The Vintage Pattern Selector is described as "The Sewer's Guide to Choosing and Using Retro Styles".
The book includes eight chapters on dresses, blouses and detailing, skirts, trousers and shorts, suits and coats, lingerie and headwear and gloves. Each chapter includes a "style overview" in which various trends from decades from the 1920s to the 1970s are described. After this, in each chapter the garment patterns which are included on the accompanying CD are covered.
There are also two further chapters, one on dressmaking basics, and one on construction.
The accompanying CD includes 15 patterns, including four dresses, one blouse, two skirts (although one is a circle skirt), one pant, two jackets, four lingerie patterns and a pattern for a pillbox hat.
So far, so reasonable.
I bought this book on a whim. Any pattern book that turns up in my local bookstore, I buy. It's a weakness, I know. For some people its tequila, me..pattern books. At least I have an intact liver.
If I'd looked more carefully, would I have bought it? Maybe not. This is a very frustrating book to read, for while it has a nominal author it needs an editor. Let me explain.
Take Chapter One, dresses. Half the chapter is taken with style overviews, which cover the flapper dress, the little black dress, bias cutting, the halterneck, and the natural waist. (Note to true vintage pattern buffs, don't expect a lot of photos featuring vintage patterns or vintage styles. Rather, each "style overview" includes one vintage illustration, and then goes on to show how these Style elements are included on current clothes, of which there are far more illustrations). OK, so the book primes you up for these style elements, then in a lot of cases fails to follow through with the patterns. So in the case of the dresses chapter, the drop waisted dress pattern is a nod to the flapper dress, and the 50s prom dress features a natural waist, but the other garment patterns bear no relation to any of the style elements the chapter has just covered.
The Suits and Coats chapter likewise - it covers 40s/50s utility coat, the 40s/50s utility jacket, the 40s/50s utility skirt, and the 50s kimono jacket. So far, so great, but the patterns? 30s/40s fitted jacket and the 60s box jacket.
And so on, throughout each of the chapters. It's a litany of dashed hopes. Having covered vintage style elements to covet, the reader and sewer has nowhere to go. Frustrating. And you have to ask, what's the point of the style overviews?
Other reservations about this book:
There are no completed photos of the patterns provided. This is a big turnoff for me. If you are going to commission a pattern book, why not go the whole hog and actually make each of the patterns, and you know, take a photo. It doesn't seem too hard. There aren't even decent artist illustrations, just straight out technical drawings. Uninspiring.
Each garment pattern is accompanied by a size chart. WARNING, at no place anywhere in the book does it indicate that it departs from convention and that the measurements are the completed garment measurement. A trap for young players, surely. (On the plus side, though, it includes both metric and imperial measurements. US indie pattern writers, some of your customers use metric. Just thought I'd point that out in passing). And some of the measurements provided are straight out pointless. For example, the size chart for the box pleated skirt includes a "bust at armhole" measurement, and a "shoulder" measurement. What, or more to the point, why?? A decent editor would have whipped those superfluous figures out in a trice.
If you are a beginner or like help with fabric selection, don't expect this book to add to your store of knowledge. Fabric advice in the garment specs for each pattern are basic - they don't go beyond "lightweight" or "mediumweight"in terms of suggestions. The fabric suggestion for the wide legged trousers is "Suitable for a variety of fabrics". Vague and unhelpful.
The chapters on dressmaking basics (mainly fitting) and construction seem reasonable enough. Included are instructions for making rouleaux loops, corded rouleaux loops,single and double bows, shell gathering and shell tucks, which I don't recall in any other sewing book I own. Potentially useful.
As for the patterns, let me stress, I haven't made any of them. Having said that,there are some potentially nice makes. For mine, the 60s mini dress, 50s prom dress and 70s maxi dress stand out. If you are into lingerie, there are some nice slip patterns and a bustier/petticoat pattern that could interest you. And the pillbox hat pattern may be worth the price of admission for some. If I decide to make any of these in the future, though, I will proceed with caution.
Flipping to the back of the book, you come to the contributors page. There, I think you get a sense of why this book is so underwhelming. It seems that the author was responsible for the patterns, and the "style overviews" which I think provide the basis for the whole point of the book were contributed by various people. Sewing book by committee - not a success. A strong editor who knew her stuff would have made sure this book hung together as a whole.
It is interesting to note that Colette Patterns contributed images for the lingerie section. Sarai Mitnick's book is far more successful in inspiring and informing sewists. And if you are a vintage look enthusiast, head straight for Gretchen Kirsch "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing" if you haven't already.
Overall, I would recommend this book only to sewists who are experienced and perhaps have an interest in lingerie making. For others- there are far better sewing books out there to check out first.