Couture: (coo-toor) 1: the business of designing, making, and selling fashionable custom-made women’s clothing, 2: the designers and establishments engaged in couture, 3: the clothes created by couture
Author: Lynda Maynard
Publisher: Interweave Publishing
Couture Technique Selector
The Couturier’s Kit
Bindings and Finishes
Design Details: On Show
Design Details: Concealed
Directory of Luxury Fabrics
Essential Couture Techniques
Paperback or Hardbound? Hardbound, with an inner spiral binding, so it lays flat, which I really like.
Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs? Yes. It has very good illustrations.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate this book in the must-have category? Well, here’s the thing. I wouldn’t refer to most of the techniques illustrated in this book as couture. They are couture in the strictest interpretation of the first definition of the word. But when most sewing enthusiasts think of couture sewing techniques, we think of haute couture techniques. The first technique illustrated in this book is how to make a banded V-neck on knit fabric. Don’t get me wrong! The method is clearly illustrated, and very easy to follow. I’m going to use it on my next knit top. But it isn’t haute couture. I was also nonplussed by the prevalence of serged seams and edges in the example garments.
The book doesn’t include even some of the most basic haute couture sewing techniques. For example, a chapter called “Designer Underpinnings” that only talks about underlinings? Nothing anywhere about boning, corsetry, interfacing? Also, a minor nit perhaps, but the book reverses the definitions of petersham and grosgrain ribbons in the Directory of Luxury Fabrics chapter. But it shows a ribbon in a “Petersham ‘Peek’ Seam” that is, indeed, petersham ribbon. There are other examples I can give, but I think you see my point. Ultimately, this book is a decent reference for RTW techniques. It belongs in the same category as Claire Shaeffer’s High Fashion Sewing Secrets and Vogue & Butterick’s Designer Sewing Techniques.
Now, before anyone thinks I’m getting all Len Goodman here, let me just say that I like this book. It’s a clearly illustrated, well-put-together compendium of techniques that will give nice designer touches to your garment. I would recommend it for a beginner to intermediate who wants to add to their repertoire. But if you want a real reference for couture techniques, I’d recommend Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques, Susan Khalje’s Bridal Couture, or Couture, The Art of Fine Sewing by Roberta Carr.
Conclusion: I hate saying it, but I was disappointed in this book. COUTURE is all in caps in the title, so I was expecting more. As I say, it has some good techniques that will give nice results. But I would rename it “The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Ready to Wear Sewing Techniques”.