Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sharing "How to Tailor a Woman's Suit" from 1946

Last night I stumbled across a great vintage sewing resource completely by accident!

I was searching for suggestions on how to tack the center back pleat of the lining on my Sew for Victory jacket. I just wanted to do something slightly more decorative than simply sewing it a couple of inches at the top, middle and bottom like I've seen several resources suggest. My pattern tells you to use a bar tack, but I thought for the fun of it I'd look for other ideas.

Well my keywords ended up uncovering a true gem! It's a free digital copy of a 1946 publication by the U.S. Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics Agricultural Research Administration (say that ten times fast). It's called "How to Tailor a Woman's Suit" by Margaret Smith.

If you look closely in the corner, you can see it was received by the University of Minnesota Library on April 4, 1946.

It's 24 pages of vintage tailoring information for a woman's suit, including the jacket and skirt. Pretty amazing!

You can view the ebook here, in Google Books. Just in case that link changes in the future, you can search for it by the terms "miscellaneous publication issue 591 tailoring" (don't leave off the word tailoring, or you'll end up finding a version of it that isn't available digitally).

Now when you follow the link you can choose several options—to view it on the web or download it for a tablet or smart phone using Google's free Play Books app (that's how I downloaded it to my iPad). You can also save it as a PDF file in the upper right-hand corner of the web page:

The description at the beginning of the PDF explains the copyright has expired so it's in the public domain. However Google's usage guidelines don't explicitly state if you can or cannot share a copy, so just to be on the safe side I'm letting you all know how to download it for yourselves.

If you have any interest in vintage sewing or tailoring, definitely check out this little jewel of a resource! I'm just thrilled I stumbled across it.

Oh by the way, I didn't forget about the original search that led me to this pamphlet. It suggests you cross stitch across the center back pleat with silk thread or buttonhole twist. I may do just that. :)


  1. That's an awesome find Tasha! Thanks for sharing it. I put it in my Google Play books so I can download it to my iPad too LOL

  2. This is absolutely wonderful! What a great find and timeless, super helpful resource. Thank you very much for sharing, dear Tasha.

    Happiest St. Paddy's Day wishes!
    ♥ Jessica

  3. THANK YOU for sharing this! What a great find. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the hugeness of the internet (especially when having been away you come home to a reader telling you hat you have a few hundred blog posts to catch up on!), but at times like this it really comes up trumps with gems like this.

  4. Amazing! Thank you so much! I've been hunting for something like this for ages, really appreciated :)


  5. Fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing, I've downloaded for perusal later!

  6. Great find! Thanks for sharing!

  7. AWESOME! Thank you soooo much for that link. Makes me wonder what other kinds of books you can download from google like this?

    1. YES! That's exactly what I wondered, too! I wonder what else awaits us out there??

  8. So happy to share it with you all! ♥

  9. It looks like the lovely pamphlet you found was published by the US government; generally speaking (though I'm a librarian, not an attorney!), federal government publications are explicitly *not* copyrighted right from the start.

    And, for those of you who'd like more of this sort of thing, there's a great collection of early 20th century government publications at the University of North Texas's digital library -- I'm particularly fond of USDA Farmers' Bulletin no. 1905, "Work Clothes for Women." But that's just one of many helpful pamphlets on sewing, fitting, purchasing quality goods for your home, homecrafts, and related matters.

    1. THANK you!! That is incredible too! And I put in the search term "sewing" on the UNT site and it came up with 49 results just within the farmer's bulletins, several of which on the first page alone look interesting.

      Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you so much for the link!

  11. Wow, that's great. Thank you for sharing these fantastic references.


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