Monday, May 9, 2011

Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Sewing: Tailoring

I collect books on tailoring, so I was intrigued to see a new series entitled Illustrated Guide to Sewing with a book on tailoring.  Imagine my disappointment as I'm paging through the book and discover that it's the exact same information from an older book in my library, The Art of Sewing:  Basic Tailoring by Time Life Books (published in 1974). 

The text is identical, word for word, and the illustrations are the same, drawing by drawing.

The original work is rather antiquated and convoluted, and the new book is not much better.  The author didn't even bother to update the information from 37 years ago.  For example, a chart on interfacings lists and describes wigan, which may be obsolescent by now, and there is no mention of the new interfacings that have come on the market since then.

Despite the subtitle "A Complete Course on Making a Professional Suit," the arrangement of the information is counterintuitive to a logical sequence of steps in tailoring a garment.  The book tends to jump around between altering patterns for both jackets and pants and then sewing specific parts of a man's jacket, then specific parts of a woman's jacket, back to man's jacket, then woman's jacket, and back and forth.

The only revision appears to be the updated photos, such as the one on the cover.  They picture various finished garments rather than mid-construction shots of the same garment, which would have been much more helpful.

I was skeptical when I ordered the book at Amazon, as there were no prior reviews, and the description identifies the author, Peg Couch, as "an amateur seamstress."  I would definitely not recommend this book.


  1. I like tailoring books too but had never heard of this author. I'm shocked that the Time Life book has been reprinted word for word! Thanks for saving me some money and, most of all, disappointment.

    BTW, yes, you can still buy sleeve wigan!

  2. How disappointing! Some things don't change over time in sewing but with all the new fabrics, interfacings, and "speed tailoring" methods available to us now the book really needs an update if it's going to be reprinted and sold as a new book.

  3. So glad to find your review--I was wondering about this book!

  4. Wigan is definitely not obsolete and you can buy it in the garment district today, in fact. I have this book and think it is much more worthy than you do. I agree that the ordering of the sections leaves something to be desired, but it has a lot of detailed information in it that you cannot find in other tailoring books. Like the section on inserting a lining. I haven't found any one book on tailoring that I think tells you everything you need to know, but I do like to use this book in combination with a few of my other favorite tailoring books.

  5. I bought the Couture Techniques book in this series and thought it was okay, but not great- it seemed more like an "intermediate" sewing guide than couture instruction book.

    Was curious about the other books in the series. I have the Art of Sewing: Basic Tailoring book. Thanks for letting me know the Illustrated Guide to Tailoring is the same book!

  6. Hello,
    I'm very interested in tailoring and sewing books. May you recommend me 3 or 4 great books about this subject. I'm mainly focus in man's outfit. Thank you : )

  7. One has to remember when this series was published. At the time, there was precious little in the way of sewing books to inspire beginning/intermediate sewists. I started getting the series back in the 70's, but stopped after the 4th or 5th book. I think it was a little over my head at the time. I hadn't been sewing that long and I figure I was still maybe an advanced beginner.

    Like Lindsay, I love tailoring and I will read any book I can get my hands on that covers tailoring. You pick up a few techniques from each book you look at and none of them has it all. I think I'll go back and get that Time/Life book just out of curiosity.