Books Looking for patterns

mecoastie

Veteran Member
I am looking for a source or book for clothing patterns. Simple ones for men and women. Would prefer a book as I like hardcopies. Any recommendations? Thank you.
 

Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
What are you expecting to sew? Keeping old worn out clothing that fits can be the best patterns.

What are your skills? What are your tools? Serger? Heavy duty machine with extra needles? Very sharp dress makers scissors, or the rotaries with many spare blades and a mat? I am asking because most modern day clothing doesn't lend itself well to home sewing.

I don't know of a book on modern cuts. Older editions of Vogue sewing are informative, but you will start with a sloper (this doesn't address men's wear well) and a dress form is almost a necessity - in otherwords, more about leisure design rather than an austere get-it-done approach. Modern patterns are graded for size, and that isn't going to lend itself to a book.

There are numerous excellent books on historic "patterns" for garments mainly cut based on measurements, or one-size-fits-most. I sew most of my own clothes, my tools are primitive (no sewing machine, no dress form, no big cutting table, poor lighting, and no good pressing surfaces), and thus I find the older cuts and techniques more useful. The clothes are different, but you CAN do this w/o appearing to have stepped out of a play.
 

Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
I like Elizabeth Stewart Clark's, The Dressmaker's Guide 1840-1865. She has other books that focus on men and children that I don't have. Civil War era isn't my favorite, but I like this book for basic women's clothes (I am skirts, mostly). Ignore the corsetry, the fussy fitted bodices, etc. of that time. You get practical knickers, shifts, skirts, aprons, etc. She gives the techniques specific to hand sewing.

My favorite "patterns" are peasant wear from a century earlier. Less fitted, more ties for easier "fit", and simpler shapes. I don't have any books on the basics for that, lots of excellent internet sites, however. Some of the tutorials are probably printer friendly.

Folkwear provides patterns for men's clothing. Again, earlier eras were more adaptable to size. I have one of their 18th century men's shirt patterns. Had it for several years, but haven't made it yet. (Basic measurements will also get you there - they are almost as easy as women's shifts.) Very dashing. If men got out of their modern clothes (I like western ranch wear, but I'm talking about the crappy generic urban stuff), the cultural West could have a whopping baby boom. Old timey men's clothing was manly!
 
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Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
T-shirts are a complete loss (save for rags), but most woven clothing can be heavily patched.

I think the most needed clothing item will be knit socks. We take them for granted now (+/- $5 for several pair) , but a hundred years ago, knitting socks was a big deal. While almost everyone has a few sewing needles lying around (of whatever quality), small gage knitting needles and the yarn that won't descintegrate from friction in a boot are much more specialized. If you are anticipating needing more clothing in an austere situation, those tools, materials, and that SKILL, for knitting socks should be acquired now. Lots of books on sock knitting, but personally, I just couldn't *get it* until I watched a video (thank you, Stacey, of VeryPinkKnits). Holes in wool socks can be darned. Also, learn how to properly wash wool w/o shrinking or undue felting.
 
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Kathy in FL

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Easiest skirt on the planet in my opinion is to buy 60" wide fabric at a cut to your preferred length. I used to get a simple yard of 60" wide. Sew down the side so you wind up with a big hoop. Fold over at the top to create a "pocket" all around the top and then either insert elastic or a drawstring of the correct length. Then hem the other end. Super, super simple.

The problem is finding the 60" wide material these days.
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
Yep, socks were so needed that EVERYONE knit them, including husbands, grandparents and small children - in fact children often had to knit 5 rows on a sock before going out to play in both the US and Europe in the 19th century.

I have a photo somewhere of the US ambassador I think to China, knitting a sock at his desk during a meeting for the troops during WW1.















Two suggestions - first check with Wallmart if they still have a fabric/pattern section (even on-line) and see if they still have their "basic" pattern collection - in 2001 (a long time ago I know) my Mom and I went in at 3am and I spent about 30 dollars buying every shape and size of basic tunics, trousers, skirts, etc some were listed as Pajamas and some as clothing - it didn't matter.

When I got home my husband and then housemate laughed at me and I said, "this looks like a pair of PJ's, in reality, it is a basic pattern from size XS to XXXL for a 5th to 11th century T tunic and trousers - or your work clothing if the S...t his the fan."

