If you’re a fan of Gertie’s already, you know that she’s the creator of one of the web’s most popular sewing blogs: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. Gertie started the blog in 2009 to share her progress as she stitched her way through all 14 designs in the classic ’50s sewing book, Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing. The blog quickly became a fantastic resource for couture and vintage sewing techniques, tutorials and “sew-alongs,” as well as Gertie’s fascinating observations about culture and fashion. Her new book is an excellent extension of the blog that includes an fantastic collection of nine patterns to create your own vintage-inspired wardrobe. She’ll also be appearing this season on Sew it All TV showing how to add a personal touch to garments with different trims.
Gertie was nice enough to answer some questions about her new book for our giveaway today and even shared her favorite sewing advice!
SN: What attracts you to vintage sewing techniques and patterns?
Gertie: I love the glamour of it all–the artwork on ’50s pattern envelopes is irresistible. But beyond that, I’m into “slow sewing.” There’s something so romantic about the old dressmaking and tailoring traditions, especially when we have such an emphasis on “quick and easy” in the modern world.
SN: Tell us about how you structured your new book to help sewists learn couture methods.
Gertie: The first half of the book is focused completely on technique. I start with the basics in one chapter–seam finishes, hems, etc. And then an entire chapter is reserved for more advanced techniques, like using steel boning and tailoring a coat. It was also important to me to put a strong emphasis on teaching beginning patternmaking–drafting a facing, changing a neckline–so that readers felt they could put their own spin on the book’s patterns. The second half of the book is the patterns–nine designs ranging from a simple blouse up to a tailored suit jacket. Even in the easier projects like the pencil skirt, I give a range of skills–for instance, you can start simple and use fusible interfacing. Once you’ve got that down, you can follow the instructions on using spiral steel boning in the waistband, as well as adding interlining and lining.
What’s the best garment for a beginner sewist to make to start a vintage-inspired wardrobe?
Gertie: I think the high-waisted pencil skirt is a great place to start. It’s relatively easy to fit. And in the right fabric (like a cherry red wool flannel!) it can be a total show stopper.
SN: What’s your favorite way to add a retro touch to sewing projects?
Gertie: Using high quality garment fabrics makes all the difference. I love finding luscious wools and silks to sew with–it really hearkens back to a time when you could buy all sorts of fibers and weaves at your local department store!
SN: When a project isn’t coming together as easily as planned, what do you do?
Gertie: Step away and sleep on it. Once I’ve taken a break and gotten some rest, a solution to my problem usually comes to me.
SN: Tell us about your experience taping Sew it All . What was your favorite part?
Gertie: It was so much fun! Working with Ellen is like chatting to an old sewing buddy rather than taping a formal segment.
SN: What’s the best sewing advice you ever received?
Gertie: Always stabilize your necklines. There’s nothing worse than a gaping neckline. (Well, there’s probably a lot things worse, but you get the point!)
Thanks so much to Gertie for sharing with us! We love the new book and we can’t wait to give away a copy! For your chance to enter, answer this question in the comments section: Many of Gertie’s designs take inspiration from the ’40s and ’50s. What era of fashion are you most inspired by?
We’ll choose one lucky winner from among all the commenters on Monday!