Janet Arnold’s Incredible Pattern Books

Janet Arnold’s publications are some of the most popular guides in the costume world. Her drawings are taken from original garments in collections throughout Britain and are supplemented with details of their construction and laid out on grid paper with construction comments and fabric details. From wrapping gowns, riding habits, pelisses, and chemises to sack dresses, morning dresses, and wedding dresses Janet Arnold lays out incredible patterns for creating accurate costumes.

Sadly Arnold died of lymphoma at her home in London on 2 November 1998. She had been working on costumes for Theatre Royal, Bristol and Mermaid Theatre just two days earlier but she received many accolades during her lifetime for her groundbreaking work. She was nominated first as honorary research associate and then honorary research fellow at Royal Holloway College and in 1981 she became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

She was presented the inaugural Sam Wanamaker Award in July 1998 with Mark Rylance. The Society of Antiquaries of London set up a research grant in her honour, which gives out between £350 and £5,000 annually to further the study of Western dress, and The Costume Society, which Arnold helped to found, gives out an annual award of £500 in her memory to a student who has produced a reconstructed garment from one of her books.

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