Review of Altered Couture magazine
- After considering it for some time, I bought all the back issues of Altered Couture that are still in stock, plus a one-year subscription. My comments:
This magazine is not for people who have a few boring or half-worn items in the closet they want to revive. It's for people who compulsively haunt thrift stores and discount clothing stores for really interesting garments and trimmings, and keep a big stock on hand till they decide how to combine a number of items into one garment.
The overall taste displayed in the magazine is extremely elaborate. Even though I am fond of highly decorated Victorian and Edwardian clothes, I find looking through several issues in one session to be visually exhausting.
The magazine is inspiration oriented, rather than project oriented. There are a few examples of decorated T-shirts, jeans, and slips---garments most people have around or can easily buy. (Although, I really like a lot of the vintage slip examples, but don't know where to buy a large supply of rayon vintage slips in good condition and for a low price. Any suggestions? I did a big eBay search and most of the good slips there were not that cheap.) However, most of the garments used are so unique that it is unlikely you can precisely duplicate the projects.
Probably for this reason, the instructions are minimal. You need a basic knowledge of sewing, and in many cases, dyeing, to do these projects.
The focus is primarily art. Whether it's wearable depends largely on your taste and lifestyle. However, you will not be either going to work or taking out the garbage in most of these outfits. I suspect some of the garments are not very durable, because the originals used to make them look to be in poor condition. I do not think materials in poor condition are worth much effort, and the massive quantity of trimmings heaped onto some of them will drag on the material. I do not like garments with a lot of raw edges; finished seams and hems are much more durable. Also, I suspect the garments dyed with acrylic paints, and the shoes rendered very stiff with coverings, will not clean or last well. The bottom line is, if I am going to put a lot of effort into reconstructing something, I want it to last.
All that said, there are some very interesting ideas in this magazine. The editors don't boil them down into basic points. Once you have the idea of a pretty slip dyed, and then elaborately decorated with lots of different laces and fabric flowers, you have the idea. Once you have the idea of elaborate decorations in subtle variations of the same color, again, you have the idea.
I do like the Altered Couture magazine. I really hate cutting up books or magazines, but in this case I am cutting out the pages with ideas I like, from each issue, and putting them in a binder. I just find the magazines intimidatingly busy and colorful to look through all the way. I am not sure I will renew my subscription once it runs out, but I now have a lot of interesting pictures for future reference.
Books on making historic and vintage clothing