Costume & Textile Digital Libraries

Costume Research


Let’s start! 

  • Fashion and Costume Design Research in the UCLA Library

This one is a one stop website for a FULL list of the best of listed image and reference digital collection to use.

‘Welcome to the UCLA Library guide for researching fashion and costume design topics. This guide is intended as a starting place for researchers, pointing to tools, resources, and strategies for finding information related to fashion and costume design’. cited from website.

  • Digital Collections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries

Texts and images from the collections of the Costume Institute and the Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  • Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collection

‘Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections is an online database that provides public access to digitized materials from the collections of the Margaret Herrick Library.  Currently, the database contains more than 6,500 items, including correspondence, photographs, early release fliers, full issues of rare periodicals, sheet music, lobby cards and movie star ephemera.  The database also includes complete copies of more than 450 Academy publications, dating back to the founding of the organization in 1927’. Cited from there website.

  • Worcester Art Museum

‘Artstor and the Worcester Art Museum are collaborating to release more than 20,000 images of artworks from the Museum’s permanent collection in the Digital Library. Founded in 1898, the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) is world-renowned for its 38,000-piece encyclopedic collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints, drawings, arms and armor, and new media. The works span over 5,000 years of art and culture. In addition to the Roman mosaic-laden Renaissance court and French chapter house, strengths of the permanent collection include collections of European and North American painting, prints, photographs, and drawings; Asian art; Greek and Roman sculpture and mosaics; and contemporary art. With its recent acquisition of the collection from the Higgins Armory Museum, WAM continues to diversify and expand its curatorial and programmatic offerings’. Cited from Artstors website

  • NYPL Digital Collections

‘Explore 691,450 items digitized from The New York Public Library‘s collections.This site is a living database with new materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more’.Cited from there website

Free, online access to unique images, documents, & more. Topic Showgirls!

‘The Motley Collection of Theatre and Costume Design is a valuable source of documentation on the history of theatre and is housed in the Rare Book and Special Collections Library. It is a rare collection of original materials on the theatre comprising over 5000 items from more than 150 productions in England and the United States. These materials include costume and set designs, sketches, notes, photographs, prop lists, storyboards, and swatches of fabric. Cited from there website’. Cited from there website

  • Marquise – La Couturière Parisienne

Fabulous website full of resources and link.

  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

‘The department houses more than twenty thousand objects, representing more than one hundred cultures and two thousand years of human creativity in the textile arts. Particularly well represented are European Renaissance and European and American textiles, accessories and fashionable dress. The department has outstanding collections of Islamic, South and Southeast Asian, and Asian material, including two major Iranian sixteenth-century carpets—the Ardabil and the Coronation. Play a children’s game connected to Fashioning Fashion .’ Cited from there website.

  • Phoenix Art Museum

‘Feast your eyes on a collection comprised of more than 4,500 American and European garments, shoes and accessories. It houses important fashions from the 18th to late 20th centuries and emphasizes major American designers of the 20th century including Adrian, Norell, Galanos, and Claire McCardell; and European Designers such as Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. Exhibitions that focus on clothing both as an art form and cultural phenomenon are rotated regularly, underscoring the significance of fashion as it relates to social and economic history. The Astaire Library of Costumes (included in the Museum’s Art Research Library) houses many rare books and prints relating to costume and textiles’. Cited from website.

  • Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

It a know brainer, use it!

  • Les Arts Décoratifs

‘Les Arts Décoratifs is a private organization governed by the law of 1901 on not-for-profit associations and recognized as being in the public interest. It originated in 1882, in the wake of the Universal Exhibitions, when a group of collectors banded together with the idea of promoting the applied arts and developing links between industry and culture, design and production. For many years it was known as the Union centrale des Arts décoratifs (UCAD), but in December 2004 it changed its name to Les Arts Decoratifs while staying true to its original aims of safeguarding the collections, promoting culture, providing art education and professional training, and supporting design. An original, multi-faceted institution, Les Arts Décoratifs pursues the objectives it was given at the outset: “to keep alive in France the culture of the arts which seek to make useful things beautiful” and to maintain close links with industry, forging numerous partnerships with firms operating in various fields’. Cited from there website

  • ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles

‘ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles (formerly the University of Leeds International Textiles Archive) is housed in St Wilfred’s Chapel on the Western Campus of the University of Leeds. The purpose of the archive is to collect, preserve and document textiles and related items from many of the textile producing areas of the world for the benefit of scholars, researchers and the general public. ULITA is primarily a textiles archive, where items can be consulted by individuals and small groups by making an appointment.  An online catalogue can be viewed to see the major collections’. Cited from there website.

  • Internet Archive

‘Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more’. cited from website.

