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Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns and Techniques Paperback – August 1, 2011

30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jill Salen is a freelance costume maker, and is widely employed in the theatrical costume industry. She has made costumes for many clients, including The Globe theatre. She is a lecturer in costume on the BA (Hons) theatre design course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Jill is the author of Corsets, also published by Batsford. Jill lives in Cardiff.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: B.T. Batsford (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849940053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849940054
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,206,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Duneb on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this hoping to find some good patterns and directions to make vintage inspired lingerie like tap pants, garter belts, and chemises. While the photos are lovely, the patterns are not for the home sewer. The information about sizes is nearly nonexistent, and you will have to scale the patterns up as well as in all probability make at least 2 muslins (one to see how big the pattern is, and then the other to your measurements!) Personally, I consider this way too much work to obtain basic undergarments (and this is coming from someone who has scaled up period patterns before)! This would be best for people interested in textile history and theater, but I am thinking even for those people, it would not have quite enough historical information since the descriptions are pretty brief. The garments are also on the more unusual side- many are maternity, others are styles which were made on the cusp of fashion changes, and so on. I don't see many people wanting to make a maternity girdle!

I was also disappointed that the 'sewing techniques' were basic instructions that you would find in any good sewing book (and even the ones in this book are so brief they assume you know some construction already). The 3-4 "simple" projects in the back were a bit of a let down, with the exception of the 1906 petticoat which I think would actually make a lovely (non-lingerie) skirt made in garment fabric as well. (The others were a very basic bralette and something else I've forgotten already).

For the home sewer interested in reproducing vintage lingerie, I do NOT recommend this book for patterns and technique. The pictures may be interesting for home sewers and artists because some of the decorative detail is wonderful, but check it out of your library first to check before you buy. I've given it 3 stars because it's probably a good start on (but still of possibly limited usefullness) period lingerie resources for theater folks and historians.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Donna on January 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The history was very interesting and she chose some beautiful examples but if you are really expecting to use the patterns, forget it. They are very raw, hand drawn and very difficult to follow and I've been sewing for over 30 years.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By blubberella on June 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Vintage Lingerie" by Jill Salen is perhaps helpful as a costume reference for 20th century lingerie, but is sorely lacking in several areas:

1) Several of the garments are anomalies that do not serve much useful purpose except as curiosities (ie Khiva corset, Spirella fitting garment, Patent Brassiere 1920's).
2) The text that describes the garments attempts to have a slightly humorous tone, but often comes across as judgemental or snarky with descriptions like "trussed up" and " presumably the purchaser could have found a more comfortable way to achieve her desired shape than wires and lacing".
3) The quality of the patterns is poor. Are they supposed to be funky and handmade looking like the first Moosewood cookbook from the 1970's, or why are many of them drawn without the assistance of a ruler or curve ? There are too many balance marks on even short pattern pieces that ignore the most basic premises of marking.
4) The photography is well lit and show the garments clearly, with the exception of the Khiva corset, whose black on black details vanish. No photographer was credited - was it Jill Salen ? However, several of the garments were not properly pressed before they were photographed (see: Blue Silk Slip, 1930's). It appears that the same antique dress form was used to photograph many of the garments. However - this form looks to have been a late 1920's form with little bust definition and very slim hips(or may have even been a man's form !). This works well for the garments of the period - but does not show the later bras well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kai Moonbourn on June 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The majority of the patterns are for brassieres, though it also includes corsets, pantaloons, knickers, girdles, garter belts, and slips, ranging from the 1850′s to the 1970′s, the majority of which coming from the 1930′s-50′s. In the back there are instructions for sewing two of the patterns, as well as a number of handstitches.

The lingerie included is this book is beautiful and interesting, and some degree of familiarity with altering patterns and sewing without step-by-step instructions is required in order to reproduce the garments, so I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners (unless you’re really ambitious, then go right ahead). It makes a good reference book on how the styles of lingerie have changed through the years.

The author’s descriptions, on the other hand, are rather annoying at times — on several of the garments, she gives the history of the decade that it was produced in, but fails to describe the item itself with satisfactory detail. The author’s attitude towards the lingerie is also a bit off-putting for those who are vintage-enthusiasts, looking for styles to reproduce and include in their own wardrobes, since she dismisses a lot of the garments as being pretty but impractical. It almost seems like the author has a love-hate relationship with vintage lingerie, since she has a definite attraction to it, but at the same time can’t let go of the notion that modern society is more “advanced.”
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