AB: Burnston – Fitting and Proper

(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)

Burnston, Sharon Ann. Fitting & Proper: 18th Century Clothing from the Collection of the Chester County Historical Society. Texarcana, Texas: Scurlock Publishing Co., Inc., 1998.

This book offers a collection of over 40 extant 18th century garments from the collection of the Chester County Historical Society in Pennsylvania, with black and white photographs, precise gridded diagrams, and detailed construction information. The collection is largely Quaker in nature, and therefore the clothing is generally fairly plain. It includes more “ordinary,” as opposed to high fashion,  clothing than such collections often do, including, for example, two shortgowns. The inclusion of slow-changing garments such as the shift and pocket also make this book useful for some early 19th century projects. The 18th century is not a period I specialize in, but I know this book to be generally well-regarded, and as far as I can tell, the research seems sound. For the reproduction of 18th century clothing, and even some early 19th century clothing, I think that this book would be very useful. The book is instructional. The images are monochrome. It contains references and a bibliography.

Note: I am using this book as a reference for my 1830s rectangle-cut shift (#15. Woman’s Shift, c. 1790-1810, p. 44-46) and the 1780s man’s caped topcoat (see #21. Man’s Greatcoat, c. 1780-1800, p. 63-68). I am also very interested in making up a pair of simple, fine white cotton mitts like those in the book (#32. Pair of Woman’s Mitts, c. 1750-1800, p. 95-96).


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