Books on Textile History and Culture

This is my final post on reviewing the books in my craft library and it covers the history of textiles; the regional variations throughout the world; and a few specialist books on particular areas (South-East and Central Asia); the spiritual aspects of textiles; and special time periods (Arts and Crafts Textiles). Firstly, two excellent general books on textile history!

Women’s Work: The First 20, 000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber 1994

A fascinating book, looking at the history of textiles and the important role of women in its production from the Upper Paleolithic world (40 000 BC to 10 000BC, 5000 BC in some places) through the Neolithic Era; and the Bronze, Copper and Iron Ages to Ancient Egypt and Greece up to 500 BC.

While most textiles are highly perishable, knowledge has been gained from :

Archaeological discoveries:

eg Fossilized string found in Lascaux, France dated to 15 000 BC; and a needle netted linen bag with a stone button from Israel dated 6500 BC, thought to be a ceremonial hat and the world’s oldest preserved clothing;

eg Golden and silver spindles found in Early Bronze Age burial sites  at Alaca Höyük, Central Turkey);

Depictions on ancient artefacts, paintings and pottery:

eg Voluptuous stone Venus figurines wearing string skirts 20 000 years old;  Assyrian clay tablets from 2000 BC in Mesopotamia, recording accounts and letters of entrepreneurial women with their own weaving businesses; Tomb friezes from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt ( 2150 -1800 BC) showing men spinning cord and laundering and women spinning thread and weaving; and the depiction of women weaving together on a warp-weighted loom on a Greek vase from 560 BC, depicted on the book cover);

References in mythology, folk tales and literature:

eg Homer’s Iliad, which describes Hera’s girdle, fashioned with a hundred tassels, and Aphrodite’s special girdle);

Ethnological evidence from traditionally produced textiles and folk costumes:

eg  Mordvin, Walachin, Macedonian and Albanian peasant aprons and skirts; and

 Documented history.

It examines the Neolithic string revolution (snares, nets and cloth); the development of spinning and weaving; the creation of clothing without cutting and wasting precious cloth (togas, chitons, tunics, plaid skirts); the use of textiles as royal gift exchanges; technological developments like the loom; the changing roles of women through history; and everyday life in ancient societies.BlogTextile History40%IMG_0048

5000 Years of Textiles Edited by Jennifer Harris 1993/ 2004

Far less ambitious in scope, covering only 5000 years as opposed to 20 000 years of textile history, this comprehensive book was written by 24 experts in their specialist textile fields and produced by the British Museum Press, in association with the Whitworth Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum, showcasing many historical textile items (from the ancient world through to the modern day) in their respective collections.

The introduction discusses the perishability of textiles; early archaeological textile finds from Ancient Egyptian burial tombs (Pharaonic plain linen; Romano-Egyptian decorated wool and linen up to 12 AD; and imported Persian and Syrian silks); felts from the frozen tombs of Central Asian nomadic chieftains; and the clothing of Scandinavian bog bodies; ancient trading routes and their influence on textile design; and the role and function of textiles in society (social rank and status; gender; family lineage and clan identity; symbolism; diplomacy and royal patronage; major life events-births, weddings and funerals; and social, economic and religious functions).

The book is divided into sections:

Survey of the main textile techniques: Weaving; Tapestry; Rug Weaving; Embroidery; Lace making; Dyeing and Printing; Knitting; Netting, Knitting and Crochet; and Felt and Bark Cloth.

Each section describes the history of the technique, the main tools and technological advances, and basic components and techniques and are illustrated by photographs of many historical textiles; production tools and artisans in action; depictions on ancient vases and in ancient manuscripts and paintings; and explanatory diagrams.

Survey of World Textiles:

Ancient World of the Eastern Mediterranean: Fibres and dyes; the earliest textiles and early trade; Ancient Egypt, the Hellenistic Kingdoms of Classical Greece; the Ancient Roman period and Coptic textiles;

Central and Northern Europe: the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age, and the Vikings;

Western Europe: Sicilian and Italian silks (1300 to 1900); Spanish silks (712 AD to early 18th century); French silks (1650 to 1800); Figured linen damasks of the Netherlands (16th to 18th centuries); Tapestry, embroidery, lace and printed textiles;

Central and Eastern Europe (1800-1920);

Greece, the Greek Islands and Albania;

Near and Middle East: Sassanian textiles (Persia); Early Islamic textiles; Byzantine silks; Safavid Iran; the Ottoman Empire; and Palestinian embroidery;

