AB: Clark – Dressmaker’s Guide 2nd Ed

(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)

*Clark, Elizabeth Stewart. The Dressmaker’s Guide; 1840-1860. 2nd edition, Revised & Expanded. Idaho Falls, Idaho: Elizabeth Stewart Clark & Company, 2009.

This book is a greatly expanded second edition of the author’s 2004 Dressmaker’s Guide to Fit & Fashion. It fully incorporates the material in the earlier companion volume Skirting the Issue, and has further content as well, with an emphasis on the fashion changes over the period. It is wonderfully written and highly readable, with good, practical instructions for a great many projects. Because this book is a general, functional resource primarily intended for reenactors and living historians, it does not generally cite sources or really explain how information was obtained. However, Mrs. Clark’s websites, forum posts, and conference workshops make it clear that she is a well-informed expert whose information is gleaned from extensive, detailed research. More information can be found at her main website and the mid-19th century authentic sewing forum she hosts, The Sewing Academy.

This wonderful book is an excellent primer on historical sewing, and has applications far more broadly even than the period which is covers. There is a strong emphasis throughout on trying to understand historical approaches (and why they might actually work better than modern substitutions) and on doing research carefully. The book, very helpfully, covers fitting issues and even draping patterns on a person, for corsets and bodices. I personally own this book, and would highly recommend this resource, especially when used in combination with Mrs. Clark’s readily accessible forum.

Also by Elizabeth Stewart Clark:

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