I’ve been looking forward to this book, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry, ever since I corresponded with its author, Joy Spanabel Emery, about the Commercial Pattern Archives Site at University of Rhode Island. Her book about the history of sewing patterns is now available from its publisher, Bloomsbury, or from Amazon or Abe Books. You can read reviews and summaries on their sites: Bloomsbury Publishing , AbeBooks.com , or at Amazon. I just found out that it is currently available in paperback for $35 or less, or in hardback. 272 pages; 125 colour illustrations and 75 black & white illustrations. Reviews mention that there are also scale reproductions of 9 patterns included for those who wish to enlarge them and make the garments.
Joy Emery is Professor Emerita of Theatre and the Curator of The Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island, USA. She is also the author of Stage Costume Techniques.
Publisher’s description of A History of the Paper Pattern Industry:
“This accessible book explores this history, outlining innovations in patternmaking by the companies who produced patterns and how these reflected the fashions and demands of the market. Showcasing beautiful illustrations from original pattern pamphlets, packets and ads, as well as 9 complete patterns from which readers can reproduce vintage garments of different eras, the book provides a unique visual guide to homemade fashions as well as essential exploration of the industry that produced them. ”
Chapter 1 Tailoring and the Birth of the Published Paper Pattern
Chapter 2 Development of Dressmaking Patterns
Chapter 3 Nineteenth Century Technology
Chapter 4 Early History of Pattern Companies 1860s-1880s
Chapter 5 New Markets and Expansion 1880s-1900
Chapter 6 Shifts and Balances 1900-1920s
Chapter 7 Blossoming Economy 1920-1929
Chapter 8 Surviving the Great Depression 1930s
Chapter 9 The War Years 1940s
Chapter 10 Shifting Trends 1960s
Chapter 11 New Challenges 1960s-1980s
Chapter 12 Reinvention and Renaissance 1980s-2010
9 Pattern Grids 1854-1968
Endnotes, Bibliography, Index
The Commercial Pattern Archive collection, of which Joy Spanabel Emery is curator, has over 56,000 commercial sewing patterns, and is available to the public for research (by appointment.) The enormous CoPA database can be searched online. For full access, you can subscribe for a modest fee (which is used to pay the students who work scanning and entering new patterns into the database). Or you can sample the database for free if you click on Sample. EDITED 10/31/18: CoPA membership is now free. The “Sample” page is gone, since you can use the entire site just by logging in. It is also now possible to search for a particular pattern number if you want to date it or see the layout, etc.