A guide to researching Australian and international fashion, designs, designers, industries, textiles and fabrics, patterns, tailoring, dressmaking, uniforms, accessories, and body art.

Garment construction


Search the catalogue using terms like embroidery and embroidery patterns.

Knitting and crochet patterns

Search the catalogue using words like knitting patterns or crochet


Search the catalogue using terms like lace, lace making, lace patterns

Patterns & sewing manuals

Full size, fold-out paper patterns were introduced in the Journal des demoiselles in France in the 1840s. As sewing machines became more widespread, the number of companies publishing paper patterns increased, and they remained popular throughout the 19th and most of the 20th century. In Victoria, Enid Gilchrist's patterns could be obtained by redeeming vouchers printed from The Argus. Paper patterns were used for sewing everyday clothing so they can be a good source of information about historical dress.

Historical and contemporary dress patterns can be found in our Library catalogue - search using the subjects dressmaking patterns and dressmaking pattern design

Sewing and tailoring

Search the catalogue using words like sewing, tailoring, dressmaking.


Search the catalogue using such terms as tatting and tatting patterns

Journals & magazines

To find journals and magazines on these subjects, search from any page of our website, choosing the Journals option from the drop down box. Enter search terms such as knitting or needlework or sewing or embroidery or lace, etc.

Screenshot of Needlework catalogue search

Online articles

To find online articles quickly choose the Articles option from the drop down list. Once you have executed the search use the options at left of the screen to narrow your search.

Digitised books and pamphlets

A number of historic pattern books have been digitised and are available through our catalogue.

Use search terms like knitting patterns. Select Online resources to narrow down your search results to online items only.
Screenshot of knitting patterns catalogue search results



The Macquarie dictionary defines:

Embroidery as: The art of working, with a needle, raised and ornamental designs in threads of silk, cotton, gold, silver, or other material, upon any woven fabric, leather, paper, etc.

Lace as: A net-like ornamental fabric made of threads by hand or machine.

Tatting as: The process or work of making a kind of knotted lace of cotton or linen thread with a shuttle.

From our Pictures Collection

Sally Browne at work, H2010.126/1494


Dressmakers Patrick Kane (on sewing machine) and Joe Pettigrew fitting a ladies suit on a dressmaker's dummy H99.201/1673