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Topic: The Complete Book of Sewing, by Constance Talbot - Book Review  (Read 2451 times)
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wifeofbath
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« on: July 19, 2006 09:05:09 PM »

This book was published in 1943 by Book Presentations; obviously it's OOP, but it's still available secondhand for cheap. I first saw it recommended on Pattern Review (along with an early '50s book by Mary Lynch) in terms that made me curious, and after letting it sit in my Amazon.com wishlist for a while, I finally ordered it. The shipping cost me more than the book itself.

I received it two days ago, and although I've not read everything, I think it's worth buying. I own several sewing books already, but this is written well, has loads of information, and has all the nostalgia appeal of '40s (give or take a decade) books; even just flipping through it reminds me of browsing old encyclopedias or how-to books when I was a child. The information covers everything from basic sewing and garment construction to home dec sewing, and quite a lot in between. It's pretty thorough. So in addition to the enjoyment it's provided, I've already learned a new-to-me method of seam finishing that is just the thing for a project I'm planning; I've probably gotten my money's worth  already.

For the environmentalists and the thrifty, there's a lot of stuff about re-making old garments and doing things to make your wardrobe appear larger than it is (for example, pocketbook covers)--stuff which makes it obvious this was written back before the throw-away culture came into being.  Not only had the throw-away mindset not yet been invented, but clothing cost more than today (no cheap imports from the Third World), the world had just come out of the Great Depression which had taught people to be thrifty, and there was a war on (admittedly rationing in the USA was never as severe as in England, but frugality was still patriotic.)  Back then people had fewer clothes and wanted things to last, and they also wanted to get as much use as possible from what they had. Not that the book talks about these things, it's just that it's evident in the general outlook of the times. Anyway, I like that mindset, and it's also interesting as history; I was delighted to see a comment that drawstrings are not only pretty and functional, they save metal (needed for the war effort)--that's something no one would think of today.

For people who don't have all the most up-to-date equipment, Talbot's book may make a better general reference book than a contemporary one. Everything in this book can be done on a straight-stitch machine or by hand. (Neo-Luddites take note!)There's no assumption that you'll be using a serger, rotary cutter, or modern notions. I guess the con to this is that there's nothing about sewing with modern synthetics, applying Velcro, using fusible interfacings, and so on, but no one expects that from a 1943 book anyway.

Another con for some people might be that the fitting section has nothing about trousers, for obvious reasons. I think this is made up for by the utilitarian clothing chapter's talking about housedresses--dresses for working in is not something you'll see covered in today's books or magazines! For retro types, it might be made up for by the instructions on making old-fashioned panties with buttons.

Anyway, good book and I recommend it. One place you can find sellers is here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BWMTXI/sr=1-1/qid=1153365555/ref=sr_1_1/102-1983577-2060144?ie=UTF8&s=books
« Last Edit: June 12, 2009 12:19:39 PM by jungrrl - Reason: Made title more descriptive » THIS ROCKS   Logged

"An old cloak makes a new jerkin..." (Wm Shakespeare, recycling and DIY enthusiast)
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