Central Asia : Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan; Tadzhikistan; Kirghizia; Kazakhstan; North-Eastern Iran and Northern Afghanistan;

India and Pakistan and the tribal textiles of Central India;

Carpets of the Middle and Far East;

Far East: China, Japan and South East Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, the Hill tribes, the Philippines, and Indonesia and Malaysia);

The Americas: Colonial North America (1700s to 1990s); Native North America; Latin America (Pre-Hispanic textiles of Meso-America and South America; Post-conquest and contemporary textiles in Central and South America: Mexico, Guatemala; the Cuna Indians of Panama and South America;

Africa:

North Africa: gold and silk embroidery, wool embroidery, appliqué and weaving; and

Sub-Saharan Africa and offshore islands: West Africa, the equatorial forest, Eastern Africa and Madagascar.

There is a glossary of textile terms and an extensive bibliography at the back of the book for further reading. This is indeed a wonderful summary of world textiles and the only area, which was not covered in great detail was Oceania, although there was brief mention of tapa cloth, made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree in the ‘Felt and Bark Cloth’ chapter of the first section.

Extensively researched, it is quite a scholarly and academic book, whereas the next few books are more a pictorial feast!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0049Textiles: A World Tour: Discovering Traditional Fabrics and Patterns by Catherine Legrand 2008/2012

Illustrated with over 700 wonderful colour photographs of ethnic costumes, sumptuous fabric and tribal people from all over the world, this beautiful book is divided into six main areas:

Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, South-East Asia: Hmong tunics and the skirt of 1000 pleats; indigo blues and batik; embroidery and appliqué; tassels and pompoms; trimmings and ornaments; and baskets and bags;

Orissa, Rajastan and Gujarat, India: Cotton saris; block printing; mud and indigo; mirrorwork embroidery; saris, veils and turbans; jewellery and henna;

Mexico and Guatemala, Central America: Indigo; Mayan skirts; Jaspe; shawls, bundles and bags, wool; Huipil flowers and stripes; green Ixil women; traditional mens’ clothing and Lake Atitlán;

Kuna Archipelago, Panama, Central America: Mola and reverse appliqué;

Maramures and Bukovina, Romania: Peasant blouses; haymaking, spinning and felting; and seasonal activities; and

Benin, West Africa: Indigo and cotton; stars, spots and stripes; wax prints and fancy prints.

This is a fabulous book, not just for textile collectors and historians, but also for travellers, who are interested in remote locations off the beaten track and serves as a wonderful source of inspiration for textile and fashion designers. It is also a wonderful photographic record of cultural differences and practices in a rapidly shrinking and increasingly global world.

I adored the skirt of a thousand pleats, worn by the Flowered Hmong- in fact, it was one of the lusted after-purchases I was talked out of on my first trip to Europe in early married life, which I have always regretted, but which taught me a valuable lesson in sticking to my guns if I really wanted something!!!

I also loved the colourful harlequin appliqué of the Lolo, Vietnam; the Hmong reverse appliqué spiral patterns;  huipil floral embroidery;  the reverse appliqué ‘mola’ of the Kuna women in Panama; and the frilled Romanian peasant blouses and smocks, as well as their wonderful floral embroidery.

All the different styles of ethnic clothing are just so interesting, especially the symbolism behind them and I loved reading about all the processes involved with the production of traditional textiles from harvesting, weaving and garment assembly to dyeing (batik, indigo, block printing, silkscreen, tie-dyeing), embroidery and appliqué.

I learnt about breeding silkworms for silk production, Ikat weaving; the different techniques throughout the world for dyeing with indigo; the huge variation in the symbolic meanings of textiles and a huge number of different ethnic groups, which were new to me like the Ixil women of the Acul region of Guatemala, near Nebaj.

I would love to have written this book and visited all the wonderful locations and peoples! I cannot recommend this gorgeous book highly enough!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0050Another wonderful guide to world textiles is the not surprisingly and very appropriately-titled:

World Textiles: A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques by John Gillow and Bryan Sentence 1999

It has a different format and approach to the previous book, focusing more on the different types of textiles and techniques rather than their geographical area, making it an excellent companion, which adds to our knowledge of textile history and production.  The display of fabrics from many different areas side by side serves as a basis for comparison and furthering a greater understanding of the techniques involved and an increased awareness of the diversity in stylistic interpretations. Like the previous book, it is also lavishly illustrated with over 778 illustrations, 551 in colour and explanatory diagrams.

The introduction defines textiles and discusses their history, the first fabrics, textile decoration, spinning yarn and traditional textiles.

