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New Books!


I found both of these at Alibris Books for very little money. Pretty happy that both of them have come to stay at The Stitchery 🙂 and must admit I was up quite a bit of the night reading the Coat & Skirt Making book.

The Coat & Skirt Making book is a textbook, teaching how to draft skirts (straight, flared, pleated and gored), coats (jackets and over-garments including the cut on sleeve of a style called the Magyar, or maybe what we’d call the Bog Coat. The book gives instructions for drafting the Magyar with and without gussets, using just the front gusset and using panel seams. There is even a short section on drafting Ladies Trousers. It was first published in New Zealand in the late 50’s and has been updated many times. My version is from 1978.

It has the old time-y drafting and “making up” techniques of traditional tailoring and answers many questions for me such as how to use Tailor’s Tacks to mark the seam allowances and still add in “inlays” so adjustments can be made. I know: some things just escape me until someone takes me by the hand…

I just LOVE it! I think I’ll try drafting a skirt from it and see how it goes. It looks to be fairly simple to do, much less complicated than drafting a coat, that’s for sure.

Reading it has brought all the techniques that I learned at the Couture Tailoring class back into the front of my attention so it’s probably time for me to review my class notes and the CD that we were given at the end of the class. There was just so much we learned in those 5 days…!

And lo and behold: The first use of the word “Serge” that I have found in print to date! Been looking for this explanation ever since I inherited a small packet of 7/8 yd of “Navy Serge” from my dear Mother In Law in 2006.


Here’s an example of the “making up” instructions. It’s old fashioned but very accessible.


I became reacquainted with Time-Life’s Basic Tailoring book at Claire Shaeffer’s workshop and finally found it online. I had searched for it 3 or 4 years ago and had dropped the quest. Glad I finally brought it into the fold.


The typeface of this book is totally frustrating. It’s even difficult to photograph. However, it’s a treasure because the illustrations are worth a thousand words.

I do recommend taking a look for these books if you are interested in tailoring.

Meanwhile back at the cutting table I’m making up two vests from the January Burda World of Fashion magazine, style 124. This vest is not a shrunken shortie: it comes to approx 3″ below the waist but it is closely fitted. I do love a nice vest with almost everything.

BWOF Jan 09 124

I’m using the soft woolen glen plaid, lined with black china silk and faced with grey flannel. The second one is going to match the grey flannel pants I made earlier this week. It will be lined with a well-aged stretch silk charmeuse. I’ve cut the size 44 and have had a try on: I need to let out the back darts below the waist and move the front darts over 1″. Hope to finish the glen plaid today. We’ll see.

Hmmmm, that newsboy cap is pretty cute, too. I just happen to have a pattern…somewhere around here…

hugs all
Mary Beth


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

6 responses »

  1. Interesting, “serge”, not meaning type of sewing machine. I’ve pretty sure I’ve seen “serge” on vintage patterns as a fabric suggestion. I *know* I’ve seen “barathea”, but wasn’t sure whether it was a type of silk or wool. At least now I know from your post. I can see you in the vest!

  2. Oooh, that vest is super cute!

  3. I have 7 of those Time Life sewing books and that Samual Heath in a much older edition. Will show them on Flickr when I get a moment to photograph them.

    Couple of months ago I had the idea of exploring the simplier aspects of patternmaking….again. I wanted to explore the SKIRT, using all the books I could find and experimenting with all the various methods of making the basic skirt pattern. It has been quite the challenge to collect these books. The experiment has yet to begin.

  4. MaryBeth, thanks for your nice comments on my blog. I am doing so much better!
    Love your book reviews. You do find the best treasures! Loretta

  5. Hi Mary Beth .- interesting that these books …. uhummm. ahhh. button used for the tutorial of the buttonholes, I think it is the sixties, a coat of my mother (I save everything, this is my problem).

    hugs, Paco

  6. Pingback: Gusseted Magyar & Turban: 60’s Edith Head Pattern « The Stitchery

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