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As creator of the Vintage-Inspired Modern Style Design Challenge, Amy Barickman shares the history and inspiration behind this exciting competition, happening right now on BurdaStyle!

“Good threads that are free of knots and imperfections as it is possible to have them are a sewing necessity. They speed work, avoid irritation, and prolong the life of garments. Do not use inferior threads – they are not deserving of your sewing time.”

These words emblazon a sewing kit from decades ago. Mary Brooks Picken, an American authority on sewing and fashion in the early 1900s, wrote them as an endorsement for J & P. Coats and Clark’s O.N.T. Today, we know it as Coats & Clark, a company still celebrated for its superior spools.

With a 200-year history, Coats & Clark is the common thread that has joined generations of women with a passion for sewing, from Mary’s students to the creative community of sewing enthusiasts today. In my previous posts, I shared stories of Mary’s profound influence on the sewing and fashion industries. Her stunning list of accomplishments includes authoring hundreds of books and thousands of articles, and founding the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences to encourage women to pursue entrepreneurship. As an advertising executive, Mary wrote books and developed products for Coats & Clark as part of many successful marketing campaigns—including a 16 booklet series on sewing, crocheting, knitting, bias trim, etc. for the Spool Cotton Company (which would later be Coats & Clark).

In one of her books for Coats & Clark, Sewing Secrets, Mary writes, “Women who sew well are the envy of their friends, who always feel that it is a marvelous gift to be able to take fabrics and with the aid of patterns, needles and threads, scissors and sewing machine, to convert these fabrics into beautiful garments.”

I’m honored to team up with Coats & Clark, along with Singer and my friends here at BurdaStyle, to present the Vintage-Inspired, Modern Style Challenge, an opportunity for you to use your sewing skills and creativity to design a wearable fashion project. We’ll award $3,000 in prizes, including SINGER sewing machines and Coats & Clark thread packs. Plus the winning design will be published internationally as a pattern through my company, Indygo Junction.

For more details on how to enter, click here. To see pattern options, go to my website


A vintage Coats & Clark sewing kit and Mary’s words on the inside of the sewing kit.

To learn more about Coats & Clark’s 200th anniversary celebration, check out my blog!

8 Comments

  • Missing

    Feb 27, 2012, 02.28 PMby jeznadel

    Wht not to do the cross stitch design whereby you can place your design either your face or any kind of image as you like. Cross stitch is elegant once you finish, but the only this is, not so fast to do it.

  • Edphoto1_large

    Feb 24, 2012, 12.49 PMby floreedith

    BURDASTYLE & MYNAMEISDAVID would you kindly try and find a way to clear spam from the site??? especially by the likes of this individual dfhfgjgfhkhj dfhfgjgfhkhj (online id) as their need to sell their nonsense is now resulting in senseless spamming and interfers with ones enjoyment of reading up on other members projects etc…..I thank you in advance.!!! :)

  • Edphoto1_large

    Feb 24, 2012, 12.33 PMby floreedith

    I know what you mean…..but look again though!…..:)

  • Mlonghs_large

    Feb 24, 2012, 02.12 AMby mlssfshn

    I just got , yesterday, Sewing Secrets, the book the quote is from. I’ve been inspired to learn more about MBP and have 14 more of her books on the way. She truly is the authority on quality construction and pattern making. Her work is the foundation of what has followed over the year.

    3 Replies
    • Edphoto1_large

      Feb 24, 2012, 12.40 PMby floreedith

      love your stuff….nice designs!

    • Burdapic_large

      Feb 24, 2012, 07.32 PMby amybarickman

      That’s awesome, mlssfshn! I hope you’re going to enter the Challenge!

    • 42c665e1a1d1c91fb60247e774c7acc126b635ee_large

      Feb 29, 2012, 02.53 AMby stephaniecake

      I’m fascinated by Mary Brooks Picken as well and love Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions book. Hope you’ll post more info on your trove of MBP books when you receive them!

      For anyone else interested in historical publications similar to Picken’s should check out the Hearth Home Economics archive at Cornell. http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/h/hearth/index.html

  • Adding_the_oxygen_1-2-2003_10-11-34_large

    Feb 24, 2012, 12.55 AMby wickedseamstresst

    I have only seen a handful of completed projects posted for this competition. However what I am seeing, these projects have not been altered all that much from originals

    • This is a question
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