Chapters include:

Materials: Skin and hide; wool and hair; felt; woollen yarn; cotton; silk; bark; linen; other bast fibres like hibiscus, jute, nettle, ramie, milkweed and hemp; raphia and other leaf fibres like palms, yuccas, agave, rice straw and grass, as well as their function, purpose and use and their production and techniques.

Non-Loom Textiles: Netting, linking and looping; knitting and crochet, including textured and multi-coloured knitting; braids; sprang; macramé; ply-splitting; lace (bobbin and needle lace and tatting); and twining and wrapping;

Loom-Woven Textiles: Tabby weave; twill and tartan; satin weave; tapestry weave; warp-faced and weft-faced weave; damask; supplementary warps and wefts (continuous and discontinuous); brocade; strip weave; double weave; velvet, velveteen, corduroy and other pile cloths; and tablet weaving. I found this chapter particularly interesting and informative, as I have always been a bit mystified by all the different types of woven techniques and did not know much about damask, brocade or velvet production;

Painted and Printed Textiles: Daubed textiles (mud, earth pigments and leaf paints); painted textiles; penwork; woodblock printing (monochrome and polychrome); and stencilling;

Dyes: Substansive and adjective dyes; natural and synthetic aniline dyes; indigo; tie-dye; stitched resist; Rajasthani leheria and mothara; starch-resist (hand and stencilled); wax resist (Chinese knife; Javanese batik canting; and cap printing); mordant techniques (Central Asian woodblock printing; Kalamkari; and Ajrakh); warp and weft Ikat; and compound and double Ikat;

Sewing: Appliqué and reverse appliqué; molas; leather and felt appliqué; braid and ribbon work; patchwork; quilting; padded and stuffed work (stumpwork; Native American whimsies and kalagas from Myanmar);

Embroidery: All the different stitches and their techniques, uses, distribution and variations and styles: Running stitch; satin and surface satin stitches; chain stitch and variations; cross stitch; herringbone stitch; couching and Bokhara couching; blanket, buttonhole and eyelet stitch, French and Pekin knots; drawn-thread and pulled-thread work; needle weaving; whitework; needlepoint; smocking; and tambour work; and finally,

Embellishment and its role and use in social identity; magic and superstition and even just for ornamentation and vanity: Metal thread; mirrors; coins and sequins; shells; bead embroidery and bead weaving; feathers; porcupine quills; ephemera (natural objects including flowers, seeds and insect wings; and magical protection); and fringes and tassels.

There is just so much information in this book and the authors have done a stirling job organising it and making it all comprehensible.

In the back is a glossary of textile terms; lists of further reading on materials; techniques; history and world textiles; and a list of museums and collections, a wonderful source of further knowledge and inspiration! Another book I could not do without!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0051Another interesting book in my craft library, with more personal stories of craftswomen in developing countries is:

In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing The World by Paola Gianturco and Toby Tuttle 2000

Written in their individual voices and featuring 90 indigenous craftswomen in 28 villages in 12 different countries over four continents, this book examines their daily lives, aspirations, families and communities, craft cooperatives and use of craft to create better futures for themselves and future generations. Along the way, we learn more about their cultures and their different craft and textile traditions and techniques. The text is supported by wonderful photos of the craftswomen and their families;  their villages and environment; and their work and crafts.

Chapters are divided into:

Latin America: Bolivia (knitting); Guatemala (weaving); Peru (pottery and arpillera); and Panama molas;

Eastern Europe: Poland (Flower painting); and Czech Republic (Easter egg painting);

Africa: South Africa (Ndebele beadwork and Zulu basket weaving); and Zimbabwe (Weya artists); and

Asia: Turkey (dollmaking and rug weaving); Indonesia (Floral offerings and batik); Thailand (Hill tribe craftswomen and AIDS project); and India (mirror embroidery).

In the back are suggestions for ways in which the reader can help support and enhance the craftswomen’s efforts to improve their lives.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0047

Next are a few books on the textiles of specific regions, including Central and South-East Asia, both notable for their beautiful textiles.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0044

I have already featured Bright Flowers: Textiles and Ceramics of Central Asia by Christina Sumner and Guy Petherbridge 2004 in my post on traditional embroidery (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/21/books-on-hand-embroidery-part-three-traditional-and-contemporary-embroidery/), but another excellent book on the same region is:

Traditional Textiles of Central Asia by Janet Harvey 1996

I have always been fascinated by the history and romance of the Silk Road and the interchange of goods, ideas, peoples and religions between the east and the west along its varying routes and times.

