The sign of the unicorn. A fabric shop for 18th century reenactors and historians.

Introduction

One of the joys of re-enacting is the spreading range of knowledge and interest it spawns! We now have so many informative books and publications available that we decided to re-arrange the books section to help you find what you're looking for more easily.

Books: Costume

On this page our selection cuts to the chase with information on authentic costumes for various social groups.

Costume | Accessories | Zeitgeist | Re-enacting | Textiles | Techniques

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The American Duchess
Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking

By Lauren Stowell

Learn how to make four 18th century silhouettes the English Gown, Sacque Gown, Italian Gown and Round Gown using the same hand sewing techniques done by historic dressmakers. From large hoops to full bums, wool petticoats to grand silk gowns, ruffled aprons to big feathered hats, this manual has project patterns and instructions for every level of 18th century sewing enthusiast.

$24.99 paperback, 240 pages, 8" × 9"

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The Age Of Napoleon Costume from Revolution to Empire: 1789-1815. book cover
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The Taylor's Complete Guide
by Anonymous

Full title: The taylor’s complete guide, or, A comprehensive analysis of beauty and elegance in dress : containing rules for cutting out garments of every kind, and fitting any person with the greatest accuracy and precision, adapted to all sizes, pointing out, in the clearest manner, the former errors in the profession, and the method of rectifying what may have been done amiss ... : to which is added, A description to cut out and make the patent elastic habits and cloaths, without the usual seams ... / the whole concerted and devised by a society of adepts in the profession

This facsimile of a c. 1796 tailor's manual is one of the earliest trade manuals published in England. Three fold out plates provide the reader with an overview of tailoring, a trade usually learned through observation and practice. The book is bound in a period marbled paper that comes with a nameplate along with directions and information about the binding process.

It's interesting that the book references four fold out diagrams referred to as plates, A, B, C, and D. Once printing was complete, they found all the diagrams could fit onto only three fold out diagrams. Therefore, only three fold out diagrams are included. Whenever the text refers to plate C, it will be found by examining either plate B or D. An interesting oddity of early publishing.

163 pp.
$33.50

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Cloth and Costume 1750 to 1800
Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

By Tandy and Charles Hersh

This is one of the best books ever published on clothing of the second half of the 18th century. Combining detailed photographs of extant garments along with period accounts and quantitative analysis of probate records it provides the reader a complex understanding of how fabrics and accessories were both manufactured and imported into Pennsylvania.

$30.00 softcover, 211 pages, 8 1/2" × 11"

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Cloth and Costume by Tandy and Charles Hersh. book cover
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The Pocket

new On backorder due in Nov. 5th!

Full title: The Pocket a Hidden History of Women's Lives, 1660-1900

This beautiful book is stuffed with period images of excellent, unique and unusual examples of pockets, specific details of pockets, women wearing pockets, advertisements describing pockets, etc. An interesting appendix includes "Pockets in the Old Bailey" separated by decade from 1670-1904. There is an extensive archive of material sources and an extensive bibliography to aid in further research. Many books on specific topics like this seem to leave the 18th century quickly, although this book draws from many 19th century examples there are plenty of 18th century examples as well.

264 pp.
$35.99

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What Clothes Reveal
The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America

By Linda Baumgarten

Drawing on contemporary written descriptions and on actual costumes of the period, the book analyzes what Americans in the eighteenth century considered fashionable and attractive and how they used clothing to assert status or to identify occupations. The book also examines the myths and meanings of clothing in British and American society, clothing for the entire lifecycle, and a history of clothing alteration. Informative sidebars on a variety of fascinating topics complete the volume.

Linda Baumgarten is curator of textiles and costumes at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA.

2002
256 pp. 36 b/w + 355 colorplates, 9" × 12"
Cloth ISBN 0-300-09580-5
$50.00

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Wives, Slaves, and Servant Girls: Advertisements for Female Runaways in American Newspapers, 1770-1783

By Don N. Hagist

In choosing fabrics for our shop it is not just knowing what fabrics are appropriate but what garments may be made of what fabrics. What colors were most common for petticoats for example? Many of the descriptions provided on our fabric pages come from this book. With 400 newspaper descriptions from many American colonies you will find many interesting details not just about their clothes but what items they stole, their bodily appearance, what work they did, and their character. This is one of the best sources of information about poor labouring women in America during the American Revolution!

$18.95 softcover, 178 pages, 6" × 9"

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The Dress of the People
Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England

By John Styles

Combining many written accounts of clothing with full color period illustrations and photographs of swatches printed to scale, this book provides an in depth explanation of clothing of the working poor. Chapters include "Clothing Biographies", "Keeping up Appearances", "Changing Clothes", "Clothing Provincial England: Fabrics", and "Clothes and the Life-cycle". Rarely do books cover specifically the clothing of the working poor but this book provides details found nowhere else. John Styles is also the author of Threads of Feeling.

$55.00 hardcover, 432 pages, 10" × 7"

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Women's Dress during the American Revolution
(A Brigade of the American Revolution publication)

If you knew the original Basic Clothing Guide for Women, you will be impressed by the substantially expanded and updated text in this edition. Features documentation of clothing items and style, updated measuring guides, detailed construction notes, interpretation considerations and many new illustrations as well as a comprehensive bibliography to women's clothing and 18th century women's subjects.

$25.00 softcover, 200 pages, 10" × 6"

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Whatever Shall I Wear?

By Mara Riley, illustrated by Cathy (Kate) Johnson

Lavishly illustrated with both 18th century cuts and large, clear drawings, many gleaned from period paintings and drawings. Detailed close up drawings of many of the subjects covered; touches on clothing from early century to the Regency/Federal period.

softcover, 56 pages, 8 1/2" × 11"
$12.95

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Recreating the American Longhunter 1740-1790

By Joseph Ruckman

An exploration of the life, clothing, and gear of the longhunter of America's frontiers.

From the author's introduction: As the title implies, this book was written for those who are looking for some guidelines on what the 18th century longhunter looked like and the type of equipment he used with an eye toward reproducing it. But rather than limit the reader to appearances, I hope to encourage those who wish to do so to go beyond being 21st century men (and in some cases women) wearing funny clothes and shooting old-fashioned guns and move into the realm of creating their own 18th century character (sometimes called a persona) with a unique history and identity of their own.

softcover, 63 pages, 5 1/4" × 8 1/4"

$9.95

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Fitting & Proper

By Sharon Ann Burnston

Early American Clothing: Fitting and Proper provides a rare opportunity to examine the clothing of ordinary 18th century Americans. Over 40 original garments from the collection of the Chester County [Pennsylvania] Historical Society are described and featured in top-quality photographs. In addition, 38 of these garments are rendered as detailed, inch-by-inch graphed patterns by 18th century costume authority Sharon Ann Burnston.

softcover, 122 pages, 9" × 12"
$32.00

Hazel Dickfoss' comment: The clothing diagrams are taken from originals but I have used them to make clothes for myself adjusting to fit my 21st century body.

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Costume | Accessories | Zeitgeist | Re-enacting | Textiles | Techniques

 

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