Free original PDF historical sewing patterns from the LACMA collection

Reigning men exhibit LACMA 1790 suit

Coat and Vest, 1790–95, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Costume Council Fund in honor of the council’s 60th anniversary; Breeches, c. 1790, Los Angele County Museum of Art, Costume Council Fund; Shoe Buckles, late 18th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Grant Theis

Mens 1915 suit LACMA

Suit Europe, c. 1915 Purchased with funds provided by Michael and Ellen Michelson M.2010.33.10a–b Boots United States, 1910–20 Purchased with funds provided by James A. and Mary Jaene Edmonds M.90.58.3a–b Hat (Boater) United States, 1915–25 Costume Council Fund M.87.241.11

I’m really excited to go the the Reigning Men: Fashion In Menswear 1715- 2015 exhibit at the Los Angeles County museum next week. I’m passionate about costume history and love to learn about old clothes and sewing techniques. If you are anywhere near the Los Angeles area you should try to go the the show. It looks really interesting. I am loving that windowpane check suit!

From the LACMA site:

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015 aims to directly challenge the equation of fashion with femininity in this survey spanning three hundred years of fashionable men’s dress. The exhibition highlights the dramatic changes that have shaped menswear from past to present, from the eighteenth-century male aristocrat who wore a three-piece suit conspicuous in make and style and equally as lavish as the opulent dress of his female counterpart; to the nineteenth-century “dandy,” who made famous a more refined brand of expensive elegance which became the hallmark of Savile Row; to the mid-twentieth-century “mod” who relished the colorful and modern styles of Carnaby Street; and, recently, to the twenty-first-century man who continues to redefine today’s notions of masculinity.


Thomas John Bernard and assistant curator Clarissa M. Esguerra at work pulling a pattern from an 18th century waistcoat. All of the patterns included in the Costume and Textile Pattern Project below come from LACMA’s collection. Search Costume and Textile collection.

I was perusing the website when I saw that the museum is giving away free downloadable patterns taken directly from several of the costumes in the exhibit. Is that neat or what? The patterns are drawn on graph paper and do require you to size them up as they are scaled down on a graph, so you’ll have to work a bit for these. But what a valuable reference tool to any aspiring costumers or those interested in making their own costumes professionally or just for fun. As they’re made from the actual historical garments, the patterns are most likely smaller than most modern sizes, people have gotten larger in the past couple of centuries, but what a fun and totally engrossing sewing challenge this would be. Just imagine grading a pattern with over twenty pieces, ha! But free is free.

Women's redingote dress and pattern LACMA

Woman’s Dress (Redingote) Europe, c. 1790 Silk and cotton satin and plain weave. Purchased with funds provided by Robert and Mary M. Looker, M.2009.120, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

Here is a link to the downloadable pattern for this 1790 Redingote dress above.

Men's 1770 suit LACMA pattern

Man’s Suit Italy, c. 1770 Silk plain weave with silk supplementary warp-and-weft-float patterning. Costume Council Fund, M.83.200.1a-c, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

Downloadable pattern for suit


Men; 1790 frock coat LACMA pattern

Man’s Coat France, 1790–95 Silk and cotton plain weave and silk satin stripes. Purchased with funds provided by Suzanne A. Saperstein and Michael and Ellen Michelson, with additional funding from the Costume Council, the Edgerton Foundation, Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer, Maureen H. Shapiro, Grace Tsao, and Lenore and Richard Wayne M.2007.211.802, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

Downloadable pattern for this men’s coat

This is just the sort of thing I love to read about when I’m lolling around in bed with my reader on the weekend.  Give me a look inside a lovely 18th century man’s frock and I’m a happy camper! Even if I never do get around to making one.

I’ll be headed to  Costume College,a three day sewing convention for historic costumers in nearby Woodland Hills at the end of the month and I hope to get my costume making wheels spinning at this exhibit, which runs in Los Angeles until August 21.







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  1. Justine says

    This does look like it would be a fascinating exhibit. I love history. I would love to hear what you see there! 🙂 I’m so happy you’re getting to go, Justine! And best wishes at Costume College in Woodland Hills. I hope you have a wonderful time!