I picked up another one and said: "This looks like a women's jumper, it is either a 15th-century women's gown or a farm apron with pockets for gathering eggs."

What you want are basic shapes in as many sizes as you can get and a couple of general babies and small child patterns if you have those in your life or may have some to sew for.

The other suggestion is to see if you can get Kindle or Used copies of The Hassle-Free Make Your Own Cloths Handbook first and the second edition.

I nicknamed this "The Hippies guide to sewing" I had my first copy from the library at age 13 and I treasure my hard copies as an adult.

You don't have to make the "sorceress dress" in tie-dye print (and you can call it my Angel gown if you want to) I used it for my very first SCA dress in 1981.

But again it is basic shapes you are after - note the men's trouser pattern in book one has an error, my Mom was visiting when I cut out a pair for my husband and they were twice as big as he was in the waist.

I started to cry and turned back into a 10-year-old learning how to sew and wailed "I read the pattern I did what it said," and my Mom picked the book up, and said, "Yes Honey you did exactly what it said, the pattern is wrong."

I really miss my Mom (I gathered the waist and made a pair of Viking Russ pants for him - he still has them 20 years later.

Here is the link to the Kindle edition (but get a 5 dollar hard copy if you can)
 

Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
That looks like a good book. Inexpensive on the used market. I might order a copy.
Thanks.
 

mecoastie

Veteran Member
Wow. That is what I was looking for thank you. Just ordered a copy. Basically I want to have an idea of simple stuff to make if we had to. The material would most likely come from other clothes. Either stuff they have outgrown or some of my clothes. Cut out a dress shirt for a shirt for one of the kids as an example. My sewing knowledge is limited but my daughter likes to sew and is pretty good. My mother grew up dirt poor but she used to talk about her aunt who was a great seamstress and used to reuse all sorts of stuff so they had nice clothes. For me the idea is more keep them in clothes and keep mine and the wifes clothes in some sort of repair.
 

Jacki

Contributing Member
I got a lot of patterns at yard sales, and found that Folkwear, and Green Pepper are among my favorite companies. Green Pepper has outdoor patterns, including horse blankets, dog packs, backpacks, etc.

If you look at reinacting groups, there are often patterns available, and don't forget YouTube.

Jacki
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
I have folk ware patterns going back to the early 1980s (I need to write the current company because I may have some they are missing from the Old Days) I love them, but I don't recommend most of them for newbies because while some patterns are dead easy (like the Navajo skirt) other's that look easy like the Tibetian Coat can be rather mind-boggling without help (similar the frontier shirt) but these days with YouTube it should be easier to wing them alone.

The good thing is that most Folkware Patterns from before the 1920s are like most traditional clothing - no matter how complicated most is really a combination of squares, rectangle, triangles, and the occasional round neck or facing.

One issue with "shape-based" simple patterns (including some in the Hassel Free Make Your Own Cloths Handbooks Vol 1 and 2) is that modern people are not often "shaped" that way and will need some adjustment.

Trust me if you are anything larger than a "B Cup" (and even that may be too big) you have to add an odd-shaped pannel or at least extra panel to the chest of the wonderful Afghani Nomad dress pattern (which stunning, comfortable and can be made from very plain for a relaxation gown to formal enough for a semi-formal/formal occasion).

Women in Asia are just not built like most American (or even European) women, in this case, you can be thin as a rail but still have the pattern be too small across the chest without adjustments even in size "large."

The Illustrated books aimed at 60s Hippies include no darts except for the bra/swimsuit patterns, most fashion designers these days don't use them either but sometimes those of us with "well endowed" figures really need/want them for certain garments.

Darts "waste" fabric which was precious and often homespun in the past, so most traditional patterns either do not use them or use them in untraditional ways - instead of gathering and pleating are often used as our drawstrings - so you can nurse that baby and keep your blouse on and/or Harold the Huge can loan his shirt to his Son Harry the Short - it will be too long on hairy but the drawstrings will let both of them wear it.

Important when multiple people are going to use the same clothing until it falls to pieces (when it becomes patches for more clothing, cleaning rags or stuffing).
 

mourningdove

Pura Vida in my garden
Easiest skirt on the planet in my opinion is to buy 60" wide fabric at a cut to your preferred length. I used to get a simple yard of 60" wide. Sew down the side so you wind up with a big hoop. Fold over at the top to create a "pocket" all around the top and then either insert elastic or a drawstring of the correct length. Then hem the other end. Super, super simple.

