Review: Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques

There is nothing so disappointing as ordering a book on ILL that you're really excited to read because of all the great reviews it received, waiting over a month for it to arrive, and then finding out it's actually pretty mediocre. *le sigh* I was so annoyed, I had to write a review to post on Amazon and Goodreads.

That book was Jill Salen's Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques She's apparently a theater costumer, so while the traced patterns are decent and an experienced designer can work with them, the scholarship backing up her assumptions on the history of the corsets is completely nonexistent. (Primary and secondary sources, what're those? *rolls eyes* You may know something from years of experience, but you have to back up your suppositions with actual, verifiable facts and sources for the information to be of any use at all, and Salen—unlike Norah Waugh—most definitely did not do any of that in this book.)

The photos are universally mediocre and not good enough to give you enough detail to be able to reproduce them on your own—most of the museums didn't seem have good pictures of the pieces and she wasn't allowed to photograph many specifically for the book.

The patterns Salen created are decent enough if you're an experienced designer. She's inconsistent about the information that's provided on them, however—there is no one pattern of crosshatching used throughout the book on the designs to indicate locations of boning, for instance. (Half the time you have to guess based on where flossing is located.)

Finally, I really, really wish people would stop repeating how to incorrectly lace corsets from the 1800s—you don't lace them like tennis shoes, for crying out loud!

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