The Library

Red stars are for books I own, white for books I know from library or friends. The number of stars (max. 5) shows how much I recommend them.

Books on Patterns & Making

I either own or have perused the books in this section. Enclosed critiques reflect my personal opinion of them.

Alcega, Juan de. Tailor's pattern book 1589. Carlton: Ruth Bean, 1999
Facsimile edition of a Spanish pattern book, with English translation. The patterns are pretty rough and come with unusual (period, Spanish) measurements, so they're definitely unsuitable for the novice tailor. Still, if you're interested in the era, this is where you get info on virtually all kinds of garments.
Andersen, Ellen. Danske dragter. Moden i 1700-årene. Nationalmuseet: København, 1977
18th century garments from Danish museums, along with pattern diagrams. Text in Danish and English.
Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620.
London: Macmillan, 1985.
Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860.
London: Macmillan, 1972.
Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen's dresses and their construction c. 1860-1940.
London: Macmillan, 1972.
Ms Arnold had access to some very rare garments in costume collections from which she re-constructed flat patterns. The most valuable and easiest to use resource for authentic patterns. Note that only the first covers men's garments. Although the other two focus on "Englishwomen", some (not all) dress styles were pretty much international.
Baumgarten, Linda, and John Watson, Florine Carr. Costume Close Up : Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790. Costume and Fashion Press, 2000
Apart from patterns taken from North American surviving garments, it contains detailed pictures, notes on the fabric used, construction and provenance, if known. I've never seen any book that examined each garment as thoroughly as this, even mentioning how the fabric was pieced, whether the garment was mended or altered later. Colonial re-enactors will love it.
Davis, R. I. Men's Garments 1830-1900 : A Guide to Pattern Cutting and Tailoring.
There are extremely few resources for historical men's garments. This is one, Waugh is another.
Harris, Kristina, ed. Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques. Maneola: Dover, 1999
Reprint of Butterick's "Dressmaking, Up to Date", 1905. The title is therefore a lie: This is Edwardian. Instructions for shirtwaists, draped waists, skirts, evening and wedding gowns, jackets and coats, maternity wear, underwear, children's.
Hill, Margot Hamilton, and Peter A. Bucknell. The Evolution of Fashion : Pattern and Cut from 1066 to 1930
If I remember correctly, this one contains rather crude pattern diagrams without measurements, but I may be mixing it up with another book I have seen.
Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage & Screen : Patterns for women's dress Medieval-1500.
Studio City: Players Press, 1991(?).
Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage & Screen : Patterns for women's dress 1500-1800.
Studio City: Players Press, 1991.
Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage & Screen : Patterns for women's dress 1800-1909.
Studio City: Players Press, 1991.
Being meant for theatrical costume designers, the book has largely authentic patterns, but pragmatically cuts ends where technique is concerned. Still, if taken with a grain of salt, it does answer some "how-to" questions that others do not. Wonderfully complimenting the Arnold books. If you're not overly concerned with authenticity, all three Hunnisett books is all you need to sew away from the middle ages to the early 20th century.
Köhler, Carl, ed. by Emma Sichart. A History of Costume. Maneola: Dover, 1983
English translation of a German book published in the 1920s, which again was a revised edition of an 1860s book. Contains patterns from Pharaonic times onwards, many of them probably only obtained by conjecture from pictorial sources. For anything before, say, 1500, that's probably acceptable. For anything after, there are better resources available today (just remember, all this stuff is 160 years out of date). As a source for serious research, this book should not just be taken with a grain, but with a chunk of rock salt: Like most of his contemporaries, Köhler failed to question his sources..
Thursfield, Sarah. Medieval Tailor's Assistant: Making Common Garments 1200-1500. Quite Specific Media Group, 2001
Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Men's Clothes : 1600-1900. London: Faber & Faber, 1994.
Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Women's Clothes : 1600-1930. London: Faber & Faber, 1968.
The patterns are not easy to use, but there are lots of them - plus interesting background information on period technique, fabric, garment costs etc. The by-period coverage is more extensive than Arnold's, i.e. there are hardly any decades/styles not covered. Unfortunately they're pretty expensive, but still a very good investment. I can't imagine my bookshelf without them.
Waugh, Norah. Corsets and Crinolines. New York: Routledge, 1996.
Apart from valuable background info, this book also has patterns for virtually all eras in which corsets, crinolines, paniers or bustles were worn. The source for making the "below"
Wright, Merideth. Everyday Dress of Rural America 1783-1800: With Instructions and Patterns. Dover, 1992
An introductory book, covers female, male and children's dress.