I probably reread at least one of Jane Austen’s novels a year, picking the title to suit my mood: Persuasion when I’m feeling pensive on a frosty fall morning, Pride and Prejudice when I need a bit of a pick-me-up, Emma when I have a jones for some juicy gossip. So I was delighted to hear about Jennifer Forest‘s Jane Austen’s Sewing Box, a book that manages to simultaneously be a craft history, literary analysis, and how-to.
It’s a seriously nerdy book, in the best possible way. Hefty, with beautiful reproductions of period paintings, furniture and housewares, it starts off grounding the reader in Jane Austen’s world, bringing a little background to her work. Forest explains the role of women’s “work” in the 19th century (by which was meant needlework, sewing, knitting, painting, etc.) and sprinkles quotes from Austen’s novels liberally throughout.
Then we get into the good stuff! There are 18 step-by-step projects for crafts mentioned in the novels. Some are perhaps a little too period (although it’s cool to know how to make a gorgeous silk bonnet, I am unlikely to wear it), but most would look as well in a crafty hipster’s apartment as in Fanny Price’s hands. The beautiful linen pillowcases would add class to any bed, and who doesn’t need an embroidered work bag or quilted huswife to hold projects in-progress? The netted purse is perfect for going out, and would look smashing with a faux-fur muff and tippet. And I think cravats should definitely make a comeback for women or men (there’s even a handy illustration showing how to tie the most popular Regency styles).
I loved thumbing through this gorgeous book, and if you have even the faintest yearning for bygone days, you probably will, too.
NOTE: I just heard from the author, who pointed me to Amazon in the UK, which has a much better price than the one in the US. Apparently shipping takes about a week. Enjoy!
SECOND UPDATE: Apparently the book is now available in North America through Indigo Books.
Book Giveaway Time!
We are giving away a copy of Jane Austen’s Sewing Box. Just leave a comment in this post and tell us why you want this book. Please make sure you include your email address in the comment form field (won’t be published). All comments will be closed by Noon PST on Wednesday, November 4th. The lucky winner will be announced on the site. Good luck!