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Early sewing patterns were made to fit a specific individual. One size was created by measuring various parts of the individual's body. Often the patterns were cut out of cardboard. The patterns did not include directions for orienting the pattern pieces on fabric, nor did they identify what part of the garment each piece represented. Resizing or grading the pattern was a complicated task for even the most skilled seamstress.
It was not until the 1850s that sewing patterns were made available to a slightly larger, but still affluent, public. American women could obtain a paper pattern custom made by a dressmaker or could purchase a pattern through a women's journal.
The advent of large-scale production of graded, practical and easier to use sewing patterns can be traced to 1867. Ebenezer Butterick mass-produced patterns printed on tissue paper. Patterns were available for purchase in a variety of sizes, one size per package.
- Walsh, Margaret The Democratization of Fashion: The Emergence of the Women's Dress Pattern IndustryThe Journal of American History, Vol. 66, No. 2, (Sep., 1979), pp. 299-313,
- Edwards, Clive Home is where the Art is': Women, Handicrafts and Home Improvements 1750-1900" Journal of Design History Vol.19 No.1
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