The second half of the book covers specific extant garments from museums around England. Detailed sketches of the whole gown and short descriptions precede the scaled pattern. The short commentaries on a particular gown are very helpful, as they usually describe the owner (if known), fabric type and pattern, as well as undergarments a gown would have been worn over. The patterns themselves are a feast for the imagination of a seamstress!
While I myself have only given several half hearted attempts at enlarging a pattern from one of Janet Arnold's books, I know people have done it. It is a challenge, I'm told, but the pictures I've seen of gowns from patterns in this book have been spectacular! I would think that a seamstress with plenty of sewing experience, some pattern grading know-how *, some supplemental books on historical clothing (such as Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail), and plenty of muslin for toiles should be able to take a good try at it!
Even if you're not interested in enlarging patterns, just studying the details and construction of antique dresses will help familiarize you with the construction methods used in different eras. A great book on any costumer's bookshelf!--Reviewed by Miss C.
*Taunton Press' Threads magazine had a feature on basic pattern grading in the June/July 2002 issue. The issue is available for sale on their website, found here.