Now, this is a book I never imagined owning when I began my sewing career but how glad I am to be introduced to it.
You may remember a few posts back I put out a plea for help researching 1830s corsets. Not only did my valiant readers direct me towards the expertise of Sew Curvy Corsetry, but LinB suggested I take a look at Jane Arnold’s books. I searched for them on Amazon and the reviews were amazing. I um-ed and ah-ed and then decided to invest in a copy. Amazon discounts may be bad news for publishers and writers but they do make books very accessible to readers.
As LinB promised me, this is a special book. First published in 1964, the book (one of four volumes) traces Jane’s journeys inspecting historical costumes, sketching them and drafting pattern details showing their construction. She goes into amazing detail and my guess is that an expert Sewist could scale up her miniature pattern pieces to make reproduction dresses:
I love the details in her descriptions – pinkish-grey taffeta, ivory brocaded silk, blonde lace, blue ribbed silk, lawn collar, slate blue striped brocade. Swoon.
There’s a great introductory section with extracts and illustrations from contemporary sources:
Best of all for my research, there’s a comprehensive bibliography at the back. This has left me totally inspired. It’s the type of book that would probably never see a first print run today with its high production costs, specialist market and inconvenient (for bookshops) format. But if you’re a fan of historical costume or someone who helps out at your local amateur dramatics society, you’d probably give your hind teeth for a copy of this book. Scratch that – you probably already own it.
What a wonderful piece of publishing.