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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book and the others in the series are a compilation of line drawings and actual patterns taken from original costumes in museums. Janet goes into very particular detail, and the patterns can be used to recreate exactly the costumes. However, as they have been taken from real garments they are not sised in a modern way, therefore a good knowlege of dressmaking and the adjustment of patterns is needed. They can be used very successfully in conjunction with other books, for example Margot Hamilton Hill's 'the Evolution of Fashion', where modern sised patterns are given, so the style of Janet's dresses can be recreated with simpler patterns. A very good read!!
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on 27 November 2011
I bought the whole set (1,2 and 3) and it is a pleasure to go through them:
Every single one is well documented, with plenty of patterns of the periods, pictures and excellent illustrations.
I would recommend them to everyone who wants to start making costumes, or just discover more about historical fashion.
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on 15 July 2003
This book is a great starting point if you want to make garments in the style of that period. However, the patterns -will- need resized and that is a time consuming and sometimes complicated process. This should not detract however from the generous amount of detail included in the book, which (if used alongside other source material) will help you create the look you're after.
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on 1 May 2013
I was very excited to receive this book, but I've come to be disappointed with it, I feel like I now have it just to have large, drawn images of these costumes. It starts with an overview of patterns offered in magazines - too small to properly use unfortunately as they look more useful than the main patterns in the book.

Costumes are drawn from a few angles, including what the inside of the bodice looks like and the waistband, which I do appreciate a lot and find very informative. However the information given on each costume is not enough for me, perhaps as an academic, but I think what I was looking for was real construction details. This is of course a pattern book, as the title states, but these costumes are radically different from what is worn today, there are a lot of details I felt were missing and sorely needed. Certainly tournures (bustles) weren't featured at all, which is pretty deceptive - someone trying to recreate the costumes detailed in the book would, after much work, find their efforts to not reproduce what is in the book. I'm myself struggling with supporting the weight of the fabric that's been raked up and there are no details in the book that show how seamstresses incorporated elements into the costumes so as to support the garment. There is very little in the way of balance marks or clear notes on how each pieces fits together to make the whole - which makes prior historical costuming and sewing knowledge very useful.

I feel this book is merely a pattern book of what you'd see looking at a costume, but that it does not give the whole garment. I feel this book is for the historically enriched user with access to much more information on costume and an experienced pattern cutter/drafter and sewer as well. I'm happy to have this book, but I feel that I may as well have stuck to the pattern cutting books I've found online for this period.
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on 3 January 2014
I first saw a copy of this series of books back in the early 1980's studying Theatre Design. They are a fantastic source of information about period styles and lines with examples of original patterns. Put together by a costume designer, I think they are a must have for people interested in costume and history.
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on 3 December 2012
Like the other three Janet Arnold books, this is a "must have" for anyone interested i or trying to reproduce costume of the period. Like the other books, there are some questions as to the making up which remain unanswered for the reader to sort out when making up, but these have become classics of costume reproduction.
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on 6 November 2012
A wonderful detailed book. Some of the costumes included are on public display whereas others are in personal collections. The construction notes are more than detailed enough for anyone wishing to make their own copy but beyond that it acts as a wonderful record for styles, fastenings and structures used for these beautiful gowns.

If you love historical fashion you will love Patterns of Fashion books. I have yet to make any of them fully but have used them time and time again for reference and inspiration.
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on 24 February 2014
I repeat the remarks I made for the 2 books above. All three are excellent. I only wish I had the money, time and energy to make all the costumes and conduct a mannequin show to show them off. I am going to a Southern Counties Costume Society AGM on Saturday, 1st March 2014 and I am looking forward to seeing the Eleanor of Teledo dress which I understand will be shown on a live model and a talk given by Sarah Bartlett. I am wondering if she used a Janet Arnold pattern or created it herself. I was fascinated with the 1920s dresses in this book. They must have looked quite stunning in the materials used. I am wondering if Janet has done anything on the 1960s?
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on 10 November 2013
I used this book to study for my degree and found it full of patterns that could be scaled up to whatever size required. Full of costume construction information. It became my bible for a period of time.
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2012
These books are a wonderful resource, and as Norah Waugh's 'The Cut of Women's Clothes' and 'The Cut of Men's Clothes' are effectively out of reach for anyone but the wealthy these days they're about the best alternative going.

Of course there are gaps, and these are the gaps so obviously expected to be covered by people having access to the Waugh books, but that is, I am afraid, life...

But for a tenner each these are unbeatable value for anyone interested in making historical costume and a copy should be by the work-box of every costume designer and in every re-enactor's snapsack...
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