Resources

Historical sewing and costuming supplies online:

  • Lacis Lace Museum and Shop sells a wide variety of corseting boning, hoopskirting, patterns, books, ribbons, lace, other items for textile crafts, and general pogey bait.  Lacis is my primary source for the costuming finding I can’t get in New Zealand, not because they are necessarily better than the other options, but because I am used to them.  They ship worldwide.  Read my review.
  • Farthingales Costume and Corset Supplies is another excellent source for corset, hoopskirt, and general costume materials, patterns and books.
  • Reproduction Fabrics carries reproductions of prints from 1775 to 1950.  The prints are all on cotton fabric.
  • William Booth, Draper carries historic fabrics, silk ribbons, period accurate lace, historic buttons and buckles, patterns, books and other items of interest to the 18th and 19th century costumer.
  • Spoonflower is a design your own fabric site, and a number of costumers (most notably American Duchess) have used it to design fabrics based on historical patterns.  Perfect if you want to recreate a gown exactly, or have a complete one-off.

Historical sewing and costuming supplies in New Zealand (with a focus on Wellington):

  • Global Fabrics – probably New Zealand’s best source of historically appropriate silks and other fabrics, though their stock varies greatly depending on fabric fashions.  They have stores in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Sydney and Melbourne.
  • The Fabric Warehouse – tends to focus more on fashion fabrics and staples than Global.  I tend to find my Hawaiian quilting supplies rather than my historical fabrics here.  Also carries buttons, ribbons, and other fabulous trims.  Their one drawback is that they don’t have a website, only a facebook page.  Read my review.
  • Arthur Toye Fabrics has stores in Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Gisbourne, and Palmerston North.  They carry fabric, both fashion and quilting, as well as basic notions and good thread.  So far they are the only place I have found in Wellington to get German plastic boning.  The historically accurate fabrics that are available vary greatly from season to season.
  • Spotlight – a craft chain store that is all over NZ, Australia, and Singapore.  They have a little bit of everything, but generally not what you are looking for.  Notorious for their badly trained, overworked staff, which makes for a bad experience for the staff and the shopper (managements is to blame, not the staff!).  Read my review
  • Goldings Handcrafts is a specialist supplier of craft materials and books.  They have two stores in Wellington.  They sell gromments (their selection sucks, order from Lacis instead, it’s worth it), and spiral steel boning, as well as a lovely variety of ribbons (sadly, no silk).
  • The $2 Shop has an ever changing selection of fake flowers, ribbons, craft supplies and other assorted trinkets.  I’ve found them very useful for ornamenting 18th century hair, and finding feathers and masks and cheap nail polish for the heels of costume shoes.  Read my review.
  • The Asia Gallery has the most charming (and random) assortment or pogey bait, as well as hundreds of vintage kimono at very reasonable prices.  Also bolts of vintage kimono fabric.  An excellent place to find historical fabrics that can’t be sourced new.  Read my review.
  • Three Buckets Full carries vintage jewellery, buttons and beads, vintage sewing notions, linens and lace, ribbons, and other delectable bits, perfect for trimming your historical garments.  Read my review.
  • Bryan Gaskin Fabrics in Palmerston North has an excellent selection of special occasion fabrics, including beaded, feathered, and embroidered silks, and oodles of bridal laces.  Not for those on a budget!  Read my review.

Historical Costuming research on the internet:

Multi-period

  • Historical Sewing Forum: meet other costume historians and seamstresses, ask questions, get advice, give advice.
  • V&A’s 3D Fashion: the highlights of V&A’s costume collection presented online, in the round.
  • The Costumer’s Manifesto: fabulous, but slightly overwhelming, database of everything costuming related.
  • Tidesn Toj (Fashions of other Eras) Museum: has a gorgeous collection of garments dating from 1700 to the present, with PDF patterns of many of their garments, representing many major styles of each era.  Unfortunately, the whole website is in Swedish (I’m pretty sure it is Swedish), so a bit of babblefish translation and detective work is needed if you don’t speak Swedish.
  • Your Wardrobe Unlock’d: Calls itself ‘the costume maker companion’ and provides detailed research and how-tos for every era, but only for subscribers.