Central Asia covers a large proportion of this area from the Danube River to the Pacific shores, bordered on the north by the forested taiga and to the south by the high plateaux running from the Balkans to Tibet and the Chinese plains. From the first millennium BC to the 4th century AD, luxury goods like spices, gems and silks were transported from the Far East to the  west and were exchanged for fine muslins, woollens and glass from India and Europe to China.

Beautifully coloured silks, fragments of rich tapestry work, embroidery, pile carpets and coarse fabrics in felts and wools over 2000 years old were found in ancient burial sites in the Tarim Basin by Sir Aurel Stein in the early 20th century.

I adore the colourful Kyrgyz shyrdaks (patchwork appliqué felt floor rug) used by Central Asian nomads to furnish their yurts, in fact they formed the basis of my first year major project in my Diploma of Textile Art. (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/07/17/fabulous-felting-books/).

The simplicity and compactness of living in a yurt and the light environmental footprint and interest of travel and different home grounds of the nomadic lifestyle also appeal to me. And I love reading about symbolism and myths and the ceremonial and cultural aspects of different peoples, so this book appealed on so many levels!

It is divided into four different sections:

History and Motifs: Nomads and settled peoples; trade routes; Jenghis Khan and his legacy; decorative motifs; foreign influences; and traditional motifs and their significance;

Materials and Dyes: Wool; silk; cotton; and dye sources and dyeing;

Felts, Weavings and Dress: Nomad felts; nomad, village and urban woven fabrics; looms; flat weaves; knotted pile; decorative finishings; knitting and crochet; cotton weaving; Ikat silk weaving; traditional dress; and bags, covers, hangings and animal trappings; and

Applied Decoration: Embroidery; nomad, village and urban traditions; and block printing and fabric painting.

It is a beautiful book with over 200 colour plates of sumptuous silks and velvets; exquisite embroideries; stunning felts and woollen fabrics; and fine cotton weaves produced throughout the area and lots of fascinating information about the historical background; mythology and symbolism; materials and dyeing, block printing and fabric painting; and nomadic furnishings, culture and daily life. I am sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did!

In the back is a glossary; further reading lists on Central Asian history and textiles; motifs used in textile decoration; materials and dyes; yarn construction; felt; and applied decoration; and a list of museums and galleries.

BlogTextile History30%IMG_0045

Textiles of South-East Asia by Angela Thompson 2007

An equally comprehensive and detailed book, but featuring the rich textile traditions of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Spice islands of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, this book examines the differences and similarities between the different areas, as well as the historic and mercantile links, which have forged them together. The author compares the costumes, weaving and techniques of each country and discusses the underlying symbolic meanings of their designs, which are woven or imprinted into the cloth.

Chapters include:

Historical Background: From the indigenous neolithic peoples of mainland South-East Asia and the establishment of early cultures; different languages, migrations, political and military alliances and gift exchanges and tributary systems; and the influence of topography and the great river systems; to a brief summary of each country; and a discussion of the influence of international trade, including spices, cotton and silk; European  colonization and expansion; the aftermath of the Second World War; and modern trends.

Symbolism, Pattern and Design: Importance of symbols in denoting rank/ status and allegiance; rites of passage and religion; the prohibition of royal symbols and pattern; a brief discussion of the different religious beliefs and history; mythology (creation myths, island myths and fertility myths); auspicious motifs, magic talismans and protective amulets; the different motifs and their symbolism; other weaving patterns; and the influence of imported designs from India and China.

Costume: Uncut cloth: Variations due to climate and geographical terrains; different methods of draping cloth; depictions on historic sculptures; skirts and loin cloths; court cultures and influences;  the 19th and 20th century wrapped loincloths; island sarongs; religious dress; and the use of fabric lengths in shawls, ceremonial blankets, turbans and head-cloths, bed covers, baby wrappers and carry-cloths, and gift covers, temple hangings and banners.

Costume: Closed Dress: Seamed costume based on fabric widths and shaped dresses defined by cutting and seaming; pleated skirts and long dresses; the influence of migrating tribes from China; the national costumes of the hill tribes and the different areas; the golden triangle;  religious dress and royal costumes; colonial and foreign influences and costume accessories like hats, bags and baby carriers.

