Monday 1 October 2012

Book review: Couture Sewing Techniques and Giveaway Winner

As requested by some of my readers, it is time I did my first sewing book review. This one is probably my favourite, not only because I simply could not have made my wedding dress without it. It is, of course, Couture Sewing Techniques (Revised & Updated) by Claire B. Shaeffer. 

Before I start though, it is also time to announce the winner of my first ever Giveaway! Thank you for all the lovely readers that took part - I appreciate all the wonderful comments and very helpful suggestions. The winner was selected by a random number generator (thank you Excel!) and the beautifully green fabric goes to... drum roll please... Arielle (lakaribane) at Fashion Maté! Arielle, I will be in touch by email shortly. 
Now the book review. 
This book is based on the 2001 version of Claire's Couture Sewing Techniques, but revised and updated 10 years later to not only to bring the book up-to-date, but also to add a new chapter on special fabrics and lots of beautiful photos. 

I bought this book almost as an alternative to Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture, which is out of print, and goes for £100+ on Amazon (there is a cd version available from the US, but when I was making my wedding dress, I just didn't want any further delays over potential custom issues/shipping problems). I was really glad that I did make the purchase, as it was of invaluable help (as were all the PR members on the Bridal sewing board). 

The book is made of 2 main parts: the basics to couture sewing, and applying couture techniques. I think this makes logical sense, and makes a great read from cover to cover - this is not what I can say for a lot of sewing books, especially techniques-based ones. However, I must admit that at times, I did find that some techniques are not situated in one place, so I had to jump through a couple of parts. Though all in all, this was not a big problem for me. 

The book contains so many wonderful couture techniques, and made me feel like couture sewing is not out of my (or anyone's) reach. The techniques are well explained, well illustrated, and in most cases, well applied in the later parts of the book. 

It takes you through the history of couture sewing, which personally I found a fascinating read, but I could imagine some readers considering it irrelevant. It contains lots and lots of references to the great famous fashion houses, with exclusive photos of some wonderfully constructed items, which was inspiring. 

There are also lots of "Claire's tip" next to some techniques, and I really loved those as I felt like I was being given great insight of the industry, and "tricks of the trade". 

Towards the very end of the book, there is also a section on special occasions wear and wedding dresses. Selfishly, I wished that the wedding dresses section was a little bit longer, especially as there are not that many sewing books on the market for wedding dresses constructions. But it certainly contained some useful information on the key elements of wedding dresses, which I did find helpful. 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic book. Although I don't think this is something that complete beginners should get their hands on straight away, this is certainly suitable for advanced beginners onwards who are interested in learning how to sew better. It helped me a great deal, and made me appreciate hand sewing so much more. 

Happy sewing everyone! x


  1. I'm very happy to read this, thank you for holding the giveaway. I emailed you just now.

    1. I'm so excited to see what you make with it for your mum! What a lovely thing to do :-)


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