Where possible you should try to enrol in a local sewing course to teach you how to make skirts, trousers, shirts and waistcoats/vests. Nothing is really a substitute for hands-on teaching. However, the following books will give you a basic introduction to what is a good semblance of a professional method of doing things.1. Cabrera, Roberto: Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men's Wear
. Fairchild Publications, 1983. ISBN-10: 0870054317Amazon.co.ukAmazon.comClassic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Women's Wear
. Fairchild Publications, 1984. ISBN-13: 978-0870054358Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com
This is unofficially the forum prescribed textbook. All beginners should own this book to use as their basic textbook. It gives clear, step-by-step instructions on how to professionally make waistcoats and trousers or skirt. There are two books - one for men's and another for women's tailoring. Ideally, you should own both. The great strength is the clarity of the text and diagrams. Although it only shows one way of doing things, it gives a sound foundation from which to base learning to tailor to a professional standard. That said, it still only gives an extremely rough skeleton framework of the professional knowledge required. It needs a great deal of fleshing out.2. Poulin, Clarence:Tailoring Suits the Professional Way
. Chas. A. Bennett Co. Inc. Publishers. Illinois, 1973
An indispensable out of print text whose strengths are the highly informative discussions on the fitting and making up of skirts and trousers. Try if possible to obtain the improved third edition published in 1973, rather than the earlier 1952 or 1953 editions, although the differences are not dramatic. Methods are of a professional standard, and the text is easy to follow. This is the second major recommendation for beginners, in addition to Cabrera.4. Hostek, Stanley:
A classic and extremely well respected author, that looks like a student handout from a college. Appearances are deceptive, for the content reveals reveals one of the most thorough and clear step-by-step descriptions of professional coatmaking ever put to print. All 234 pages are devoted entirely to the art of making up lounge coats.
The basic books from the same author that are recommended to beginners are the titles on handsewing techniques, trouser and waistcoat making:
- Men's Custom Tailored Pants
- Men's Custom Tailored Vests
- Hand Stitches
The beginner should start with the book on hand stitches and the trouser making book, before progressing on to waistcoats. The problem is that the text is not as easy for the beginner to read as Cabrera or Poulin. It should be used as a supplementary text.5. Heath, Samuel
.Coat and Skirt Making: Skirts, Trousers, Jackets, Coat
s. Granada Publishing, 6th Edition, London, 1981
A very good text covering the basics of cutting and making up of women’s skirts.6. Coffin, David.
Two beautifully illustrated and extremely comprehensive books by one of our respected author members, David Page Coffin. Essential reading for beginners and advanced sewers alike. Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing WorkshopAmazon.co.ukAmazon.comThe Shirtmaking Workbook: Pattern, Design, and Construction ResourcesAmazon.co.ukAmazon.com7. Liberty. Practical Tailoring
The full text (circa 1930, no publication date given) can be found here
. This is a good book for outlining things such as how to sit, and how to execute the basic repertoire of stitches. Beyond that there is a lack of simple, step-by-step detail on how to execute certain things. It is more suitable for the intermediate level learner, who will find the sections on pocket making to be interest. It should be used by the beginner as a supplement to the above texts. The beginner must NOT rely on this text as their sole source of knowledge just because scans have been shared on the forum. Many things are also severely outdated, and cannot be recommended. Cutting and Fitting
Books dedicated to cutting are traditionally regarded as being advanced reading. These books are rare, hard to find and very expensive when you do. Titles are detailed and discussed in the Professional Forum. It is always recommended that the beginner start with learning to cut skirts or trousers then progressing on to waistcoats.
For a classic system by which to cut men's trousers and waistcoats I suggest starting with either The Tailor & Cutter System, New Mitchell, or a classic Rundschau system. These can be found in the Patternmaking Reference Section
. There are patterns for cutting various different types of skirts and trousers, the beginner must stick to modern systems of cutting (1940s and onwards).
Homesewers should generally stick to skirts, trousers and waistcoats. Anything else is about as painful as home dentistry and it is usually not worth torturing yourself with it. It is better to enjoy yourself and have something you are proud to wear rather than being over ambitious and end up having to bin the fruits of your long labour. Those who are hardy enough to progress to a more advanced level must apply for Advanced Apprentice status in order to be able to ask questions in the Advanced Apprentice's Forum.