Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure: The Zipper

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Thank you, theclosetseamstress, for uploading your centered zipper How To and supplying me with a wonderful blog idea: the zipper. The zipper had a similarly turbulent history as the sewing machine. In fact, remember Elias Howe, who patented the first sewing machine? He also patented the first zipper, which was then called (hold your breath) “an Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure”. That sounds more like a children’s poem than something practical and indeed, it wasn’t practical: it didn’t have the essential thing, the slider, but a number of clasps on both sides to be joined by a string that you had to pull to fasten two sides of your clothes (see the picture!).

The next better thing was the “C-curity Fastener” which was based on the hook and eye model. That wasn’t too useful either since it came apart easily when the clothes were loose. Finally in 1914, a Swedish born American immigrant Gideon Sundback came up with the idea to design a zipper with interlocking teeth, the same system that our zippers use today. “Hookless Nr 2” solved all the defects of earlier models: it held garments together without them needing to be stretched, it didn’t wear out, and was easy to zip and unzip.

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), Italian surrealist fashion designer, supposedly loved new inventions. She was one of the first couturiers to use colored plastic zippers in her designs thus really boosting their popularity in the 1930s. Supposedly she was paid by zip-manufacturers to use and promote them.

In contrast, the clergy (as so often) didn’t really appreciate the ease with which people could unzip their clothes, they thought it would facilitate illicit sexual activity. Of course the ones who have to bear the backlash were women for whom it was inappropriate to wear zipped clothes until the 1950s. I guess, the underlying assumptions are debatable and definitely diverge from reality, feel free to discuss!!

Photo ©MaryBellis

ANDREA ZITTEL's ‘Smockshop Berlin’

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Sprüth Magers Berlin is delighted to host Andrea Zittel’s artistic enterprise, ‘Smockshop’. This is the first time the Smockshop has set up its stall outside North America. Two artisans will work in the gallery for the first four days of the exhibition making the smocks that are available for purchase right after their production. The double wrap-around garments designed by Zittel collectively represent an aesthetically diverse yet functionally uniform body of work.

Each smock conforms to the same basic shape and form, but there is nonetheless an infinite array of colour, texture and pattern possibilities, as their method of manufacture derives from Zittel’s principle that ‘rules make us more creative’. Since it was founded in 2007, almost 300 smocks have been made by the collective. The process of making is collaborative, as each smocker is given license to interpret and rework Zittel’s designs according to their own interests and skills.

Featured Member: Smvphotography

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1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I was born and my whole family lives in Switzerland. When I was 17 I did an exchange year in Lincoln, Nebraska. Ever since I visited New York for the first time I knew I wanted to live there. I ended up going to college there thanks to my generous family. I actually went to FIT but majored in photography and never took a fashion design class there… My husband and I decided that after a wonderful few years in New York we had enough of the craziness of the City and we moved to the Catskills about 2 hours north. Now we have a wonderful little house that we share with our two black cats, Doggie and Mitzie.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

I think it was in third grade. We hand-sewed and embroidered a little bag. I still use it!

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I’m a photo researcher so I do a lot of research on the computer all day. Sewing is my opposite to that. I get to create instead of collecting things that are already there. It’s my hobby and who knows, if I’d ever be able to make a little money with it that would be amazing. I’m dreaming of maybe having my own store one day.

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

I love imagining and preparing my next project the most. And wearing it in the end! The worst is if there is something that just doesn’t look as great as I imagined it!

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

Well, I really like to make clothes for myself! And sadly I don’t really have enough time to make things for other people. I’d love to make something really special for my mom, she’s been such an inspiration and such a great help! Of course like a lot of people I’d love to make a super fancy red carpet dress that gets photographed a ton, but then again I really like to make clothes people can wear everyday because why spend so much time and love on it when it only gets worn once…

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

I always love looking at everybody’s creations and the BurdaStyle patterns have been such a wonderful inspirations and a great help and I’m sure will be in the future. One thing I would love would be some easy search for members in my area. I’m a jacket junkie and I’d love to see more jacket patterns!

7. What is your motto?

Just try it!

It is always such a joy to see a new creation, comment or post from Smvphotography. Her many wonderful creations run the gamut from accessories to menswear to dresses and coats. Check out her choices for top ten creations!

Handmade Help

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The wildfires that have spread throughout Australia has not only taken over 180 lives, but has also destroyed 2,000 homes. There are a large number of crafters from all over the world that have come together to help those effected by the devastation. Handmade Help was created to keep track of the donations, crafty auctions, money raised, and a call for needed items. If you’re interested in finding ways to help the cause be sure to read this Handmade Help entry or lean how you can donate items.

Fashion Week and the Independent Designer

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Fashion week in NYC has officially begun and the most exciting aspect for me was going to my best friend’s fashion presentation:

Safe by Rebecca Turbow A/W09-10 at the Moeller Snow Gallery. As I mentioned last week, many labels young & old have taken to galleries and more intimate spaces to showcase their collections. What was nice about the Moeller Snow Gallery were the multiple levels (one staircase leads to a balcony where the dj set up, another to an area for the models to change), and the long rectangular shape. Platforms were set up against 3 walls for the band of gray, black & silver clad models to ascend and pose for onlookers. The live show lasted about 2 hours, provided ample alcohol for the drunkenistas and was a success indeed. I was in awe of the accessories Rebecca’s intern created for the show (as pictured above) and the ensembles were the most romantic pieces I’ve seen come out of her monotone world, which has recently switched from exclusively turquoise & white (which I admit after the fact was quite martian-like) to everything silver, gray & white. Bravo!

