If you don’t know who Gertie is and you enjoy sewing fifties inspired fashion. I highly suggest you continue reading.
In the world of vintage sewing, Gertie is a big name. There even is a Facebook group for things people make with her patterns with over 32.000 members from all over the world. Gertie started quite some time ago with a blog about sewing (that switched to her new website in 2017) and started publishing books about sewing vintage fashion including some amazing patterns.
A frequently asked question in the Facebook group is “which book should I buy” or, “Where can I find pattern X“. So I thought to take it upon myself to write for you all, the overview of all the Gertie patterns and books. Including where to buy them and if they are suitable for beginners.
At the end of the blog I will post some of my Gertie makes in a gallery.
Just a little disclaimer before we start: I can’t show you all the images and pictures of pages in the books or patterns. That would invade copyright laws 😉 but I will link to some things and give you an idea on what you can find where.
There are currently three books by Gertie. Number four is being released in 2019. Each book has a part with sewing techniques and are great as references. The techniques parts of each book are similar, yet different. A lot of the same topics are discussed in the books but also catered to the patterns in the books. For instants: in a book with a pant pattern there is information about fitting pants, in a book with only dresses this is omitted.
Each book has the same look and feel but all have different patterns in different themes. I will describe each book briefly and what you can expect in each book. For actual sewing patterns I suggest googling the book title on google image or look for others makes on Instagram.
Patterns in the book are printed on thick paper. The paper is printed double sided so you have to trace the patterns to use them. In the first two books a variate of pattern is given and then one or more possibilities with slight alterations to the garment like adding buttons or changing the neckline. The books describe how to do this and it’s fairly easy.
1: The new book for better sewing
The book that started it all. This book focuses on vintage fashion that is more traditional then the other books. The book features some amazing patterns like the Sultry Sheath bodice and a classic shirt-waist dress. The Portret blouse is also a favorite amongst many people. Very classic fifties patterns. In my opinion this book is great for girls that like a classic look and are familiar with sewing.
Explore projects made with the book on Instagram using #gertiesnewbookforbettersewing
2: Vintage Casual
Like the title suggests, this book focuses more on casual clothing where the first book is more formal. Vintage casual was my first book and introduction to Gertie so I might be a bit bias, but I highly suggest this book. This book will allow you to sew a full wardrobe. Among the patterns are a basic skirt, knit tops, pants, a more structured blouse, a modern take on the shirtwaist-dress with a zipper in the front and more. This book is also a good choice for beginners because the garments are a little less structured then the first book.
Explore projects made with the book on Instagram using #gertiesewsvintagecasual
3: Ultimate dresses book
If you like dresses and nothing but dresses: get. this. book.
The ultimate dresses book gives you a mix of bodices, sleeves and skirts that you can combine as much as you want. I have made some great dresses with this book and will always grab back to some of these patterns as basics for dresses. I would say the book is suitable for confident beginners but there are also more advanced options in the book like strapless bodices with boning. Just like the other books, instructions are very clear and there are a lot of options.
There is a printing issue on the pattern sheets of this book. It is known that the bodice patterns are off by one size meaning you would have to size up one size. Some say it’s all the patterns, some say it’s only the bodices or even only a few pattern pieces. I would suggest measuring your size before tracing to compare the pattern pieces tot the size chart. This will take you 10 minutes and save a lot of frustration.
Explore projects made with the book on Instagram using #gertiesultimatedressbook
4: Jiffy Dresses
This book came out in the spring of 2019. There is a little information on the book on the website of the publisher. The book focuses on quick to sew dresses that where common on the 50’s and 60’s. The book consist out of dresses only. Most of the dresses rely on belts or elastic to get the classic hourglass shape and that makes the patterns quite different from regular sewing patterns. However, they are quick to sew! The book includes some very populair patterns like the popover-dress and the swirl-dress. I’ve made the popover-dress myself and it’s super quick and fun to sew. Ill add it to the gallery at the bottom.
Explore projects made with the book on Instagram using
So where to get the books? Like always, google might find a good retailer near you. But the books are sold at a lot of book retailers. The books can be found on Amazon, Book Depository and Bol.com.
Gertie designs a few patterns a year for Butterick. Every season there are one or two patterns from the “Patterns by Gertie” range. A full overview of the patterns is on the Butterick website.
The big difference between the Patterns by Gertie and other patterns she creates is that it’s in Butterick sizing. There is quite a lot of ease added to the patterns and I would suggest going off on the finished garment measurements that are printed on the pattern instead of following the size chart if you like that fitted 1950’s shape. For me, the difference between the size chart on the envelope and the measurements printed on the pattern are 1 or 2 sizes that I can size down.
In the patterns there are a lot of dresses but also undergarments, pants, blouses and a bathing suit. Skill levels vary between the patterns.
Butterick patterns are available from the Butterick website and (online)stores that carry the patterns. Examples of the patterns are easily found by using the pattern number as a hashtag on Instagram or google. For instance, want to see more of the B6413 pattern? Look under #B6413
From spring-summer 2019 the patterns from Gertie will be from Simplicity instead of Butterick! Simplicity now falls under the same company as Butterick (as does McCall’s and Vogue) and her patterns are shifted from Butterick to Simplicity.
Her first two patterns are the S8882 top and S8873 dress. I’ve made the dress and you can read the blog about that here.
After a very successful crowdfunding campaign Gertie launched her own pattern label at the end of summer 2017. Charm patterns are available on her website as print or PDF.
Charm patterns are available in different cup sizes and because of generous sizing have a wide range of sizes. All of the patterns are sold on her website, she ships from America but also offers PDF patterns. Poppy Ray sells a selection of her patterns from Germany.
The patterns on offer from her own label are steadily growing. It does feature a “build your own dress” pattern, the Night and Day Dress, that relates to the ultimate dresses book. However, sizing is different since it offers different sizing and it has very different designs.
Just like the Butterick patterns these are suitable for different levels of sewists, depending on the pattern itself. Instructions of the Charm pattern patterns are very clear, and easy to follow.
Read my blog about my first two Night & Day Dresses here.
My Gertie Makes
Like said in the beginning, I’ll ad a little gallery of thing I’ve made over the years using Gertie’s patterns. This is far from everything. I don’t have proper pictures of everything. But, I think it will give a nice overview. I also did a blog with all my B6453 dresses here.
I Hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions or if I missed any information, please let me know.