Reconstructing History supplies sewing patterns for historical clothing (as well as ready-to-wear and made-to-measure duds for guys and dames). We've got some swell stuff, plus more stuff on the way!
But that's not all! We're working on more stuff all the time! Stuff like:
And we keep coming up with more all the time. If there's something you absolutely MUST have to finish your next Dieselpunk dream, call or email. We'll be happy to help where ever we can.
Bob (part of the RH Team)
I'd love to hear more about the company, ie. where it started and how the booming retrofuturist community has affected things lately.
Reconstructing History has been online since August 1997.
My wife and boss, Kass McGann, started it because of historical reenacting/living history. When she started that hobby back in the early 1990s, her already considerable interest in textile arts was piqued by historical clothing. She'd make near-perfect replicas of historical attire, and people would pester her for patterns. "Ooo! I want to make one, too! Got a pattern?"
Of course, no one at that time was making good patterns for historical clothing.
In the intervening years, she's lectured on the subject of historical clothing in Ireland, England, the US and Australia. She's published articles on specific items of historic dress as well as how-to guides for reenactors. She's spent days in the basements and backrooms of museums, and months studying the technology that went into making clothing and trying to replicate it as best as she can. Unlike many costume historians who describe what clothing of a certain period looks like, she seeks to understand how it is made. She does this by going the nth degree with her reconstructions so that she can truly understand the whys and wherefores of period clothing construction and how it is different from clothing production today.
In Autumn 2003, Reconstructing History moved into a new phase of its existence. It was then that we launched a line of dressmaker patterns geared towards re-enactors and makers of replica clothing. These patterns are exacting in historical detail and include copious notes of interest to the re-enactor and clothing historian. Our goal was that they will also be easy to use and the directions simple to follow, even for the beginning tailor. From the feedback we have received in the years since then, we believe we have achieved those ends.
Reconstructing History exists first and foremost to study historical clothing. This is why we can guarantee the historical accuracy of all our products. Although produced modernly, our clothing and accoutrements are as period appropriate as possible and we wouldn't sell them to you otherwise.
In the past couple of years, we've found ourselves becoming more and more interested in this movement called "[blank]-punk." It's refreshing, after years of dealing with sticklers for perfect authenticity, to deal with people who actively create new and exciting looks with an historical bent. We're really excited to be bringing out more and more material for those who want to make pretty things, and we're always excited when people mate the fantastical with the historical - because it makes really awesome stuff!
It occurs to me that I totally forgot to note something: We've got a sale on! ;)
Until the end of the month, everything in our Steampunk Section is 20% off! Just enter the Coupon Code steamsept at checkout.
Our patterns are not for just anyone. They make historical clothing, not a modern costume that looks kinda sorta like historical clothing. Therefore some of the techniques used to make them up are 180 degrees out of phase with what people know about modern pattern-sewing. That's one reason why we have a toll-free help line. ;-D
Read the instructions. If something doesn't make sense, CALL ME! As far as I know, we're the ONLY pattern company that has a help line, so that explains a lot of the negative reviews - the people who have difficulties with our patterns are the people who think too hard, don't trust the instructions, go off the reservation and think they can "fix" what ain't broke. Then they get all screwed up. They don't know they can call for help, so they get frustrated and start kvetching on the internet.
Virtually the bad reviews I've seen are the result of mismanaged expectations. If you wouldn't mind, please share the places you've seen reviews. I do my best to monitor what people are saying so I can communicate with people, especially concerned customers.
Thanks for your order!
From having used historical patterns from various companies and modern ones, there isn't much difference in how things go together, IMO. I'm also not quite sure what you mean by mismanaged expectations.
and all of the reviews I've seen are through googling "reconstrucing history patterns reviews". that should get you anything I've seen. I'll let you know what I think when i get a chance to work with the pattern.
EDIT: oh, and I'll have to just say, after reading Kass's blog that I am desperately jealous that she will be (has?) driving a Tesla. And nice steampunk duds on the RH blog. I'm only in harrisburg and I still keep missing the world's fair.
That's precisely what I mean! :-D There can be vast differences between actual historical tailoring and modern tailoring, and what goes into patterns - historical or otherwise - more often than not is not historical tailoring, precisely because the pattern producers figure an experienced pattern user is just going to chuck the instructions in the bin anyway. So rather than manage your expectations as a user, they've marginalized their product's historical accuracy.
We do not do that.
In one of the reviews, the customer complained about sizing. I remember that issue; she was under the mistaken impression that pattern sizing corresponds exactly to modern dress sizing, which is not the case (and was the main reason we've switched from size numbers to size letters).
So you have to take reviews with a grain of salt.
One thing I've noticed over the years - In an online review or in conversation, when someone mentions their decades of sewing experience it means one of two things: 1. "I figured I didn't need your instructions so I ignored them" or 2. "Your instructions didn't jive with my experience so I 'fixed' them". If you do either of those things, nine times out of ten you'll end up a seething pile of frustration and either ring me up and use foul language or make horrible posts on the internet.
You know who seldom has problems with our patterns? Who, on the contrary to some of those reviews, crow about how awesome our patterns are? Beginners. People who don't have decades of sewing experience. They trust us. They don't let their experience get in the way of actually following the instructions and asking questions. Funny, that. ;-)
Please do give us your honest feedback. Also please remember that I encourage you to seek our help if there's something in the pattern you don't understand! We're here to help you be successful!