Book Review – the Tudor Tailor

As this was one of my first costuming books, I must admit I’m a bit biased to this book.

I bought it about 6 years ago when I first started to get interested in historical costumes. And since I had fallen in love with the beautiful costumes in the movie “The Other Boleyn Girl”, and later “The Tudors” i had decided I needed to make myself one of the dresses.

The attempt was a futile one (which you can read more about here), but it did spark my intress in historical costumes, so I wouldn’t say it was a total waist.

But on to the book:

The Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila And Jane Malcolm-Davies.



The book includes lots of interesting information about the actual fashions and clothing construction of the 16th century.
The firs 50 pages describes the styles, fabrics and methods used during the 16th hundreds, and gives you a great over view of the different garments and accessories needed to complete the costume.


It also contains lots of patterns for both men (9) and women (12), and have a nice spread of “pore peoples” dress and court dress alike, besides underwear (9), outerwear (6) and headwear (14).



I love the wide range of patterns in the book. which give you an opportunity to design and combine your own costume from the different styles, with the help of the informative research pages. IMG_6558

And every pattern can be altered to several different styles and variations.
Like the the “Henrican Kirtle” who can be made and worn in lots of different ways.IMG_6560

sidan-sol I used the pattern for a front laced kirtle, with straight back, and no sleeves.


As far as I can tell (and I’m in no way an expert) the patterns are good, and represent the Tudor and Elizabethan era in a nice and accurate way. IMG_65672013-02-09 15.46.02My corset‘s made from the “Dorthean bodice” pattern.

The patterns are easy to scale – using either the scanning/printer system, or drawing it up on paper. (I’ve tried both)

IMG_6562This one is my latest project – which I draped insted of scaled.

I also find the instructions, which follows with each pattern, a good way to get help with the accurate way to assemble the clothing.IMG_1912


Although good, the instructions may be a bit to hard to follow, if you’re not used to historic (16th century) clothing constructions.

I had a pretty hard time doing my first “French hood”.IMG_6569I didn’t understand what a lots of the words ment, or how the pieces was supposed to go together.

The second was much easier, even though it ended up a bit to small.CIMG3175

Would I recommend it?


I think this book is wonderful, and should be in ever theater seamstress or historical re-enactors bookshelf.

I personally have had lots of use of it and hopes to someday make all the patterns in the book.


Book Review – The Medieval Tailor Assistant

I thought this might be a nice opurtunity to stay a bit longer in medieval times, even though I’m itching to show you some of the other stuff I’ve been working on latley.

So lets do a review of the only medieval costuming book I own.

I bought it last autumn when I attended a medieval sewing cours, but have not used it as much as I whould have wanted – so many time periods to sew, so litle time.

But now I thougt it a good time to do a review. I would also love to here your opinions about the book  so please coment and let me know what you think.

The Medieval Tailors Assistant by Sarah Thursfield.IMG_7290

About the book:

It is a ok about basic medieval pattermaking for men and women. The book does not include sewing instructions, but do however have a couple of pages about stiches, teqnicues and fabrics used at the time.

The book is about 230 pages, and contains several different costume pieces for both men and women like: Underwear, outerwear, gowns, dubblets, hoses, headwear, childrens clothes and accessories.


It also have a diagram which shows what clothing pieces were being used during different fashions and times during the time frame caled middle ages.IMG_7293

To get your pattern yo need to make you own “basic body blocks”, draping the pttern straight on your body.IMG_7294

The draping adapts and also workies on a dressform.IMG_2348Draping my fitted body blocks.

The basic sleeve needs to be drafted “on the table”, and have instructions and picture on how to do it.IMG_7295


I like the wide range of costumes you can get out of the book. Using several different pieces of garment you can combine you own look in whatever way you like.

IMG_3287 Lots of different intrepitations of the patterns in the book.

I also like the wide range between the garments – you can make male, female, child, old, rich, pore or anyone in between. and the pages showing how to combine your outfit are great.IMG_7299

The detail pictures are great in showing how the finished piece should look.IMG_7297Love the detail of this photo.

The pattern for the sleeve is adaptable to several different models but can be a bit tricky if you are new at pattern making.IMG_7298IMG_2487Detachable tight fittig sleeves.

I think the instructions for adapting the bodice blocks are good and easy to follow, and the sketch and pattern layou helped me a lot while figuring out my design and pattern. IMG_7300

IMG_3454Short sleeved Cotihardie.

There are a wide range of headwear in the book. And I also like that they included the children, accesories and under wear chapters. IMG_7302


I think the patterndarfting are a bit to hard for a beginner or unexperienced patternmaker.

I observed several beginners trying to figur ot the draping (and had a bit trouble doing it myself). It does take some practice to get it right.

