Beneath the unassuming cover awaits a treasure trove of sewing knowledge! This wonderful 1913 sewing book was created to instruct girls in basic to advanced sewing, beginning with simple hand stitches, then advancing through projects that increase in difficulty–from simple hems and repairs to aprons, a nightgown, underthings, a middy dress, and more. This book is a fantastic tool to use with a daughter or granddaughter, going through the chapters together and learning skills step-by-step. If you’ve never been able to find a beginning sewing class suitable for young girls who are new to the needle, this is the place to start! For the fashion historian and historical costumer, this is a valuable source of period correct stitchery and pattern silhouettes. (120 pages total with beautiful, clear illustrations throughout).

9 comments on “The Sewing Book by Butterick (1913)”

  1. what a wonderful e-book. I have been looking for something like this for ages, for my own use, to brush up on some of the hand stitches and techniques I have managed to forget over the last many years.I love the little projects in the book to help practice the skills. I hope to pass this knowledge on to my family in future. My grandmother was a professional seamstress,working for a high-end tailor in the 1910’s, I wish I had half her skills.

    • Thank you for the lovely comment, Nicola! My great-grandmother was a high-end seamstress in Georgia in the 1920s and ’30s. My mother was so inspired by her example that she taught herself to sew and make patterns … then passed that down to me. I am so thankful she did. These skills are so important to preserve!

    • Hi, Katherine! This includes instructions for underthings, nightgown, apron, and middy blouse. The middy blouse pattern could easily be made into a drop-waist dress by adding a skirt. 🙂 Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Jennie! I have this wonderful book, but I’m confused about something: are the clothing patterns called for in this book still in print or does one improvise with a similar pattern? Is it possible to draft a pattern based on the layout examples? I feel silly asking these questions, but I’m perplexed! Thank you!

  3. Hi, Gertrude! There actually are no paper patterns. You are expected to cut the pieces out by measurements. See, for example, page 22 in the PDF, which gives instructions for the kimono night dress. The diagram shows what the final pattern will look like, and the instructions are to make dots on the paper at certain measured intervals, then connect the dots. That’s it! This was a very common method for making home patterns, and you see it done in a lot of books from this time period. Hope this helps!

  4. Very helpful, Jennie, thank you! Just to clarify, am I to understand that I can draft my own pattern in the later chapters as well, such as for the apron, nightgown, middy blouse, etc? It seems to imply a pattern with envelope is necessary. I appreciate your help and for making this tremendous resource available!!!

  5. I just went back to the book and checked the apron and petticoat chapters, and they do call for paper patterns (they would have been published by Butterick at the same time the book came out). But you can actually create the pattern pieces by enlarging the diagrams given in the book, as they show the exact shape of the pieces needed for the apron, petticoat, and drawers. If you’re not comfortable enlarging by measurements and connecting dots, you can actually just take the images to a local drafting/architectural printer and ask them to enlarge the pieces to the correct proportions. To figure those out, measure the diagrammed piece from shoulder to hem (or waist to hem, etc.), then compare that measurement to the actual measurement of the child for whom you’re sewing. That gives you the ratio, and the printer can size up from there. It works!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *