A Serendipitous Search Leads to a Treasure Trove of Tailoring Tomes


1940, librarian at WPA built library on Alvar St., New Orleans

I was seeking Constance Talbot’s 1942 gem, The Complete Book of Sewing, found it available online, and  lucked upon  related books. Some were used as texts at the premier garment center schools of their time or in teacher training classes. Digital book collections are making ever more of these timeless treasures available. Not only are they the type of books not easily found, the information they contain is of the most useful sort for students of tailoring and dressmaking. A student sewer could access this treasury anywhere, anytime; no need to be without a dependable reference.  Donations keep these valuable book preservation services running and accessible. Please consider making a donation if you are able.

Here is a list of some of the best books from my collection at home that are accessible online and a few I was lucky enough to find by chance during the search. Always check the bibliographies of books for titles of interest. I’ve included the url at the time of my search for convenience and the title, author and date for future reference.

I’ve also had interesting results from Google Scholar searches. Some digital collection sites require that you sign in to view specific books, but there is no charge, kind of like getting a library card.  Donations always appreciated I’m sure. The list in no particular order, enjoy the search.

The Complete Book of Sewing, 1943

Constance Talbot


Had to sign in to view this book. No problem for me.

The Art of Dressmaking (at) Home and in the Workroom

Select Lessons in Cutting and fitting as taught in the Technical Schools of the French Government and the City of Paris, Part I

Classified and arranged by Madame Marie Boudet, 1903, Montreal


Every Lady Her Own Dressmaker, 2nd edition, 1895

Prof. Louis Molpoer


Practical Sewing and Dressmaking, 1913

Sara May Allington


Designing Apparel Through The Flat Pattern, 1960, First edition, Fairchild

Ernestine Kopp, Vittorina Rolfo, Beatrice Zelin, Lee Gross


I have the 6th edition

Vest Cutting, a Manual for the Practical Tailor and Cutter, 1883

Charles Hecklinger


Snow’s Skirt System and the Fundamental Principles of Skirt Designing, a Scientific System of Skirt Cutting, Ninth edition, 1918

Lester J. Snow


Distinctive Clothes, How to Select and Make Them, 1940

Consalus, Tighe, Dooley, Rohr


Mayer Rohr is one of four authors, a second year Textile Arts textbook.

Of interest: Front placket with extension closing, p. 410, skirt plackets, p. 456

I have his Pattern Drafting book from the mid 1930’s.

SEAMS by Alice Sundquist, Extension Specialist in Clothing and Textiles; Clothing Construction, Extension Circular 284,  June 1942


Coates’ Sewing and Dressmaking Manual, 1912

Lydia Trattles Coates


Hearth Library bibliography


Some of the books on this list may have been moved to other online book collections and are available to view there.

About the collection at University of Wisconsin:


The Weiler Ladies Tailor, Dressmaker, Designer, Cutter and Fitter Book, 1915

Sigmond Georg Weiler


High Collar Cape, p.108

The “Standard” Work on Cutting, Ladies’ Tailor-made Garments, 1908

S. S. Gordon


Dressmaking Made Easy, A Series of Simple Lessons in the Planning and making of Garments by Eleanor Chalmers

Dressmaking Made Easy: The Evening coat


Dressmaking Made Easy: The Fitted Waist by the same author is not in this issue. Still looking.

A Tailoring Manual, 1956

Gertrude Strickland


Professor Emeritus, Oregon State College, Corvallis in 6th printing, 1965 edition of mine

How to Tailor a Woman’s Suit, 1946

Margaret Smith


USDA pamphlet

59 Authentic Turn of the Century Fashion Patterns

Kristina Harris

A selection of patterns first published in The Voice of Fashion, 1890-1895


The Development of a Men’s Clothing Construction Course with an Emphasis on Fit

Ann S. Moore, 1975


A college thesis about the need for including  the study of men’s fitting into the already existing courses in men’s garment construction. Tailoring a prerequisite.

The Complete Dressmaker with Simple Directions for Home Millinery, 1907

Edited by Clara Laughlin

“Dressmaking” written by Mary I. McIntyre, Instructor of Professional Dressmaking at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY


This book also at hathitrust.org

Clothing For Women, Selection, Design and Construction, 1916

Laura I. Baldt, B. S., Instructor of Textiles and Clothing, School of Practical Arts, Teachers College, Columbia University


archive.org also has a copy, but not all of the illustrations came through on it when accessed.

The end of the list for now, new titles are probably being scanned and uploaded as I write this. Enjoy!

photo from WikiCommons,  Alvar Librarian 1940

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