book layout struggles

I’m struggling between modern expectations and what I know of cutting books throughout history. The whole point is to have a book that looks like it dropped in from a quite specific point in the past- not just for fun but because it helps with removing all the modern aesthetics that wind up influencing the use of the patterns.

I pretty much went straight from sewing a simple carry bag in form 2 (age 12) to using Patterns of Fashion for my dolls (which were from my childhood, I still have them but they desperately need to be restored and dressed well.)

It was pretty much because the patterns were so strange to me that I wanted to understand them and why they were so different. How could it be that when bodies are as varied as they are that modern patterns were so limited? The patterns of extant garments really do look so much like the cutting books of their time that it’s really easy to see where alterations are made to fit the wearer so closely.

So I want my book to be able to be read stripped of modern expectations. The simplest explanation of why is that modern patterns have a straight CF line. This shifts the customisation to the sides which then is not supportive. Most patterns prior to the 20thC have a curved CF line. This effectively pulls the fabric to the body creating support.

Modern patterns are designed to sit on the body, historically they are designed to support the body. There are obviously exceptions to this, but it is so absolutely the opposite of the fundamentals of modern dressmaking that it is often hard to retain so any reminder is of help.

.I have shared most of the cutting systems I find helpful here (I just added blog categories to my menu bar, so exciting- should be all under “cutting a fashionable fit” and tag “historic guides” ‘ll try and get categories sorted this week as the tag is a better filter atm.)

Anyway. So I can usually figure out the date of a publication by the layout. Until the 19thC I can sometimes pick country. 

But the 19thC is so fun if somewhat the opposite of everything we are taught.

An advert using a font per line of text from a dressmaking guide.

I mean that is so fun and feels like a spoof, but it’s real.

In order to keep my tags and categories tidy I’ll put up the book separately.

I may just do what I was originally intending, except without all the handwriting-I can still draw by writing is a big big big resource user now.

So I’ll save the kanzlie style font for my personal copy (which will be a beautiful book on beautiful paper, bound authentically and hand painted.

It’s still a struggle to find a font that meets the following criteria:

  • Feels authentic- many fonts just look too modern either with a retro or vintage feel not of the era. There is a whole language to how to read a font that I don’t have- it’s like music, but my eye is pretty darn good at spotting copies vs original.
  • Doesn’t feel too early- rounder fonts reads as mediaeval not reformation era. I need enough roundness to read as a lot of fonts with max readibility cross platfrom are rounded. But not too round. Somewhere between TNR and Raleway (which it the main font on my site currently, and TNR I think is what the WP editor shows)
  • Scales well
  • is free or minimal cost so that I can change the entire thing if something more appropriate crops up.
  • is easily imported into a website- googlefonts is surprising limited on the historic font range (but there is a bit of code that will work across many font. Preferably not as a dl from my site but from a secure and trusted source.
  • has a clean edge- these mimic variances but they do so in an artificial manner and can make readiblity difficult.