Undergarments

  • Antique Corset Gallery: Extant corsets, 18th c. – 1920s.
  • Bridges on the Body: Jo is making every corset from Nora Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines, and blogging at length about the process.
  • Corsets and Crinolines at the V&A: Feature articles on corsets, crinolines and bustles from historical and modern fashion perspectives.
  • Corset Patents: Scans of corset patterns and contemporaneous articles on corsetry.  Be aware that the author isn’t a native English speaker, and that the commentary is of dubious value.
  • Foundations Revealed: the sister site to Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, provides detailed advice on all aspect of corsetmaking and other undergarments – but only if you pay the subscription fee.
  • RalphPink – Free, downloadable, printable corset & stay patterns (most taken directly from Corsets and Crinolines).  All patterns have been sized up to a modern size 10.  There is also a corsetry tutorial.

Ancient Civilisations (Greek, Roman, Egyptian etc)

  • Heather Rose Jones: An in-depth survey of archeological clothing and sewing, from the dawn of clothes to 1500.

Dark Ages

  • Clothing of the Ancient Celts: Irish, Scottish and Welsh clothing, from Roman times to the 18th century
  • Heather Rose Jones: An in-depth survey of archeological clothing and sewing, from the dawn of clothes to 1500.
  • Loose Threads: Cathy blogs about ancient to Medieval textiles (with occasional forays into more modern items).  An excellent source for keeping up with the latest finds and research.
  • Pora Sharptooth:  Check out her links to textile and Viking resources.  I don’t know enough about Vikings to comment, but the textile resources and research in very impressive.
  • Stefan’s Floregium: Links to articles on everything that could possibly be of interest to a pre-1700 reenactor.  SCA focused.  Click on the ‘Clothing’ link on the sidebar for costuming articles.

Medieval

  • Costly Thy Habit: Everything you need to know about constructing late medieval/early Renaissance women’s costume.  Plus some lovely research articles.
  • Footwear of the Middle Ages: just what is says.
  • Heather Rose Jones: An in-depth survey of archeological clothing and sewing, from the dawn of clothes to 1500.
  • Kostym: A fantastic, excellent Czech based guide to Medieval and Renaissance clothing, with patterns, research, how-to articles, and (best of all) lots of info about non-Western clothing.
  • La Cotte Simple: More construction and research tips regarding late 14th & early 15th century women’s costume.
  • Medieval Clothing Pages: links to tons of patterns and how-to articles
  • Medieval textiles: medieval weaving, knitting and sewing techniques.
  • Randy Asplunds Medieval Arts Page: Medieval costumes and accessories for guys.
  • Stefan’s Floregium: Links to articles on everything that could possibly be of interest to a pre-1700 reenactor.  SCA focused.  Click on the ‘Clothing’ link on the sidebar for costuming articles.

Renaissance & Elizabethan

  • Blackwork Embroidery Archives: Original blackwork embroidery patterns inspired by original sources, and a gallery of costumes using the embroidery
  • Elizabethan Costuming Page: Pretty much everything you could EVER want to know about Elizabethan costuming, from inspiration to every technique and garment possible.
  • Festive Attyre Historical Costuming: Jennifer’s guide to the Italian Renaissance with discussions on fabric, lacing, boning and much, much more.
  • The Frazzles Frau: 16th century German women’s costume, some construction tips, mainly inspiration images
  • The Realm of Venus: fashion and style in Renaissance Italy.  Inspiration, research, and community.
  • The Renaissance Tailor: A guide to recreating 16th and 17th century clothing.
  • Saya Espanola: Images and information on late 16th century and early 17th century Spanish court dress for women
  • The Tudor Costume Page: a guide to making accurate clothing for English Tudor reenactors.  Excellent guide
  • Tudor & Elizabethan Portraits: 16th century portraits, sorted by category and region.
  • Tudor England: Images: If they got painted, sculpted, sketched or carved in tudor England, they are featured here.

