Review // The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing

The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing: Easy Ways to Sew and Embellish Fabulous Garments from Around the World

By Mary S. Parker, published in 2002.

Folkwear has been making patterns for authentic historic and ethnic garments since the 1970’s.

In the overview, Parker identifies the nine most basic types of garments, and addresses the way in which the creation of textiles (size of loom) influences a culture’s development of garments.  She notes how similar types of garments are seen in geographically distant cultures, and provides a wealth of information on the cultural significance of a garment/details, construction techniques and precedents, and the role of the artists in the various cultures.

The amount of information conveyed in text is well balanced by all the richly detailed photographs of the garments referenced in the text, including period pictures of women and men working at various stages in creating textiles/garments.

In the next section Parker examines the various embellishments seen on ethnic clothing, and their cultural and spiritual significances.  She also gives specific instructions to readers on how to embellish pieces of their own construction to imitate those of authentic garments from a variety of cultures, including illustration of embroidery stitches, and patterns for surface decoration.

The last part of the book investigates details of the history and significance of particular garments in specific cultures, followed by instructions for readers on how to construct replicas of these pieces.  These include a Seminole Skirt, a Polish vest, the Moroccan burnoose, a Syrian dress, a Tibetan coat, and a Japanese kimono.

This text would be an excellent resource for research into any of the indigenous cultures mentioned, or for reproduction purposes.


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