View Full Version : Does anyone own these books?

04-05-2011, 04:20 PM
Hello all! So happy to return to this forum, it seems to be budding very well!

So, I was wondering if anyone owned any of the historical costuming books by Jean Hunnisett, and/or Janet Arnold? They come very highly rated on Amazon, and I really would like to get more into period costuming, but these books range from moderate to college expensive. Does anyone recommend them?

By Jean Hunnisett


By Janet Arnold


Sorry I don't know how to make the links look pretty. :(

04-05-2011, 07:18 PM
I own both of them and I HIGHLY recommend them~!

04-05-2011, 09:57 PM
My friend has the first one and she loves it.

04-05-2011, 10:53 PM
Why not rent them from the library first ?

If you have a state college near you - or go to one - you can often get a card free. The local school here, MSU has many historical costuming books - and by other local library has a great one I've put off buying because it goes for $60 out of print.

04-07-2011, 06:45 AM
I don't have the Hunnisette but I have the first three Arnolds - I'm at work otherwise I'd go through and double check, but basically part I is primarily the 18th and early 19th centuries up to 1860 (There's one earlier piece, but that's all), part II is 1860 to 1940, and part III is the 17th century. There's also a part IV which is accessories, I think?

The good thing is that they're all patterns based on actual surviving historical garments. The bad thing is that they're all patterns based on actual surviving historical garments. They are often awkward sizes and sometimes she notes (But just notes!) that the dress maker has actually made a mistake at this part or that part. The patterns do need to be scaled up (Which isn't hard, although reading her notes on the pattern sometimes are) but have no instructions. They're VERY good patterns, but if you're not confident scaling and re-sizing a pattern and then making it up with no instructions then you might want to work your way up to them. This is less of a problem for the first and third (Straight lines and gathers or pleats), more of a problem in the later half of the second one where you're getting into complicated 20's and 30's cutting ("Where does this triangle go? No, not that triangle, the OTHER triangle."). There's also a section at the beginning and end of each one with references and resources - for the first one it's a bit infuriating because some of them are in French and untranslated, or in Middle English and untranslated, for the second one it's a goldmine if you've ever used real Victorian patterns because HERE ARE THIRTY EXTRA BODICES that just need to be blown up and re-sized, and for the third one it's fascinating but quite useless as it's mostly about the excavation and restoration of the pieces she was working from.

They're a slightly odd selection of pieces (WHYYYY DO YOU LIKE THE ROMANTIC PERIOD SO MUCH?) and only the third one has any men's clothing, which makes me sigh a little, but overall I find them very, very useful and enjoyable books to have around too.

04-09-2011, 04:55 PM
I've currently got part I of the Arnold books checked out from the library. I haven't used it yet, but I'd still recommend it. Scaling up patterns can be challenging, but since she drew them on a grid, it seems reasonably user friendly. At least compared to some other pattern books I've seen (I'm looking at you Edwardian Modiste!). Of course, getting them just full scale to full scale and you sized is a whole other challenge. I also reccommend seeing if you can get them at a library.

Also, I just feel like saying that I'm personally glad that she had a good selection of Romantic pieces. They're over looked so often! Sorry, Brsis :P

04-09-2011, 09:07 PM
Wow. I knew these were hardcore, but I know I'll meet with these challenges eventually, so why not?

I never thought about my library. My school has an 11 FLOOR library, I need to check it out!

04-10-2011, 01:28 AM
I would recommend The Costume Technician's Handbook if you're looking into drafting your own patterns.

Honestly, once you can draft a basic body block easily, it's all smooth sailing from there. Experience is important, but once you know how the 2D fabric pieces interact with the 3D body, it's not hard to take the shapes drawn and adapt them to your body.

I don't usually bother scaling up grid-space for grid-space unless I was the exact same size, anyway (I only would if making a replica that no one was actually going to wear). I just re-draw the pattern shapes to my size.

04-10-2011, 02:24 PM
Also, I just feel like saying that I'm personally glad that she had a good selection of Romantic pieces. They're over looked so often! Sorry, Brsis :P

Although the whole first third of the 19th Century and I have agreed to see other people, we still talk sometimes XD I think Arnold must also LOVE the Romantic period, and I really appreciate that she has a whole variety of 18th Century pieces (Instead of expecting you to make do with one a la francais pattern) as well a really good selection of crinolines, but sadly she also seems to hate the cage bustle and completely skips some of the transitional styles :(

I forgive her, because the forty years of the 20th Century she covers in the second one are DIVINE, but I am just never going to use that many Gigot sleeve patterns :rofl:

One thing I forgot to mention - DON'T FORGET that they're old books and she's an old lady, so the grids are in inches, not centimetres. I drove myself round the bend the first time I blew up one of her patterns because I'd gone into base ten on principle.

04-10-2011, 03:10 PM
I've seen that book around, but never really thought much of it, but sounds good. Do you own it yourself?

04-15-2011, 04:58 AM
I own two Arnold books and have borrowed both Hunnisett books as well.

Whatyou are after is what you should go for :) Hunnisett is theatrical meaning the patterns are built on fairly modern pattern blocks which is *not* going to give you the most perfectly accurate patterns. it will though give you a really really really good solid pattern that works and is far more intuitive than historical patterning if you are already used to modern patterns.
From memory there are scaled patterns as well as some drafting techiques mentioned.

Highly recommended for everyone including historical nuts ;)

Arnold is amazing as all the pattern diagrams are from existing garments and laid out in a way you can pretty easily work out the original cutting layout (which is more important for historical patterns than modern- it was all about using the fabric rather than a pattern until very recently in history) and be sure that what you are doing is guaranteed o be "right" even if it is "right" for a very specific time and place.
Highly recommended for people who are good with drafting and draping or very good at puzzles :) Also as they were garments for individuals you do need to be able to look at the pieces and know where to adjust to fit yourself/a model.
I do though recommend looking at period cutting books (large portions are included in the front sections which are a great bonus) which gives you a better idea of why the shapes are what they are.
Best thing to get going with this book is to make 1:1 scaled mock ups to get familiar with the pieces before using them as a guide for full scale.

Get them out of the library first! And also if you are really going to get into historical patterning get Corsets and Crinolines as it has patterns from original garments too as per the title.

I don't use my books much any more because I have absorbed the info and use it regularly anyway so they were well worth the price for me.