The Art of Dressmaking

Tailoring to individual fit circa 1908

Tailoring to individual fit circa 1908

The book is beautiful.

The faded aqua blue cloth cover, the hand bound pages, the paper quality, even the lettering font-all signaling quality.

Even before I opened the book to read, the title held my interest. ……………

I started right at the introduction and there written in black and white signified THE VERY WORDS I VIEW LIFE AND ARTISTRY BY …

I thought, even at the beginning of the 20th century others pursued the same quest for workmanship, artistry and style function for each client they measured.

Each garment was designed and created for the client’s needs, their body proportions, their lifestyle, and their posture.

Right before me, was a semblance of my creative forefathers.

I am following on in their footsteps.

Here in print, is my chosen legacy.

Below are the excerpts that drew me into the author’s words, captivating me with each turn of the page!.


For a great many years much has been known of making beautiful tapestries, embroideries and needlework, but the great problem of putting the art of plain sewing on a scientific basis and making it a part of woman’s education is but recently receiving the attention it deserves.  To see the growing demand for more practical methods and to supply the long-felt want that has been but sparingly making met by the use of patterns, the American College of Dressmaking has spared neither time nor expense in the preparation of these lessons.”

“Since in any work a thorough understanding of the rudiments is essential, so in sewing the first step is to implant those elements and principles which are the foundation of all needlework, and each part should be so thoroughly mastered that the next becomes easy.  Thus we have arranged a course of twenty lessons so systematically that each succeeding lesson is a natural stepping stone to that which follows.:


“Just a word of caution about taking measurements before entering upon the lesson proper.  Strange as it may seem, there is nothing more important in dressmaking than the taking of correct measurements.  It matters not how nicely you have drafted the pattern or how carefully you have put the different parts together, you cannot turn out a satisfactory piece of work unless the measuring was accurately done.  This requires practice-much practice.  Practice as much as possible until you have become perfectly familiar with every detail.”

Observe very closely the form of the person whose measures you are taking.  This is very essential as different forms have different characteristics of contour.  Two persons may have the same measurements exactly, yet their forms be so different that a pattern that will fit one may not fit the other at all.  For instance, two persons may each have 38 bust measure; one of them may have a full, rounded bust and a narrow back, while the other may be flat in front with large protruding shoulder blades and a deep hollow in the back, where the measure is taken up.”

“For practice it is well to take the measures of as many different persons as possible.”

This book was recently given to me from a dear friend who found in a vintage shop.  I could ask for no better gift!


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