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Vintage Corset Making and Fitting Books

Woman in a corset brushing her hair, 1908This month Marion McNealy shares with you some of the vintage corset making and fitting books that are online.

The books range from patterning and making an 1857 corset (perfect for the Single Pattern Project!)  to 1920's and 30's corsets, corselettes, brassieres, bandeaux and girdles. We've even got an excellent book from the 1950's for corset saleswomen on fitting a customer and making her feel at ease during the fitting process, still applicable to customers today!

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March: Abebooks


This month I'm going to send you to another site that's not a costume site at all, but a site that you can use as a tool to open up your costuming horizons. And rather than tell you the theory, I'm going to show you how it works.

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Revolutionary Era (1770-1789) Bookshelf

Luisa Maria Amelia Teresa di Borbone, 1790Marion's got all the books and resources you need to create an amazing ensemble for the Revolutionary period:

  • The Must Have books and the Nice-to-Haves;
  • A 1785 French fashion magazine with men's and women's dress, hat and wig fashions; and much more!



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Natural Form Era (1876-1882) Bookshelf

Detail from Reading in the Forest, 1875, Benczur OlvasoWe've gone through our links, pored over the bookshelves and searched for the best in books to help you create a masterpiece for the Natural Form Era 1876-1882.

We've got an awesome trilogy of ladies' tailoring books by Charles Hecklinger and his equally amazing trilogy of men's tailoring books.  

Having trouble getting a smooth fit to a cuirass bodice or Princess dress? We've found period  fitting guides with step-by-step pictures to guide you through the process.  Want to know what options women had for corsets and petticoats? Check out a mail order catalog from 1883.  And that's just the free stuff, not from a bookstore!

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Build Your Library - Pattern Drafting

Proper Measurements, The Home Needle, 1882 Starting this month, we'll be reviewing several books each month.

They could be new releases or old-but-good books that are key building blocks in any costumer's library.

This month, Marion McNealy reviews several pattern drafting books that are key components in her costumer library.


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Build Your Library - Embellishments

Detail from The Music Party,1774, by Louis Rolland TrinquesseThis month we feature two books that focus on the details: buttons and three dimensional fabric manipulation. Both of the featured books are fun to look through as pure eye candy and inspiration for future projects.





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Build Your Library - Tailoring Books

The village tailor, 1894, Albert Anker As a seamstress, you may be happy to tackle just about any type of garment, but the thought of tailoring probably makes you feel a little faint and a lot intimidated.

Here are Cathy Hay's three favourite tailoring books that'll take away the mystery and show you the way, step by step, to beautifully tailored clothes both for you and for the gentleman in your life.


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Build Your Library: Medieval Era

Detail from Roman dela Rose

Marion McNealy reviews several books on Medieval Era fashion and clothing.

Of course there's the must have Medieval Tailor's Assistant, but there are two others that you may not know about that she thinks you need to have on your library shelves.

Would you like to review a book for us? Drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. including your YWU username and what titles you'd like to review.


Tags: Books
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Build Your Library - Pattern Cutting for Men's Costume by Elizabeth Friendship

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Traugott Riedel, 1801This month we have a special treat!

YWU reader absintheskiss reviews Elizabeth Friendship's brand new book Pattern Cutting for Men's Costume.

Tags: Books
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Build Your Library - 18th century Costume Books by Loren Dearborn

Dancing Children by Lorens Pasch the younger (1733-1805)If you're an 18th Century costume buff, odds are you already have these.

But if you're just now falling in love with Rococo they should be at the top of your Christmas list!





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Elizabethan tailor

This month, you may watch in amusement as I wrangle with a subject I know very little about.

If you're as briefly acquainted with Tudor and Elizabethan costume as I am, prepare for a treat as we "ooh" and "aah" together over a new and wonderful branch of costume. Meanwhile, if this is your thang, you may alternatively watch in the aforementioned amusement and then go off to our Website of the Month in informed adoration of your very favourite thing.

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February: Louvre Museum, Paris


You may remember reading in January's blog that Katherine Caron-Greig was in Paris for the New Year, happily photographing some of the best paintings in the Louvre. Such was our jealousy that it seems only right to feature the Louvre as our Website of the Month for February!

I was once told how a woman vowed to visit every single work of art in the famous Paris museum; it took her five full days to see it all. The Musée du Louvre houses 35,000 works of art drawn from eight departments, displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space dedicated to the permanent collections. The website encourages the visitor to "explore the works on display, taking a thematic or cross-departmental approach," but on such a vast site, this can be daunting! To get you started, we've picked out a few highlights for you...

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