(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)
*Clark, Mrs. (Elizabeth Stewart). The Dressmaker’s Guide To Fit & Fashion; Including techniques for drafting, fitting, and constructing the clothing of the early 1860’s. Learn to make lovely and correct clothing with the help of illustrations, diagrams, and descriptive instructions with the home-dressmaker in mind. Idaho Falls, Idaho: Elizabeth Stewart Clark & Company, 2004.
This wonderful little book is essentially focused on the years of the American Civil War, but it is relevant for a wider time span than its title would seem to indicate. In fact, Mrs. Clark’s websites are focused on the period of 1840-1865, as is the latest, expanded edition of her Dressmaker’s Guide, which combines her both this book and the companion Skirting the Issue into one volume, along with a substantial quantity of additional information. Because this book is a general, functional resource primarily intended for reenactors and living historians, it does not 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 book covers the construction of undergarments and dresses, as well as some outerwear and accessories, explaining construction methods, pattern-drafting and draping techniques, and tips for achieving a historically accurate and flattering fit. It also contains instructions for creating a custom-shaped dress form using duct tape. It is a very helpful book, but the revised edition version, which is greatly expanded, is even more so. This book is instructional. It contains monochrome images. It contains a “Read More About It” further reading list that briefly covers some research concepts and techniques. I personally own this book, and would highly recommend it, but I would even more strongly recommend acquiring a copy of newer expanded edition.
Also by Elizabeth Stewart Clark:
- The Dressmaker’s Guide; 1840-1865, 2nd edition, which is a greatly expanded version of this book, with all material from Skirting the Issue included, plus much more. The second edition version is preferable to the first, smaller scale, edition.
- Skirting the Issue
- Practical Prinkery