Monday, October 24, 2011

Vintage Sewing Books I Want!

I borrowed two great sewing books at my local library this year (multiple times).

All-around Sewing Reference

Note: Same book, different editions: 1961 and 1970 (they removed the tag-line). The 1970 edition was available in a metal binder version, see below.

Better homes & Gardens Sewing Book (1961)

What's I found cool inside:

The book shows five different ways to make a sheer overdress with an opaque inner slip that also formed its own foundation garment. The instructions included details on how to construct the inner corselet for each dress. The construction is a little different depending on how the outer sheer dress was to be attached to the inner slip.

Drafting and Patternmaking

Designing Your Own Dress Patterns (1951)
Designing Dress Patterns Third Ed. (1971) by Helen Nicol Tanous.

Check out some of the styles I could create from this book (more at the link above):

Examples of drafting projects

Her method of moving darts is probably no different than many other guides, but her variations are what I love. The book shows things that they did when designing clothes in the 1940-50s that they don't do anymore in home sewing patterns. Besides the Advanced Vogue designer patterns the goal nowadays is easy quick sewing, with a minimum of custom details.

I want my own copies. mission!

Update: Just ordered them both from Alibris!!


Faye Lewis said...

I am forever on a book hunt or a notion or fabric mission. Sometimes the searching drives me a little batty, but in reality the searching is where the fun is. I actually have the book with the pin cushion on the cover. It was gifted to me by my friend Lisa. The pattern making one seems very interesting. Mmmmmm, I need to put that one on my list.

Audrey said...

Amazon has the Designing your own dress pattern used for $9.00. That looks like a good deal.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I happen to own both those books! I had not noticed the sheer overdress instructions in the Better Homes in Gardens book.. I do love the MadMen style illustration. I got mine at a thrift shop.

The other book is a high school home ec textbook. The method of moving darts shown here is the pivot-and-turn (rather than slashing). This is the method most pros use, so well worth learning. Because it's a high school book, this book is written in simple language and has clear illustrations. I found mine on Alibris. Good luck with your hunt! I think this book should be easy to find.

Claire (aka Seemane) said...

Do you still have the Better Homes & Gardens Sewing Books at home (on loan from the library)?

Maybe you can compare their ISBN numbers for both books (with the 2 different covers - the top pictures) to see if they differ - and just try to buy the one you prefer (unless they are both really cheap of course ;) )?

I searched the web and found this page on that shows loads of different editions of that title.

I also found this blog post on the book when searching Google:

From my search it seems that:-
ISBN 0696002000 = Cover of sewing notions/shears is a 1970's edition.
ISBN 0696002019 = Appears to be the 1961 edition (cover photo of dressform and armchair)

I use a couple of sites to check for vintage books:, and (though I'm not sure if the 2nd one is only for the UK?).

Oh... and I ended up ordering the books whilst I was searching for them (haha! - I am a book addict afterall LOL!)

lsaspacey said...

Thanks everybody!

Claire, that LibraryThing really helped me out. I now know it's the 1961 edition that I want. Good on ya, Claire!

Claire (aka Seemane) said...

^ :)! You're most welcome!

Did you locate a copy of the pattern designing book to buy for yourself too?

Callie said...

I love vintage sewing books and BH&G is a good choice. have about four! I keep them when I run across them! It's very informative.
I'd never seen or heard of "Designing Your Own Dress Patterns" by Helen Nicol Tanous. I'm going to see if I can find it on Amazon.