What’s On My Bookshelf?

Last summer I created a post of my favorite historical fashion books…but I accidentally erased the pictures and well, I decided to create another post to replace it.  I do not have a lot of books or magazines…if I came across one that I really liked, I would buy it.  I have found that I mostly use the books as a launch pad for an idea, and they have been valuable to my overall knowledge of historical sewing.  Although nothing has been as helpful as trial and error.

So without any further ado,  here are my 7 favorite and most helpful historical sewing/fashion books!  Drumroll, please!  Oh and just for fun, I have decided to list them in my order of importance, starting with number 7…


The Way They Were: Dressed in 1860-1865 by Donna J. Abraham.

A great picture collection of clothing both from men and women.  A little bit of text, but mostly visual.  Donna Abraham is the owner of Abraham’s Lady and very helpful.  I have visited her shop and found many great items and fabric.




Dating Fabrics – A Color Guide 1800-1960 by Eileen Jahnke Tristain

Recommended to my by Donna Abraham and very difficult to find, this book is a delicious sampling of fabrics from the past two centuries.  Very helpful in training one’s eye to find historically accurate fabric in a modern fabric store.



The Dressmaker’s Guide  – 1840 – 1865 by Elizabeth Stewart Clark

I found this book in a small little fabric store near Gettysburg, PA.  A great overview for beginners, who not only wish to start sewing, but also who are wish to start reenacting.



Styles and So Forth of the Era of the Hoop compiled by Heidi Marsh

A great source of various excerpts from fashion books and magazines of the time period.  Complete with pictures and descriptions of various types of gowns and hygiene.  While the pictures are in black and white, the descriptions explain unique color combinations that were very popular.



Patterns of Fashion 2 – 1860 – 1940 by Janet Arnold

While not my first Patterns of Fashion ever purchased, it is still a WONDERFUL sampling of dresses and the breakdown of the patterns.  More about this series in the next description.


#2 Patterns of Fashion 1 – 1660-1860

My very first historical fashion book and therefore has a lot of sentimental memories attached.  I bought this during my sophomore year of college when I really began learning how to sew historical clothing.  While I have begun to focus only on one time period, this book really taught my pattern shapes and how to draft patterns.  Again, this is where trial and error is your best learning tool, yet this book is what brought me through to the other side.  You know, the side where I can place a square piece of fabric on a dress form and three minutes later it’s a pattern?!  I love being on that side! 🙂


And one would think this book would be #1, but it isn’t….so without any further ado, here is my #1, most useful book


The Collection of the Koyoto Costume Institute: Fashion by Taschen

AMAZING!  Simply amazing.  My husband gave this to me the Christmas that we got engage six years ago and I truly love it.  With a variety of gowns and accessories, this book is simply dripping with inspiration no matter what time period of clothing you love.  I highly recommend this book!!  Seriously…get it!



And that completes the “What’s on My Bookshelf” series….hope you enjoyed it.  If you have a collection or suggestion to add to my library, please let me know!!!


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