Cut My Cote
Dorothy K. Burnham
Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum
The title of this monograph references the English proverb, “I shall cut my cote after my cloth,” an admonition to live within one’s means. Dorothy Burnham uses it as her jumping off point into wider meaning in this important cross-cultural study of the shapes of traditional garments. In succinct commentaries that accompany photos of pieces in the ROM collection and diagrams of pattern layouts, Burnham considers: clothing with minimal sewing (or none); the development of the shirt; the influence of skin garments, and methods of shaping. Her observations about fabric widths and their relationship to loom development and garment structure are thought provoking to anyone who works with cloth – or indeed any material.
I came across this little book when I was a beginning weaver and it opened my eyes forever to the powerful connections among material, technology, economy, and cultural expression. Cut My Cote is a small but mighty example of Dorothy Burnham’s tremendous contribution to the understanding of textiles.
Susan Warner Keene
Handmade Paper Artist
If I had to recommend a print magazine or journal that satisfies my textile curiosity it would have to be “Textile History” from Pasold Publications. It is a peer-reviewed journal that was started in 1968 and publishes an amazing range of articles. I find it informative and it takes you in directions you might not normally go and expands your horizons almost by osmosis. It is history and deals in factual information rather then theoretical interpretations though it is as seen through contemporary eyes. This publication is an investment in time and money conveniently the Textile Museum of Canada subscribes to it and I can dip into it there.