We’ve had our copy of Dress Design: Draping & Flat Patten Making by Marion S. Hillhouse and Evelyn A. Mansfield (Edited by Dr. Alice F. Blood) at the workroom since we started back in 2000.
Amazon says of it:
The purpose of this book is to explain in detail the principles of draping fabric on the dress form, the principles of flat pattern designing from master pattern blocks, and the dependence of successful flat pattern making on an understanding of draping. We have devoted the entire book to the presentation of these two systems in order to show that a facility in both frees the designer to carry out any original costume with ease and confidence. This book should serve as a practical reference for college and high school students alike who need help with problems in pattern making as well as with alternation of patterns for both design and fit.
Copyright 1948, there is so much more to this little vintage gem than the Amazon description would tell you, so let’s get into exactly what this is.
First of all, this isn’t a sewing manual. You won’t find the secrets of hemming or the best way to attach a button. This is a design, fit, and pattern manual from the post-war heyday of shoulder pads, gathered flare, and high waistlines.
What you will find:
• Good, solid instructions for padding out a dress form
• Basic instructions and measurement charts for drafting a basic sloper
• Basic pattern manipulations for sloper set
• Fitting issues and corrections
• Tons of mid-century post-war design inspiration
Because of its age, you should buy this if you are interested in historical design or costume. You should also buy this if you wanted something more interesting to look at than the standard pattern drafting books ubiquitous on every shelf and table throughout the English-speaking world.
The waistlines are higher, the bustlines more sculpted, and the shoulders higher – but – you will get a better sense of the finer details here than in those other books.
It is written in a clean mid-century American English that isn’t too patronizing by being cute nor so technical that it is beyond the grasp of the competent home sewer. All measurements are Imperial, so you may have to mentally convert as you go.
Overall, a highly recommended book if you wanted to get a good sense of fitting and draping, but also if you wanted to design fashion or costume with the right look and proportions for the 1944-1950 era. Highly recommended.
It can be expensive, so if you are passing through Chicago and would like to take a look, just let us know. We’d be happy to sit you down with our copy and let you luxuriate in the drape and fold of the lifting of post-war fabric rationing!