Free Vintage Sewing Library: Etsy Seller of Shame Edition

Brace yourself, the snarkiness is coming. As well as links to free stuff, for spite and because they’re amazing.

Soooo…I’ve been very into tailoring research lately. Cruising the web at all hours of the night for some sweet, sleek menswear resources. And I’ve found quite a few great ones on…that I see AGAIN on marketed as the sellers’ own work. As I’ve said before and will say again, I think this is a horrible thing to do. I generally hesitate to call anyone out on this stuff because I’d hate to be wrong. BUT. Antique books are an extremely expensive hobby. I know this firsthand, because there are so, so many things I drool over and cannot afford even if I can find them. And it is virtually impossible to find enough old tailoring materials to compile a very large collection, even if I wanted to spend huge amounts of money on it. So when I see an etsy seller like HowToBooks who deals exclusively in collector’s item/antique books that are listed in ways that bury the actual title/author deep in the description (if they are stated at all) AND who sells items I have found on–seriously 95% of this seller’s dressmaking/tailoring content is listed there–I know they’re a jerk who’s just taken free materials to sell as their own. Let me elaborate:

“Design Your Own Clothes Mens TAILORING and TUXEDO PATTERNS Formal Wear Tailored Suits” by HowToBooks is actually the 1907 edition of Croonborg’s Grand Edition of Supreme System of Cutting Men’s Garments. Available completely free, here, courtesy of the good folks (likely librarians and interns who spend hours slaving over a scanner) at

“Men’s Tailoring the Red Book for Men’s Tailoring 1917” is another Croonborg text–actually called New Supreme System for the Cutting of Men’s Garments. I know for an absolute fact this seller stole this one off of, because they include a picture of the table of contents that contains a pencil mark that is the EXACT same on the free version of the pdf available, for free, here.

This seller has a lot of great things listed in their shop. Don’t pay for them. They’re probably all available for free.

There is another etsy seller named BuriedTreasureChest that I found during my search for tailoring references that does the same shady stuff. This jerkface also sells the Red Book of Men’s Tailoring–the same Croonberg text, with the SAME PENCIL MARKINGS on the table of contents. No joke.

They also sell “Victorian Costumes Patterns Book” which is really The Diamond Garment Cutter from 1895. I know they stole it from because on the page featured on their listing, there is a penciled in “137” that is also visible on…you guessed it…the version, available free of charge in all its glory here.

This bothers me because libraries are my spiritual homeland (and that smell=heaven)  and also because I know what it’s like to spend 10 hours scanning and editing a book because you’re a design/typography/arts and crafts junkie who truly loves these books and wants to partially fund the obsession. As a matter of principle it really, REALLY bothers me when people profit off of the work of others as these sellers are doing. It also bothers me when people don’t cite their sources. It might be petty of me, but HowToBooks has about 4500 sales at current count–if each one of those is $4, then some jerkface has made about 16k, give or take, off of stolen books. Screw them. Screw them so much.

Whew. Sorry, it’s been a stressful work week.


On a happier note, I’ve been hand sewing and it is the best kind of Zen medicine. At least, now that I learned to condition the thread with beeswax. I’ve been working on a wearable muslin of a vest to get a better bodice sloper. It’s actually going very well, and only needs buttonholes now. I also finished my wearable muslin / first attempt at sewing with chiffon. It’s a simple tunic type shirt with set in sleeves and a high scarf collar that ties in front, and gathered sleeves with tie closures. It fits and it has that romantic-young-man-in-a-Jane-Austen-romance look that I like so much. So that’s encouraging.


Weekend Sewing Project: Palazzo Pants and Secretary Blouses

I’ve been playing librarian all weekend, scanning things and researching pattern publications and catalogs. It’s been a great way to distract myself from this weird cold/sinus thing and to play around learning some image editing software. Getting serious about the Etsy shop idea, as most of the stuff I’ve hoarded collected is just too cool to sit on my bookshelf, and a lot of it is really hard to find, in a fragile state, etc., so digitizing it is a good idea. But reading through so much style awesome all weekend has me sort of paralyzed as far as sewing projects. I want to sew ALL. THE. THINGS.

