestly think that most of these people do not know the difference between couture and designer ready-to-wear.   Those sellers need this book.  Claire has a great chart that compares and contrasts couture and RTW.  It’s all spelled out, and made perfectly clear.

I’m not going to go into a true review here because I’m writing one for the Vintage Fashion Guild.  It will be in the public newsletter next month, which can be accessed through the VFG homepage.  The book I’m showing is the recently published up-dated and revised edition.  You can also buy the original. 

While Claire shows the reader how to do each technique, she also explains how couture houses apply the technique in the construction of a garment.  A few examples from a late 1960s Chanel dress:

A Chanel buttonhole:  hand-worked on the outside…

bound in the lining, and then sewn to the hand-worked hole.

Zipper is inserted by hand, and notice that the actual closure extend to the shoulder seam:

Even the backs of pocket flaps are beautifully finished and lined in silk:


Filed under Currently Reading

4 responses to “Currently Reading: Couture Sewing Techniques

  1. I definitely need to check out this book! Thanks for the photos!!


  2. Catherine

    I have this book also,the original version, and it is brilliant.
    Two other books I enjoy flipping through at the moment are both from exhibitions at the V&A and I expect you know of them…
    “The Golden Age of Couture;Paris and London 1947-57” edited by Claire Wilcox and “Style and Splendour;The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway” Anne Kjellberg and Susan North.Both published by the V&A.
    I saw the Queen Maud exhibition and the dresses were wonderful and span the late Victorian era to the 1930’s.She was a very stylish lady in her choice of gown.The other exhibition I didn’t get to see much to my regret.


  3. Pingback: The Vintage Traveler Annual Giveaway | The Vintage Traveler

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