Art of Dressmaking, Butterick 1927 Tailoring~Alteration

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However successful a home sewer may be, they can usually learn from a professional dressmaker or tailor things that make the work still easier, pleasanter and more effective. If you are among the number of these successful ones, you will find the following pages filled with just the sort of information you can use profitably.

Home Dressmaking by Professional Methods

This book is packed with step-by-step instructions. If you have never tried, or have tried unsuccessfully to make your own clothes, this book offers you the whole story of garment construction from the first elementary stitch to the most effective way of making a tailored pocket or lining a coat.


The Butterick Publishing Company
c1927, Entered at Stationers' Hall, London, England
Hardback publication spanning 255 pages

This book was not intended to be a fashion book of 1920s styles, but it was prepared with the hope that it will be useful and helpful all the time whenever and wherever clothes are being made. Learn the process, steps and tricks to create those vintage styles.

Table of Contents


Let Your Pattern Work for You

YOUR MOST DEPENDABLE assistant in dressmaking is a good pattern, but the amount of service you get from it depends largely upon yourself. When paper patterns were first put upon the market, less than a century ago, they did little for the user except provide cutting outlines of the pieces needed to make a given garment. How these pieces should be put together, how adapted to a figure that differed from the average in any respect, what trimmings were desirable, and what method of finishing was best for that particular garment-all these and other problems were left for the user of the pattern to struggle with.

There is as much difference between these early patterns and the best modern patterns as there is between a wheelbarrow and a high-powered motor-car. This is no disparagement of the wheelbarrow. It is a useful object and, if pushed, will prove helpful; but it can not carry you along by its own power. The only way in which the best modern patterns resemble their remote ancestors is that they provide a cutting outline for each section that must go to the making of the garment; but they provide so much more that the purchaser of one of these patterns who looks upon it only as a cutting guide is failing to make use of its power, just as the owner of a motor-car would be doing if he got out and pushed it. For the motor-car is just as inert as the wheelbarrow until you set the levers and step on the gas. After that it will carry you along to the end of the road.
So the modern pattern will carry you along from the first' detail of laying out to the finishing stitch, if you will only set the levers and step on the gas; or, in plainer terms, if you will read and follow the suggestions provided for your service by the manufacturer. Whether you are an amateur or a professional in the making of garments, the best advice that can be offered is to let your pattern work for you. Experimenting always takes time, even if you are so trained in the art of dressmaking that you can work out your own problems; and the inexperienced dressmaker who depends upon her own ability to create a garment is risking not only this inevitable waste but the destruction of material and even the possibility of ruining her garment entirely.


Selecting Your Design and Buying Your Pattern

Becoming Lines ~ The Correct Size ~ How to Take Measurements


Selecting Your Materials

Weaves ~ Designs ~ Colors ~ Quantities

AFTER YOU HAVE CHOSEN a suitable style and bought the correct size of pattern, the next step in the making of your garment is the selection of the material. This should be suited to the design by which it is to be made, to the purpose to which it is to be put, and to the physical characteristics of the person who is to wear it.

It is important to select it from the list of materials recommended on the pattern envelope, because every Butterick Pattern is designed and made for certain kinds of materials. This is the only way it is possible to have a good effect in a garment, because, as we have pointed out before, if you attempt to make up in heavy wool a dress that is intended to be made of a sheer silk, the result will be unsatisfactory; and the other way around. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of the question in assuring success in dressmaking.


Alterations for Figures that Vary from the Average

Alterations That Must Be Made in the Pattern Before Cutting Out the Garment ~ Alterations That Can Be Made in the Garment After It Is Cut


Making Your Garment

Cutting Out Your Garment ~ Putting Your Garment Together ~ Finishing Your Garment


Equipment for Doing the Best Dressmaking

The Ideal Sewing Room and What It Should Contain ~ Chest of Drawers ~ Closet ~ Cutting Table ~ Mirror ~ Small Equipment ~ Dress-Form ~ Sewing Machine


The Dress-Form

Buy a good dress-form one size smaller than your bust measure...


The Sewing-Machine

It may be taken as a matter of course that any one who does dressmaking has a sewing-machine...