  • The Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection

‘The Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection contains approximately 13,000 objects. You can view over 9,000 of these objects online by searching the University’s Digital Collection. Objects in the collection span the globe and centuries, from archaeological textiles from South America to contemporary Scandinavian furnishing fabrics, from America’s crazy quilts to African masquerade costumes.’ Cited from webpage.



Hope these help in whatever you are researching into? As a note, once you open a main links to some. A host of other sources will open for you. Have fun and enjoy your research it is addictive.





Tools & Equipment- Measurements Guides and sheets

Tools & Equipment

Measurement Guides and Sheets


Measure Twice Cut Once Seamstress Quote, Sewing Decal, Vinyl Wall Lettering, Sewing Room Quote, Vinyl Decal:

Every wardrobe department I’ve working in, the measurement sheet is highly important sheet of paper. Drawn up by either the cutter or supervisor then trusted in the hands of the diligent skilled makers and assistances to keep safe. But, to start with the sheet has to clear and have ALL the measurements one might need to construct or pull costumes for the show you are all working on. I have listed just some sheets that I hope will be of use.

The Best of Threads: Fitting ( Type Softcover Magazine, 2013, Pages 100 )

Mns Facebook page is a treasure trovle of pictorial books which they have scanned and placed on their blog for all to use. This is from the American sewing magazine Threads and is full of instruction information with easy to read and visuals to follow.


cosplay measurement guide:

Head Measurements created by tottoppers

Head Size Chart-01




Iconic Patterns | "All about body measurements" e-book (20 pages). Knowing how to take body measurements correctly will result in: *Beautifully fitting garments with less effort. *Less disappointments and UFOs ( unfinished objects ). *Boosting your confidence as a dressmaker. *More time to explore the creative side of dressmaking. *Better understanding of your figure will allow to choose patterns that suit you best. *Less money wasted on styles that are plain wrong for your figure.:

‘This eBook has 20 pages packed full of information on the fundamental skill you can’t afford not to have’.

e-book $9.99


Uesful links for sewing

Useful links for sewing

The wonderful people at the sewing have compiled this amazing list of links. If you need to know how a fabric should be sewen click on a link! Sewing machine and foot questions answered.  As well as some other top tips not to be missed. So go on bookmark this page and file it under ‘very useful info that I might need someday’.

How to Look After Your Scissors – an interview with scissor-maker Nick Wright of Ernest Wright & Son

Wonderful article from Wendy Wards Blog site. All you ever need to know about looking after your fabric scissors. #fabricscissors

Wendy Ward

how to look after your scissors

Remember my visit to the fabulous Ernest Wright & Son scissor factory in my hometown of Sheffield at the end of last year? And my promise that an interview with owner Nick Wright all about how to look after your scissors would follow soon? Well at long last, here it is. Better late than never. Are you sitting comfortably……

Me: What’s the best way to look after your scissors Nick?

Nick: I would always say store scissors dry, and maybe wrapped in some clean dry absorbent material. We use carbon steel (not stainless) for most of our cloth-cutting products as we find carbon steel holds its sharp edge better and for longer; however it doesn’t always mix too well with moisture.
Frequently open your scissors really wide, and firmly wipe all the insides with a dry cloth (take care with your fingers!) including behind the screw area around where the…

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Patterns old and new

Pattern suppliers & resources

Women working on patterns at McCall's Magazine, New York, 1913 (silver gelatin print) by Byron Company. Museum of the City of New York, USA; American

Women working on patterns at McCall’s Magazine, New York, 1913 (silver gelatin print) by Byron Company. Museum of the City of New York, USA; American

Like fabric the topic of sewing patterns and that of costume and vintage patterns are non ending. The list could run into hundreds of resources. I have tried to pick a comprehensive mix of suppliers, links and books. Which like all my posts as always been updated.


‘We’re Europe’s largest distributor for authentic historical sewing supplies – we fill all your costuming needs! Benefit from our knowledge and our selection of the finest costume making supplies’.

Stock all the major brands and ship world wide.

Nehelenia Patterns
Stefanie Dettmers-Piasetzki und Christina Dettmers
Hubertusstr. 6a
59199 Bönen
Germany. E-mail:


Amazon Drygoods catalog was always a treat to read. Stepping back into time flicking through it’s pages, discovering the unusual and ‘must have’ items. Period sewing patterns now form a big part of the website shop. You can still (call them) buy the catalog, better still they have placed it on the site in PDF form.

3788 Wilson Street (Napoleon)
Osgood, IN  47037

‘So Vintage Patterns where the selection of patterns is greatest from aprons to gowns! Find thousands of true vintage sewing patterns for the unique styles you won’t find in stores.From the 1920s Great Gatsby flapper fashions to the 1980s, our specialty the 1940s and 1950s and home of the largest selection of vintage Vogue Couturier and Vogue Paris Original patterns.’

