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Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail

This beautifully illustrated book helps you see Victorian fashion in a whole new way.

Victorian: the very word makes people think “extravagant,” because to embellish something, to transform it with decoration and then add more, is at the core of the Victorian sense of beauty. Yet the elaborate aesthetic of 19th century clothes is in fact the result of a few key principles combined over and over, building up to a fabulous effect.

embellishments constructing victorian detail

[Photograph: Brian Smestad]

Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail looks at what these principles are, and how they are applied, to help you see Victorian fashion in a whole new way. The book pairs lush, full length photographs of late nineteenth-century gowns with intimate close-up views of trim details, and adds step-by-step diagrams to help you replicate the effects yourself.

embellishments constructing victorian detail

[Photograph: Brian Smestad]

The dresses featured are from the little-known Irma Bowen Textile Collection at the University of New Hampshire, and they have never been published before. A close hands-on examination of each item has been carried out, taking advantage of places where threads have loosened over time to peer at the back side of trims, searching garment interiors for cording ends, studying fabric grain lines and seams for clues on construction. Ruching, pleating, piping and more . . . These core techniques are the building blocks of fabulous fashion. Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail gives you the key whether you’re making reproduction clothes, contemporary textiles, or simply want a deeper understanding of the Victorian couture. Order at www.schaefferarts.com

embellishments constructing victorian detail

[Photograph: Brian Smestad]

What people are saying about Embellishments:

In an era in which our closets are full of mass-produced clothing, Embellishments offers us a rich and lushly illustrated book that combines an obvious love of handcraft with intimate knowledge of Victorian garment construction.” — Michelle Tolini Finamore, Curator of Fashion Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

I just opened your exquisite book! What a wonderful thing you’ve done! It’s the next best thing to seeing and touching the genuine articles: the close-ups, the drawings, the insights as to how and why! You’ve done such a service for those of us who will probably never have the opportunity to do more than gaze longingly through the glass at museums. I envy you the experience. Thank you so much for sharing it!” — Mary Elizabeth Quinn

The book is just wonderful. The photographs are great as are the illustrations. They make it very clear and undaunting to try these techniques.” — Rex Richards, Dryden House Stitching

embellishments constructing victorian detail

About the Author: Independent scholar Astrida Schaeffer holds two Master’s degrees and has been working with historic fashions and textiles for over twenty-five years as curator, museum mannequin maker, reproduction seamstress, researcher, and teacher.

Photography: by Lisa Nugent and Brian Smestad.

Publisher: Great Life Press.

 

 

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