What’s odd is that I’m somewhat oblivious to contemporary trends. It seems like they tend to emerge more clearly in hindsight, anyway, and I’m not at all interested in trying to fit in with any given moment. It’s more like I’m seeking to craft a style using history as a medium for creative expression by picking and choosing from the great designs of the last century. Cascade-y shirt openings seem like a thing now, and I’m seeing more palazzo style pants in drapey, light fabrics with lots of movement. So that’s cool, I guess. Otherwise it’s a sort of blur of skinny pants and weird shapes in jersey and more skin than I like to expose. *shrug* Not a big fan of jersey clingy things either because they make me feel like a walking lumpy sack of potatoes bulging out where I don’t want to.

Anyway, I need some high waisted 30s style swooshy palazzo pants/beach pajamas in my life. (High waisted pants are the friend of the narrow hipped woman with a large stumpy torso who doesn’t want obvious muffin top. Ahem: moi.) And a secretary blouse with kimono sleeves. And now that I *sort of* can digitally pattern draft, I’m going to work on doing those in a pdf format.

Some images of beach pajamas from the 30s for inspiration:

mccalls-apr1932 palazzo2
Mccall6945 palazzo3

Image sources, clockwise from left: (here), (here), (here) and (here).

Swoon. I love the ones with a triangular shaped wide waist section (would it be considered a yoke?) in particular. And for the secretary blouse:

Nope, not that Secretary blouse.
Nope, not that Secretary blouse.
Well, sort of, but...
Well, sort of, but…
Perfection. In seafoam.
Perfection. In seafoam.

The final photo is from Vince Camuto (here) and definitely has a vintage feel with the front shoulder gathering, and the pants it’s paired with have a nice, light beachwear vibe too. Another possibility is the slightly more fitted weskit style (from Etsy here):

Dita, is that you?
Dita, is that you?

Happy weekend!

Obsessions: Sewing for Victory + Wardrobe Revamp

I’m an incredibly obsessive person. There are big obsessive interest cycles (ex: sewing, fashion theory) and then there are minor little hot burning obsession cycles. Currently I’m in the grips of two minor obsessions: figuring out and collecting the full series of the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences books and pamphlets, and WW2 sewing trends related to rationing, mending and “remodeling” old clothing.


Is it really best fix his pants while they are on his body? Ummm, is he bent over a lawnmower? And what madness would drive someone to mow the yard in those shoes?? That poor woman is going to have to work at them for days to get the grass staining out after having to patch a man’s ass in full view of the neighbors. Nice.

It was such a different time and different mindset, both for good (yay community, yay sense of shared purpose) and bad reasons (stricter us/them dichotomies about different ethnicities, orientations, social status and horrible ways those were expressed). I’m fascinated by the way that “tightening our belts” and conserving was seen as patriotism during this era, but these days our priorities and propaganda seem more concerned with keeping those economic gears moving. We seem a much faster, more self centered, more acquisitive bunch and although I hesitate to oversimplify and judge one as inherently better than the other, I think that there’s a lot to be learned from the attitudes of the era. (And calling my pathetic rabbit ravaged failed psuedo-garden a Victory Garden is just the sort of irony of our time.)

Which is all a long winded way of saying my dumbass just hoarded an original Make Do and Mend pamphlet and is now hell bent on reworking my old wardrobe. I’ve been wanting to clean it out and reconsider my style in general. But reworking old clothing seems like killing two birds with one stone: wardrobe clean out + working on my craptastic sewing abilities. The fabric I love cut in a style I hate? Let’s not just dump it on Goodwill (especially with the questionable labor practices of theirs coming to light these days), let’s deconstruct that bitch and applique some Alexander McQueen style birdies on something. And if I fail, it’s not like I have to feel guilty for wasting the fabric.