I also think the sleeve cap are a bit of. I stuggeled trying to get it right, ending up raising it about 2 cm to get it to fit in to the arm hole. I guess this is something that happends whaen the bodice and sleeve are not drawn from the same template but one draped and the other drafted on paper.


I loved the pictures in the book, my only complaint is that they were way to few. Sometimes it is hard to know how a garmnent would look like just from principle sketches or patterns, thats when you need the pictures.IMG_7301

I would have liked to get some patterns, measurments or more details on the more complex headwear in the book.IMG_7303

I needed to work a bit to get the shape I wanted on my headcloth. Even though it can be great to figur things out by ourself, sometimes you just want to know what/how to do it. IMG_3066 Faux braids and semi circular headcloth.

Would I recomend it:

I think the book is a defenetly must have if you are interested in medieval times or historic costume design.

I do however think the book is a bit hard for a beginner to use, but if you are willing to give it a try – go for it.



Book Review – Everyday Fashions 1909-1920

I’m currently in some kind of early 1900s mood, preparing for an up-coming event this weekend.

So I thought it would be great to tell you a bit about one of the book I own on this period.

Everyday fashions 1909-1920 – As pictured in Sears Catalogs by Joanne Otan.

IMG_7927The name says it all – it’s a fashion catalouge showing some of the most promenent styles of the 1910s.

IMG_7931It contains lovely evening dresses,

IMG_7932as well as pretty separates,

IMG_7936and of course some comfortable day-dresses for wearing around the house.

IMG_7939I love the sections on underwear, and used this pages a lot when creating my own early 1900s wardrobe.

IMG_0787Like my 1910s underbust long line corset.

IMG_7941And just recently, when making my new corset cover.

IMG_64771910s corset covers.

IMG_7930I also want to recreate on of these petticoats and bust ruffles one day.

IMG_7946Thera are also several pictures of fabulous jackets and coats. Perfect for those chilly spring evenings.

IMG_7942Horse-race someone?

All the diferent kinds of dresses in this book was great inspiration and help to me, when making my 1913s walking dress.IMG_0562

I also really like the childrens sections of the book.

IMG_7937So many dresses for the girls (oh, if only I had a reason to make these).

IMG_7934And sweet sailor suits for the boys.

And we must not forgett about the gentlemen.IMG_7944

Bathing suits are big this year (at least in my part of the costuming comunity.)IMG_7943I do think I pass on this one…

IMG_7938Accessorize with belts, girdles, handbags. And for the men there are plenty to choose from regarding ties and bow-ties.

IMG_7935Lovely shoes.

IMG_7948And who do not love some fancy hats and watches.



Guess this did’t turned out qute like a real review. I couldn’t even give you any cons :-).

Anyhow, I do really love this book, and thinks everyone intersting in early 20th century fashion should buy it.

It is such a good inspiration and gives such a clear visual of the transistion in fashion between edwardian curves and the new 20s flair.

It’s a great book to own and to use as reference for what people realy wore at the time, for anyone who loves historical fashion. And it’s part of a series – so you can collect them all.


Book Review – Draping Period Costumes

If you been reading my blog, you might have noticed I usaly drape my patterns instead of using the plain pattern drafting techniques.

What you might not now however, are that draping is a skill I’ve learnt les than a year ago.

I’m a trained pattern-maker, and only recently learnt (while working in the theatre ateljere) how to drape a big collar on a dressform to get a nicer shape.

And that was about it.

Until april/may last year, when I decided to try to drape my very first costume piece (The Francaise a la Merteuile). The result was great and I was hooked.

I started to use this metod on most of my costumes, and though it whent pretty good, I ofthen thought about getting a book that would help me take my draping to another level.

And today I will review the first historic draping book I’ve ever found.

Draping Period Costumes – Classical Greek to Victorian by Sharon NobelIMG_6540


A relativly new, step by step book in the art of draping historical patterns, for theatre or costume design.


It contains about 50 patterns for different styles of clothing, from the ancent greek to the busteled Victorians. And about half of them are Mens styles.

IMG_6548Late 17th century gentlemans Coat.

It also contains a chapter on the basic of draping, preparing your dressform and transforming the draped fabric to pattern pieces.

IMG_6543Stuffing the dressform for a bigger size.


I think the chapter on draping basics in the begining of the book are realy good, and worth reading even for an experienced draper/patternmaker.

IMG_6544Fixing up the pattern.

And I LOVE that it include so many gentlemens patterns. Mostly the men only get a very smal amount of space, but this book really pulls of the task of showing the variation in mens fashion and dress.

IMG_6546Man’s Pleated Jerkin.

The composition of the book, starting simple with greek tuniks and then moving forward through history making the garment harder and harder as you go along, are very nice and makes you, towards the end, confident enough to take on any period or style.

I think the step by step instructions for every pattern are great and really easy to follow, even for a beginner.


