Dressmaker's Guide 1840-1865 by Elizabeth Stewart Clark since I got it last year at the Cedar Creek reenactment. I had been meaning to buy it for ages, but with the little time I had for sewing and reading this past year, it had to be put off. I was really looking forward to getting a hold of a copy because the writings of Elizabeth Stewart Clark and the Sewing Academy are very helpful.
The biggest reason that I am reviewing this book is the price. Like with many books written for a niche, the price is a little steep and at $30 I was hesitant to buy a copy until I had one in my hands to look at. It only took a 30 second look over before I was checking out with it, purely for the patterns contained therein, if nothing else.
Patterns in the Book include:
-Bodices and bodice variations
Pretty much a full wardrobe!
Not only are there patterns but tips for fitting and measuring. I have never attempted to draft complicated patterns but this book gives you all the necessary information to do so. The patterns are tailored to your measurements and not the "small size pattern, enlarge it yourself" kind. This has actually become more important to me. When I started reenacting, I could make those small, teenage sized garments with few adjustments but as I got curvier, those patterns started needing more and more adjusting to the point that the patterns were virtually useless. Many women can attest to this same problem. If you've had some sewing experience, the patterns in this book are not out of your reach.
The Dressmaker's Guide is also full of textile and fashion knowledge. Clark breaks down different types of fabric and their appropriate uses as well as covers tools, techniques and clothing related aspects of 19th century living.
I had high expectations of this book, but the book surpassed even my highest expectations. Very rarely am I completely happy with an expensive book purchase because I am very frugal by nature, but this book is completely worth it. There's nothing worse than buying a book only to realize that it has nothing new to add that your current book collection doesn't already offer.
This book should be on bookshelf of every lady reenactor.