Threads and Fibres, Spinning and Dyeing:

Threads and fibres: Their production, source materials, tools and history: Cotton, silk, vegetable and bast fibres: pineapple leaves, agave and bamboo, abaca, ramie, lotus flower threads, kapok, rattan, coconut fibre, and bark cloth; and

Dyes and Dyeing: Natural Dyes made from plants (trees, bark, roots, leaves and flowers) and insects; indigo vat dyes; and synthetic dyes.

Weaving and Loom Types: Basic weaving methods and tools; shuttles and different types of looms; weaving preparation and threading the loom; pattern weaves- types and selection; harnesses and heddles; and tapestry weave methods.

Dye Pattern Methods: Ikat, tie-dye and batik and their regional variations; the use of motifs and patterns in puppets and wall hangings, painted and printed cloths ; and political batik.

Embroidery and Appliqué: Geographical variations and the influence of migrating populations and foreign trade by land and sea; counted and cross-stitch; double running stitch; pattern darning; free stitchery (shaded embroidery; filling stitches; and double-sided and silk embroidery); metal threadwork; quilted and machine work; appliqué and patchwork; reverse appliqué; and the influences of war and persecution.

Beadwork and Bead Embroidery: Bead types and origins: shells, abalone, pearls, seeds, glass, sequins and spangles, silver and gold; application to fabric surfaces; netted beadwork and the incorporation of beads into weaving.

Thread and Fibre Crafts: Plaited and woven braids; tablet weaving; lacework, tatting;  nets and hammocks; and fibre crafts: weaving fibre mats and bedcovers; twining, plaiting and interlacing; bases for lacquer ware; and conical hat making…and

Fringes, Tassels, Pompoms and Feathers: Woven fringes, pompoms and tassels on hats, God’s eyes, tasselled lanterns and feather decorations.

All these books have been fascinating reading and like the others, this one includes a glossary; a bibliography; and lists of craft video films and museums and collections.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0052

And if the two previous books have whetted your appetite for more information about the link between symbolism and textiles, then this next book should be right up your alley!

Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic by Sheila Paine 2004.

This is a lovely book to dive into at whim, rather than trying to absorb all the information at once! With over 400 colour illustrations, this book is a worldwide look at the wide variety of cultural beliefs, the important role of amulets in protection; magic and superstition; rites of passage; war, sex, fertility and harvest; trade and profit; and all the different types, including goddesses and dolls; fossils and semi-precious stones; silver and coins; buttons, beads and blue; red, white and black; teeth, claws and paws; horns and bones;  birds, feathers and hair; snakes and fearful creatures; water and the moon;  salt, garlic, incense and plants; trees, rags and stitches; tangles and triangles; needles, porcupine quills, iron and bells; numbers and letters; hands and crosses; and saints and the church. So much interesting information!!!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0043My final book explores a particular interest area of mine:

Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement by Linda Parry 1988/ 2005

I have always loved and been fascinated by the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880 to 1920) and its emphasis on simplicity, beauty and functionality and the handmade! It looks at the artistic and industrial background to this breakaway style; its ideological tenets and purpose; the evolution of the Arts and Crafts style; textiles in Arts and Crafts exhibitions, as well as their use in the home; and embroiderers and designers, like William Morris and his daughters May and Jenny; Jessie Newberry, Una Taylor and Ann Macbeth; Edward Burne-Jones; CFA Voysey; MH Baillie Scott; Philip Webb; Walter Crane; Selwyn Image; JH Dearle; Lindsay Butterfield and George Haité ; Charles Rennie Mackintosh, George Walton and Jessie M King of the Glasgow School of Art and manufacturers and shops, including Morris and Co.; Turnbull and Stockdale; AH Lee & Sons; Silver Studio; Wardle & Co; Liberty & Co. and many others, all listed in the back of the book. A very comprehensive guide to English textiles (printed and woven fabrics, tapestries and carpets and embroideries and lace) when Britain led the design world!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0042

 

Books on Dressmaking

In the past, I used to make all my own clothes, but these days, children’s clothing tends to take up more of my time. The ability to make your own clothing is such a valuable skill, both in terms of money, quality, creativity and style. Good clothing can be so expensive, and while there are many cheap clothes on the market, often the quality of craftsmanship, life expectancy or material used is poor.

Dressmaking is incredibly satisfying on so many levels! It is such a thrill, knowing that you have actually made your own clothing; it will be totally original and well constructed, and finally, it is ethically sound, as so much of today’s fashion is created by lowly paid Asian workers.

In this post are a selection of books about dressmaking, which I have found very useful in the past, starting with two general sewing guides to make your dressmaking journey easier!

