book layout struggles

I’m struggling between modern expectations and what I know of cutting books throughout history. The whole point is to have a book that looks like it dropped in from a quite specific point in the past- not just for fun but because it helps with removing all the modern aesthetics that wind up influencing the use of the patterns.

I pretty much went straight from sewing a simple carry bag in form 2 (age 12) to using Patterns of Fashion for my dolls (which were from my childhood, I still have them but they desperately need to be restored and dressed well.)

It was pretty much because the patterns were so strange to me that I wanted to understand them and why they were so different. How could it be that when bodies are as varied as they are that modern patterns were so limited? The patterns of extant garments really do look so much like the cutting books of their time that it’s really easy to see where alterations are made to fit the wearer so closely.

So I want my book to be able to be read stripped of modern expectations. The simplest explanation of why is that modern patterns have a straight CF line. This shifts the customisation to the sides which then is not supportive. Most patterns prior to the 20thC have a curved CF line. This effectively pulls the fabric to the body creating support.

Modern patterns are designed to sit on the body, historically they are designed to support the body. There are obviously exceptions to this, but it is so absolutely the opposite of the fundamentals of modern dressmaking that it is often hard to retain so any reminder is of help.

.I have shared most of the cutting systems I find helpful here (I just added blog categories to my menu bar, so exciting- should be all under “cutting a fashionable fit” and tag “historic guides” ‘ll try and get categories sorted this week as the tag is a better filter atm.)

Anyway. So I can usually figure out the date of a publication by the layout. Until the 19thC I can sometimes pick country. 

But the 19thC is so fun if somewhat the opposite of everything we are taught.

An advert using a font per line of text from a dressmaking guide.

I mean that is so fun and feels like a spoof, but it’s real.

In order to keep my tags and categories tidy I’ll put up the book separately.

I may just do what I was originally intending, except without all the handwriting-I can still draw by writing is a big big big resource user now.

So I’ll save the kanzlie style font for my personal copy (which will be a beautiful book on beautiful paper, bound authentically and hand painted.

It’s still a struggle to find a font that meets the following criteria:

  • Feels authentic- many fonts just look too modern either with a retro or vintage feel not of the era. There is a whole language to how to read a font that I don’t have- it’s like music, but my eye is pretty darn good at spotting copies vs original.
  • Doesn’t feel too early- rounder fonts reads as mediaeval not reformation era. I need enough roundness to read as a lot of fonts with max readibility cross platfrom are rounded. But not too round. Somewhere between TNR and Raleway (which it the main font on my site currently, and TNR I think is what the WP editor shows)
  • Scales well
  • is free or minimal cost so that I can change the entire thing if something more appropriate crops up.
  • is easily imported into a website- googlefonts is surprising limited on the historic font range (but there is a bit of code that will work across many font. Preferably not as a dl from my site but from a secure and trusted source.
  • has a clean edge- these mimic variances but they do so in an artificial manner and can make readiblity difficult. 

formatting-the work not seen

A lot of this is already in my blog and searchable :).

The reason for my desire to hunt down a particular font is that I want to publish my work and have it directly comparable to our extant resources. To this end there has been a lot of reading of the history of printmaking in Europe. Just as an example canons of page construction.

I have all the Spanish Tailors books and I have both Drei Schnittbucher (with images taken from the three cutting books we know of from Northern Europe. I even have the Schwabach book (which appears to be a later reproduction.

They are so vastly different- one set being hand drawn the other printed.

The hand drawn cutting books have the advantage that markings can be anywhere and notes can be right on the illustration. 

sample of the Leonfelter cutting book
Sample of the  Schwabach manuscript

Writing at this time though was varied between personal and legal writing. Too complicated for a single post in a site primarily about costuming. But it’s easy to see over on wikicommons.

I do have plans to make my own fully hand drawn and hand written work. But that may not happen due to how very difficult it is to hold a pen now. So there are a few “kanzlei” style fonts that really do mimic the style seen in the Leonfelter book especially.

