Mette Vejgaard Pedersen



A pattern taken from a garment and the process of making the pattern can provide you with a lot of very useful information. These are our thought on the subject and an example of how to take a pattern.



Why take patterns




How to get started


A few things you ought to consider before taking a pattern of a historical garment:

Place of work: Find yourself a table that is large enough for the entire garment and place the garment on thin acid free paper. This will enable you to move the garment without handling. Remember that any handling wears the garment. Therefore – not too much movement.







Before you start: Practice on new garments and start with something relatively simple like a skirt. For your first attempts stay clear of jersey and satin, fabrics like this are extremely difficult to work with. Make yourself acquainted with different ways of drawing patterns. This will be very useful to you when you venture out on your own.



A step-by-step guideline on pattern-taking


You don’t have to be a tailor or seamstress in order to take a pattern, but you need to be careful, systematic and observant. Make a note and combine it with a photograph if you come across something of interest. Some garments have needle marks and/or small pieces of thread indicating some sort of prior decoration or alteration. Suppress the urge to remove the small pieces of thread and darning threads they might hold important information.

This dress is said to have belonged to Caroline Augusta Dannemand. She was the daughter of the Danish King Frederik d. 6 and his mistress Bente Rafsted. We know Caroline Augusta died in 1844, at the age of 33. In order to date the dress I made a pattern and compared it with original patterns from the 1840´s.




Further reading


Ellen Andersen, Danske Dragter, Moden I 1700-årene (København: Nationalmuseet, 1977)

Ellen Andersen, Danske Dragter, Moden 1790 – 1840 (København: Nationalmuseet/Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck, 1986)

Ingeborg Cock-Clausen, Danske Dragter, Moden 1890 – 1920 (København: Nationalmuseet/Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck, 1994)

Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion, The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c 1590 – 1620 (London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1985)

Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion 2, Englishwomen´s dresses and their construction c 1860 - 1940 (London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1972)

Norah Waugh, The Cut of Women´s Clothes 1600 – 1930 (New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968)

Susan North and Jenny Tiramani, Seventeenth-Century Women´s Dress (London: V & A Publishing, 2011)
(pictures and patterns of historic garments)