Sewing and Knitting: A Reader’s Digest Step-by-Step Guide 1993

An excellent and comprehensive general guide to sewing and knitting techniques and very well-used during my sewing career with clear instructions, supported by colour photographs, illustrations, and inset boxes, tables and diagrams.

Part One: Sewing  covers everything from :

Sewing supplies: Measuring and marking tools; shears and scissors; threads, pins and needles; pressing equipment; zippers, studs and buttons; tapes and trimmings; elastics; sewing and overlocking machines; and sewing rooms;

Patterns, Fabrics and Cutting: Taking measurements and pattern selection, style and size; colour and texture; using commercial patterns; fabric fundamentals (characteristics, uses, types and care, structure and finish); fabrics A to Z; underlying fabrics (underlining, interfacing, interlining and lining); fabric preparation, pinning and cutting, including special considerations ( directional fabrics, plaids and stripes and designs with large motifs); and marking the cut pieces;

Pattern Alterations: Figure types; fitting; and basic and advanced pattern alterations;

Basic Construction Techniques: Hand sewing, tacking and hemming; seams and darts; tucks and pleats; gathering and ruffles; shirring and smocking; neckline finishes and collars; waistlines and belts; sleeves and cuffs; pockets; hems, bindings and finishing corners; zippers; and buttonholes and fabric closures (buttons, hooks and eyes, snap and tape fasteners;

Sewing for Men and Children; and

Sewing for the Home: Loose covers; cushions; bedspreads and bed covers; and curtains, drapery and blinds.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5385The second section of the book, while smaller, is equally comprehensive, covering yarn selection and knitting needles and aids; casting on methods and basic stitch formation; casting off techniques and selvedges; knitting machines; knitting patterns and charts and following instructions; knitting terminology; tension and gauge; increasing and decreasing; circular knitting; correcting errors; knitting stitches; knitting garments; decorative finishes and embroidery; and a small section on crochet.

The Complete Sewing Machine Handbook by Karen Kunkel 1997

An even more detailed guide to the use of sewing machines, this book covers sewing machine types and selection; the main parts of the machine and accessories; sewing equipment and workspace; and needles, threads and threading before launching into the basic operations: stitch selection; straight and top stitching; twin needles; zigzag stitching; buttonholes; blind hemming; and decorative stitch options (appliqué; silk ribbon embroidery; scalloped edges; quilting and smocking; and lace insertion, pintucking and fagotting!)

There is a chapter on special presser feet and accessories, as well as computer technology, machine maintenance, and a trouble shooting guide and metric conversion chart. A very useful book for all sewers!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5384Classic Clothes: A Practical Guide to Dressmaking by René Bergh 2000

A wonderful guide to wardrobe planning and dressmaking! In her first chapter, René discusses the classic ingredients of successful dressing: colour, cloth and cut, before a detailed examination of wardrobe planning, including modern and traditional classics, in the second chapter.

Fitting, figure analysis, measurement taking, flattering and unflattering choices and pattern adjustments for differing body types and proportions are the subject of the third large and crucial chapter, while Chapter Four describes basic construction techniques for different garments from T-shirts, golf shirts, sweatshirts and classic shirts to casual and tailored jackets; trousers; tracksuit pants; and lined skirts and dresses.

The last two chapters look at finishing touches and accessorizing with hosiery, shoes, belts, bags, jewellery and scarves, as well as clever combinations to make the best use of a basic wardrobe.

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Sewing the New Classics: Clothes With Easy Style by Carol Parks 1995

This book has some wonderful patterns for classic clothes, all still very wearable today. The brief introduction examines similar content to the first book in this post: tools and equipment; natural and synthetic fibres; linings and interfacings; and fabric preparation, before concentrating on the separate patterns, each with detailed notes on materials; cutting guides; construction and variations, with lovely colour photographs of all versions.

There are ten basic patterns, reduced to 25 per cent in the back of the book, with sizes from XXS to XL: a Shirt with a Convertible Collar; a Collarless Tunic; a T-shirt collection; a Straight Skirt; a Full Skirt; Leggings with an Elasticized Waist; Tailored Trousers; a Jacket; a Fitted Vest and a Large Vest.

Throughout the book are notes on sewing with knit fabrics; making pockets of different types; embellishments; creating a wardrobe; working with patterns; and sewing techniques.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5383Once the basic skills have been mastered and a measure of confidence gained, most dressmakers are keen to try their hand at designing their own patterns, so a few books on drafting your own patterns from scratch can be very useful. Back in the day, I was always on the lookout for pattern drafting guides, so I own a few, though I am sure most of them have probably been superseded by the advent of CAD (computer-aided design). Still, the old guides are useful if you prefer designing with pen and paper, lack computer access or are overwhelmed by computer technology!

