by Lynda Maynard
Couture technique selector 8
Browse this illustrated guide and go straight to the
couture technique you’re looking for.
The couturier’s kit 12
A guide to all the essential equipment for the couture sewer.
Bindings and finishes 16
Clean, easy and visually appealing binding techniques
for a professional finish.
Design details: on show 50
The visual details and designer flourishes that help
mark out a piece of clothing as ‘couture’.
Design details: concealed 82
The ‘unsung heroes’ of couture sewing: The hidden
details that add real luxury to the ‘feel’ and fit of a garment.
Designer underpinnings 108
Fabrics can be enhanced or inhibited by backing or interlining
with various companion fabrics. This chapter shows you how to
use different fabrics with one another for the best results.
Directory of luxury fabrics 116
A guide to selecting and using linings, interlinings, luxury
fabrics and trims in your sewing projects.
Essential couture techniques 140
A wealth of essential couture sewing know-how.
My interest in sewing began in early childhood at the age of seven. I was inspired by my mother’s pastel-coloured pillow slips. One day while she was away at work, I took one and created my first dress by simply cutting a circular opening for my head and one for each arm. I proudly wore my first ‘shift’ around the neighbourhood and the excitement grew. I next helped myself to two more pillow slips and engineered a tiered concoction. The next venture was a real dress made with purchased yardage. I had the good sense to fold the yardage so as to have two layers. I positioned myself on the fabric and directed my best friend to draw around my body with a crayon. Wherever she encountered an obstacle (arms and head) the indication was to create an opening. My brilliance ended there, however. Fabric is two-dimensional, while the human body has a third dimension. I was a skinny child, which is the only way this dress had a chance. I also lacked the good sense to add seam allowances. Because there was no machine available, I stitched the dress together by hand. I proudly put the dress on. It was impossible to walk, but that didn’t matter, I could hop. Upon discovering her missing pillow slips and my sad attempt at dressmaking, my wise mother sought out private sewing lessons for me and the rest is history.
My particular focus when sewing a garment has always been technique and detail. This is what elevates a garment to the status of couture. One must begin with good quality fabric, and then come the details. The extra painstaking steps are cumulative
and serve to produce a superior product. One can compare a ready-to-wear garment with a couture version of the same garment and you will know that the couture creation is better. It’s in the hang, the fit, the feel and the details.
Among the details I’ve included in this book are the satin pocket bag, which feels soft and luxurious, the organza bubble at the hem, which prevents a dress or skirt from collecting about the knees; the couture waistband is clean and crisp, yet ultimately comfortable, and the high waist facing features boning as a hidden ally. Some of the decorative details included in the book are the twin-needle hem, a professional yet decorative finish, the ribbon-trimmed collar band, which adds allure to a simple shirt, the silk charmeuse flange with its picot stitch, adding dimension and flutter to a lightweight blouse. You will also find a thorough exploration of couture bindings, a look at designer underpinnings and a directory of luxury fabrics used in couture sewing.
My particular passion for technique has inspired me to study designer and vintage clothing for the secrets they may contain. Also, I enjoy experimenting with various methods of handling a specific construction challenge. This collecting of techniques and designer details led to this book; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and possibly you will be inspired to develop new ones of your own.