So this weekend, we're starting my other half's Victorian frock coat. This resulted directly in the purchase of an extant example from the very early 20th century, and the brand new book The Victorian Tailor: An Introduction to Period Tailoring, by Jason MacLochlainn.
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Tailor-Introduction-Period-Tailoring/dp/0312642334/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300627163&sr=8-1
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Original edition (March 15, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780312642334
Let me tell you, I am SO IMPRESSED.
Jason has crammed an amazing amount of information into such a manageable-size book, from a general chronological survey of historic drafting techniques and measuring systems and a detailed decade-by-decade timeline of men's fashion 1830-1900 to the proper tools of the tailor's trade and (my absolute favorites, and those of my other half) extremely detailed diagrams of tailoring stitches that are completely clear to both experts AND beginners.
The second half of the book covers pattern-drafting using included scales, an approach familiar to those who have used any of the La Volta Press publications, including the Fashions of the Gilded Age books. It contains patterns for waistcoats, pants, and coats, and takes you step by step through drafting, cutting and making-up the included examples.
It concludes with what is essentially a "workbook", several small exercises to practice your skills before you turn yourself loose on your expensive piece of wool or silk.
I found this book to be invaluable to both of us. Other Half is just learning to sew, and since he got to read this book first, he was quite gratified to share with me all the cool facts and tidbits he picked up from it, as well as finally understanding some of the concepts of pattern grading I tried and failed to explain to him. He understood almost all of it, and has been asking some very good, educated questions instead of the typical learner's helpless "What do I do??"
Jason is so clear and thorough in his instructions that I don't see how anyone could try to make a garment from this book and NOT succeed. He breaks down every single step of assembly into numerous individual sub-steps, illustrated with period illustrations, clear modern line drawings, and quotes from period sources.
This also leads directly into my only complaint about this book. He often gets so deep into the nitty-gritty of things like pocketing or inserting lining that he misses important concepts like fitting the coat, or altering for atypical bodies. He does promise more information in future books, though, so don't go and lynch him yet!