The Dressmaker’s Library: ” The Vogue Sewing Book”, 1970 Edition

Along with “Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing”, the 1970 edition of “The Vogue Sewing Book” has been a mainstay in my library.

Both books cover alterations, use of color, and types of textiles. “Reader’s digest Complete Book of Sewing” is a much more technical reference book since it offers step-by-step illustrations that accompany each aspect of garment construction presented in the book.

“The Vogue Sewing Book” is not as technically oriented and does not provide such detailed instruction. It does have several features that make it worth having on hand anyway.

First, there is a dictionary of French fashion terms towards the back of the book. When I began to move away from commercial patterns and was starting to learn about custom dressmaking I found the dictionary very helpful. The terms covered include French words for certain fabrics, types of sewing and garment features.

I think almost every sewist would like to have a list of recommendations about which collars, necklines, sleeves, skirts and bodices look best on certain figure types. “The Vogue Sewing Book” makes such recommendations in a very easy to access format.

The classifications are “Short” (under 5’6″) and “Tall” (over 5’6″). This sounds overly simplified but after reading the explanation of why the editors chose these designations it all makes sense. Within each category there are finer distinctions made for variations within the figure type. For example, the collars that look best on a short woman with a long neck are different from those that look best on a tall woman with a short neck. Further distinctions are made for women in both categories for figures that are short waisted, long waisted, small or large hipped, and so on.

Chart with recommendations of collars suitable to different figure types.

The charts are easy to use having “X” marks for unsuitable styles, check marks for flattering styles and empty square boxes for suitable styles.

“The Vogue Sewing Book” 1970 edition provides many suggestions for creating a workspace dedicated to sewing.

There is also a section devoted to how a sewist can create the perfect sewing area or room. The suggestions can work even today. There is one work space made out of a closet that I think makes very clever use of fold out ironing board, shelving and a compact table for the sewing machine.

Instructions for creating a combo work/cutting table from “The Vogue Sewing Book” 1970 edition.

There are even instructions which show how to build the perfect combination work/cutting table. When I sent to dressmaking school I took these instructions to a carpenter in my area. He agreed to make a simplified form of the table for me, complete with formica top and wheels on the legs along with a lower shelf where I stored pattern paper, fabric and all my other stuff. All I had to do was apply a coat of polyurethane to the wood since that saved me a bit of money on the price of the finished table.

Some of the sewing techniques in “The Vogue Sewing Book” differ from those in the “Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing”. I find having both on hand is very good since there is always the possibility that a different technique may be needed at any time.

I lost the copy of “The Vogue Sewing Book” my Grandma Josie gave me back in 1970. I was able to get a copy along with the original slipcase for under $15 by buying a used copy through Amazon. I highly recommend purchasing one for your library.

I will show some of the technqiues I’m using from “The Vogue Sewing Book” 1970 edition as I begin sewing the Donna blouse.


2 thoughts on “The Dressmaker’s Library: ” The Vogue Sewing Book”, 1970 Edition

  1. I’ve got this book too. I found it for £1 in a charity shop. I think it’s really good on collars & I also used it to make dowager’s hump adjustments for a lady. I couldn’t find the latter info anywhere other than there. It was a big success.


    • I’m glad to know you found this book helpful, too. I recommend “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing”, too. Get the earliest edition circa 1970s. They also have a great fitting portfolio. Dowager’s hump is a real challenge. My late mother had a sway back. That’s another fitting challenge. We learn so much through them, though.


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