O ne of four volumes of Patterns of Fashions written and illustrated by Janet Arnold that together form an indispensable core collection for any costume designer, for theater film or reenactments.

Patterns of Fashion 1 focuses on Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction form 1660 up to 1860—when the sewing machine came into general use.

Drawings taken from original garment specimens in collections throughout England are supplemented with details showing their construction and laid out on grid paper along with construction comments and fabric details.

From wrapping gowns, riding habits, pelisses, and chemises to sack dresses, morning dresses, and wedding dresses Janet Arnold lays out patterns for costume construction.

180 black and white illustrations. 28 patterns.

14 x 11 in.


Janet Arnold (1932-1998) was a dress historian, artist, fashion designer and teacher who pioneered research into the cut and construction of clothes from the 16th to the early 20th century. Her studies revealed invaluable information on the clothing of the past, and her publications on the sartorial details and patterns of historical dress continue to have a profound impact on many disciplines and institutions, academic and creative. Her patterns and drawings remain a primary source for designers of costume for the stage, film and television, and her research proves indispensable to art historians interpreting portraiture and genre painting, as well as to conservators for the physical analysis and identification of surviving dress. For over a decade, Janet Arnold collaborated with the conservation department of Palazzo Pitti’s Galleria del Costume in Florence, contributing her expertise on historical dress. There she actively participated in the lengthy and difficult process of documenting and conserving the 16th century burial clothes from the Medici tombs, writing several publications and giving many lectures about the project. Her books are essential tools for the study of dress and have been used throughout the world.

Amazon Reviews:

“5.0 out of 5 starsNo historic costumer’s bookshelf should lack this volume!”

“No historic costumer’s bookshelf should lack this volume! The late Janet Arnold can certainly be called the mother of historical accuracy in costume research. Her meticulous sketches of extant garments, coupled with her carefully drawn graphed patterns, make her books indispensable both for students of historical costumes and for those who wish to reproduce them. Each drawing includes a brief description of the garment, including which materials were used and any types of embellishment. I found it very easy to scale up the patterns I wanted to use with one-inch pattern graphing paper. This book is worth every penny and will become a dog-eared favorite on your costuming shelf!”

“Quintessential Work of Fashion History. The primary feature of Ms. Arnold’s books are of course the scaled patterns. By scrupulously copying actual period garments, she has created a faultless roadmap for anyone who wishes to reproduce historic garments and be assured of their authenticity (at least when it comes to the pattern shape). Costume historians especially will be interested in the introductory chapters. Here they will find excerpts reproduced from a wide variety of extremely rare period books and manuals of dressmaking. Many of these sources are virtually unavailable elsewhere. Illustrations and pattern samples (not graded) are also reproduced from the same period sources.”

This book is worth every penny.

Quintessential work of fashion history!