So I’d ideally like to have my work mimic the effects I no longer can do. 

I am a realist though so have also drawn inspiration from printed works.

Books printed in this region at this time also have a very idiosyncratic look.

Anna Wecker’s cookbook printed 1598
ANother printing of Anna Wecker’s work

Other illustrated books show this same use of typeface.

Jacob Frolich

So looking at the trachtenbucher this trend follows

Exceptions seem to be that a latin font is used for latin. 

Blackletter typeface is fairly easy to track down, and even a lot of Fraktur (which is seen above in both red and black ink.) Antiqua style fonts seem to be used for dates as per the above example as well.

Even Schwabach fonts are fairly easy to find. I can read them very easily even when my monitor is not within focal distance. Which is most of the time to be honest.

The spanish pattern books all use latin typesets and are much easier to read to the modern eye, at least for those who use US or UK centric sites.

Sample of Alcega 1580
Sample of Freyle 1588
Sample of Alcega 1589
Sample of Burguen 1618
Sample of Anduxar 1640

I do prefer both the second Alcega, Burguen, and Anduxar’s layouts as they fit so very well in a modern publishing world. The use of bounding lines around the page and around illustrations especially.

There are enough similarities to the Northern layout that this seems to be at least a suitable enough 

And then we move over to the Netherlands. And it’s different again. I think Garamond is used a lot (there is an explanation on prepressure.)

But specifically in de Bruyn’s trachtenbuch yet another totally different kind of font.

de Bruyn- here in Latin but with a long font and italics.

This is I think the sort of style I should aim for. Technically what was happening in Cologne is more like the very first few pages, and this print of de Bruyn may be post 1600. But I need to do a lot more looking at trades books from the Netherlands to really get a good idea. 

Okay so I think it may be a later style as per 1604, Karel van Mander, Het schilder-boeck

So I’m trying to find a balance between many wishes, but I have to ultimately think of the work as mine. As for me. And that other people can use it but it is my project.


successes this week

  • I got google to verify my site in three ways. 
  • got sitemaps into search console
  • figured out why my site is automatically resolving to the secure version- it’s a good option but I will need to do it all manually at some stage.. ugh.
  • worked out that real coffee is wonderful for some of my fatigue. But it has to be limited to well before 11am. It doesn’t fix the fatigue at all and of course rebound effects will occur. 
  • Got All The Worth Books out. I haven’t tried to do that before. I usually get a book out at a time. 
  • Got my monogram actually sorted. And have many nice ones to use for other purposes.

Do you see it? M is around the outside, d is to the left, and B is on the right. 

So maybe not a monogram, but it scales nicely as well.

a nice day means maybe sfx work?

I wanted to work on Ahsoka this week, but the weather never really cooperated. Today and most of yesterday it has.

So today will be getting my Ahsoka tano montral cleaned and ready for latexing. And hopefully get some latex going as it will cure nice and quickly so I can get it to form the shapes I need.

But I wanted to have a very clear place to stop working on the patterns before tackling something so very different.

So I worked on a new monogram yesterday. I’ll be using them all but this one is nicely reflective of an earlier scrolling design.

I may try to make it match more. Okay I did navigate away from the page and I think I have an even better monogram sorted.

And luckily I already had drawn a schlappe on my figure already so I’ll be able to just add some cuts to it to match the pattern.

busy patterning

Hats of several kinds. I need to add seam allowance to some as I have added some to a few already. The aim is to allow them to be laid over each other to see how changing a few dimensions adds volume and where.

Next though I picked up some books from the library. I’ve had a few out before but wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! “The House of Worth 1858-1954″ is a book I need to buy for myself as it is wonderful for details!

So nice to see the size of the stitches holding the piping in place of this bodice.

And all these views of the electricity gown!

No more views of the Sunburst gown, I think what is on the Met’s website is it for the foreseeable future. But there are so many glorious images that help to understand just how very remarkable the House actually was. 

