Vintage Sewing Books: Online Inspiration


(photo by genibee)

For vintage inspiration we often turn to magazines or books on fashion. Yet vintage sewing books contain excellent information and usually have creative and interesting ideas, not to mention fun illustrations! While some vintage books are available for purchase, you can also find many free books online.

The Internet Archive has many sewing books available in different viewing formats. Simply search for “sewing books” and several pages of results will show up. While rather small, the Online Books has a helpful page with links to sites that host complete sewing books.

Google Books literally has millions of sewing books online. Many, if not most, of these are modern books. Some are available only for preview while others are free to view. You can do an advanced search to find exactly what you’re looking for even down to the date. Sifting through the results, you will even find some early 20th century sewing books such as this book on hand sewing.

Our favorite site for online vintage books isn’t currently working. Thanks to this amazing website you can still view the excellent selection of books here. You’ll have to wait for a moment for the site to load before you begin your search.

Do you have a favorite online resource for viewing sewing books? We’d love to know!

Caitlin Clark   —  

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.

Comments 3

Kristen Butler

Well I was going to share one of my favorites… but they are no longer on the internet and it makes me very sad. However, I purchased the book before I learned it was on the internet and the other book from this site I totally paid to print and put in a binder… Anyway the book is Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin. I first descovered it by reading reviews and this lady praised the book in a different book’s review (odd thing to do, but she was trying to discourage people from wasting their money on this book…. anyway…) At the time the book was very hard to find not google-able and now there are a BUNCH of things that pop up when you google it. I didn’t care for the drafting part of this book… but if you have an existing sloper this book is INVALUABLE because it shows how to change a sloper like pattern into any sort of design in a fashion that is palatable for beginners. Things like where to cut and spread a flat pattern to produce pouf sleeves or cowl necks etc. Too bad it’s no longer on the interwebs… but the book is still TOTALLY worth it!



Donna Stevens

One of my all-time favorite sites is . This lady used to have a “Fridays Freebie” page on which she gave links to many wonderful vintage sewing/pattern drafting books that are now in the public domain. I just checked the site and don’t see that particular page anymore, but there’s still a lot of very interesting info under the tab “Patterns and Postcards.” Well worth checking out her site!

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