Three Books on Historical Needlework from Around the Globe

The world of historical needlework comes alive both in the pages of books and in PieceWork magazine. The three books reviewed below were featured in the March/April 2009 issue of PieceWork. Enjoy learning more about historical needlework from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas with no need to leave your armchair.

historical needlework

The Clothing of the Renaissance World: Europe, Asia, Africa, The Americas
By Margaret F. Rosenthal and Ann Rosalind Jones
New York: Thames & Hudson, 2008. Hardbound, 600 pages, $125. ISBN 978-0-500-51426-9.

A tour de force! This compilation of the entire first edition (published in Venice in 1590) and the New World section from the second edition (1598) of Cesare Vecellio’s Habiti Antichi et Moderni, together with the original woodcuts, presents in meticulous detail the clothing worn by all strata of sixteenth-century society. The more than 500 illustrations, 77 in color, and the illustrated glossary are icing on the cake. If you have any affinity for the sixteenth century, you will want this book.
—Michaelian Forbes

historical needlework

The Lady’s Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette
Frances Grimble, editor and translator
San Francisco: Lavolta Press, 2008. Softbound, 755 pages, $75. ISBN 978-0-9636517-7-8.

French how-to manuals published in the 1820s are the source of this delightful collection of sewing and embroidery patterns, mending instructions, step-by-step knitting directions, guides to proper behavior and dress, and beauty recipes (don’t try these at home: many contain arsenic or other poisons). The Lady’s Stratagem is sure to please reenactors, living-history interpreters, historians, and costume designers, as well as casual readers.
—Jane Morrow

historical needlework

Chinese Braid Embroidery
By Jacqui Carey
Devon, England: Carey Company, 2007. Softbound, 128 pages, $44.95. ISBN 978-09523225-6-6.

Jacqui Carey highlights the evolution of the Chinese tradition of braid embroidery used to decorate costumes and accessories, focusing here on a distinctive flat and narrow braid. Her clear step-by-step instructions for creating a wide variety of stunning braids, supplemented by vivid photographs, will enable the reader to execute even some of the most challenging.
—Allison Mackin

Discover more fabulous books about historical needlework in “A Selection of Books on Lace and Wedding History.”

Explore the world of historical needlework in PieceWork!

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