The problem is finding the 60" wide material these days.
Wow, Kathy, that is really a simple pattern. Thanks for sharing. Even I could do that and I totally suck at sewing.
But I make a super bar of soap!
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Easiest skirt on the planet in my opinion is to buy 60" wide fabric at a cut to your preferred length. I used to get a simple yard of 60" wide. Sew down the side so you wind up with a big hoop. Fold over at the top to create a "pocket" all around the top and then either insert elastic or a drawstring of the correct length. Then hem the other end. Super, super simple.

The problem is finding the 60" wide material these days.
Most quilt shops carry it, as do several of the online fabric stores. Finding elastic now that might be a challenge right now.
 

Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Ok, so the second easiest skirt on the planet (aside from a tied sarong) would be a 60" wide hoop of fabric gathered or pleated at the top into a waistband. The waistband is a long length of center-fold bias tape. Any tape/ribbon that isn't too stiff to fold down the center will work, or just face the inside with another length of ribbon. I've done both, and both work well.

Gathers are made with two close lines of running stitches, one just inside what will be the stitching line for the tape, and one just below it. Stitches are approx. 1/8 inch long. Tie threads securely at one end, pull threads from the other. Pleats can be individually tacked down. (am I making this too complicated??) That center back seam is left short by 6 to 8 inches for a slit so you can get your hips into it, or at least slip it over your head. Also, Leave extra length on the ends of the waist tape to tie. The hem can also be bound in tape. I've seen this on old skirts, and the binding protects the folded bottom edge from fraying. Farming is HARD on skirts, esp. linen fabric, and hems shred at the bottom fold sooner than you would expect, so more tape here is prudent, even if it looks odd to modern eyes.

If that back slit bothers you, you can use hooks and eyes, or just sew in a zipper. Just center it on the seam. (For some reason, the instructions are always written to make this thing seem complicated and mysterious, and you need a special presser foot on your machine... Just think it through and sew it in. NOT complicated. I like the nine inch "invisible" ones the best, and I sew them in by hand. Looks great, works great - Don't stress. Get a handfull in black (whatever) next time you are at WalMart. Good to have on-hand.

Pre-industrial skirts were made with two narrow pieces of fabric, and had a slit on each side. This made them adjustable for weight changes, or hand-me-downs. Separate pockets tied at the waist were worn underneath. Very practical. No one worried about the slits gaping, because there was another "skirt" ie. petticoat just like the top one worn underneath, plus a knee-length shift under that and *maybe* knickers under all that (maybe). Much more comfortable than tight jeans, actually.
If you want the knickers, look up the Civil War split "drawers", and you will have something that is easy to pee in, w/o pulling layers down and unfastening anything.

In summary, similar to typical pre-industrial skirt (petticoat) making methods.
What's old, is new again.
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
THe Hassle Free Book arrived today. Definitely quite the hippie vibe. THank you all as it is what I was looking for. I am going to order the second one as well.
Good to hear, like I said you can use the basic shapes for Viking to a modern Evening Dress (a simple but elegant one) so if you want to use tye-dye fabric you can, but the same dress in cotton checks or dark purple linen is going to give two totally different "vibes" (from feeding the chickens to a night at the opera).
 

Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Book is in the Cart.
Might not be in the Month of May, however.
Spent most of my fun money on yarn and dye.
 

mecoastie

Veteran Member
Good to hear, like I said you can use the basic shapes for Viking to a modern Evening Dress (a simple but elegant one) so if you want to use tye-dye fabric you can, but the same dress in cotton checks or dark purple linen is going to give two totally different "vibes" (from feeding the chickens to a night at the opera).
As long as I can make something that will keep me clothed and not looking completely homeless I am good. I am very hard on clothes. My wife hates it. I claim it is because they don't make them as durable but that is a weak defense. I finally found some decent pants that wear well and don't break the bank. I envision most of our sewing will be repairs, patching knees and tears etc. I am not growing anymore. Not even out which is great. The kids will be the issue there but that book has some good ideas as they grow.
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
The men's clothing is both books is scanty but a lot of the patterns are really Unisex, the basic idea of "take a shirt that fits and use it to measure yourself" works for knitting as well as sewing.

