I’ve just posted my review of Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing to my Examiner.com column. My review is generally positive, because I do think it’s a good book. It’s not an absolute must-buy for me because I’m not particularly a wearer of vintage fashion, even if I do like to look at and check out old patterns. I’m always interested in how to make things current. Maybe it’s because I have a thoroughly 21st-century figure (a little too much sitting, not enough corsets).
I’m surprised at how few reviews of the patterns in the book have been posted to Pattern Review so far. Last time I looked there were only reviews for the button-back blouse and the pencil skirt, which I guess are the least complicated patterns in the book. Whenever I get my wiggle dress muslin put together, I plan to post here and maybe post a review there, because I don’t think there’s a good sense of how the sizing of this book works. One thing I do like about the sizing is that the sizes are quite wide and the waist/hip difference is 12 inches, which means I don’t have to grade beyond the sizes available in the book.
Finally I’ve managed a bit of time in my sewing cave. I’ve started work on a fitting muslin for the wiggle dress from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. I traced everything straight onto STP (Swedish tracing paper, not Stone Temple Pilots). I know I’ll have to grade to a larger size below the waist, but with the sleeve gusset and the princess seams in the front, I’m not sure where exactly I’ll need to shift and how. I’m thinking I’ll baste the whole thing together to about the bust and then see if I can try it on and pin the rest.
One thing I noticed about the way the sizes were nested is that it’s not easy to grade from one size to another. They’re not the same length at the hem, or I should say they’re not lined up at the hem. I’m not a professional pattern drafter, so I don’t know if this was on purpose and is somehow better than what I’m used to with the Big 4, and, from what I remember, the European pattern mags, where hems and necklines all line up on the vertical axis and you can simply go between sizes wherever you need to, as long as you match it between your front and your back, or whichever pieces your garment has. Since I’m taller I’ll probably need added length anyway, so I’ll just start with the length given with the largest size and see how that works out.
I also have to mention that the size chart is more than a bit vanity-sized. I get that dress sizes are arbitrary anyway, and this happens to be a choice that benefits me personally since I’m on the larger end of things, but it surprised me generally. Following the chart, I traced a size 12 in the shoulders and bust, and believe you me, I haven’t been a size 12 since my age had a different numeral at the beginning of it. The smallest size included in the book is a bust size of 32 inches. This seems very big, especially for a vintage-inspired book. It is a very hourglassy shape – 12 inches difference between waist and hip – so if you have a very 50s figure, as long as it’s not too small, you should be set with these patterns. Sadly, I’ve got more of an 1850s figure (bring back panniers!) so the wiggle dress will be interesting to fit, that’s for sure.