Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction c. 1860-1940

The book is valuable as an historical sewing source, but it’s also overrated.

Patterns of Fashion 2

To those who habitually sew historical garments, the Patterns of Fashion series is probably nothing new. To those who don’t: Patterns of Fashions is a series often referred to by costubers, especially those working recreating garments from the past century and before.

Do they live up to the hype?

As someone with a fair amount of experience sewing historical patterns, I do appreciate that this book is geared to reproduction of extant garments. But even I, with experience under the belt, find these very hard to work with. While it’s fantastic to have the option to recreate an old-timey garment, you need a significant amount of experience to draft these patterns to your specific size and body and translate the pages into a garment.

This is definitely the kind of book that requires you to also make a mock-up first, so that’s another thing to be aware of.

Everything is well-illustrated with very extensive listing of materials used. Of course, it is still up to you to go and find images of the garments to use for reference, which you really should. On the up side, all locations (at least the locations at the time of publication) are listed, so if all fails you can write the museum or gallery and request imagery.

It covers a good variety of eras, but if you want it for a specific one there are better choices. And if you are looking for a traditional Jazz Age pattern, such as the infamous one-hour dress, this is not the book for you. Watch this video tutorial by The Closet Historian instead, which is incredibly extensive, or this one by Morgan Donner.

All that aside, yes, Patterns of Fashion 2 is very valuable as an historical sewing source. That said, it is only very valuable when you are very passionate about recreating garments within the eras covered by the book. Although I wouldn’t recommend this to a beginner, I would say that if you are serious about historical costuming, and you come across one at a good price, get it for when you feel confident you have gained the skill necessary to work with this. If you already have a fair amount of experience making this kind of garment and patterns fitting your body, you should be fine.

If you are into Edwardian and Victorian fashions and you wish to recreate them, there are, in my opinion, better alternatives to this book. More about that soon!

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