Costume Sites on the WWW #4: Period Pattern Research and CommercialPatterns

Costume Sites on the WWW #4:Period Pattern Research and Commercial Patterns

By Tara Maginnis

By reader request I am postponing the WWII clothing on thenet project in favor of an overview of historical pattern resources on theWWW.There are a tremendous amount ofpatterns out there, and this overview can only touch the surface.For many more links see

Pattern Research Sites

16th And 17th Century Clothing: The Renaissance Tailor@160x120.jpg

by TammieL. Dupuis, includes free online images from three Spanish pattern books of the1588-1640 era, plus images from previously unpublished Polish and Hungariantailoring manuscripts.This, however,is merely the tip of the iceberg.Thesite also has intelligent in-depth commentary on the texts, constructionlessons and online demonstrations, vocabulary, and an overview of dress in theperiod.

Diagram of a Polish hood and breeches from The Renaissance Tailor'

Oriental Costumes; Their Design and Colors by Max Tilke in 1922, has beenreproduced in online form.For those ofyou unfamiliar with this work it includes many detailed color drawings ofgarments from North Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Asia, laid flat,so that one may discern the pattern layout as well as the decoration.

CrjCostumesites4 filesImage004.jpg

Japanese Man’s Garment from Tilke.

La Couturière Parisienne:

by Alexa Bender, is a small section of a large site with many patterns from the1700s-1900smainly reproduced fromperiod books.Also at this site areuseful instructions for taking small size period patterns from books anddrafting them up to full size and modern measurements.

CrjCostumesites4 filesImage006.gifSomeClothing of the Middle Agesbockhome.html@160x120.jpg

Compiled by I. Marc Carlson, is a genuinely odd, but wonderful patternresource.Mr. Carlson has gatheredtogether and published numerous patterns that were generated as part of thearcheologicalresearch on medieval bogpeople and graves.Contrary to what onemight think, garments from this era found at these sites would seem to indicatethat clothing patterns in Northern Europe in this era were far more complex thanpreviously thought. (no longer at this site)

Kraglund bog man’s tunic, 13th-14th Centuries, from siteabove.

The Elizabethan Costuming

by Drea Leed, also contains quite a bit of useful research information, with anemphasis on applying that information to the replication of Elizabethandress.Among other features the siteincludes a free “Custom Corset Pattern Generator” into which one may type inmeasurements online, and then print out a pattern on a regular sizeprinter.After taping the piecestogether, one has a custom fit pattern for 16th Century straplessstays.There is also a generator forElizabethan smocks, as well as patterns and information about replicating theQEI Effigy corset and other Elizabethan underpinnings and garments.

Rus Male Costume (URL no longer working) by Peter Beatson documents his reconstruction of a 10th CenturyRussian Traders costume, based on grave findings in Sweden. (no longer at thissite)

Commercial Patterns for PeriodRecreation


has long been one of the best patterncompanies for historic and ethnic patterns.Back when the “Big Four” pattern companies were making “historic”patterns that made any costume historian writhe in despair, and when historicalpattern companies geared towards reenactors and theatre gave instructions toovague and confusing for non-professionals to follow, Folkwear was happilymaking multi-sized period accurate patterns that any home sewer could do.They continue to make them, and haverecently added a group of 1910’s-1920’s patterns, like the cocoon coat atright.

CrjCostumesites4 filesImage010.jpgLaughingMoon Mercantileindex.html@160x120.jpg

is one of the most promising of the new pattern companies that have sprung upon the net.Making it’s specialty inwomen’s clothing 1870-1914, they have some of the easiest to follow, andreasonably priced patterns for these complex garments.Their “Ladies Victorian Underwear” pattern(see at left) includes two corsets, a chemise and drawers, multi-sized fromsize 6-26, all in one $12 pattern.

CrjCostumesites4 filesImage012.jpg

Past Patterns@160x120.jpg

is a muchlarger company with a huge range of both male and female patterns ranging from1830-1940.Primarily devised forreenactors these patterns have high attention to period detail, and are notsuggested for the faint-hearted stitcher.However, they are the only company I know of that takes authenticity tothe degree that they actually make a pattern for 19th century men’sunderwear (see at right).

