Making drafting tools!

I decided that I have wanted an authentic pattern drafting machine but I’ll never be able to afford one, so I’ve got a nice clear copy of a few originals and now with the power of image editing software it’s time to make some.

Step one, figure out where to scale.

Done and done 🙂 By the end of the day there should be a copy ready for any other drafting nerds 🙂

Also these might just be inspiring enough to hunt down originals 🙂

Skirt workshop this weekend

My workshop this weekend is on skirts. And drapery. Two polar opposites in terms of making but work together.

So I can do a conservative skirt, fully gathered/pleated (to waistband/yoke), very gored. And work through the waterfall drapery and then basically quote from resources at the time- you can’t work out a drapery pattern by looking at the finished garment in the 1880s. And it’s fairly true. So I’m collecting all the extant and contemporary ones I can find to put them into some sort of easy to visualise system.

Currently though printing All The Patterns so as to have them ready for the other workshops too 🙂

draping and workshop writing

I managed to get the hip gathers of my Padme Light Blue actually sitting nicely 🙂 So there has been a little bit of basting of gathers and sorting out layers. next step is to sew. Just need to look at piccies to see which direction the seam allowances lie, or if I’ll have to do some very careful hand stitching to set the SA of the gathers back into the gathered section. Not exactly doable with machined stitches, and so I’d have to look at handsewing them. Not totally ick but enough icky-wiggle room to make it a case of doing one side each evening. The fabric is stretchy so backstitches will be needed and so that means careful stretching as I stitch. Pretty sure that they are machined though and so the SA turns to the vertical gathers and could be hidden in the folds.


And so I then turned to other tasks which included plotting out my workshops in more detail and got a little confused. I started listing things to cover that were useful across different elements.

And then I found my initial online guides notes and realised that the answer was there all the time. Doh! The order in my notes is perfect. i just now need to set down and do some digarmas fr sleeves and bodices. And collate some notes on trimming as I have pleats and gathers and darts already written up 🙂


So I now have a really good flow for the workshops and have all my current notes sorted into different clear protectors and completely in love with how this current theme works printed up. It’s just so clear and the title and header even looks right. So happy. It meant I was able to print my tutorials for my meeting and it means my workshops will webify easily and then in turn be able to be printed.Pretty darn excited and even if not a heck of a lot was actually done it has been part of a longer term exercise in establishing a routine to get larger projects done.

In that regard as well I realised have have brilliant lining fabric for Missy and can still part with other fabrics. Might have to see if I can get them on TradeMe- the biog issue being that these are varying weights and they really should be tracked to make sure they get where they need to be. And so that makes for a bit of difficulty in setting up an auction. I know I like an upfront cost!

Workshops- A Modular Frock – The Gilded Age

Yep, doing another series of workshops this time with a “single” focus of getting participants a full set of patterns that work together to make a frock from 1870-1900.

Where: Waitakere Central Library, Auckland, New Zealand

When: Saturday afternoons

Dates- TBC, after the Steampunk Festival but over June and July.

The basic frock will be plain, but over the course of the series of workshops there will be moments to stop and be able to think about materials, patterns, layers. And there will be a whole workshop dedicated to draperies and trimming. Yep. Hands on waterfall!

Oh yes. I am keen to make this work for everyone from living history folks, to Steampunk, to cosplay (have I mentioned my Elsa is based on this modular system? Well she was. And that is why my skirt looks the way it does- it is actually a victorian skirt.

So the dates are yet to be confirmed but it will work around the Oamaru Steampunk festival and SCA midwinter. So I am putting out feelers for whether people want a weekly or fortnightly.

Also while these are frocks, and they are challenge there is no upper or lower age, nor experience needed, nor gender bias. The point of the workshops is to get a toolkit to be creative. If you have no experience with sewing you will pick up some handy hints as what I will be focusing on is the engineering. There will be new terms as well.

And I really am keen on getting at least two more cutting tools made up, so there will be a chance to play with them too 🙂

Maurice’s system of dress cutting..

Maurice’s system of dress cutting..

by Sivarz, Maurice. [from old catalog]
Published 1889
Publisher [n.p.]
Pages 28
Possible copyright status The Library of Congress is unaware of any copyright restrictions for this item.
Language English
Call number 6267213
Digitizing sponsor The Library of Congress
Book contributor The Library of Congress
Collection library_of_congress; americana
Notes There are no page numbers listed
Full catalog record MARCXML

This one has a ball taille, and yes, there is a single seam at the front bodice! This is what I had been noticing in garments so it’s nice to have it confirmed.

Studies in plain needlework and amateur dressmaking .

