I’m interning at a fabric store in Austin and we just got both the new Colette Sewing Hanbook and BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook (yes, they are both “sewing handbooks”) books in stock. I scouared through each, snapped some pics and now I’m sharing my thoughts with you!
First of all, both books are the same retail price, both have beautiful photos and both are spiral bound, making them easy to lay flat on your sewing table as you read.
Colette’s book is geared more towards beginner garment sewers while BurdaStyle is more for those with intermediate skills.
The Colette book has the classic, streamlined style you know from their patterns.
I love Colette’s approach to teaching. I remember when I first started sewing and I was so excited to work on projects that I skipped learning some essential skills. The book is organized in 5 sections, or “fundamentals”. You learn a few basics then dive into a project. Then you learn something more advanced and work on a new pattern and so on. This way you’re never in over your head but you always feel like you are progressing and putting your skills to work on something wearable.
The patterns are basic but each has a little twist – scallops here, pintucks there. One shirt has bias binding which teaches you to make and sew binding and also allows you to add your style to the shirt. Another dress has enough darts for you to work on a perfect fit.
Each lesson features ample illustrations and photos, just like Colette’s patterns.
What particularly stands out is the reference section. I love the up close images of different fabric types.
And I’ve never seen a book with examples of fabric wrapped on dress forms. What a great way to illustrate drape.
On to BurdaStyle –
BurdaStyle’s book focuses more on fashion and style than technique. Lots of eye candy for fashionista sewers.
It features lots of input from BurdaStyle.com users from sewing room inspiration to user created variations of five standard patterns (skirt, dress, top, coat, handbag) included in the book.
Each pattern has instructions for the original look. Also included are a several other variation designs, a few with their own instructions. Every original design is cute but what’s really great is seeing what contributor does with the style to make it his or her own.
At the end of each variation is a little Q&A with the BurdaStyle user who created it.
This book is more for the fashion savy sewer who is advanced enough for pattern manipulation and is looking for a creative outlet rather than learning basic fit and construction techniques. If you like the concept behind the Built by Wendy books (basic patterns and alterations to the designs) then BurdaStyle will be right up your alley.
Each design has a difficulty level and decent instructions but if you are advanced enough to alter patterns drastically you probably won’t need to read the instructions much.
Both books are great but are for slightly different audiences. I’d probably buy BurdaStyle’s for myself as inspiration but the Colette handbook would make a great gift to someone who wants to learn garment sewing.
Has anyone bought either of these books yet?