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Literature for the Beginner


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#1 Sator

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 07:08 PM

Where possible you should try to enrol in a local sewing course to teach you how to make skirts, trousers, shirts and waistcoats/vests. Nothing is really a substitute for hands-on teaching. However, the following books will give you a basic introduction to what is a good semblance of a professional method of doing things.

1. Cabrera, Roberto:

Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men's Wear . Fairchild Publications, 1983. ISBN-10: 0870054317

Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Women's Wear. Fairchild Publications, 1984. ISBN-13: 978-0870054358

http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/0870054317

http://www.amazon.co.../ref=pd_sim_b_4

This is unofficially the forum prescribed textbook. All beginners should own this book to use as their basic textbook. It gives clear, step-by-step instructions on how to professionally make waistcoats and trousers or skirt. There are two books - one for men's and another for women's tailoring. Ideally, you should own both. The great strength is the clarity of the text and diagrams. Although it only shows one way of doing things, it gives a sound foundation from which to base learning to tailor to a professional standard. That said, it still only gives an extremely rough skeleton framework of the professional knowledge required. It needs a great deal of fleshing out.


2. Poulin, Clarence: Tailoring Suits the Professional Way. Chas. A. Bennett Co. Inc. Publishers. Illinois, 1973

An indispensable out of print text whose strengths are the highly informative discussions on the fitting and making up of skirts and trousers. Try if possible to obtain the improved third edition published in 1973, rather than the earlier 1952 or 1953 editions, although the differences are not dramatic. Methods are of a professional standard, and the text is easy to follow. This is the second major recommendation for beginners, in addition to Cabrera.

4. Hostek, Stanley:

A classic and extremely well respected author, that looks like a student handout from a college. Appearances are deceptive, for the content reveals reveals one of the most thorough and clear step-by-step descriptions of professional coatmaking ever put to print. All 234 pages are devoted entirely to the art of making up lounge coats.

The basic books from the same author that are recommended to beginners are the titles on handsewing techniques, trouser and waistcoat making:

Men's Custom Tailored Pants
Men's Custom Tailored Vests
Hand Stitches


The beginner should start with the book on hand stitches and the trouser making book, before progressing on to waistcoats.

All of these titles available for purchase here: http://uniquetechniq.../shopbooks.html

The problem is that the text is not as easy for the beginner to read as Cabrera or Poulin. It should be used as a supplementary text.

5. Heath, Samuel. Coat and Skirt Making: Skirts, Trousers, Jackets, Coats. Granada Publishing, 6th Edition, London, 1981

A very good text covering the basics of cutting and making up of women’s skirts.

6. Coffin, David. Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop
http://www.amazon.co...62434222&sr=1-1
A beautifully illustrated and extremely comprehensive book by our forum member David. Essential reading for beginners and advanced sewers alike.

7. Liberty. Practical Tailoring

The full text (circa 1930, no publication date given) can be found here. This is a good book for outlining things such as how to sit, and how to execute the basic repertoire of stitches. Beyond that there is a lack of simple, step-by-step detail on how to execute certain things. It is more suitable for the intermediate level learner, who will find the sections on pocket making to be interest. It should be used by the beginner as a supplement to the above texts. The beginner must NOT rely on this text as their sole source of knowledge just because scans have been shared on the forum. Many things are also severely outdated, and cannot be recommended.

Cutting and Fitting

Books dedicated to cutting are traditionally regarded as being advanced reading. These books are rare, hard to find and very expensive when you do. Titles are detailed and discussed in the coat and trouser forums. It is always recommended that the beginner start with learning to cut skirts or trousers then progressing on to waistcoats.

For a classic system by which to cut men's trousers and waistcoats I suggest starting with either The Tailor & Cutter System, New Mitchell, or a classic Rundschau system. These can be found pinned at the top of Trouser and Waistcoat Forum. There are patterns for cutting various different types of skirts and trousers in the Women's Cutter and Tailor Forum. The beginner must stick to modern systems of cutting (1940s and onwards).

Homesewers should generally stick to skirts, trousers and waistcoats. Anything else is about as painful as home dentistry and it is usually not worth torturing yourself with it. It is better to enjoy yourself and have something you are proud to wear rather than being over ambitious and end up having to bin the fruits of your long labour. Those who are hardy enough to progress to a more advanced level must apply for Advanced Apprentice status in order to be able to ask questions in the Advanced Apprentice's Forum.