The next book is also an excellent introduction to basic drafting skills, though, like the previous book, it also contains basic pattern blocks in three sizes, based on standard body measurements and scaled to one-quarter scale in the back.

Make Your Own Patterns : An Easy Step-by-Step Guide To Making Over 60 Patterns by René Bergh 1995

This guide is so well-titled, as it does make the whole drafting process very easy to understand and execute, as well as delivering on the promise of a wealth of pattern variations. Tools and equipment, as well as the correct way to take body measurements, are discussed in the introductory chapters, including a chart of standardized sizes and body measurements.

The bulk of the book gives step-by-step instructions for drawing up patterns from scratch, using your own body measurements, including dress bodices, sleeves, jackets, blouses with or without darts and skirts and trousers. Variations and details for each body area (necklines, bodices; sleeves) and garment (blouses and tops; jackets; skirts; dresses; and trousers) are discussed in depth.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5382Because everyone has a different style of learning and every teacher has a different approach and teaching style, I have included two other guides to manual drafting.

Creative Cutting: Easy Ways To Design and Make Stylish Clothes With Over 1000 Variations by Diana Hawkins 1986

Another excellent book, which promises even more variations to the basic patterns than the previous guide! It discusses making the basic pattern blocks (Bodice; Sleeve; Skirt; and Trouser), before giving plenty of ideas for variations.

Fabric selection; costing and pattern lays; pressing; interfacings; haberdashery; pattern cutting equipment and construction techniques, including the order of making, are discussed in detail, supported by plenty of photographs and illustrations.

It is a very comprehensive guide to the art of drafting!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5379

Magic Drafting: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide To Making Any Pattern Fit You by Gabriella Kovac 1994

The main aim of this book is to make drafting fun, so the whole feel of this book is very conversational and personal and the instructions are simple and easy to understand. Step-by-step instructions are given for making pattern blocks for skirts, bodices, sleeves and collars; fitting and creating patterns from calico; pivoting darts; problem solving for longer backs and larger midriffs; and finally, the creation of a range of patterns, based on those blocks from gored or flared skirts to tops with a variety of sleeves or collars and shirt dresses. While the fashions are definitely outdated, it is still a good basic drafting course!

BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5380Fashions are constantly changing and every dressmaker’s library should have at least one book on the history of fashion!

Decades of Fashion by Harriet Worsley 2000

This book examines 20th century fashions from those of the Belle Epoque (1900-1914) and the years of the First World War (1914-1918), through successive decades to 2000. There are some wonderful old black-and-white photographs and is a fascinating historical record, not only of changes in fashions, but also daily life, work, pastimes and sporting activities and prevailing social attitudes!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5375

I particularly love the fashions of the period between the late 1890s and 1920s, so adored the next book!

Pattern Designing For Dressmakers by Lyn Alexander 1989

In this book, Lyn explains that patterns can be created using three methods: Drafting using body measurements, as already discussed; Draping by moulding fabric to the body or dress form; and Flat Pattern, where basic patterns are manipulated to add design details.

This book employs the latter technique, in which the basic original master pattern is transferred to a interfaced muslin, which is then assembled into the required garment using basting and adjusted for fit and design details.

Pattern alterations; darts; gathers, tucks and pleats; closings, extensions and  facings; bodices, yolks, collars, sleeves and skirts are all discussed, particularly with reference to the fitting standards and fashions from 1860 to 1930, which are supported by illustrations from period fashion magazines of the time.

A particularly useful book for stage costume designers and antique doll dress makers!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5376Another excellent source for vintage patterns is Folkwear (https://www.folkwear.com/),  which has an extensive collection with garments from the late 1700s/early 1800s, all the way up to the 1950s. There are some beautiful patterns for Gibson Girl blouses and Edwardian underthings; walking skirts and English smocks; vintage bathing costumes and beach pyjamas; Monte Carlo dresses; and Poiret Cocoon coats and Model T Dusters.

Folkwear is also a wonderful site for anyone interested in ethnic clothing. Collected over the past forty years, their collection includes patterns for historic and every-day folk garments from 32 countries in six continents, from Turkish coats and French cheesemaker’s smocks to Nepali blouses and Tibetan chupas; Austrian dirndls, Scottish kilts, Flamenco dresses and belly dancing outfits; and Hong Kong cheongsams and a range of Japanese clothing from kimonos, field clothing and hapi and haori to michiyuki, tabi, and hakama and kataginu. There are also patterns for men and children.

