Book Review: Jane Austen’s Sewing Box

Jane Austen's Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stories from Jane Austen's NovelsJane Austen’s Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stories from Jane Austen’s Novels by Jennifer Forest

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, before we start, full disclosure: My name is Caroline and I am an Austenaholic. I love all things Regency and especially all things Jane Austen. I can quote large chunks of Pride and Prejudice (the novel) and whole scenes of the BBC version from the 90s, as well as scenes and speeches from Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. So obsessed am I, I even managed to dedicate a whole chapter of my business-focussed Publishing Studies Masters dissertation to Jane Austen, drawing some tenuous links between her role in popularising the sensationalist novel, forerunner to today’s chick lit bestseller and the role of women as consumers…

So, if you’re looking for an unbiased review, I recommend you look elsewhere.

If, on the other hand, you share my taste for cute floral sprig prints, embroidery, tapestry, soft furnishings and even costume creation, read on!

This delightful book combines quotes from Austen’s novels with historical discussion of fabrics and processes, the industrialisation of fabric production and social history. Not only does it show you how to make, for example, a ladies workbag, but it explains the workbag’s meaning as a gift, its role in society, and what it would say about its carrier. It combines such practical projects with delicate embellishments, and amusements with necessities – including ladies’ bonnets, muffs and tippets and gentlemen’s cravats.

If you have an interest in sewing and fashion through time, a taste for social and economic history or simply a yearning to make something removed from the typical, I recommend this book. Beautifully finished and illustrated, it makes a great addition to the bookshelf too!


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