Wingeo has one of the broadest ranges of patterns, coveringassorted male and female clothing from the 10th through the 20thcenturies.If you can get past the poorillustrations on the pattern covers, you may find why the contents of theenvelopes earn high recommendations by costumers and have won various awardsfrom the National Costumers Association.

CrjCostumesites4 filesImage014.jpg

Simplicity used to be the most backward of the “Big Four”pattern companies when it came to costume patterns, but that has allchanged.If you haven’t seen theircatalog lately you may not know that high quality costume patterns (like #9686at left) have now become such an important part of their catalog that theypublish a bi-annual pattern magazine just for costumes.

CrjCostumesites4 filesImage016.jpgTheirsuccess has helped force the other three Butterick@160x120.jpg


, and even Vogue@160x120.jpg

tofollow suit.Butterick now has highquality Regency (see # 6630 at left) , Civil War, and bustle gowns, andMcCall’s has an Italian Renaissance gown that is decent (!) Even Vogue has runamok with reissuing their best vintage patterns from the 1930s to 1960s. Whilethere are still plenty of the bad t-tunic and darted bodice type “historic”patterns to be found in the pages of the main pattern companies, they are nolonger the only ones available.

There are many other companies,whose main purpose is making patterns for small segments of the reenactormarket, including those below. The GBACG

Great Pattern Review hasdetailed reviews by San Francisco Bay Area costumers of many of these patternsplus patterns from about two dozen other companies and books.See also the GBACG

“Buying PatternsOnline” for links to these other vendors.

Sense and

makes Regency and Edwardian women’s patterns.

Patterns of HistoryBroken Link has 1835-1899 reproductions of garments in the State Historical Society ofWisconsin.

La Mode Bagatelle sells Pre-Raphaelite,and Regency pattern wardrobes.

The Recollections of J.P.Ryan index.htm@160x120.jpg

has Georgian era patterns.

Ageless Patterns @160x120.jpg

haslate 19th Century styles for men, women and children.

Alteryears makes Renaissance patterns for both male and female,and in both English and Irish styles for Ren Faire people.


has more Ren Faire type patterns.

Buckaroo Bobbins has easy to use late 19th CenturyWild West patterns for men and women.

Kannick’s Korner @160x120.jpg

focusesupon 1730-1820 European American working people.


has many detailed late Medieval and early Renaissance patterns, but areputation for scanty instruction sheet information.

Hard to find Patterns You Can Get Freeon the NetStitch Boy Home1home.html@160x120.jpg [site nolonger online]

by Stitchboy has PDF patterns and instructions for the eight most common stylesof men’s stretch swim trunks.

Islamic Clothing FreePatternsby Shazeeda Shakoor has patterndiagrams for chador, khimar, abayah etc.

Duello Gloves Franchesca V. Havas, has a patternand detailed sewing instructions on making a 1640 pair of men’s embroidereddueling gloves.

Tin Box Patternstinbox.html@160x120.jpg

has free PDF files ofColonial andRevolutionary War period military items.

Patterns for 16th century Men's Costume from Germany [siteno longer online] is pretty self-explanatory. (No longer at this site)

Women's Clothing Patterns and Household Design Templates from St.Petersburg's "Neva" Magazine 1905-1913 on my own site is also fairly self explanatory, but it should be noted theseare “overprinted” patterns, with the instructions in Russian.I have made a duster coat from one, but itwas a challenge.

Computer Pattern Systems

eGroup Pattern Making Software patternmakingsoftware@160x120.jpg

is devoted to user discussion of various computer pattern systems.

Costume Computer Software Consortium

includes several costuming programs, including the CAD based Custom PatternMaker program.

Andy Nyugen’s Homepage has free online custompattern generators for men’s pants and vests, as well as women’s slopers. Pattern Drafting and Software [site no longeronline] does the same.

Pattern Makerindex.html@160x120.jpg

allows you to download a demonstration version of their software before buying,and has instructions in multiple languages.

Pattern Draftingpattdraft.html@160x120.jpg

has short descriptions and links to many of the other pattern systems sold.

Next quarter’s column will finally be devoted toclothing related to WWII, including clothes rationing, uniforms, nylon, ZootSuits, and items relating to the Holocaust.If you have good web links for any topic related to costume, pleasee-mail me at

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