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Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing:: A Modern Guide to Couture-Style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques (Gertie's Sewing) Hardcover-spiral – September 1, 2012
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About the Author
Gretchen Hirsch writes Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing (blogforbettersewing.com) and teaches sewing in New York City, around the country, on PBS’s It’s Sew Easy, and on Craftsy.com. She lives in Beacon, New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
The problems are centered around the patterns.
First- the size chart doesn't have an accompanying figure to show you where exactly to measure yourself. Early in the book Gertie talks about measuring and recommends using your high bust measurement. But I'm still not clear if she wants the reader to use a high bust or bust measurement. (see edit below)
Second- there are no technical drawings of the garments. There are some artistic renderings throughout, but not all of them match the patterns, nor are they paired with the patterns. And there are no technical drawings of back views.
Third- the patterns lack lengthen and shorten lines.
Fourth- some of the patterns seem like they're not just inspired by Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing, but that they are the exact same Vogue patterns that have been made larger and then multisized. i.e. the portrait blouse, the bow-tied blouse, and the sultry sheath (she says that she wanted to include a version of that dress but with a different neckline. It appears to be the same dress (jumper version) down to the uneven dart placement). The uneven dart placement drives me crazy. I wish Gertie had moved the darts so they lined up. For someone who wants to sew the Vogue projects, but doesn't want to spend the money buying the individual patterns, this is a great option for them, but it didn't appeal to me and I wish the book had stated that some of the same patterns were included.
And yes, the fit bothered me a little. Some of the clothes look too tight in some areas and too loose in others. And sometimes the clothing looks vaguely upholstered.
Anyway, the first part of the book is wonderful, the information for sewing the patterns is ok, but the patterns present a few problems.
*the sizing~ Early in the book Gertie recommends using a high bust measurement. Hers is 36". Her full bust is 39" and her waist is 30". Later she says she created her own sizing using herself as a size 8 and then graded up and down from there. But when you get to the sizing chart, size 8 is 38"-30"-42". So do you use a high bust like she recommends earlier or a full bust which is closer to the size 8 given in her chart? There lies my confusion.
Her section on fabric types wasn't meant to be expansive but I still wish it had been more comparative. Descriptions are nice but less useful to people who don't have samples on hand to determine whether organza is lighter than chiffon. I wish that she hadn't snubbed quilting cotton wholesale. I thought it was odd that she passed over denim and chambray--the classic casual shirtwaist fabric--in her section on fabric types but included gingham, apparently because it's cute. Most cotton gingham readily available today is either sloppily-woven faux homespun or awful cotton-polyester blend, and the stuff that isn't is usually, well, printed quilting cotton. Furthermore, if you're in the market for a crisp white cotton blouse, you cannot do better than Kona, which is opaque and an absolute dream to handle (as anyone who does applique can tell you).
I agree, too, with the reviewer I read somewhere (Amazon?) who wished that the clothing had been shown on somebody other than a whole series of Gerties. Between the drawings and the photographs, there is an awful lot of Gertie in the book. Not that we don't like her, but she happens to have a figure that lends itself well to 1950's-style clothing, and those of us who have figures that don't would like to see what her designs look like when adapted, say, for my thin shoulders and low bust.
Page 84: Half-size patterns " . . . are delineated by odd numbers, rather than the even numbers of misses sizes". This isn't very clearly stated: Petite patterns are sized in *odd-number body measurements* (bust 37, for example) instead of the even-number measurements (bust 34, 36, etc.) used for regular misses' sizes. Petites are also proportioned a little differently to fit womanly figures. Juniors' patterns are given odd size numbers (size 11, 13, etc.) but the body measurements are still usually given in even numbers.
I have not yet had time to try the patterns but I like the way the directions are laid out, with necessary materials and "Key Skills" in a colored box on the first page of the project. I wish, though, that Gertie had been standing in the picture of the drop-waisted cocktail dress so we could see what it looked like, and I wish overall that the dresses in the examples had been made of lighter fabrics without busy patterns so that their details would show up better.
This book might be useful as a bridge book between beginner projects and more advanced and demanding dressmaking. I would say it's advanced-beginner level. I haven't decided yet if I will keep it. Readers will need to be familiar with standard sewing terms and comfortable with their machines but won't already need to have learned more than basic skills. None of the information here is groundbreaking but she does a reasonable job of explaining not only what to do, but why it should be done.
I have made the Portrait Blouse, The Pencil Skirt and the Bow Tie Blouse. I am about to start the strapless party dress.