Classic and Modern Fabrics by Janet Wilson
Thames and Hudson, 2009
My fabric nerd bookshelf contains all sorts of textile dictionaries and textbooks, pattern sourcebooks, and sewing books that show-and-tell about a few different kinds of fabrics, but it’s never held anything as comprehensive as this new book, Classic and Modern Fabrics: The Complete Illustrated Sourcebook by London College of Fashion lecturer and textile designer Janet Wilson. It is the ultimate fabric encyclopedia, with over 600 fabrics listed alphabetically, each with an accompanying photograph that clearly shows the textile’s weave, texture, and any other defining characteristics. This is great whether you want to familiarize yourself with more familiar fabrics or learn about more obscure ones (Albatross! Cranky Check! Épingle! Poult! Winceyette!). The entries describe the fabrics thoroughly, list their end uses, and exhaustively cross-reference all the terminology. There are entries for obsolete fabric terms, which would be really useful for costumers and historians, and for the newest high-tech and trademarked fabric names.
While not exactly eye candy — this is not a book full of prints and carefully curated colors — it is definitely texture candy. You can practically feel all these fabrics thanks to the detailed photography. It is not only “the ultimate resource” for students, textile and fashion designers, collectors, and manufacturers, as the back cover suggests, but for anyone wanting to expand their fabric vocabulary.