I'm a collector of vintage textiles, and sometimes sell them online. My knowledge of the categories I personally collect is good, but I often come across beautiful textiles that I don't know much about, and don't know the names for. I'd really like to learn more.
I especially wanted to learn something about lace. Identificaation of different types of lace is a subject that just practically gives the the shakes to think about - lace just seems so confusing. So, I needed a good, clearly-written and organized book to help me sort it all out.
The first half of "The Complete Guide to Vintage Textiles" deals with just those sort of issues. It's dedicated to "MATERIALS." Covered first are various types of fibers (cotton, linen, silk, wool) with a very complete chart, showing even how the fiber looks under magnification, and all its physical properties. Next is a discussion of threads and yarns and their properties (fibert, twist, cording, size).
Next up is a chapter on fabric manipulations types of manipulations. It's filled with photographs and good detail. She explains various types of weaves (twill, plain, pile, patterned, jacquard, etc.).
The chapters on lace were just what I was looking for! They feature very good descriptions on how the laces are made (bobbin lace and needle lace), and there are big photos with good captions so you know how to recognize them. There are also sections on crochet, needleweaving and darning. Since I bought the book I've returned to these sections many times to refresh my memory, and doublecheck purhcases I've made or things I've seen. It's such a valuable reference.
Also covered: felting, tapestry, knitting, macrame. and knotting.
The next section is on fabric embellishments: pleating, dyeing, painting & stenciling, printing, embroidering, drawnwork, cutwork, and applique. Again, all very well done, with illustrations.
Though most photos in the book are b&w, there's a big section of color photos in the center.
The second section of the book is "THINGS" - namely, categories of things made with fabric. Each section is devoted to a different type of thing, and includes photos and a checklist of things to look for when evaluating an item of that type. The "things" three categories:
1. Vintage Fashions (aprons, veils, dresses, hats, lace accessories, paisley shawls, children's dresses, christening gowns)
2. Home Furnishings (afghans, blankets, coverlets, doilies, hooked rugs, linens, pillows, pot holders, quilts)
3. Fabrics of Society (American flags, embroidered pictures, fabrics, feed sacks, handkerchiefs, military embroideries, regalia, samplers, threads & yarn, silk pictures)
So, you can see, this book is an overview of a large range of textiles and items made from them. There are over 400 photos included. For someone who wants to learn about vintage and antique textiles, I think it's an invaluable reference.
I've returned to it many times and will continue to use it and consider it an important part of my textiles and vintage/antique reference library.