Written in 1838, "The Workwoman’s Guide" by simply ‘A Lady,’ is an excellent tutorial of a largely forgotten past-time: hand-sewing (with no machine) clothing and household items. I write historical fiction set in the 1800′s, so I use this book as a general reference guide to the exact practices for sewing 150-170 years ago.
The book is large and you get a lot for the money. My copy is 303 pages and contains 24 drawing plates with hundreds of written instructions. She includes instructions for clothing for babies, children, women, and men. Sample clothing patterns and instructions include babies’ lace caps, gowns, sleeves, chemisettes, petticoats, bodices, trousers, cloaks, and bonnets. Sample household patterns include tablecloths, dinner napkins, and bed curtains.
This book is a facsimile of the original. The typefaces and line drawings are in an antique style. The author uses an interesting method of measurement. Instead of "inches" or "centimeters," she uses "yards" and "nails." One nail is 2 1/4 inches. Each written instruction for an article of clothing or a household item contains complete measurements using this nail system. The line drawings are nowhere near to scale, but she includes measurements on each.
The author also talks with great authority and know-how about the entire business of sewing, from the correct way to sew tucks or pleats to beginning knitting stitches. I have not followed the instructions personally myself, so I don’t know how effective they are, but for a practiced stitcher or seamstress, I’m sure you could give it a try. Please be advised the instructions are written in a period style.
This is an excellent overall guide for a textile historian, a living historian of an 1830′s village like Sturbridge in Massachusetts, museum curator of textiles, a costumer interested in recreating period clothes, or a historical fiction author like myself fascinated by the era.
I definitely used this book as a reference when writing my own novel:
The Heart of a Lie
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy this book!
*Review on Amazon.com, 5 stars, found here on the product page.