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Last autumn I took an online class in hand stitches (after several years, I finally decided to perk up my rusty sewing skills, and it was the only class available that month) and after the first session I knew that all I wanted to do was learn couture sewing. Fortunately, there are now many resources available for anyone who wants to master this amazing and exquisite craft. Couture sewing is not cheap, neither it is fast, but the results are worth it! Even if you use only one technique in a garment, such as a balanced dart for example, you will be surprised how it elevates your garment from mass production. And you know what? There is a remarkable number of home seamstresses using couture techniques in their sewing.

Take this quiz to find out whether you are an Haute Couture aficionado as well:

-You know the difference between even and uneven basting stitch
-You always have handy a spool of Japanese silk basting thread and at least one pack of the finest hand sewing needles
-You have more than one type of many sewing tools and can justify why you need each of them
-You know the difference between interlining and interfacing
-You have yards of silk organza in your fabric stash
-You know at least four different ways to handle darts
-Your seam allowances are often humongous
-Sewing hand-picked zipper or hand-bound buttonholes is a breeze for you
-You know what beeswax is used for
-Constructing a Chanel-inspired couture jacket is/was on your to-do list…and you can name at least five characteristic features of a couture Chanel jacket
-Every time you sew with loosely woven fabric you feel the urge to quilt the lining
-You often spend more time pressing than sewing
-You shudder every time you hear the word ‘fusible’
-You have spent more money on sewing courses than on ready-to-wear garments
-Your family is versed in most couture and tailoring techniques you use and can explain them to a stranger
-You wonder why this list is so short and are able to add at least twice as many items to it

Did you say yes to most of the points on this list?
Then please leave your blog address in the comments section – I am sure I can learn something from you!

You didn’t understand most of the questions but are nevertheless intrigued?
Stay tuned to my follow-up posts – I will be blogging here about resources, classes and workshops, slow sewing, best couture-inspired blogs and lots of other fascinating topics.


Marina von Koenig blogs at Frabjous Couture about her daily discoveries in
Haute Couture. She takes every opportunity to learn more about creation of
exclusive one-of-a-kind clothing and loves sharing it on her blog. While working
on couture-inspired garments, she now features a tutorial on creating custom silk
neckties for men. Check it out for a perfect Father’s Day gift!

Photo courtesy of My Vintage Vogue, early 20th century couture sketch.


  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    May 12, 2011, 01.45 PMby harrietbazley

    Speaking of which… has anyone else noticed that the VintageSewing.info , where I first encountered a number of these concepts, has apparently vanished off the face of the Web? :(

    2 Replies
    • Dsc08840_large

      May 12, 2011, 03.01 PMby Sabrina Wharton-Brown

      I hope they get it back online soon! It’s a great website. : )

    • Marina_large

      May 12, 2011, 08.13 PMby Marina von Koenig

      Oh, I don’t believe it’s gone! I made my first pair of leather gloves using their guide! I hope it will be made available again!

  • Mzl_ljixuoxi_320x480-75_large

    May 12, 2011, 01.22 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    I’m more of a RTW faker…I’ve got too much fabric to be taking the Couture approach. At the rate I’m going I’m likely to be swaddled in stretch lace fabric in my coffin, and like that’s going to be doing me any good? Right.

    1 Reply
    • Marina_large

      May 12, 2011, 08.19 PMby Marina von Koenig

      :-) yes, creating couture clothes from scratch takes a lot of time. However, you may just use one or two techniques at a time. I hope you will discover some useful techniques from my future posts! Stay tuned

  • Profile_pic_3_large

    May 12, 2011, 01.17 PMby daughterfish

    Really looking forward to reading your posts! I couldn’t say “yes” to any of your questions, but am excited to learn the answers and start using the techniques!

    1 Reply
    • Marina_large

      May 12, 2011, 08.50 PMby Marina von Koenig

      Glad to hear that! By the way, I love reading your blog!

  • Huwelijkannelie_sven-286_large

    May 12, 2011, 10.15 AMby lie

    oh my god! I still have lots to learn!!!

