Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion: Bookstore pg. 2

What's wonderful about Jean Hunnisett's Period Costume for Stage & Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, 1800-1909, is that not only does she give you detailed illustrations of costumes and scaled patterns with which to make them, but she also focuses on the undergarments needed to make the clothes look right. Even if you're not a great sewer, it's fascinating to read and look at; if you've mastered commercial patterns, this book will help you take the next step to creating your own, or at least understanding how period pattern pieces are shaped so that you can modify existing patterns. (For the perfectionist: be aware that although her patterns are excellent, her construction techniques are not necessarily period.)

The Costume Technician's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Technicians by Rosemary Ingham, Liz Covey, Elizabeth Covey (rev. 1995).
This is the bible for anyone wanting to learn how to create costumes. Although aimed at the stage costumer, many of the techniques are extremely useful for costumes of any type. Learn everything from how to create a block (a basic bodice pattern personalized to the individual, from which you can create any garment) to using daunting materials like hat felt and chickenwire! Essentially a textbook - the pictures are black and white.

Stage Costume Step-By-Step: The Complete Guide to Designing and Making Stage Costumes for All Major Drama Periods and Genres from Classical Through through 20th Century by Mary T. Kidd (1996, hardcover).
While not nearly as extensive about technique as the Costume Technician's Handbook, this cheerful, colorful book is less daunting for the amateur and includes some very good advice about designing costumes, with an emphasis on line, color, fabric, and accessories. Includes inspiring photos of beautiful but often fairly simply-constructed costumes, including a handsome Regency outfit.

Patterns for Theatrical Costumes: Garments, Trims, and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915 by Katherine Strand Holkeboer (350 pp, 1984).
A review posted at says: "A good book to use as a starting point in the building of costumes. It gives great detail on how create masks, millinary, drafting a pattern, radiating a pattern and so on. Gives a good basic idea of the styles for specific periods and the names of the different pieces. The historical accuracy is also very good too... I really enjoy this book and it is often the first place I look in getting ideas for a new costume."

Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660-1860 by Janet Arnold (76 pp., 1977).
This is a classic among costuming books. Janet Arnold, an experienced costumer, has gotten access to genuine antique clothes in museums and examined them inside and out. The book is full of drawings of antique garments (unfastened, so you can see inside) and gives charted patterns that, if you're an experienced sewer (or brave!), can be used to create a variety of extremely authentic clothes. I'm pretty certain that Kate Winslet's beautiful peach-colored open robe in Sense & Sensibility came from one of these patterns.

Costume in Detail: Women's Dress 1730-1930 by Nancy Bradfield (400 pp.).
This book contains detailed drawings of actual antique and vintage garments, inside and out. It allows you to see wonderful construction details, such as how the skirt was attached to the bodice and how deep a hem is. Fascinating, and a must if you're a stickler for accuracy.

The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh
If you know how to make full-sized garments from small graphed patterns, this will be a treasure-trove. But you must be an experienced sewer to deal with the basically instructionless patterns, and be warned: the book costs about $75.

The Evolution of Fashion: Pattern and Cut from 1066 to 1930 by Margot Hamilton Hill, Peter A. Bucknell (240 pp.).
This massive book dates to the 1960s, but if you can ignore the cheesy quality of the line illustrations, this is a great book!

Created by and for stage costumers, it consists of a series of two-page spreads. The first spread gives a picture of a man and woman for each era and describes the details of fabric, accessories, cut of clothing, undergarments, and even the way to stand and move in the clothes. The second spread gives one-sixth scale patterns to create the clothes. The patterns are not for the faint of heart - they're complicated and include no seam allowances and almost no instruction - but they're period-accurate; for example, the men's early-Regency breeches have no outside leg seam. But best of all, they don't assume that the Regency was one single blob; they break it down into ten-to-fifteen-year periods.

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking by Denise Dreher (1981).
Another one on my wish-list. A reader posted this review at "A great book for milliners and costumers. This book has helped me figure out what hat is right for the time period and how to make that hat. It is more than just a how-to book - it tells you when to use a type of hat and other historical things you might need to know. As a costume/millinery student I have found this book to be a great learning tool."

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