Right throughout there is a very clear consolidation of lines and patterns. They are stripped back as far as possible. That of course varies over the decades but generally this is very true. 

And there are good photos of plain tabliers with beading just like the sunburst (though of the more common type of floral and symetric patterns.)

patterning again

This year has just continued to knock at everything I thought I knew and I’m sort of left wondering what do I stand for, what do I represent?

This though I know. I know my patterns work, but I know they need a bit of work to allow other people to see how they will work for them.

Doing the hat pages first. I wasn’t sure how I was going to separate them but actually yes, individual plates.

patterning continues

Today I copied over 5 shirt patterns and 6 hat patterns to go into my book (double scale for some on graph paper and scanned, next step is to create the inkscape line art.) Now all that is really left is a partlets and a few puffed sleeve options. Oh and how to combine the skit and bodice patterns and finally a Nederlands style variation illustration so that it neatly combines all of these.

The shirts (hemden) needed a bit of work to make them easier to visualise changing sleeve and gore sizes but I think I managed it. Two plain, one high neck, and two gathered variations should cover everything.

And the hats fortunately are very easy to simply scale as there is so much gathering to fit.

I may change the url and name of the website section/book so as to reflect that these are just garments, the fact that they are based on my own wardrobe should not limit who uses them. The patterns are also intended to allow people to choose which parts to keep and which to switch out for a more familiar system. I am trying to give explanations for how the pattern shapes work in an historic setting and how they can be of use in a modern.

So yes it’s taking a fair bit longer to work on than copying my patterns directly. They aren’t intended to be directly scalable but I have had a chance to teach this and my victorian system and there is a definite wish for that to be so. 

updates are not linear

I think, I think, my site is now fully transfered to the https address. It was a very frustrating day yesterday clearing cache across three steps between site and my monitor, so all links should redirect to the secure site now and now I just have to get google to start using the new links.

It was a day of great frustration and energy spent fixing something that really shouldn’t have been that difficult. But here we are.

I’m following it all up today as well. Trying to fix the error redirect as of course everything is now a bit not quite right.

The weather is not fully okay for being outside but it’s not too cold indoors even without the heater so I may just see if I can get part of my pattern book up. This means making a new template which I’m not entirely excited about. But it should at least offer a chance to have font changes for titles and for text.

Still got some Very Big Thoughts to get written up.

website updates

I have tried to minimise stylesheet issues today, so my site was looking a little interesting for a while there! 

I also updated my menu with the newer sections. This will mean being able to tidy those pattern pages up. And yes, this is all in aim of getting the new pattern book uploaded and a newer version of the victorian patterns. 

Content is one thing. It’s all the additional skills that need to be used in formatting for desktop/print/phone. I would love to get my branding in the menu proper but I keep breaking things when I try.

I still need to add a couple of new templates, right now the “eyne neue schnittbuch” section looks weird. But I love my branding so am trying to figure out how to really incorporate the different styles!

But it’s at least at a point where I can do all these things and not break it all again!


I am pretty sharttered from efforts from Thursday through Sunday. I was going to spend some time today working on #AhsokaLives but might instead just keep warm in the lounge.

I spent much of the weekend getting paper resources in order.  Prints/photocopies and even books. Though some books are still in the I have no clue how to actually store these things phase.

Keeping a few photocopies of patterns I own in book form so that I can keep them in my new inspirations folders. These are yellow.

I’m trying to decide how best to present them in said folders. But I am also trying to find a balance between projects I absolutely want to do and those I probably won’t do. 

The problem is that the images are all different sizes and different quantities. I have several early mantua patterns but only two photos for instance.

Ao I may just put in some old school hand drawn images.

Which remindes me… some of those very old references were tracings on tissue paper. I was on a super tight budget back in the day and yes, even photocopying was expensive- mainly they were books not within my own borrowing system- they were local but they also were not available via interlibrary loan. So when the councils merged I was one very happy book borrower!

So that is for today. 

But also I do need to get my notes on how to use my pattern book up and going.

And part of that is to get my new website section up and working.