#29 Claire Shaeffer, Haute Couture Revealed


For those of us who sew, the workrooms of haute couture houses are probably just as (if not more!) interesting than what we ultimately see on the runways. Claire Shaeffer has spent her career studying the construction techniques for haute couture, expensive ready-to-wear, and historic designs, and written more than 20 books on the subject.

This episode, Claire and I discuss a variety of topics, including her background as an acrobat (who knew?!), shadowing dressmakers in Paris workrooms, her extensive couture and vintage clothing collection, and her two newest books on Chanel construction (see below). Claire also shares some interesting tidbits from her time working with museums. I was particularly interested to learn that Marlene Dietrich tended to take out the labels of her couture garments to make going through customs easier.

Claire was a joy to speak with and her passion for the intricacies of clothing construction are infectious.

Happy listening!

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Outro music: “Bughici – Suite for Violin, 8 Ardeleneasca, moderato” by Advent Chamber Orechestra

I highly recommend Claire’s beautiful revised Couture Sewing Techniques:



Claire’s two newest books focus on her passion for Chanel. The Couture Cardigan Jacket was published last year, and The Couture Skirt comes out this year:


CLAIRE.jacket cover

SHAEFFER_skirt_fullCOVER (1) (1)Notes:

The Complete Book of Sewing Shortcuts

Pati Palmer

Susan Pletsch

Diane Freis

Vogue 8786

Email Claire at Claire.Shaeffer@gmail.com for her class schedule

Claire on Facebook


  1. Jessica

    Thanks for the informative interview with Claire Shaeffer! You asked many questions that I would have asked if I’d had the chance. What a font of sewing knowledge she is.

  2. Mandy

    I loved this interview. It was full of information and help me gain insight into the world of couture sewing. I have to own all of Claire Shaeffer’s books.

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  4. Hi Christine! This was my first Thread Cult podcast, and I really enjoyed it! I’m definitely going to work my way through the archives.

    I feel your moth pain – I rid an old apartment of them by washing everything, vacuuming every nook and cranny, shaking out rugs, and spritzing closet walls with a mix of 90% isopropyl alcohol mixed with lavender and cedar oil. In areas that wouldn’t get disturbed (where moths like to congregate, coincidentally), I sprinkled food-grade diatomaceous earth to kill new moths. It’s not poisonous – you can eat it – but like all particulates, you don’t want to breathe it. I think it’s totally possible to get rid of them without a bomb – it was a lot of work, but they never came back!

    • Christine

      So happy you liked this episode! And your moth advice is great! I’m going to try this. I’ve used diatomaceous earth for other critters, and love the essential oil rec. Thank you!

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