The School of Historical Dress is the residual legatee of the late Janet Arnold, whose series of pattern books began in 1964 with the first edition of Patterns of Fashion published by Wace, on the subject Englishwomen’s dress from 1720 to 1860. Our school is now the publisher of this extraordinary series; in 2018 we published the 5th volume on 17th- and 18th-century underpinnings and since then we have produced new enlarged full-colour editions of Janet’s first two books, together with Patterns of Fashion 6: The content, cut, construction and context of European Women’s dress c.1695–1795. New colour editions of Patterns of Fashion 3 and 4 will both be published in December 2023.
The introduction to Patterns of Fashion 6 includes these two pages that focus on the nature of textiles from which the garments featured with patterns in the book were made. We endeavoured to show the reverse side of as many of these textiles as possible, with details of their selvedges and comparative textiles in collections elsewhere. A further double-spread in the book is dedicated to the wide variety of textiles used for interlinings and linings.
Each garment for which a scale pattern is given in Patterns of Fashion 6 is shown with accompanying pages of colour images and where possible with Janet Arnold’s beautiful drawings of them. This example is a closed sack in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Including the positions of the textile design on the scale pattern allows the reader to see how much meterage or yardage was available to the dressmaker. Great care was taken to pattern match the motifs on the front pattern pieces of the sack but the side piecing on the pattern of the back was cut upside down to save fabric.
Text by Jenny Tiramani