Gentle readers, Collette from the Serendipity franchise has graciously allowed me to reprint her review of Jane Austen’s Sewing box. I wrote “franchise” because her online presence includes: Serendipity Vintage, Serendipity Handmade, Vintage Life Network, Serendipity Vintage Facebook, and SerendipityVintage on Twitter.
I also now have a copy of the lovely Jane Austen’s Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stories from Jane Austen’s Novels. You may have seen a review or two on other craft blogs. As I am a Austen aficionado I could not pass it up:
It is a beautiful book, filled with gorgeous color fashion plates of the time that are worth a look. I read it cover-to-cover and enjoyed every moment. However, I would recommend purchasing it only if you enjoy historical Regency costume and /or are a die-hard Regency or Jane Austen fan.
As for the crafts themselves, some are probably of more interest to the costume enthusiast (like the cravat, the bonnet, or the tippet). There is only one photo of each project and even one more photograph of each project would have enhanced this book. Yet one whole page might be devoted to one short quote from one of Austen’s novels, or to a lovely painting from the time period:
The actual instructions for each project were also quite succinct and limited to only one page. If you’ve ever read any of the antique craft books from the early-to-mid 19th century you know that project instructions were usually all text and that diagrams were sparse. The actual descriptions of the the projects were very reminiscent of the actual books of the time. Still, I would like to make this case for embroidery thread:
Austen mentioned each craft project in one of her novels, and it is fascinating to read the excerpts from the novels and then read Forest’s commentary about the craft as it was practiced at the time. If you are interested in historical craft and want to know more about the role of crafts in the lives of Regency women you will love the historical detail in this book. It’s definitely an informative and charming read!
Photographs from Jane Austen’s Sewing Box, Murdoch Books, or in the public domain. Review reprinted with permission.