  • Nationalanthemmaxtwitter_large

    May 12, 2011, 07.08 AMby Max Hernandez

    hahaha i saw beeswax and i was like “i know!” lol, well i am certainly not the coutourier i want to be, but really, can anyone tell me why you quilt lining? i didn’t get that one

    2 Replies
    • Marina_large

      May 12, 2011, 08.31 PMby Marina von Koenig

      Quilted lining is a characteristic feature of many couture Chanel jackets. Quilting the lining to the loosely woven bouclé or tweed prevents sagging and helps maintain the shape. It is an alternative to stiffer backings and interfacings in traditional ready-to-wear jackets…

    • Nationalanthemmaxtwitter_large

      May 14, 2011, 03.42 AMby Max Hernandez

      well i guess i learned something new today :]

  • Ooobop_thatched_house_large

    May 12, 2011, 05.53 AMby janene

    I understood more than I thought I would. Never yet attempted couture as yet. But thank you for planting the seed! :-)

  • 014_large

    May 12, 2011, 12.35 AMby bhghatesyou

    i got a 0 on this definitly. i just started sewing seriously this past few months but i am always more of a ready to wear person..at least wat i make myself. i looove the look of couture but i am not creative enough to come up with things that beautiful. i will have to get one of these books and check it out!

    1 Reply
    • Marina_large

      May 12, 2011, 08.34 PMby Marina von Koenig

      couture sewing is easy to learn, just try one technique at a time. For example, next time you make plaid pants or a skirt try converting darts to ease. You will find a tutorial on my blog – it looks so much better!
  • Img_2769_large

    May 11, 2011, 10.28 PMby mollykatherine

    Answered about 90% – but Thats because I just read Claire Shaeffers – couture sewing techniques (Great book for an introduction to couture!), and am yet to put any of them into practice! I think that may be cheating?

    I really look forward to your follow up post!

  • 2011-01-31_14-59-40_683_large

    May 11, 2011, 09.52 PMby laha5822

    Love this article, and I’m totally staying tuned for your posts!

  • Missing

    May 11, 2011, 09.39 PMby varenoea

    Hah, I don’t even understand half the points on the list! :D

    Beeswax? It’s for… well, for building combs, isn’t it? To store honey in and rear the grubs?

    And four uses for darts… throw them at a board, pin up your notes, threaten people’s tires with them, and poke them in your enemy’s backside.

    Boy, am I disqualified from couture.

    4 Replies
    • Naburdaprofil_large

      May 12, 2011, 09.40 AMby janul

      lol, I am disqualified too, and I´m ok with that :). I think I´ll continue sewing dresses and skirts with my very basic skills :)

    • Picmonkey_collage_large

      May 12, 2011, 11.08 AMby designerroya

      Lol, I didn’t even read the whole list because I know I’m disqualified! I’m a good sewer, I just can’t do couture yet!

    • Hs_square_large

      May 12, 2011, 03.39 PMby cooi

      Some people wax their thread before hand sewing. :) It kinda keeps it from tangling and stuff.

    • Marina_large

      May 12, 2011, 08.41 PMby Marina von Koenig

      :-) yes, it keeps the thread from tangling and strengthens it at the same time. I use waxed thread to sew on buttons.

  • Image_large

    May 11, 2011, 09.05 PMby loyl8

    well I think I could answer over half and I feel fantastic about it. I have only been sewing for 2.5yrs and I read alot and have a great couture sewing book that really helps.I also watch documentaries on Chanel. YSL, Dior, etc… The world of Couture if absolutely fascinating to me. I try to always throw a couture technique into my designs some how.

    2 Replies
    • Marina_large

      May 12, 2011, 08.44 PMby Marina von Koenig

      have you seen Signé Chanel? it’s like looking over the shoulders of Chanel seamstresses… I watch it over and over again!

    • Image_large

      May 13, 2011, 07.38 AMby loyl8

      OMG I loved it!!! I have to watch the part where they talk about whenyou get pricked by your needle what it means. the scissor dropping scares me!! I loved it though and the little old lady who braids amazing…makes you see why couture is couture

  • Holliebell_large

    May 11, 2011, 08.52 PMby freakusbzzz

    I feel so inadequate that I don’t know these techniques!

    1 Reply
    • Svpply_large

      May 11, 2011, 10.30 PMby postmodest

      me too! the word ‘novice’ sounds even worse now after I’ve read it! :(

  • Hs_square_large

    May 11, 2011, 08.49 PMby cooi

    Best quiz ever! I can’t say I answered yes to all of them but I did know a bunch.

    Hand sewing is so relaxing.

    • This is a question
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