The Dressmaker’s Library: Vogue’s New Book For Better Sewing

Dust jacket of “Vogue’s New Book For Better Sewing”.

A reference library is one of the dressmaker’s best resources when it’s not always possible to attend workshops or pursue extended coursework in design, patternmaking, garment construction and alterations. One day workshops and visits to exhibits are also good educational experiences, but again extra time is needed to pursue these activities.

At this point in my life my library of dressmaking and fashion related reference books is the main resource for my ongoing self-study and improvement. Due to work demands and scheduling it is hard for me to have enough time in which to pursue coursework or workshops. Instead, my well loved and frequently referred to books have become teachers and companions along the journey of discovery that is dressmaking and design. I’ve finally added a long awaited friend to my library and the enjoyment is very high.

When “Vogue’s New Book For Better Sewing” arrived last Saturday, I put my phone on voicemail and luxuriated in getting immersed in the book for over an hour and a half.

Pattern pieces and illustration for a sundress with halter top and dirndl skirt.

The goal of “Vogue’s New Book For Better Sewing” was to enable a home sewist to improve skills and competency in a wide variety of areas related to dressmaking. These skills were developed by using the book in conjunction with a series of Vogue patterns starting with a basic chemise dress and working through projects of increasing complexity. I consider the book an excellent course of self study. The sewist progresses through projects like a simple bolero and pencil skirt and eventually moves onto a dressmaker suit which incorporates some tailored elements. There is also a lovely evening gown, raglan sleeve coat and smart day time dresses full of Dior’s New Look elements. The sewist who completed the entire program presented by the book would have a good grounding in the skills needed to work with a wide variety of styles, as well as basic fit.

Construction details and pressing instructions for the sundress.

“Vogue’s New Book For Better Sewing” also provides a valuable resource for coordinating retro inspired accessories and outfits. The photos are clear and details provide ideas for one’s own wardrobe. I find the jewelry, gloves, hats, scarves and other accessories the models wear worthy of taking notes on as these little details can create a shopping list or wish list for vintage inspired accessories.

One of the bonsues in this book is that the fabric cutting layouts clearly show the shape of the pattern pieces. A sewist with patternmaking knowledge and a creative approach can study these diagrams and plan on ways to adapt whatever system he or she uses to create similar pattern pieces. While it’s not like having the original Vogue Patterns used in this book, it is a good starting point to begin from.