Links & Books

This page will be the place for my favorite links and books.  I will keep adding to it as we go on.  There are a lot more than I’ve listed.  You can find a lot of books at your public library.  Costumes are in Dewey Decimal System section 391; patterns, draping, sewing, etc. are in section 641 or 646.  The Library of Congress section for costumes is GT but you’d have to look up the other stuff in the catalog if you’re in a library using the LOC system.


Fashion Incubator is a blog and a member-only forum with entries about the business and production aspects of the sewn products industry (apparel, bags, etc.)  There are tutorials on installing zippers and welt pockets and other things.

La Couturiere Parisienne is in both English and German and has images of costume from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century.

Original Pre-1929 Historical Pattern Collection has patterns taken from Victorian- and Edwardian-era books and photos.

Paul Freeman’s photo album of my costumes from the play The House of Montague.


General Sewing

While not perfect, I’ve found Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., NY, 1976, ISBN  0-89577-026-1 (or any edition) to be helpful.

This also has some good info: Couture Sewing Techniques, Claire B. Shaeffer, The Taunton Press, CT, 2001, 0-942391-88-8 (hardcover) 1-56158-497-5 (paperback)

Pattern Making

Please see Fashion Incubator for reviews of pattern making books.

When I was in school, we used Patternmaking for Fashion Design, Third Edition, by Helen Joseph-Armstrong, ISBN 0-321-03423-6, but it’s not perfect.  Just women’s and children’s.

This one is good: Professional Patternmaking for Designers: Women’s Wear Men’s Casual Wear by Jack Handford, Fairchild Publications, Inc, NY, 2003, ISBN 1-56367-322-3.  It’s spiral-bound, too, so it lies flat.  And the price on Amazon was good.

Look for Connie Almaden-Crawford’s Patternmaking Made Easy and I think the title is Draping Made Easy.


The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, Sarah Veblen, Creative Publishing International, MN, 2012, ISBN 978-1-58923-608-0.  This just goes over women’s wear.  It is fairly in depth.  The only thing I noticed that wasn’t there was regarding fitting sleeves and armscyes (armholes) is that sometimes you have to scoop out a lot more in the front of the armscye and make the back a little flatter to fit better.

Costume Books with patterns and instructions

The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant: Making Common Garments 1200-1500, Sarah Thursfield, Costume & Fashion Press, CA, 2001, 0-89676-239-4

The Tudor Tailor: Techniques and Patterns for Making Historically Accurate Period Clothing, Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies, Costume & Fashion Press, CA, 2006, 9780896762558

Elizabethan Costuming for the Years 1550-1580, Janet Winter and Carolyn Savoy, Other Times Publications, Oakland, CA, 1979, 1983, 1987, 0-9630220-0-8

Period Costume for Stage & Screen: 1500-1800, 1986 and Period Costume for Stage & Screen: 1800-1909, 1991 and other books by Jean Hunisett.  I think there are some for undergarments, outerwear, and the Middle Ages.

The above books have the patterns scaled to modern body proportions.  The set below has patterns taken from contemporary magazines (i.e., ones from 1877 to 1882) and are not in modern body proportions.  With all of them, you have to make a paper pattern and adjust it then make a muslin mockup and adjust that.

Fashions of the Gilded Age by Frances Grimble have patterns for all kinds of garments from 1877 to 1882 and there are 2 volumes.  Lavolta Press, San Francisco, CA, 2004.  Vol 1 0-9636517-5-7, Vol 2 0-9636517-6-5, also the other books by Ms. Grimble.

Costume Books with pictures and history

20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment, Francois Boucher, Harry N. Abrams, Inc, Publishers, NY, 1965, 1983, 0-8109-1693-2

The Encyclopedia of World Costume, Doreen Yarwood, Bonanza Books, NY, 1978, 0-517-61943-1

Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898, Dover, NY, 1974, 0-486-22990-4


4 responses to “Links & Books

  1. You might be interested in my books on historic sewing:

    The Lady’s Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette

    Reconstruction Era Fashions: 350 Sewing, Needlework, and Millinery Patterns 1867–1868

    Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 1: Undergarments, Bodices, Skirts, Overskirts, Polonaises, and Day Dresses 1877–1882

    Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 2: Evening, Bridal, Sports, Outerwear, Accessories, and Dressmaking 1877–1882

    Bustle Fashions 1885-1887: 41 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation

    Directoire Revival Fashions 1888-1889: 57 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation

    The Voice of Fashion: 79 Turn-of-the-Century Patterns with Instructions and Fashion Plates

    The Edwardian Modiste: 85 Authentic Patterns with Instructions, Fashion Plates, and Period Sewing Techniques

  2. Yes, I have the Fashions of the Gilded Age ones. I just didn’t remember to add them.

  3. Pingback: 1882 Evening Gown | Look, I Sewed This!

  4. Pingback: Early 1880s pouf over skirt | Look, I Sewed This!

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