Book Review: Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing

In my last post, I quickly mentioned Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch.

I highly recommend this book!

Thus far, in my nearly 3 decades of sewing, I've gotten by without a lot of books.  I learned many techniques from family members, my home ec teacher, the mistress of the costume department in my college's theatre. What I didn't learn from them, I filled in by reading my sewing machine manual and an old edition of the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Many sewing books that I've seen are too basic for me to learn a lot from - they are designed to teach someone to sew from scratch.  I have mostly found myself interested in sewing books that have patterns or projects in them, but I've never collected or coveted sewing books the way I once did knitting books.

I do like to look at them, though.  Especially when they cross my desk in the library where I work.  The other day, I saw that someone had ordered the Colette Sewing Handbook and I was really excited to take a peak inside.  I must say that I was a little disappointed.  I just wasn't very excited about the patterns and it was geared toward teaching someone to sew from the beginning.  It's a very good book for what it is and if the patterns strike your fancy, even better.  But I didn't feel like I couldn't live without it.

I feel differently about Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.

I looked at it on amazon and I liked the patterns a lot better.  I didn't want to buy it without getting a closer look, though, so I ordered it through Interlibrary Loan to get a closer sneak peak.  As I read through it, it instantly became a companion that answered a lot of little questions and taught me things that could make me a better sewer.  Not just teaching from the very beginning, this is a book about refining technique and the projects are designed to incorporate vintage & couture techniques that are exciting and challenging.  They aren't just practice pieces though, they are garments that I would really want to wear.

The techniques and the information about sewing from vintage patterns is really fascinating and helpful, but this isn't just for people who are interested in vintage.  These are classic shapes that are the building blocks of most of the shapes that women want to wear today.  This book teaches you about construction and fitting, so that you can become a problem-solver, rescaling patterns, custom fitting garments to your body, and even drafting your own patterns for dirdl skirts, circle skirts, and more. I love that it shows how to change the skirt on a bodice to customize to your own preferences.  This sundress is adorable in both the full and fitted versions... just draft your own skirt from instructions earlier in the book to create your custom-fitted design.
I really want to try this pattern for summer and I am excited that it will teach smocking, which is a look I love and have never tried to me-make.

The book is so handy as a reference - from a guide to unusual types of fabrics mentioned in vintage sewing patterns to lists of tools for sewing and pressing; from an index for sourcing fabric and notions to a wonderful guide about different seam finishes - this book offers a lot of information to take your sewing to a new level.  Once I checked it out through Interlibrary Loan, I couldn't bear the thought of sending it back without ordering my own copy - so I hopped online and got myself one.
I've seen this bias finishing on seams and never knew it was called a Hong Kong Seam. Yay for learning new things!

I know I am late to the party, since this book came out in 2012... so I was excited to read that there is a new Gertie book coming out! Gertie Sews Vintage Casual.  Yes, please! You can pre-order it now. I am really looking forward to adding it to my shelves when it comes out.