P. O. Box 1632
Oroville, WA. 98844
USA (250) 292-8070


‘We sell Burda patterns, Folkwear patterns, Jalie patterns, Laughing Moon patterns, New Look patterns, Sense and Sensibility patterns and Simplicity patterns.’ just sell pattern! The website is well thought out and easy to use. After dance patterns eg leo’s this is the place.
1 The Bungalows, Furzehill
Chard, TA20 1AU. Great Britain          E-mail:

Vena Cava stocks all the top brand you need when it comes to authentic costume patterns. Topped with great service.


‘We are first in the UK/EUROPE with the latest sewing patterns.
The latest pattern catalogues are on-line at Sewdirect, normally +6 weeks before other stores. We also have a selection of recently discontinued patterns.

Want a commercial pattern or need to do some research before going shopping for fabric. Take you time to look around the website for what you need.

+44 (0)344 880 1263


Stocking Mediaeval Miscellanea patterns as well as others this website is worth bookmarking.

Valentines, Long Marston, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 8RG.  phone/fax (01789) 722434    email



‘You can get patterns to make everything you need for any historical impression (and some fantasy ones) from Reconstructing History! Reconstructing History Patterns are based on surviving garments and each pattern contains both modern and period construction techniques.’

An online store where you can now download PDF some of their patterns. If looking for historical correct embroidered pattern Coif pattern look no further.

Reconstructing History LLC
Easton, PA 18042
Phone: 1-340-201-6579



One of the most popular brands for authentic and costume patterns. Best for Men’s and corsets. Use this website to order but also click on the tab to see the retailers who stock them near you. or call 916-254-0987


‘The crew behind Decades of Style lives, eats and breathes vintage sewing patterns. Our goal is to take the amazing styles from the 1920s through the 1950s and make them available to anyone who sews! All sizes welcome.’

A small online pattern company specializing in 4 decades. 

1474 University Ave. #165, Berkeley, CA 94702.     Tel (510) 847 6234



‘The Commercial Pattern Archive database, CoPA, provides a unique tool for researchers and designers to recreate or date clothing from 1868 to 2000. There are several collections from the States, Canada and the UK represented in the database which functions like a Union Catalog of pattern collections. The cornerstone of CoPA is the Betty Williams Collection. Betty Williams, a theatrical costumer in New York City, pioneered research on commercial patterns in the early 1980s. She became a leader in the field, establishing a major personal pattern collection and encouraging others to actively participate in the collection and storage of patterns.’




Corsets: Historic Patterns and Techniques

by Jill Salen (Paperback)

Drape Drape by Hisako Sato (Paperback)

Patternmaking for Fashion Design
by Helen Joseph Armstrong (Paperback)

Pattern Magic 2
by Tomoko Nakamichi (Paperback)

Pattern Cutting (Portfolio Skills)
by Dennic Chunman Lo

Draping: The Complete Course
by Karolyn Kiisel (Paperback)

Vintage Swimwear Patterns: Historical Patterns and Techniques
by Jill Salen (Paperback)

Men’s 17th and 18th Century Costume, Cut and Fashion by Ron I. Davis, William-Alan Landes

The Cut of Men’s Clothes: 1600-1900
by Norah Waugh (Hardcover)

Corsets and Crinolines
by Norah Waugh (Paperback)

The Cut of Women’s Clothes
by Norah Waugh (Hardcover)

FIT FOR REAL PEOPLE 2ND EDITION: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern (Sewing for Real People)

Sew Over It Vintage
by Lisa Comfort (Hardcover)

Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress: Patterns for 20 Garments Inspired by Fashion Icons by Dolin Bliss O’Shea (Hardcover)

Period Costume for Stage and Screen, Outer Garments, Book II: Dominos, Dolmans, Coats, Pelisses, Spencers, Calashes, Hoods and Bonnets Bk. 2: Dominos, … Spencers, Callashes, Hoods & Bonnet​s
by Jean Hunnisett (Hardcover)

Patterns for Theatrical Costumes: Garments, Trims and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915
by Katherine Strand Holkeboer (Paperback)

The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Cent​ury Dress
by Jane Malcolm-Davies, Ninya Mikhaila (Paperback)

Men’s Garments, 1830-1900: Guide to Pattern Cutting and Tailoring
by R.I. Davis (Paperback)

Patterns of Fashion 2
by Janet Arnold (Paperback)

Patterns of Fashion: 1660-1860: Vol 1
by Janet Arnold (Paperback)

Period Costume for Stage and Screen: 1500-1800: Patterns for Women’s Dress by Jean Hunnisett (Hardcover)

Period Costume for Stage and Screen: 1800-1909: Patterns for Women’s Dress by Jean Hunnisett, Janette Haslam (Hardcover)