I used the patten for Decortive Victorian Apron, on my 1880s Evening gown.


And a combination of the two 1840-1850s dress-pattern for my 1840s green dress.



I think that maybe it should be stated on the back cover that the book recuires you to have all your fondation wear already made. I undersand that it would be difficult to drape a corset (or big panniers) on your dressform, but it really could be stated beforhand.


I think it would have been nice to have some reference pictures at the begining of every chapter, to give the reader a better view of the differeent styles that existed in every period. As it is now, the reader is assumed to have very good knowledge in fashion history.

I’m also a bit underwhelmd by the huge amount of greek and roman patterns included in the book. I find it somewhat difficult to se why you would put patterns for 11 ancent garmnents and only 3 (1 ladys and 2 mens) 16th century patterns in the book.


And I do miss some “ordanary peoples” clothing. Not everyone wants to be a princess…

And I do seartenly miss some sleeve patterns. There should at least be one page dedicated to show how to drape a basic sleeve, and then how to alter it to fit different time periods. But the book makes no mentions of sleeves what so ever.

Though the book may be great fo theatrical use, when historic accuracy is conserned every one must make their own research before using this book. I doubt that every piece in the book actually was made in the way described “back in the days”.


Would I recomend it:

This is the best pattern draping book I’ve ever seen (and probably the first one too). It is defenetly a book which belongs in the bookshelf of every historic costumer and modern pattern makers alike.

I only hope there will be a sequel (Edwardian to Today perhaps…).


Book Review: Corsets – Historical Patterns & Techniques

As the classic book nerd I am, I constantly hunt for new (or old) titels to add to my “libary”. I love the feeling of flipping through a well reserched costume book, just as much as I love droling over the beautiful ones made for the coffee tables.


And as such a sucker for book-candy I also love to read about and find new wounderful titles.

In my town (and probably in the rest of Sweden) it is really had to find good costuming books at the store/libary. So often you need to buy the book on-line, and don’t get the chans to flipp through it before deciding. Most often I just read the reviews on Amazon before I buy a new book on-line, but since I love when fellow costumers recomend a title I decided to try to give some back.

So this post will be the first in a series of reviews.

And the first book will be a “old goodie” that I’ve had lots of use of.

Corsets – Historical Patterns and Techniques by Jill Salen



128 pages.


23 patterns (including 1 pregnancy stays, 1 child and 1 dolls corset).

Construction instruction for 2 different corsets.

Prize: About 200 sek (45Usd).


The book is very beautiful and contain lots of great patterns. The layout have a nice and clear way of showing both the real corsets, the descriptive texts and the patterns.


The pattern are pretty easy to scale to full size using the chekered background as a guide. I scanned the pattern to my computor and then printed it to the right size. So simple.


I’ve used two or three of the patterns in the book and found them to work very well (but you might have to do some heavy scaling to take in account our larger modern body size).

DSC_0777 DSC_0362Both of these corsets are made with the “Brown Jean Corset 1790” pattern. The one to the left is in original size (really, really smal), and on the right one I have moved the lacing to the back and adjusted the fitt a bit more to my sisters body. (If you look at the different shoulder positions of her body you can really tell the different between the “original” pattern and the adjusted one).

IMG_6102 IMG_6104

I think the information about each corset are nice and informative and give a good feel for what kind of person would wear the particular item. Like in what way was it worn, and what did the wearer do while wearing it (work, stay at home, dance ect.).

1This corset is one of my first ones, and are made using “Pretty Housemaid corset 1890s”. The fitt is good but the sewing and assembly of it was really tricky to figure out.

IMG_6105 IMG_6090

I learnt a lot of new things about corsets and the way people of the past lived from this book. (Did you know that smal children made their first practice corset to fitt their dolls, then later moving on to the “real stuff”).



I really do love the book but do think it have some flaws.

I for one think the choise to include the patterns for 3 ribbon corsets, 2 childs and 1 dolls corset is a bit strange. Even though I understand the desire to include lesser known pieces, most of the costumers would want a good variety of patterns and to make them fit a real body.


I also think the basic sewing and assembly techniques could use a bit more elaboration. The author do state in the preface that the book is mainly for the “experienced” costumer/semstress, and is not ment to be a sewing book. But it still could have used some more tips and tricks in assembeling the different styles.

IMG_6099I really like the flossing diagram though.

I also would have liked to have the mesurments of the real corset (and patterns) writen out. Of course, you can measure the pieces and scale them up to the right size, but it would have been nice to be able to know the aproximate size of the corset at a glance.

Would I recomend it?

The book is a lovely addition to any costumers libary.

It is a perfect compliment to the famous “Corsets and Crinolines”, but also do very well on its own.


I do think the book is a bit complicated if your not very familiar with corset construction.

But if you want a pretty, cheap, book about historical corsets – you have found the one.