I love reading sewing and dressmaking sources from the 19th century. Well, any century for that matter, but especially those decades and time periods which I love to recreate. Pre 1850, they are few and far between. Not until Godey’s Lady book and eventually Harper’s Bazaar did ladies have plenty of options to learn about newest styles for the family and their home. That’s what makes this primary source so interesting. The Work Woman’s Guide (see citation below for the official name) is a wonderful, albeit dense, source. With details on how to create all types of garments, it really does give a glimpse at how items were made…all by hand. This whole book is online through google reads (link below) and while it lacks in visual aids, it does give steps, instruction, and advice.
I selected a few pages from the book that give further insight on basic sewing, unique hand stitches, and items to have in your sewing box. These are great for those looking to create and stock an historical sewing basket as well as some techniques to work on. I myself will be revamping my sewing basket after reading that section!
Source: The Work Woman’s Guide, Containing Instructions to the Inexperienced in Cutting Out and Completing Those Articles of Wearing Apparel Which are Usually Made at Home, Also Explanation on Upholstery, Straw-Platting, Bonnet Making, Knitting… By a Lady. Sampling, Marshall, and Co. Stationer’s Hall Court. Thomas Evens. Birmingham. 1840
To read the whole book click HERE