Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket- Sewing Secrets from a Chanel Collector Paperback – Oct 15 2013
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About the Author
CLAIRE B. SHAEFFER is an internationally recognized expert in fashion design history and construction techniques for haute couture and high-end ready-to-wear. She has served as Couture Sewing Technique Consultant for the Museum of the City of New York, is a long-time designer for Vogue Patterns, a frequent contributor to Threads magazine, and the author of numerous books. Shaeffer received the Professional Association of Custom Clothier's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, and was inducted into the ASG’s Sewing Hall of Fame in 2012.
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There were a number of techniques discussed here that could be applied to effect on other projects one wanted to upgrade to the level of fine art. For instance, you may have wondered why certain items of clothing you have owed (or borrowed from a friend or relative) lasted so well, and could take the abuse of daily living without showing the effects. Perhaps sometime you admired the drape of a jacket fabric without knowing quite how they achieved that custom fit. Without taking the garment apart, you were never going to uncover the mystery.
Author Claudia Shaeffer does all that for us and more. She shows us the machine and hand sewing techniques for each stage of the jacket process. One part I found most interesting was the cutting and seam-marking. It may seem obvious to some, but thread-marking the seams rather than using some other marker is clearly superior to anything else I can think of when one is cutting from a large piece of fabric with an obvious graphic. (I am not talking about Chanel jackets here, but using unique fabrics for specialized projects).
Buttonholing, sleeve side vents, applying gimp trim and pockets are all discussed, and it should come as no surprise that good results comes from careful attention to detail and patient hand sewing techniques. These are projects in which one must revel in the process rather than simply the product. But with the right kind of desire, one can produce lovely, long-lasting and unique pieces of clothing art…and it doesn’t have to look like Chanel unless you want it to.
Shaeffer includes high-quality and useful close-up pictures in the book of the techniques she describes, and has many gorgeous photographs of Chanel jackets through the years. While I did not see the DVD included with the book, it must be an equally useful master course in couture fitting. For an aspiring tailor, clothing designer, or seamstress, to find a teacher for these techniques is as rare as hen’s teeth. Artisans that can do these things can rarely explain it. Shaeffer has done that AND produced a book with beautiful, clear photographs that you can reference again and again as you struggle to achieve something unique.
As I went to post this review, I discovered that Claire B. Shaeffer has an entire line of books and DVD sets on couture sewing techniques. Her line is wonderfully priced by the indispensable craft publisher Taunton Press. Creating works of art by hand makes better people of us—those who appreciate the time and effort involved in success and failure and beauty. We begin to understand talent, patience, perseverance…those things that will make a difference to us in our lives and loves. If you know an aspiring fabric-ator, the name Claire B. Shaeffer is a useful name to know.
Ms Shaeffer collects Chanel jackets and has reverse engineered the tailoring techniques that make them look and feel so fantastic. She presents the "how to" in straightforward Taunton Press prose with loads of photos.
Although I appreciate the value of authentic Chanel pieces to the technician, I would have liked Ms Shaeffer to have included some modern examples of Chanel-inspired jackets for us. I find Chanel from the 50s and 60s unrelievedly unattractive. The fabrics and trim shown in the book represent an entirely different aesthetic from today's and I worry that the samples shown and the fabrics Ms Shaeffer works with in her demonstrations are so authentic that they are offputting.
I received this review copy of "Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket. Sewing secrets from a Chanel collector" by Claire B. Shaeffer (The Taunton Press) through NetGalley.com. It is one of several of Ms Shaeffer's Couture Sewing books published by Taunton.
if you are not familiar with basic hand sewing, or couture methods of garment construction, I strongly recommend purchasing her revised & updated Couture Sewing Techniques book along with her Couture Techniques Workshop DVD (sold separately) before purchasing The Couture Cardigan Jacket.
Why four stars? It would have been phenomenal if Mrs. Shaffer could have acquire at least one contemporary jacket to her collection and briefly discuss its features. Also, but since one of the things that makes a couture garment special is the attention to detail, a more detailed explanation on sewing different handworked tailored buttonholes, would had been appreciated.