It was also the inspiration for the next book, which is based on the six most popular ethnic garments produced by Folkwear: the Seminole Skirt; the Polish Vest; the Moroccan Burnoose; the Syrian Dress; the Tibetan Coat; and the Japanese Kimono.

The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing: Easy Ways to Sew and Embellish Fabulous Garments From Around the World by Mary S. Parker 2002

A beautiful and fascinating book with fabulous photos of traditional garments from around the world. In its overview of ethnic clothing in the first chapter, it examines the construction of typical ethnic garments: the unconstructed rectangle; the pullover cloak or tunic; the sleeved shift; the pull-on pant; the full skirt and apron; the front-opening coat; the short vest and the yoked shirt.

Chapter Two focuses on the embellishment of ethnic clothing: woven embellishment; braids and trims (plastrons and coat trims); surface design (mudcloth; stamping and stencilling; and appliqué (Seminole patchwork; molas; Hmong squares; and felt appliqué) and embroidery (hand and machine).

It is followed by a gallery of ethnic embellishment motifs from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Bahrain, Egypt and Poland. Throughout both these chapters are projects using each technique.

Finally, there are the key patterns themselves with their history, pattern layouts and detailed sewing instructions. I would love to try making the Seminole skirt one day and the Japanese kimono is also quite appealing!!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5373

For dressmakers interested in more contemporary Japanese clothing, there are also some cute Japanese pattern books currently on the market, one of which is:

Stylish Dress Book: Simple Smocks, Dresses and Tops  by Yoshiko Tsukiori 2013

There are some sweet little tops and dresses in this book. In the back are four full scale pattern sheets in four sizes XS, S, M and L and they can be made up into 26 different garments. Each page has a pattern layouts, material requirements, and  instructions and illustrated notes, all in English.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5374The same author has also written: Sweet Dress Book: 23 Dresses of Pattern Arrangement 2013; Happy Home Make: Sew Chic: 20 Simple Everyday Designs 2013; and Stylish Wraps 2017.

And finally, two wonderful books on sewing clothing for children.

Classic Clothes For Children Ages 0-12 by Lynne Sanders 1991

After a brief introduction to sewing and drafting requirements; fabric choice and preparation; pattern cutting; understanding and making pattern blocks (a fold-out master sheet is in the back); and sewing techniques, including sewing scallops and peaks; couching and embroidery, the author describes the construction of 33 patterns, including design notes; materials; pattern layouts and drafting and sewing instructions.

They range from Summer hats and embroidered vests to shirts and windcheaters; overalls, shorts and trousers; pyjamas, tracksuits and all-in-ones; dressing gowns and oil-skin coats; dresses; and even christening gowns. They are indeed beautiful classic clothes, which have stood the test of time.BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5377

Little Girls, Big Style: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe From 4 Easy Patterns by Mary Abreu 2010

My final book is a more recent purchase (and publication) with some very cute and colourful patterns, which I adore! Based on the huge selection of fabrics and notions available today, there are 23 patterns in sizes 2 to 6 (with full size patterns in the back), featuring lots of layers, frills and flounces in harmonious colour combinations.

There are four project chapters with lots of ideas for variations, which are interchangeable between patterns:

Basic Bodice: Basic Top/Dress; Knotty Apron; Sunshine Halter; Side-Tied Smock; Perfect Party Dress; Pocket Pinafore; and Ruffled Peek-a-Boo Jumper;

Peasant Top/Dress PTD: Classic PTD; Ruffled Empire PTD; Tiered Twirly PD;  Flutter-Sleeved PT; and Ruffled Neck PT;

Pants: Essential Pants/Capris; Ruffled Pants with two options; Racing Stripe Pants; Lace-Edged Gauchos; and Tiered Pants;  and

Skirts: No-Hem Skirt; Treasure Skirt; On-the-Border Skirt; Apron Skirt; Double-Layered Twirl Skirt; and Twirly-Girly Skirt, always a great favourite!

All these garments can be worn in different combinations, as shown by the very cute models in the photographs. I look forward to using this book more in the future!BlogBksDressmaking30%IMG_5378

In November, I am delving further into the world of childhood with some books on teaching kids to sew, as well as making toys, but before that, there will be a post on miscellaneous craft books, encompassing a wide range of crafts from basketry to kite making, homemade tiles and mosaics and much more! Happy dressmaking!