59 Authentic Turn-of-the-ce​ntury Fashion Patterns by Kristina Harris (Paperback)

Historic Costumes and How to Make Them (Dover Fashion and Costumes)
by Mary Fernald, Eileen Shenton (Paperback)

Victorian Fashions: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe (Dover Fashion and Costumes) by Michael Harris, Kristina Harris (Paperback)

The Edwardian Modiste: 85 Authentic Patterns with Instructions, Fashion Plates, and Period Sewing Techniques
by Frances Grimble (Paperback)

Creating Historical Clothes: Pattern Cutting from Tudor to Victorian Times
by Elizabeth Friendship (Paperback)

Patterns of Fashion: C1560-1620: 1560-1620 v. 3 by Janet Arnold (Paperback)

Reconstruction Era Fashions: 350 Sewing, Needlework, and Millinery Patterns 1867-1868 by Frances Grimble (Paperback)

Fashions of the Gilded Age, Volume 2: Evening, Bridal, Sports, Outerwear, Accessories, and Dressmaking 1877-1882 by Frances Grimble (Paperback)

Pattern Cutting for Men’s Costume (Backstage) by Elizabeth Friendship (Paperback)Historic Costumes

The Victorian Tailor by Jason Maclochlainn (Paperback)

Seventeenth Century Women’s Dress: 2 (Dress Pattern 2) by Tiramani Jenny (Hardcover)

Draping Period Costumes: Classical Greek to Victorian (The Focal Press Costume Topics Series) by Sharon Sobel (Hardcover)

Seventeenth-Cen​tury Women’s Dress Patterns (Womens Dress Patterns 1)
by Jenny Tiramani (Hardcover)

Pattern Cutting for Lingerie, Beachwear and Leisurewear by Haggar, A. Haggar, Ann Haggar (Paperback)

Fabrics and Pattern Cutting
by Winifred Aldrich (Paperback)

Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear by Winifred Aldrich (Hardcover)

Sewing Patterns: 200 Questions Answered by Sophie English (Paperback)

Fashion Pattern Cutting: Line, Shape and Volume by Zarida Zaman (Paperback)

Pattern Making by the Flat Pattern Method by Norma R. Hollen, Carolyn J. Kundel (Plastic Comb)

Pattern Cutting for Clothing Using CAD: How to Use Lectra Modaris Pattern Cutting Software (Woodhead Publishing Series in Textiles) by Maggie Stott, M. Stott (Paperback)

The Art of Fashion Draping
by Connie Amaden-Crawford (Paperback)

Draping for Fashion Design
by Hilde Jaffe Professor Emeritus, Nurie Relis Retired (Paperback)

Integrating Draping, Drafting and Drawing by Bina Abling and Kathleen Maggio (Hardcover)

The Essential Guide to Stretch Pattern Cutting: Dresses, Leotards, Swimwear, Tops and More… (Essential Guides)
by Martin Michael Shoben (Paperback)

Essential Guide to Dress Pattern Cutting: How to Adapt the Basic Block Pattern into Ten Classic Styles (Essential Guides) by Martin Shoben (Paperback)

Pattern Magic: Stretch Fabrics
by Tomoko Nakamichi (Paperback)

Pattern Cutting for Menswear
by Gareth Kershaw (Paperback)

Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear
by Winifred Aldrich (Hardcover)

The Practical Guide To Patternmaking For Fashion Designers: Menswear
by Lori A Knowles (Spiral-bound)

Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques by Jill Salen (Paperback)

How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns: From Shop-bought Patterns to Drafting Your Own: A Complete Guide to Fashion Sewing with Confidence by Lee Hollahan (Paperback)

The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen (Paperback)

Make Your Own Dress Patterns
by Adele P. Margolis (Paperback)

How Patterns Work: The Fundamental Principles of Pattern Making and Sewing in Fashion Design

An interview with Kristen Stewart @ the Valentine

An interview with Kristen Stewart – curator of Costume and Textile exhibitions.

Fashion, Textile & Costume Librarians

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Kristen Stewart, the Nathalie L. Klaus Curator of Costumes and Textiles at the Valentine museum. Originally from Richmond, Kristen has worked with several great costume collections including the MET Costume Institute before moving back to take the position at the Valentine last fall. Kristen was kind enough to take me on a personal tour of the current Classical Allure: Richmond Style show, and to answer some of my questions.

Libertas Libertas – knit garments from the 1970’s, providing freedom of movement for the body.*

Classical Allure is a small but engaging collection of items in an intimate setting that perfectly suits an exhibit showcasing fashion about and belonging to native Richmonders. The focus of the collection are the four goddesses representing Virginia on the state seal, Virtus (virtue / valor), Ceres (agriculture / fertility); Libertas (liberty) and Aeternitas (eternity). Through garments, sculpture…

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