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The Art of Dress
Costume in Detail
A Dictionary of Costume
From Queen to Empress
Patterns of Fashion 1
Patterns of Fashion 2
The Way We Wore

Patterns of Fashion
By Janet Arnold

The Patterns of Fashion series by Janet Arnold is by far one of the better (it could be called the best in my eyes) books with patterns of extant historical garments. This particular volume covers women's garments from 1660 to 1860. The first part of the book is various "primary" resources (excerpts from books and other publications of the day) along with some period illustrations. Then, comes the truly fun part to anyone who likes to sew historical costume: the patterns. Ms. Arnold had taken period garments from various museums in England and graphed the patterns. This gives one a very thorough idea of how a garment went together: what seams were where, where boning went, etc. The gowns covered in this volumn range from elaborate circa 1770s gowns, to simple but elegant Regency era day gowns, to the more subdued and confined styles of the 1840s.

While all this is fine and good, I have heard that grading the patterns up to fit is not for the timid. From personal experience, the patterns are challenging, and figuring out just where one should enlarge them is tough. But, I've seen some pictures of beautiful garments constructed from these patterns. So, the effort must be worth it. I would think if you're a math whiz too, that may help. :-)

Although the books are a bit pricey, and that may put many people off, they are well worth adding to any costumer's bookshelf. Even if you don't sew historical attire, these books are very interesting just to look at from the historical point of view. A wonderful resource. --Reviewed by Miss C.


5 stars out of 5

Artwork is October (1877) by James Tissot, courtesy of CGFA.

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2003 Across the Ages