#2 solarmist

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 05:09 AM

Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men's Wear . Fairchild Publications, 1983. ISBN-10: 0870054317

http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/0870054317

This is unofficially the forum prescribed textbook. All beginners should own this book to use as their basic textbook. It gives clear, step-by-step instructions on how to professionally make waistcoats and trousers or skirt. There are two books - one for men's and another for women's tailoring. Ideally, you should own both. The great strength is the clarity of the text and diagrams. Although it only shows one way of doing things, it gives a sound foundation from which to base learning to tailor to a professional standard. That said, it still only gives an extremely rough skeleton framework of the professional knowledge required. It needs a great deal of fleshing out.


I'm starting to work on my stitching technique, but I'd like something to read as well and I am interested in getting the Classic Tailoring Techniques book,
but it seems to be out of print and I cannot find a place that has a copy for less than $300 (US). For example the cheapest price on amazon is over $400 (US).

Any advise or alternative first books in tailoring?

#3 tailleuse

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 08:52 AM

I'm starting to work on my stitching technique, but I'd like something to read as well and I am interested in getting the Classic Tailoring Techniques book,
but it seems to be out of print and I cannot find a place that has a copy for less than $300 (US). For example the cheapest price on amazon is over $400 (US).

Any advise or alternative first books in tailoring?


I have to admit that I didn't believe you when I read the book was out of print. I bought the paperback a couple of years ago for about $60. I would set up a search on eBay and request emails when the book is available.



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#4 solarmist

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 09:01 AM

I have to admit that I didn't believe you when I read the book was out of print. I bought the paperback a couple of years ago for about $60. I would set up a search on eBay and request emails when the book is available.


I've been searching the internet for copies and I've found several used copies, but they are all going for hundreds each.
Any halfway decent ebay user would check amazon to see it's value and offer it for a similar price, so I'm not terribly hopeful there.

One thing to note I did find the version for women's wear is still available at a reasonable price ($60 US).
I got the last one from amazon.com, so I'm not sure about the situation for that book either.

#5 tailleuse

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 09:26 AM

I've been searching the internet for copies and I've found several used copies, but they are all going for hundreds each.
Any halfway decent ebay user would check amazon to see it's value and offer it for a similar price, so I'm not terribly hopeful there.

One thing to note I did find the version for women's wear is still available at a reasonable price ($60 US).
I got the last one from amazon.com, so I'm not sure about the situation for that book either.


I'm still amazed. I bought the women's version this summer. Although some people on Amazon claim it's virtually identical to the men's version, as Sartor said in his review, it's not.

If you can borrow it from a library, that might be an option. Some libraries have special photocopiers that scan to a USB drive. (You're supposed to use the copy only for a personal, educational purpose.)


If you have a smartphone, there are apps that make your camera act like a photocopier. I recently found myself in a library with books that did not circulate and an ancient machine that took only quarters and dollar bills, not even cards. I have an Android phone and have tried CamScanner and Document Scanner and both were decent. Even if you copied only the first 40 pages that would get you started. If you use your cell phone, it can help to create a rest for your forearms using books or a bag to keep your hands steady.

Good luck with finding the book.

Edited by tailleuse, 02 November 2012 - 09:27 AM.

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#6 solarmist

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 09:55 AM

I'm still amazed. I bought the women's version this summer. Although some people on Amazon claim it's virtually identical to the men's version, as Sartor said in his review, it's not.

If you can borrow it from a library, that might be an option. Some libraries have special photocopiers that scan to a USB drive. (You're supposed to use the copy only for a personal, educational purpose.)

Good luck with finding the book.


It really is out of print.
http://www.fairchild...abrera/products

And searching all the libraries in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA I only found one library that
even had it in it's lending library database from Highland, NY and it's checked out.

Are there any alternative books to this one?
Because it's starting to look like the only way to get ahold of it is to download it, but I'd rather buy the book.

Edited by solarmist, 02 November 2012 - 09:58 AM.


#7 Nishijin

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 07:52 PM

OK. Clearly from now on the unofficial books of the forum will be Stanley Hostek's textbooks. They are still available on his website, and really, really good value for money.

You did well to buy the women's book, it is quite good too.


Many libraries have a service to copy books (for a fee), you can hunt for a library who owns it and ask for a copy.


Maybe one of us should start writing a new book, now... :)
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#8 tailleuse

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 06:56 AM

It really is out of print.
http://www.fairchild...abrera/products

And searching all the libraries in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA I only found one library that
even had it in it's lending library database from Highland, NY and it's checked out.

Are there any alternative books to this one?
Because it's starting to look like the only way to get ahold of it is to download it, but I'd rather buy the book.


I was going to try to photocopy some pages with my cell phone to give you an idea of the contents, but now I can't find my copy. Am I jinxed? Posted Image


Another book that you might want to look at is Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket . This link is to a new edition. It has a lot of photos and shows three methods of construction: Machine, hand, and a mixture of both.



Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#9 Schneidergott

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 07:19 AM

At least there are textbooks available in English that show the more traditional methods. Müller & Sohn has a book that shows a bit of construction, but it doesn't go very deep into the matter. It's not a book written by one author, it's a compilation of several articles in the Rundschau magazine.

I guess that is one of the downsides of a forum like this: It raises interest and demands, so prices for tools, (old) shears and certain books go up.
I can only hope that we also managed to keep some cloth weavers and merchants busy and in business...

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#10 cthomas

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 09:07 AM

My school's library has a copy of the Cabrera book (thanks to me asking them to buy it for collection), yet ironically enough once I had enough money to buy my own I ran into the same problem as Solarmist and it's nowhere to be found for a reasonable price, so I've been thinking of copying the book for myself.. It's always nicer to have the book itself but well.

If appreciated I can copy a chapter or a few once I get on to copying it, although sharing it might not be completely legal because of copyright etc..

#11 tailleuse

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 09:28 AM

My school's library has a copy of the Cabrera book (thanks to me asking them to buy it for collection), yet ironically enough once I had enough money to buy my own I ran into the same problem as Solarmist and it's nowhere to be found for a reasonable price, so I've been thinking of copying the book for myself.. It's always nicer to have the book itself but well.

If appreciated I can copy a chapter or a few once I get on to copying it, although sharing it might not be completely legal because of copyright etc..



At the school library where I sometimes copy materials there's a note on the book scanners saying that copying of materials is to be only for one's personal, educational use. There's a citation to the United States Code.

You raise a good point, just because a book is out of print doesn't mean the contents aren't still covered by copyright. In the U.S., I think that most copyright protections extend for at least the life of the author and 75 years.



Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#12 tailleuse

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 09:31 AM

At least there are textbooks available in English that show the more traditional methods. Müller & Sohn has a book that shows a bit of construction, but it doesn't go very deep into the matter. It's not a book written by one author, it's a compilation of several articles in the Rundschau magazine.

I guess that is one of the downsides of a forum like this: It raises interest and demands, so prices for tools, (old) shears and certain books go up.
I can only hope that we also managed to keep some cloth weavers and merchants busy and in business...


I'm really surprised that the Cabrera men's tailoring book is out of print. I would have thought there was enough demand. Maybe a new book is under consideration?

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#13 cthomas

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 10:02 AM



At the school library where I sometimes copy materials there's a note on the book scanners saying that copying of materials is to be only for one's personal, educational use. There's a citation to the United States Code.

You raise a good point, just because a book is out of print doesn't mean the contents aren't still covered by copyright. In the U.S., I think that most copyright protections extend for at least the life of the author and 75 years.


I've looked it up and yeah.. it's 70 years after here (Netherlands) so I guess it's all on their own hunting libraries and waiting for a reprint.

There might be an increase in popularity in tailoring (and craft in general) again, but I can imagine that isn't a development the publishers anticipated, thus they just worked with the stock they have because of earlier lack of interest.

#14 tailleuse

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 07:33 AM

I've looked it up and yeah.. it's 70 years after here (Netherlands) so I guess it's all on their own hunting libraries and waiting for a reprint.

There might be an increase in popularity in tailoring (and craft in general) again, but I can imagine that isn't a development the publishers anticipated, thus they just worked with the stock they have because of earlier lack of interest.


I found my paperback Cabrera men's tailoring book. (Praise the Lord, and I'm an atheist. I cannot afford $400 for a new book.) The quality of the production is mediocre; it almost looks like a photocopy of the original text; no way they used original typesetting.

Maybe the publisher is gauging interest and considering coming out with a new edition in the future. As with all books of this type, the clothing styles could be updated.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#15 pfaff260

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 01:27 AM

There's one for sale at the moment.

http://www.ebay.com/...=item3ccc149bc2

#16 tailleuse

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 01:59 AM

There's one for sale at the moment.

http://www.ebay.com/...=item3ccc149bc2


That's a good price for a hard cover version.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#17 jlfallaw

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 06:57 AM

Sorry cannot afford a $900 book just yet. My university library has

Tailoring, by: Bane, Allyne. New York, McGraw-Hill [1974] 01/01/1974 xii, 538 p. illus. 24 cm.

And

Simplified tailoring. Illus. by Patrick John Ireland. By: Moulton, Bertha. London, Batsford [1969, c1968] 01/01/1969 111 p. illus. 23 cm. Language: English

So these are the texts I will be learning the basics with. Haven't been up to look at them yet but will let you guys know what I think.

#18 tailleuse

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 12:27 PM

Sorry cannot afford a $900 book just yet



The price for the linked-to book (when I last checked it) was $60.



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