Essential Links

This list is comprised of my essential links — sites that I have bookmarked, which I come back to over and over. It is by no means comprehensive, but I believe it represents the best of what’s out there. It is heavily weighted towards female costume — sorry guys!



  • Bibliographica Textilia Historiae: searchable database of published research on the history of textiles.
  • British Museum collections search
  • Costume College: “…educational classes and programs regarding all aspects of costuming; from hands on workshops and demonstrations on costume-related projects, to lectures regarding the history of clothing and other costume subjects, as well as tours of local costume-related businesses and areas in Los Angeles.” Extremely fun and worthwhile — especially fun are the half- or full-day hands-on classes, where you bring in your sewing machine and make (for example) an 18th century corset with a teacher who knows what s/he is talking about!
  • Costumer’s Manifesto: a very confusing site, but there’s good information here if you can find it.
  • La Couturière Parisienne: a good resource for all periods, but especially for the 18th century. This site includes patterns, sewing instructions, paintings, fashion plates, and a wealth of other information.
  • Fashion Era: huge overview site that examines fashion, both aesthetics and in social context.
  • Gallica: Digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
  • Google Books
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection database.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art collection database.
  • Museum of London prints
  • Powerhouse Museum Electronic Swatchbook:  high res, zoomable images from historical fabric swatchbooks, 1830s-1920s.
  • Victoria & Albert Museum fashion department: research articles, online exhibits, bibliographies, and more.
  • Victoria & Albert Museum collection database.
  • Your Wardrobe Unlock’d: online magazine for historical costumers; I’m a contributor.


  • Costume Society of America: for academics, museum professionals, students, and reenactors.  Includes regional sub-groups. Publishes the journal Dress and a monthly electronic newsletter. Organizes national symposia and study tours. Site includes calendars of exhibits and a business directory.
  • Costume Society of Great Britain: for academics, museum professionals, and students. Publishes the journal Costume and a biannual newsletter. Organizes symposia.
  • Early Modern Dress & Textiles Research Network: Based in the UK, tons of useful resources.
  • Fashioning the Early Modern: European-based research project, tons of useful resources.
  • Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild: for recreational, amateur, and professional costumers.  A must, even if you live 500,000 miles away from the Bay Area. Links to suppliers, articles and instructions, symposiums and conferences, and — most importantly — the Great Pattern Review, which you MUST check out before you buy any costume patterns.
  • International Costumer’s Guild: Parent organization for a number of regional sub-groups. If you’re interested in joining (or starting) a regional group, check here!
  • Northern Society of Costume & Textiles: Based in Northern England, and encourages the study of costume and textiles. Produced (and sells on their website) four scaled patterns of some interesting garments.


Film costumes:

  • Costume Captures: detailed images of costumes from numerous period movies.
  • Costumers Guide to Movie Costumes: Detailed info on movie costumes; mostly historical movies, but also some fantasy.
  • Frock Flicks: podcast and blog about historical costume in the movies (and TV) — this is my project with a few friends!


16th century:

17th century:

18th century:



20th century:

  • 20-to-40 Style Syndicate:  their fashion pages have lots of great info on the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, including some period patterns, overviews of different items of clothing, and a really cool makeup guide.
  • Antique Corset Gallery: Extant corsets, 18th c. – 1920s.
  • L’Art et la Mode (1883-1965): French fashion magazine.
  • Blitzkreig Baby: Tons of detailed info on female WWII uniforms.
  • The Blue Gardenia: Vintage patterns for sale (1920s-1960s) — BUT while they’re really nice patterns, they’re pretty expensive so I use this site as an image reference.
  • Christine’s Vintage Fashion Page: period illustrations and ads from the 1920s – 1970s.
  • Corset Patents:  1840s-1920s.
  • How to Fingerwave (aka marcel wave): detailed instructions from a 1960s cosmetology textbook; this style was immensely popular from the 1910s-1930s.
  • L’Officiel de Mode: scans of every page of every issue of this leading French fashion magazine, 1920-current.
  • Modetijdschrift De Gracieuse: Scans of what appears to be every page of every issue of the Gracieuse fashion magazine from 1862-1936.
  • Period Fashions Reference Library [Vintage Victorian]: 1910s undergarments and evening dress.
  • reVamp: creates vintage-inspired clothing (1920’s – 1950’s) for purchase. Their site also includes information on period hairstyles, makeup, and clothing etiquette.
  • Sewing Dresses from the Teens Era [Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild].
  • SewRetro: a mailing list for anyone interested in the creation and repair of vintage clothing, especially for the period 1930-1960.
  • Victorian & Edwardian Photographs
  • Vintage Fashion Guild: Resources aimed at those who research, sell, and buy vintage fashion.


