Intro to Sewing Video Series: Using Patterns from Books

book pattern

This week we will complete the sewing patterns series by focusing on patterns one can create from books.  Once I began delving into this type of pattern creation and design, my sewing really began to flourish!  While it may seem daunting and a little confusing at first, with a little time, patience, and some discount fabric, pattern creation from books can be extremely rewarding!

In today’s video I will cover:

  • The differences between patterns from a book versus a ready made pattern
  • My favorite historical fashion books ( list and links will be under the video)
  • How to create and store your patterns
  • Pros and Cons of sewing from books
Alright, let’s get started!

My Favorite Historical Pattern Books

17th Century Women’s Dress Patterns Volume 2

Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion Series

The Voice of Fashion: 79 Turn of the Century Patterns

The One Hour Dress – My Post on a Mockup of the One Hour Dress

Dress Cutting – 1930’s Patterns

Aimee’s Vintage Armoire: 1940-1950

Oh and those hooks I couldn’t think of….I meant Command hooks! 🙂


I hope you have enjoyed learning more about pattern drafting from books!
Feel free to share with me any creations you have or plan to make from any these books!  I would love to see them! 🙂


6 thoughts on “Intro to Sewing Video Series: Using Patterns from Books

  1. I love sewing from books. I so rarely buy patterns these days, because I find it such a waste of time to have to adjust a premade pattern, as opposed to just marking in the alterations as I go. 😛

    One thing that I would say is super crazy useful for someone who’s sewing from books is knowing fractions and their decimal equivalents. For my sewing students, I usually made us a chart:
    1/8 = .125
    1/4 = 2/8 = .250
    3/8 = .375
    1/2 = 2/4 = 4/8 = .500
    5/8 = .625
    3/4 = 6/8 = .75
    7/8 = .875
    1 = 2/2 = 4/4 = 8/8 = 1.000

    Everything else can be done by calculator, but if you don’t know the closest eighth, how can you find it on your ruler? (I don’t bother doing 16ths — it’s such a small difference, I’d rather go to 8ths). I also would have students practice adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying fractions. (For dividing and multiplying, I’d only go by 2s and 3s, as you rarely see anything else in sewing) With a calculator this is unnecessary, but useful. My fave little trick is dividing in half. Half of 3/4 is 3/8. Same numerator, twice as large denominator. Knowing that trick, my math (and therefore my drafting!) is faster.

    I also do all of my math by hand, usually on the paper I’m working with. That way, I can go back and double check something if I need to.

    I don’t know if I happen to be particularly good with fractions, or I’ve forced myself to be so via sewing. But I do know that it’s fairly uncommon among the people I work with, and they struggle a lot with fractions more than any single bit of sewing.



  2. Oh, and if they lost the chart, we make up a new one. But now we go over it Socratically. So we start with 1/8th. What’s next? 2/8ths? What’s another way to say 2/8ths? Etc. Because counting up to an inch in eighths is ALSO hard 🙂

    — Tegan


  3. Terry

    Aimee –
    I received as a gift a book called “Costume in Detail 1730-1930”. The author had access to many very old dresses. She drew line drawings of the dresses and accessories in great detail, including how they were fastened shut, what the inside looked like, etc. I love the book but the “Women’s Dress Patterns” book in your video is REALLY fascinating. Just found it on Amazon. I can get a good used copy.
    I am interested in making miniature versions of vintage clothing, once I find the right doll (proportions correct for an actual person). I’m thinking about 18″ tall for the doll and then go from there.
    Thanks, Aimee, for another good video,


    • Hi Terry!
      I love the idea of creating doll clothes using patterns from books. What a fun and exciting way to recreate some of these historical looks. I am so glad that you enjoyed the video and I would love to see pictures of your finished creations!
      Have a wonderful evening!
      Aimee 😊


  4. Pingback: So You Want to Try Historical Sewing? | Aimee's Victorian Armoire

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