Plain Sewing Stitches

Knots ~ Bastings ~ Even Bastings ~ Uneven Bastings ~ Combination Bastings ~ Diagonal Bastings ~ Running Stitch ~ Backstitch ~ The Half Backstitch ~ The Combination Stitch ~ Overhanding ~ Overcasting ~ Catch-Stitch ~ Slant Hemming Stitch ~ Straight Hemming Stitch ~ Blind Hemming ~ Slip-Stitch ~ Loose French Tacks ~ Tailors' Tacks



French Seam ~ Turned-in French Seam ~ Fell French Seam ~ Flat Seam ~ Lapped Fell Seam ~ Roll Seam ~ Dart Seam ~ Plain Seam Pinked ~ Plain Seam Stitched ~ Plain Seam Bound ~ Joined Seams ~ Ordinary Tailored Seam ~ Broad Seam ~ Cord or Tucked Seam ~ Welt Seam ~ Double ~ Stitched Welt Seam ~ Open Welt Seam ~ Slot Seam ~ Double-Stitched Slot Seam-Strap: Seam ~ Lapped or Imitation Strap Seam ~ Raw Edge Lapped Seam

A SEAM is a joining of any two edges. The simplest form of seam, made by laying the edges together and sewing with one line of stitches on the wrong side, is used for temporary holding together, as in basting, or for a permanent seam.



Napery or Damask Hem ~ French Hem ~ Square Comers ~ Mitered Comers ~ Circular Hem ~ Plain Hem ~ Rolled Hem

A HEM is a. finish for the edges of garments, household linens, etc. It is made by turning the edge of the material over twice. The first turning should be narrow and must of course be perfectly even. The depth of the second turning depends on where the hem is used and the effect you want to give. To make the second turning the same depth throughout its length use as a marker a card notched the desired depth of the hem. If the hem is wide baste it at both the top and bottom.



False Hem Facing ~ Straight Facing ~ Bias Facing ~ Shaped Facing ~ Sewed-On  Facing ~ Applied Facing ~ Extension Facing ~ Sewed-On Extension Facing ~ Applied Extension Facing ~ Corded Facing ~ Piped Facing ~ Facing a Slashed Opening


Collars, Cuffs and Belts

Unlined Collars ~ Lined Collars ~ Removable Collars ~ Unlined Cuff ~ Lined Cuff ~ Removable Cuff ~ Making and Finishing a Mannish Cuff ~ Sewing in Sleeves ~ Belts ~ Casings



Bound Pockets ~ Pockets with Welts ~ Patch Pockets



Simple Placket at a Seam of a Skirt ~ Simple Placket Where There Is No Strain ~ Continuous Lap Placket ~ Underwear Plackets


Buttonholes, Eyelets, Buttons, Snaps, Hooks and Eyes and Blind Loops

Barred Buttonhole ~ Hound-End Buttonhole ~ Tailors' Buttonhole ~ Eyelets ~ Bound Buttonhole ~ Simulated Buttonhole ~ Loop Buttonhole ~ Sewing on Buttons ~ Link Buttons ~ Covering Button ~ Molds ~Sewing on Hooks and Eyes  ~ Blind Loop ~ Bar Eyes ~ Buttonholed Rings ~ Sewing on Snaps

A WELL-MADE garment that is otherwise perfect may be greatly injured in appearance by badly made buttonholes. They should always be properly spaced and marked before they are cut. Mark the position for the top and bottom buttonholes. and divide the distance between into the desired number of spaces. Cut the slit on the thread of the goods, if possible, and make it large enough to allow the button to slip through easily, as a properly made buttonhole becomes tighter after it is worked. With the buttonhole scissors carefully test the length for the slit and make a clean cut with one movement of the scissors.


Tucks and Plaits

Tucks ~ Nun's Tucks ~ Curved Tucks ~ Cross ~ Tucking ~ Laying Plaits ~ Stitching Plaits ~ Cutting Away Plaits in Heavy Material

TUCKS should be marked with a measure so that they will be of even width. When the tucking attachment of the machine is used, it gages and marks the tucks in any material that will hold a crease.

Nun's tucks are wide tucks usually two inches or more in width. The method of making all tucks is the same more or less, but the wider the tucks, the greater the difficulty in keeping the tucks and the distance between them even, especially when they are used at the bottom of a circular skirt. In such a case the tucks must be marked and basted before the stitching is done.


Bias Trimmings

Bias Bindings, Double and Single ~ Binding with Braid or Ribbon ~ Binding with Bias ~ Fold Tape ~ Binding a Scalloped Edge in Sheer Material ~ Piping ~ Cording ~ Cord Motifs ~ Corded Tucks ~ Cord Piping ~ Tie with Ball Trimming ~ Bands, Folds and Straps ~ The Unlined Fold ~ The Lined Fold ~ The Piped Fold ~ Double Folds ~ Milliners' Folds ~ Tailors' Straps ~ Tie for Sailor Blouse

BIAS bindings make attractive finishes either in same or in a contrasting material or color. They are obtainable in many materials and widths, and wherever a ready-made binding can be used it is a saving of time to use it. Where they must match the garment, however, they must of course be cut from the same material and must be cut on a true bias.