17th Century

18th Century

Regency:

Victorian

20th Century

General fabric and sewing information on the internet:

  • Fabrics.net has great information on fabric identification, fabric care, and descriptions of both natural fibre fabrics and man-made fibre fabrics.
  • The Textile Blog has excellent articles on textile designers, textile manufacturing, and textile artists, as well as a database of current costume and textile related exhibitions on at museums around the world.
  • Needle ‘N Thread has instructions and tutorials on embroidery and other forms of hand-stitching and handiwork, including gold thread embroidery, attaching beetle wings, etc.  Also patterns.

Other Historical Costuming websites and blogs:

  • The Anea Costumes: Italian Renaissance, Phantom of the Opera, the Norwegian Regency, and a bit more.
  • Circa 1850: Eva’s musings on fashion, food, literature and life in the mid-19th century.
  • The Couture Courtesan: Samantha makes beautiful 18th century and Civil War era clothes.
  • Demode Couture: Kendra’s excellent guide to EVERYTHING historical. Exceptional research, TONS of resources.
  • Diary of a Mantua Maker: Cole mostly does 18th century costuming, and does it exceptionally well, and very accurately.  Her information on stays is particularly good, if a bit tricky to find.
  • The Fashionable Past: Katherine makes beautiful reproductions 18th-20th century garments, and has a lovely selection of fashion plate images (also gorgeous kitties!).
  • Festive Attyre Blog: Jennifer’s guide to the Italian Renaissance (with a little Victorian for good measure).
  • Green Martha: She talks about “sewing, drawing, knitting, work, my cat…” Also, she says “green in the new pink”.  Clearly I like her.  Various periods.
  • Historical Fancy Dress: A guide to fancy dress costumes, mainly Victorian
  • Hyaline Prosaic: Historical fashion (mostly 18th century) and historical fiction
  • In the Long Run: Quincy creates beautiful, and impeccably researched, Regency and early Victorian costumes.
  • Jane of All Trades: Gentlewoman Thief’s adventures in writing, sewing, and the 18th century.
  • Katie Jacobs: mainly 18th century and Regency, all beautifully finished, much of it hand sewn.
  • La Mode Ilustree Livejournal: a forum where members post drool worthy pictures – lots of rare historical images.
  • Loose Threads: Cathy’s mainly medieval and earlier costuming blog.  I swear she knows every costuming book ever written off the top of her head.  Her blog is the ultimate (slightly disorganised) costuming bibliography.
  • Marie Antoinette Masquerade Ball Costume Study - a great breakdown of the dress from the movie, and lots of links to resources to help you build it.
  • The Mode Historique: Sarah Lorraine’s Medieval, Renaissance, and a little bit of everything else site.  Some excellent 16th century tutorials.
  • Marmota’s Dress Diaries: A Czech based “hobby seamstress, with a passion for pattern-drafting, historical clothing and with no experience”.  She is too modest.  An excellent insight into Eastern European historical clothing.
  • Thistle and Threads: Follows the recreation of a 1620’s Stuart style embroidered waistcoat at Plimoth Plantation.
  • Yesterday’s Thimbles: Lisha chronicles her sewing (18th and 19th centuries so far), adds tips and tricks, and posts beautifully illustrated and detailed tutorials.

Other sewing and crafting blogs that I love:

  • 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World: Unlike me, Steph is a very scientific and mathematical seamstress. Her creations are always beautifully finished and it’s a great way to get another perspective on sewing.

Museum and Historical blogs:

  • The Working Life of the Museum of London: Just what it sounds like.  A great insight into how a museum actually runs, and what museum workers do on a daily basis.  Check out the list of authors to focus on a particular part of museum work.  My favourite is Beatrice Behlen, who works with costume and fashion related objects.
  • Zho Zho’s Textile Adventures: Zho Zho is the collection manager for a small NZ museum, and blogs about the museum, the trials and triumphs of the small-town historical world, and historical NZ fashion from the 1860s to the present.  Well worth checking out!

Costume and Textile Organisations worldwide:

The Costume and Textile Society of Wales

Meet the Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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