Pattern Reviews:

  • Great Pattern Review: from the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild. Check it before you buy any costume patterns — there are some really terrible ones out there! And please, contribute to it – you don’t need to be a member to do so!

Pattern Suppliers:

  • AlterYears: carries most of the historic costume pattern companies. Primarily mail order — get a copy of their print catalog.
  • Lost Coast Historic Patterns: they don’t always carry every pattern, but they are extremely reliable.  I always get my order in lightening fast time!

Pattern Companies:

  • Decades of Style: 1910s-1950s. Quality reproductions of vintage patterns, with an excellent size range.
  • Folkwear: 18th century – 1950’s. Not always the most historically accurate of pattern companies, but their patterns always WORK and have clear instructions, and that is quite an improvement over some of the costume patterns available!
  • Recollections of J.P. Ryan: 18th century. They have some of the better 18th c. patterns out there on the market.
  • Kannik’s Korner: 18th century. I have heard that their patterns are more accurate than most that are out there. Mostly underpinnings/accesories.
  • Laughing Moon Mercantile: mid-19th century. I’ve only used one of their patterns, but it was excellent. I’ve heard great reviews of their patterns.
  • Past Patterns: 1830’s – 1940’s. One of the best pattern companies on the market for reliability and range.
  • Patterns of History: 1835-1899. Also very highly regarded pattern company. I made up their 1857 Promenade Dress pattern and it went together like a dream.
  • Truly Victorian: mostly late Victorian (1870-1895ish) but also a few mid-Victorian patterns. I can’t recommend this company highly enough! I love their skirt patterns especially.


For a comprehensive directory of online fabric stores, check out Fabric Whore.

  • B. Black & Sons:  high quality wool.
  • Burnley & Trowbridge:  Aimed at 18th c. costumers, carries less usual fabrics.  GREAT customer service!
  • Design Diva Fabrics: Discounted prices on luxury fabrics – which means expensive!
  •  A huge range of cotton prints.
  • check this store often for great deals, as you never know what’s going to pop up. They’ve gotten great reviews on the h-costume mailing list for having good prices and good service.
  • Fabric Guru: Discounted prices on luxury fabrics – which means expensive!
  • Farmhouse Fabrics:  A great source for “heirloom” fabrics like batiste, voile, etc.
  • Fashion Fabrics Club. I used to really like them, but I’ve heard enough people have problems that I’m a little leery.  Often they sell “100% wool” that’s not 100%, or “silk taffeta” that’s more like china silk.  So buyer beware!
  • Hancock’s of Paducah: cotton prints for quilters. They carry some of the historic prints.
  • Reproduction Fabrics: a wide range of historic cotton prints, 1775-1950.
  • Renaissance Fabrics: not always the largest inventory, but the quality is always very high.
  • Thai Silks: now has online shopping! This company has a WIDE range of silks (the best I’ve ever found) at reasonable prices. My only complaint is that most of their fabrics are solids rather than prints, stripes, plaids, etc.
  • Trim Fabrics: not just trim, actually! Check out their fabric lots for great deals.


  • high minimum $$ order amount.
  • Lace Heaven: cheap lace.
  • M&J Trimming: a wonderful selection of all sorts of trims. I have ordered from them numerous times and always found their products to be of very high quality, although I have had problems with timely shipping.
  • Sew-Biz Fabrics: cheap trims.

Notions & Supplies





  • Reply Barbara Hale March 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Love your site. I found the Los Angeles Museum of Art’s collection of Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts… to be pretty extensive. They’re at:

  • Reply Sandra DeSano May 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Oh no…what happened to I really don’t know how I found ur site several yrs ago, but I love it. I really don’t sew, but I find you facinating. I never knew people dressed up in period costumes and went to dances. How fun! But anyway, I found vintage sewing on ur links and created a shortcut for it on my laptop. I love everything about that site especially that dealing with laundry, but I tried to get on tonight n its gone. I’m just sick about it. Do u know if it has another address? Thanks so, Sandra DeSano

  • Reply Sandra DeSano May 11, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Found Go to Wayback machine. There is a spot to type in the address. It takes you to a 2011 calendar. Click on the blue dot in April (I think the 26th), and it takes you right to it. I’m so happy I found it

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