Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Seventeenth-Century Dress Patterns, Book One

The cover of this book with the ghostly x-ray image of a slashed satin bodice from 1630 is but a hint of the extraordinary contents within. Edited by Susan North and Jenny Tiramani, Seventeenth-Century Dress Patterns (Book One) includes patterns for items from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection including several waistcoats, a mantle, a smock, hood, gloves and other items. Enhanced by colour photographs, x-ray images, highly detailed patterns, cutting instructions, technique descriptions and images of paintings, the book is intended to provide experts and home-sewers with the means to replicate these pieces as well as minimize the repeated handling of the objects from the museum's collection. Seventeenth-Century Dress Patterns is extraordinary in its content and its beauty and also builds on the cumulative work of Janet Arnold as well as other dress historians like Norah Waugh and Dorothy Burnham.

This is the first book in a new pattern book series published by the Victoria and Albert Museum. The new format was the inspiration of Jenny Tiramani, who not only worked as a costumer for the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre from 1997 to 2005, but also completed Janet Arnold's last book Patterns of Fashion 4 (after Janet's untimely death). Last year, I heard Jenny Tiramani speak at the Royal Ontario Museum when she visited to research some items from the museum's collection (read the post about her talk here). Her attention to detail, willingness to share her knowledge and her charm are reflected within the pages of this meticulously crafted book.

Title: Seventeenth-Century Dress Patterns, Book One
Edited by: Susan North and Jenny Tiramani
Publisher: V&A Publishing, London, 2011
Category: Non-fiction, Historical Dress
Number of Pages: 160

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