Imported custom-made clothes were usually beyond the financial reach of the average middle-class American woman of a century ago; and store-bought garments were often of inferior quality. This left many women with the options of making their own clothes or hiring a seamstress. While a number of economy-minded women did sew simple housedresses, and clothing for their children, many took favorite fashion plates to a dressmaker who would often consult patterns in a magazine such as The Voice of Fashion. This book, compiled by costume authority Kristina Harris, painstakingly reprints a rich selection of scaled dressmakers' patterns of the 1890s, taken from rare issues of that popular, late-19th century dressmaker's journal. Featuring such fashion elements as leg-o'-mutton sleeves, high-collared necklines, long skirts, and pinched waistlines, the collection includes nearly 500 patterns and illustrations detailing 50 garments for women. Every wardrobe necessity for the Victorian lady is covered -- from nightgowns and wrappers for boudoir and breakfast, a riding habit and tennis outfit, to walking dresses for town and visiting, elegant dinner dresses, and elaborate evening gowns. An introduction and brief instruction for using the patterns are also included in a volume that will not only find practical use among costume designers and students of fashion history, but will also delight browsers, Victorian enthusiasts, and anyone intrigued by the evolution of clothing styles. 498 illustrations.