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Patterns for Theatrical Costumes: Garments, Trims, and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915 Paperback – April, 1993


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Patterns for Theatrical Costumes: Garments, Trims, and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915 + Historic Costumes and How to Make Them (Dover Fashion and Costumes) + What People Wore When: A Complete Illustrated History of Costume from Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century for Every Level of Society
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Drama Pub (April 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896761258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896761254
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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105 of 108 people found the following review helpful By cynth on December 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
At first glance, a costume historian would not be impressed by this book's oversimplified patterns and lack of detail. Its renderings of the human figure are cartoonish, and no instructions for esoteric closures and construction are provided.
However, the Holkeboer directed her opus toward the theatrical costumer: an individual who must cobble together a volunteer staff, construct garments for modern bodies, and adapt to quick-changes between scenes. The patterns are necessarily basic; the cuts are nearly authentic; and the suggestions of embellishment design save the costumer much time. This book is not some tome to be displayed on a shelf; it belongs in the studio, its spine creased, its cover dog-eared, and its pages scribbled with measurements and notes. This book is a workhorse. An added bonus is its illustrative use of labels for describing many weird terms, among them: simar, barbette, picadils.
I have found in no other book of scaled patterns but this one, the instructions for THREE methods of enlargement: optical projection, grid method, and radial projection. This book also includes headgear, specialty costumes like kimono, ecclesiastical garb, and a LION! This book also prevides a wonderful equity of both men's and women's clothing which is unfortunately not represented in the body of dramatic literature. (Why are there so few women's roles? But I digress.)
The introduction and final chapter contain essential information on fitting and draping (remember: you must add your own seam allowances) and millinery and corsetry. I'd have given this book another star if I felt that it did justice to constructing corsets -- these items are too complex to build from Holkeboer's 1/8" = 1" scale.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Volmar on June 9, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the most comprehensive, single-volume collection of historical patterns (from Ancient Egypt through 1915) available today for men's and women's costumes. While the pattern designs are very simplistic, present little detail on closures or embellishments and present only general instructions on construction, they are functional and very easy to make, represent nearly authentic cuts and effectively achieve the intended essential look for their specific period.
Each pattern in the book is presented in three sizes, and for each individual piece of a complete garment a label is often attached, giving its historical name and a brief description of its appearance or use. As a bonus, patterns for specialty costumes (fantasy, religious, Chinese, Japanese, and animals), undergarments, hats, wigs and masks are included, and its Introduction explains, in a step-by-step format, costuming techniques such as enlarging patterns, fitting designs, and draping.
This book can also serve, with just a little imagination, as an infinite source of ideas to help you create your own patterns, although you will have to refer to other books on period specific costumes to give your work finishing details like ornaments, trims, and other accessories.
The only weak point of the book is its glued soft-cover binding, which is completely inadequate for the spine-creasing use to which it's sure to be subjected.
If you either work for the theater or just enjoy making your own costumes, you will find this book to be an indispensable part of your library.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Heather Kellems on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with the other reviews, this book is great for Halloween costumes, general period silhouette, and for the novice costumer. Instructions are not included, and seam allowance is not included in the patterns. Patterns are 1/8 scale unless otherwise noted (so they must be enlarged), and in sizes S-M-L (But I question the grading).

I teach Period Costuming from this book, and as a instructor, this book can be extremely frustrating at times.

The illustrations that accompany each era's patterns do not always reflect the pattern pieces.

My students enlarge these patterns by hand or take them to Kinko's to enlarge. As a patternmaking instructor, I give the patterns from this book a "C" grade. The patterns are not trued, seam lines are not walked, and skirt, bodice and sleeve patterns are not balanced. My students spend as much time correcting these patterns as they would starting from scratch with a set of blocks.

But it is a great instruction tool showing differences in silhouette and cut over the centuries.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Remington on September 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've been a costume designer for over 25 years. 18 years ago I picked up a copy of this book. Little did I know what a Godsend it would be to me over the years. This book is great for the costume designer, who has a small budget, a big cast, a flaky volunteer crew, and a month to put together a peroid show. This book is to be used and doggear with a broken spine. I costume six to ten shows a year, and this book is always at my side. The simple drawings give directors a quick idea of the period, the patterns are amazing and easy to draft.
I will often times give my costume interns a copy of this book for a going away present. It is an invaluable resource. One warning, it is not for the picky historical reinactors. This book is for the "down and dirty" theatrical costumer.
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