The study of commercial sewing pattern publications can help scholars to solve the problem of couture versus quotidian dress in the history of fashion. Sewing was one of the few crafts to which women were universally exposed in the United States in the early twentieth century. Like publications depicting ready-to-wear clothing, which also allow us to see everyday clothing as opposed to elite dress, commercial sewing pattern publications illustrated contemporary rules of the six occasions for dress and the application of the five aesthetic principles to clothing. In addition, such publications offer unusually detailed garment illustrations and pattern schematics documenting style trends and garment design and construction. Most importantly, sewing publications offer valuable information about women’s relationship to dress in one of the few realms where they acted as both producer and consumer. Sewing pattern publications indicate tacitly the level of artisanal skill possessed by American women and girls by era and can aid scholars in restoring them to the history of technology. Though scholarly access to commercial sewing pattern publications has increased, they remain a largely inaccessible source worthy of library collection.


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pp. 30-50
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