Book Review: Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing

There's the ladies who love vintage style clothing, and then the ladies who just don't. Vintage-style is so very much about your personal preference in terms of garment fit and detailing, and consequently not everyone gets on with high waists, full-skirts and bust-popping bodices. Whilst Gertie's 'New Book for Better Sewing: A Modern Guide to Couture Style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques' has the look of being only suitable for those with a taste of the vintage-esque, it's actually wonderful as a stepping off point for all dressmakers, no matter what their style.


Gertie front

Gertie's book back


Gretchen Hirsch developed this book after her blog 'Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing' was a hit - she had posted her progress of the 14 styles in Vogue's 'New Book for Better Sewing' along with tutorials and solid photography. Gertie's book includes her own 14 wardrobe essentials, inspired by the Vogue book, and with examples of how to adapt each style you actually get 25 possible variations. Along with the patterns, you have everything you could need in order to make your clothing that little bit more refined.

She shows you various hand-stitching and (proper) tailoring techniques, a vintage-to-modern dictionary for those of you using or planning to use vintage patterns, pattern adjustments with personal tips and, examples and explanations of fabrics. It's a thoroughly extensive book and convertible for those who just want to pick up some new skills to give those home-sews some oomph, and for those who are starting dressmaking from scratch.


Gertie fit

Gertie finishes


Using personal experience, Gertie guides you through her adapted sizing. Women no longer have the figures that the women of the 40's had - perhaps a consequence for less people attempting vintage patterns is the sizing. Her patterns are altered from vintage shapes so that the sizing fits bigger through the hip than the waist and, with personal tips and clear instruction, you should be able to alter the provided patterns as well as actual vintage styles to suit your figure. It's a glorious read and very well thought out in terms of structure, contents and language, and it's spiral bound making it perfect for when you need to follow along as you sew.


Gertie sheath

Gertie blouse


The patterns span from a basic full circle skirt through to pencil with variations (such as the delicious scalloped waist), a number of fitted dresses and tailored coats. There are plenty of new techniques to pick up with all of these, and many a style to adapt to suit your own - once you have mastered the basic styles, you should have the confidence to be experimental. Gertie's pattern variations help with this by showing you what's possible with just a small number of 'essentials'. So for those dressmakers wanting to start afresh with their wardrobe, those needing some additional essentials, or for those who just want to have a go, Gertie's book is a wonderful go-to reference book (and a bargain for the amount of patterns and dressmaking fun you can have).


Gertie skirt

Gerties skirt2

(Thank you to those photographers who posted these photos on Flickr and such - typically, the photos we took ourselves didn't upload, we deleted them without realising and then the book being so popular was sold out in-store! Check back very shortly for topped up stock and, maybe even Gertie's new book 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual'...)

'Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing is a hardback, spiral-bound glorious book including patterns and is available for £21.99 in-store, or give us a call and we can do mail order!


Words by Steph.