On this page we cater to aficionados who want to know more about the fabrics and techniques involved in authentic costume-design. Here are historic, scholarly and contemporary works on textiles, weaving, embroidery, and lace-making.
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Selling Silks: A Merchant's Sample Book 1764
By Lesley Ellis Miller
Eye candy for the designer or historian interested in reproducing clothing of 18th century high fashion!
At the end of the 7 Years War, the French were trying to smuggle silks into English ports. In 1764 customs officials confiscate a large swatch book of gorgeous flowered silks. This book was then used by English weavers as inspiration for producing English silks. The book remained in the hands of British textile manufacturers up to 1972 when the Victoria and Albert Museum acquired it along with other 18th and 19th century textiles and books.
Selling Silks reproduces the entire swatch book in full size and brilliant color. Before this, it attempts to place the swatch book in perspective with four chapters centered around the book. One chapter discusses the French designers who created the designs of the original silks. Another chapter illustrates surviving garments and compares the silks to samples in the swatch book to show how closely the samples were remade although never exactly.
Hardcover, 271 pp., 9 1/4" × 12 1/2"
Threads of Feeling: The London Foundling Hospital's Textile Tokens, 1740-1770
By John Styles
What has become recognized as Britain's largest collection of everyday textiles from the mid 18th century, Threads of Feeling illustrates and describes an overview of the textiles. From 1742 to 1760 over 4000 babies were left by their mothers at the Foundling Hospital. Samples were taken of the mother's or baby's garments for identification records. This book sheds a revealing light on the type of clothing worn by ordinary people of the mid 18th century. Threads of Feeling is the museum exhibit catalogue by the curator John Styles who is also the author of The Dress of the People. If you like this book you might consider Fate, Hope and Charity
Softcover, 72 pp., 7 1/4" × 9 1/2"
Swatches: A Guide to Choosing 21st Century Fabrics for 18th Century Clothing
By Hallie Larkin
This book includes about 30 to 46 swatches organized by fiber content and includes excerpts from 18th century sources to help explain how the fabrics were used. Compiled to help reenactors purchase the most appropriate fabrics based on budget, appropriateness, and the persona you have chosen. These books are individually made using fabrics available at the time of publication. Please expect variations.
Softcover, 35 pp., 11" × 8 1/2"
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