Rare 16thC Tailoring Manuscripts
A book by Katherine Barich and Marion McNealy
"Extant garments from the 16th century are very rare, and are such a small sample of the wide variety of garments which were worn, that many questions are left unanswered. About twelve years ago, Drea Leed posted microfiche scans of the Leonfelder Schnittbuch on her website. I was entranced by these line drawings of pattern shapes laid out on the cloth. There were no drawings of the finished garments, just the pieces on the page. It was like a puzzle, in which you had pieces, and several possible pictures that the pieces might make.
I made one dress from the Leonfeld Schnittbuch, and set out on a long path to learn more about this book, and whether there were any more to be found. Over the years, I have found and studied two more Austrian tailor’s masterbooks: Enns (1590), and Nidermyer (1560), as well as a few German ones which will not be included in this volume.
Drei Schnittbücher is the result of a collaborative effort between Katherine Barich and myself to publish these three rare Austrian tailors' guild masterbook manuscripts, or schnittbuch.
What is a Tailor's Masterbook?
A tailor’s masterbook contains drawings of all of the major garments and other items that a Master Tailor would be expected to make. Tailors didn't just make clothing, but also tents, saddle covers, flags, wagon covers, and clothes for the clergy. These books were the master books for the Tailors Guilds, which they contained the material that the journeyman would be tested on to become a master.
These books do not include all the information that the aspiring master would have needed to know, however because of this, we have gone beyond a simple translated facsimile of the manuscripts, and have included the additional information that the journeyman would have needed to know to pass the exam."
Honestly, if historical clothing is at all your thing, you are going to want a copy of this book: