History in Review
60 Civil War-Era Fashion Patterns
By Kristina Seleshanko. (Dover Publications, Mineola, New York: 2007. Pg. 121. Illustrations, Patterns.) ISBN: 978-0-486-46176-2.
Reviewed by Auggie Moore - May 8, 2009
If you are an American Civil War historian, re-enactor, or costumer, you just have to get your hands on a copy of Dover's 60 Civil War-Era Fashion Patterns, by Kristina Seleshanko. The reason that this book is a must-have for anyone with an interest in Civil War history or fashion, is that it includes a generous selection of patterns drawn from Peterson's Magazine, 1860-1869. Black and white illustrations of each garment are presented, along with a description of how the various items are made, the materials that should be used, and also included are the pattern pieces needed to reproduce the garment.
The bulk of the garments in this collection are women's fashions, including patterns for a Zouave Jacket, Louis Fourteenth Cloak, the Saratoga dress, an Odette mantelet, Polonaise Dinner Dress, a Night-Cap, a Caraco Espagnol dress, The Illinois (a walking-dress), a Louis XV Robe de Chambre, The Madeline Wrapper, The Fall Paletot dress, Naim Cloak, Lady's Drawers, Pardessus Danois, Ladies' Anklet, a Louis XV Paletot and Waistcoat (an outdoor, winter costume), a Marie Stuart Cashmere Hood, The Imperatrice Paletot, The Eugenie Fichu, The Adolphe Coat, a Patti Jacket, a Senorita Body, a Capuchin Hood, a Pannier Mantilla, and much more. There are also a few children's patterns, including ones for a Knickerbocker Suit, Loose Jacket & Waistcoat for a young boy, a Boy's jacket & Pantaloons, a little girl's Fancy Knickerbockers, a boy's French Blouse, an Adelaide Dress for little girls, a Basquine for a Little Girl, short trousers for a boy, a Little Girl's Tunic & Cape, a Basquine with a Pelerine Garrick for a Young Miss, and a Knickerbocker Suit for a Boy.
In addition to the reproduction of the original patterns from Peterson's Magazine, Seleshanko also provides instructions that will help modern costumers and dressmakers to reproduce these garments. However, even with these instructions, this is not a book for novice dressmakers as you will need to possess some tailoring skills to accurately create these garments. For those with the necessary skills, you'll find that these patterns are clear and can be reproduced with relative ease.
For historians and others who are not necessarily interested in recreating these garments, you will still find this book of extreme interest. This book is useful as a reference guide to Civil-War era dress fashions, and how those garments were made. The Peterson's Magazine was a popular periodical of its time, and it is often slighted by modern researchers in favor of better-known periodicals as the Godey's Lady's Book. Like Godey's, Peterson's was a "lady's" magazine, that not only includes fashion patterns, but also needlework patterns, recipes, book reviews, and household tips. This new book, 60 Civil War-Era Fashion Patterns will serve not only to introduce Peterson's Magazine to those unfamiliar with it, but also to share with wealth of Civil War era fashion patterns with anyone with an interest in this intriguing, and often overlooked aspect of the Civil War.
A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern, by Mary Brooks Picken.
A unique dictionary that provides definitions to more than 10,000 words related to costumes and fashion, from aal to Zulu cloth. It also includes more than 750 illustrations.
Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns and Tailoring Techniques, by S. S. Gordon.
A republication of the 1901 edition of The "Standard" Work on Cutting Ladies' Tailor-Made Garments.
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