Studies in plain needlework and amateur dressmaking ..

by Ross, Harry A., Mrs. [from old catalog]
Published 1887 Topics Sewing, Dressmaking Publisher Battle Creek, Mich., W. C. Gage & son, printers
Pages 56
Possible copyright status The Library of Congress is unaware of any copyright restrictions for this item.
Language English
Call number 9622452
Digitizing sponsor Sloan Foundation
Book contributor The Library of Congress
Collection library_of_congress; americana
Full catalog record MARCXML

Instructions in dressmaking, basting and fitting

Instructions in dressmaking, basting and fitting

by [Moschocowitz brothers, New York] [from old catalog]
Published 1884 Topics Dressmaking. [from old catalog] Publisher [New York
Pages 40
Possible copyright status The Library of Congress is unaware of any copyright restrictions for this item.
Language English
Call number 8222341
Digitizing sponsor Sloan Foundation
Book contributor The Library of Congress
Collection library_of_congress; americana
Full catalog record MARCXML
This book has an editable web page on Open Library.

Sadly only a single image of line art is included

the source I was looking for

Sorry about weird auto-formating. Apparently facebook uses a lot of div elements!

I did this morning find the original quote in all the books I was reading in regards to Worth having a mix and match pattern catalogue.

The House of Worth.

Language(s): English
Published: Brooklyn : Brooklyn Museum, c1962. —
Subjects: Worth, Charles Frédéric, > 1825-1895.
House of Worth (Firm)
Costume designers > France > Biography.
Fashion > Exhibitions.
Note: “An exhibition held at the Brooklyn Museum from May 8 through June 24, 1962.”
Physical Description: 56 p. : ill.
Locate a Print Version: Find in a library

Full view (original from University of Michigan)

Link directly to the source!

If one approaches those Worth gowns that have survived the years with a tape measure and the eye of a pattern maker, one may glimpse Worth’s flair for engineering. His gowns were made of many standard interchangeable parts. One sleeve may fit several different bodices or each bodice will fit a great variety of sleeves. In turn, each bodice may be joined to a host of skirt shapes.

This sounds reasonable, but the two dresses the book that are compared really don’t show this- the draperies are pointed out.

The most interesting aspect of Mrs. Drew’s gown, however, is its illustration of the many ways Worth repeated a pattern. The diagonal swags of the skirt are the same as the drapery trimmed with pleating on the voile dress pictured on page 29 of this catalogue. They are also identical, even to the fringed button trim, with another dress of green taffeta dated 1876 in The Brooklyn Museum collection. It would seem that plus c’est la meme chose, plus ca change.


Not seeing any similarity in regards to the drapery, but perhaps that is due to owning a surfeit of images from the 1870s and 1880s- variations on a theme really was the fashion.

However I have definitely fallen head over heels in love with a particular gown that was made over and over and over again. It’s middle of the 1890s, ball gown. There is one with woven butterflies all over an aqua silk satin, there is one in pink satin with wheat sheafs in beads and sequins up the skirt, there is one in turquoise velvet. They have a slightly asymmetric neckline and are possibly underappreciated because they seem so plain.

In London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is a series of sketches of an 1860 skirt showing the imaginative variations possible with a single basic shape. Made up in a diversity of fabrics and the multitude of trimmings so favored by the mid-century mind, one can envision an almost endless series of dressmaking permutations.

I may not totally see the link above to the idea of mix and match, nor here, but I do see how a skirt would be the primary focus. The 1860s skirts were a huge canvas, and bodices of each decade were built on specific lines. So deciding on a skirt then making the bodice(s) match is very sensible. The opposite of what I tend to do as I tend to work in vertical lines from shoulder to floor.

But the en disposition gowns of the 1890s are most definitely not created this way, they are deigned to match the fabric. The construction of each cannot be swapped.


Again, I think the inconsistency in our views of Worth have a lot to do with how long the house was in operation and how the different styles were not simple changes but involved new practices from design through construction through fitting.


Fashion magazines

Many more fashion plates in context! Some of these have made their way into cosutme history books.

Of interest to me is how much pink there was in the 1870s! So much. It’s quite… fashion doll pink in plates but I have some paintings where it’s much softer 🙂


I have linked to the about pages in each case, click the book cover then the thumbnails icon to be able to see at a glance how much information there really is! Some of these came with pattern suppliments, it’s a pity these have simply been scanned to show that they exist but from experience of scanning my own magazines they are on webarchive) it is a big ask as it is!


Le Moniteur de la mode: journal du grand monde ; modes, illustrations, patrons, littératures, beaux-arts, théatres.


Revue de la mode: gazette de la famille, Volume 1


Les Modes parisiennes:


Journal de Demoiselles







The Tailor and Cutter and London Art Journal

The Tailor and Cutter and London Art Journal: An Index of Cutting, Fashion and Trade


Another tailoring book, but totally packed with diagrams of fantastic quality.