Trimming Stitches

Machine ~ Hemstitching ~ French Hemstitching ~ Picot Edging ~ Imitation Hand ~ Hemstitching~ ~ Hand ~ Hemstitching ~ Rolled Edges ~ Fagoting and Beading ~ Bar Tack ~ Crow's ~ Foot Tack ~ Arrowhead Tack ~ Feather ~ Stitching ~ Smocking ~ Pompon ~ Fringe ~ Twisted Cord ~ Tassel

MACHINE-HEMSTITCHING is used on blouses, dresses, lingerie, etc., to put together seams, finish hems and put on trimmings such as bands, etc. It is neat, durable and gives a garment a dainty,_ finished look. It is also used as a trimming either in straight rows or in a fancy design. Prices for the work vary, but it is not expensive and any plaiting establishment or the salesroom of a sewing-machine company will do it.


Ruffles, Embroidery and Lace

Ruffles ~ Embroidery Used as a Facing ~ Embroidery Joined in a Tuck ~ Embroidery Inserted with Rolled Hems ~ Embroidery Inserted by Machine ~ Embroidery Mitered ~ Whipping on Trimming ~ Inserting Lace ~ Inserting Lace Above a Facing ~ Mitering Lace ~ Shaped Pieces of Insertion ~ Inserting Lace Medallions


Shirrings, Puffings, Ruches and Plaitings

Gathering ~ Shirring ~ Scalloped or Snail Shirrings ~ Cord Shirrings ~ Simple Ruche ~ Three-Tuck Ruche ~ Box ~ Plaited or Gathered Ruches ~ Ruche of Frayed Taffeta ~ Double Ruche with One Cord Shirring ~ ~ Double Ruche with Two Cord Shirrings

FOR the shirred trimmings given in this chapter the softest materials should be used.
Plaited trimmings may be made of very soft materials or of materials with more body.
Soft ribbons requiring no finish at the edges may be used effectively for these trimmings.
Most materials for the ruchings and puffings may be cut bias or straight.
Chiffon should always...


Braid, Appliqué, Ostrich, Marabou and Fur

Flat or Tubular Braid ~ Soutache Braid ~ Appliqué Embroidery ~ Ostrich ~ Marabou ~ Fur


Turning the Lower Edge of a Garment


Coat Making


Maternity Clothes

Dresses ~ Materials ~ Colors ~ Coats ~ Brassiere ~ Corsets ~ Shoes ~ Lingerie and Underwear


The Layette


Boys' and Mens' Clothes

Patterns ~ Alterations ~ Materials ~ Cutting ~  Putting the Garment Together ~Trousers ~ The Fly ~ Trousers for Smaller Boys ~ Trousers with o Fly ~ Blouses r Coats ~ Strictly Tailored Coat ~ Canvas Lapels ~ Front Edges ~ Facing ~  Seams ~ Lining ~ Collar ~ Shirts ~ Bathrobes ~ House Jackets ~ Undergarments

IT IS not difficult to make garments for boys and men. It is mainly a matter of correct finish and careful pressing with hot irons, whenever pressing is necessary.


Pressing, Sponging and Shrinking

Irons ~ Ironing Board ~ Sleeve-Board ~ Tailor's Cushion ~ Pressing Seams ~ Pressing Pile Fabrics ~ Steaming Velvet, Etc. ~ Pressing Plaits ~ Sponging and Shrinking

GOOD pressing is a very important part of dressmaking and tailoring. Special boards and tailors' cushions may be made at home or bought....



Woolens ~ Silks ~ Velvet ~ Black Lace ~ White Lace ~ Grease-Spots ~ Machine-Oil Stains ~ Blood-Stains ~ Ink-Stains ~ Iron-Rust ~ Fruit-Stains ~ Mildew ~ Paint ~ Chewing Gum



Colored Fabrics ~ Setting Colors ~ Restoring Faded Tints ~ Silk Crepes Chiffons ~ Silk Underwear ~ Rayon-Beaded Garments ~ Plaited Garments ~ Circular Flares ~ Corduroy ~ Ratine or Turkish Toweling ~ To Prevent Mildew ~ Silk Hosiery ~ Woolens



Materials ~ Dyeing ~ Cleaning ~ Remodeling Dresses ~ Coats ~ Suits ~ Little Girls' Clothes ~ Boys' Clothes

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