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18th century costume patterns revive the golden age of dressmaking

Costume patterns inspired by the court dresses of the 18th century hark back to a golden age of needlecraft, and a time when for many women it was a way to turn a hobby into a virtual profession.

In an era when women working was often frowned upon, expertise in textiles was one area in which a female presence was accepted to an extent – even at the highest levels.

Deborah Simonton of the Department of History at Syddansk Universitet in Denmark has written a book, Early Professional Women in Northern Europe, which is due for publication in 2017.

In one chapter, she looks at the role of women in 18th century European needlecraft, under the heading Sister to the tailor: Guilds, gender and the needle trades in eighteenth-century Europe.

She writes: “They commandeered the high-class sewing that set fashion and created stars of their most famous, like Rose Bertrand, milliner to Marie Antoinette.

“They populated the growing towns of Europe and used their design and business acumen to create a virtual profession out of a handicraft.”

Modern costume patterns remember some of those 18th century dress designs, allowing you to step out in style while honouring the vision of those early dressmakers who challenged social norms across Europe.

And in the 21st century many hobbyists of all genders are turning their craft into a profitable business, selling their creations online or in their local community as an extra source of income.

Learn to sew and you will never be bored, as long as you have a needle, thread and some fabric to work with, and you’ll never be stuck for a particular garment you can’t find on sale on the high street either.

Whether you decide to take the next step to sewing for others, or you learn to sew just for your own amusement, this centuries-old tradition is one pastime that has endured the tests of time, and will be around for many more centuries to come.