Many men find the "tunic" which a lot of their stuff is, a garment that goes back thousands of years (with or without trousers) can be made of very tough fabric and is great for heavy work, you can add pockets for things like tools or eggs.

I will try to look up which trouser pattern it is that is "wrong" unless you want gathered or pleated Viking Russ pants (think women's harem pants only for men) but otherwise things seem to work pretty well with all the patterns I've tried for the last 50 years or so.

I confess I have NOT tried the bra or underwear patterns (we came close in the 1980s but back then Folkware had one from WWII that was better suited for modern clothing) and I had to cut extra-large or use darts when I was even larger in the chest than I am now.

If you are a broad-shouldered guy like my husband, you may need to cut extra and pleat (we had to do that with the basic tunic pattern) one pleat in the back of the neck or two pleats at the shoulder (mostly they don't show).

They have some good ideas for patching and patchwork, the idea of putting embroidery on a patch may seem very 1960s hippie (it is) but it also serves the purpose of making the patch even stronger.

So if you enjoy that sort of thing (a lot of men like my husband do when no one is looking, he can spin and knit too when no one is looking) you might consider some decoration or see if your wife would enjoy it.

These are just a few things I've learned using these books and some of the simple patterns (I still have my early 1970s Daski pattern and I use it sometimes for basic T tunics for Nightwolf, over the years when sewing for men or women with more straight up and down body shapes.
 

Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Make a muslin first. Walmart sells cheap white and unbleached cotton for $2-something per yard (Wash first hot and dry hot, or don't EVER wash...significant shrinkage). sew that up quickly, and you will be able to determine where size needs adjusting. When checking for size, do full arm motions from the shoulder and at the elbows, bend over, hunch your back, arch your back, etc. Figure out where you need more length, breadth, or where places like the neck for instance gap open too much.

If you cut a muslin you like as a pattern, a bit of stiffness in the fabric can make it easier to handle when laying out. Sizing or starch is a big help. I like Mary Ellen's Best Press (refer to the quilting people), it is pricey, but is in a non- aerosol spray bottle, and less stinky than the starch/sizing spray cans. Your pressing tools are MORE IMPORTANT than your sewing tools. Also, those 1/2 inch thick felted wool quilter's press mats are pricey, but worth acquiring eventually. Peasants two-hundred years ago had little access to good pressing tools, but modern techniques here make life much easier, and you will get better results.

Because clothing hangs, you usually want to think about adjustments from the top down. Much of the fit comes from the shoulders and neck. The back may be best cut sightly broader than the front (esp. for men), and the back of the neck is usually cut higher than the front. Check the armhole - a large opening sounds roomy, but if it joins the body lower on the sideseam, arm movement is actually restricted. Older garments opened for the arm higher up on the side seam, but added a gusset at the intersection for ease. This is a practical, easy to do, and most comfortable option. It allows you to raise both your arms to full extent above, while the torso of the garment stays put - that is, you shirt doesn't come untucked. The first time you get THIS right, you will be like... Finally! FIT!! That almost never happens in woven off-the-rack shirts.
 
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Faroe

Has No Life - Lives on TB
As Melodi mentioned above, traditional clothing was heavily "embellished." This had practical purposes over just vanity. Weaving stripes helps the weaver keep track of the count, weaving a grid pattern helps the stitcher keep a straight line of cutting and sewing w/o having to mark so much. Knitting texture makes a sweater warmer, so does stranded color knitting, and also helps the piece keep it's shape even if heavy and soaked, it is less stretchy. Pleats, pintucks and gathers may seem like extra work and fussy, but they will also distract the eye as well as improve fit, thereby taking away subtract ease from exactly where you don't want it, and returning it to exactly where you do.

Patterns distract from stains and mending. Older photos of the fisherman ganseys either show sweaters that are heavily mended, or are in dire need of mending. Today, a lot of the patterning on new examples of those old motifs just looks "busy," but back then, it would all have blended in. The contemporary aesthetic prefers plain (a mistaken understanding of "form follows function"), But, we can throw away a plain shirt or sweater when it gets snagged, or stained down the front. Traditional embellishment was a way of dealing with inevitable wear and tear. A bit "busy" can be desirable in work clothing.
 
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