Sewing and Stitchery Expo Here We Come!

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We are busy getting everything ready for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington. This annual conference has over 32,000 passionate sewers, over 100 seminars a day, hands on workshops, 200 plus exhibitors…it’s going to be awesome! Stop by our booth 232, right near the food court in the Showplex or hear Nora and Benedikta speak! February 26th – March 1st from 9am -6 pm at the Puyallup Fair & Events Center. See you there!

Sewing with Faux Fur

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I recently had my first experience sewing with long pile faux fur when I made my faux fur coat, and I learned a lot about sewing with faux fur in the process. Here’s some tips if you want to create a furry masterpiece yourself!

  • Only cut one layer of fabric at a time, with the wrong side facing up. Be sure to cut through the backing only and NOT the fur itself! A flat layout also means you need to duplicate any pattern pieces that would normally be placed along the fold, and other pieces must be cut out as mirror images (ie: one sleeve needs to be cut pattern face down and the other cut pattern face up so you end up with a left and right)
  • After cutting each piece, go outside and run your hands along every cut edge pulling away any excess fur. Then give the whole piece a vigorous shake before bringing it back inside.
  • Use a long stitch length (2.5-3mm)
  • Always sew with the nap of the fur
  • Pin perpendicular to your seam, and pin often!
  • After sewing each seam, from the right side, pull the hairs out of the stitching with a chopstick or blunt pencil to fluff it up and make the seam less noticeable.
  • Use a marker on the fabric backing to mark notches as it won’t be seen through thick fur, or if you need to mark on the right side, tiny pieces of masking tape work great as they’ll come off without removing fur and won’t leave any residue.
  • You should only need a universal needle and standard foot
  • If you’re using a pattern that’s not intended for fur, be sure to choose a simple design with limited seams and no excess pleats, gathers, or darts. Eliminate all buttonholes and or zippers and replace them with fur hooks

You could use these tips to go off an create a furry coat of your own, or perhaps start off by sewing a fur muff, or customizing your favorite coat by making removable fur cuffs and collars. To make these, just trace the existing collars and cuffs onto some newspaper for an impromptu pattern. Then cut out some faux fur for the outside layer and lining fabric for the inside (that will be against your coat and not seen). Sew these right sides together then flip, and sew some inconspicuous snaps onto the lining side of your new furry cuffs and collars, and also onto the existing collars and cuffs of your coat. Now you’ve got an added touch of glamor than can be removed for laundering or rainy days!

Under-where?

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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and I don’t know how many boys and girls around the world are worrying about their outfits to impress their “Valentines”. But as we all know, it is inner values that count – and Americans seem to think so too: around 16% of money for apparel is spend on lingerie.Oh la la! It’s not that many people see much of it; it’s not that you can really show it off when you walk down the streets. So underwear is really the most hedonistic piece of clothes; in fact, what piece of luxury could make you feel more special than that secret between you and you?

And there are no limits as to what or what not to wear underneath: browsing the web, my attention was caught by some pictures of the 2007 Beijing International Fashion Week that presented underwear inspired by the Chinese Tang Dynastywhich lasted for about 300 years in the 1st century and was renowned for its stability, progress and culture of leisure activities.

But stop – undergarments can have much more meaning and be worn for other purposes than self-satisfaction, seduction or keeping you warm. For members of the Sikh religion that originated in the Punjab region located at the border between India and Pakistan, the Kachera – specially designed cotton underwear – is one of their five articles of faith. It is a knee-long underwear, tightened with a string around the waste and reminds Sikhs that they should think of the opposite sex not as objects of desire but as part of their family. The string serves not just the purpose to hold the undergarment but to give you time to think about what you are doing when you untie it – probably, a little bit of more thought wouldn’t harm anyone of us.

Photo © China.org.cn

Featured Member: MissValentine0601

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1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I was born in Osaka, Japan but grew up in sunny Los Angeles, CA my entire life. Recently, I moved to Denver, CO with my boyfriend for a change of pace and scenery. My dream is to move Paris, France and live a bohemian life full of art and beauty.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

My first ever sewing class was at the back of a JoAnns near my house, and the first thing I ever made was a floor length green floral skirt with an elastic waist and a slit up the side. Hey, we all have to start somewhere! I started sewing because my mom used to sew outfits for us. She was pretty crafty too-always baking and making things. I’d always enjoyed making things and sewing was just a natural progression of that element of self-expression and creativity.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I’m the girl that would rather stay home on a weekend and work on a project than go clubbing, so sewing is huge to me. Not to mention I studied fashion in college so I practically lived in the school sewing room. To me, sewing is just part of the bigger picture of making things-I also love to draw, knit and illustrate. Sewing is vital for me though, because I love the human form and I love clothing. Everything goes hand and hand.

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

My least favorite thing about sewing is pattern drafting. It’s very very technical and I don’t really enjoy it. It’s a vital part of the sewing process though, so I acknowledge that it’s an important skill to have. Cut and drape is really everything in clothes.

On the other hand, my favorite thing about sewing is the moment I finish a garment and get to try it on. There really isn’t a more accomplished feeling.

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

I enjoy making hand -made gifts for friends and loved ones, and do it often. My baby sister got a new dress for Christmas for one. But right now, if I had the resources, I would make my boyfriend a beautifully tailored wool coat. I love hand-tailoring and wish I could learn more about it.

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

I am looking for like-minded creative individuals with interesting ideas to inspire and be inspired by. College was the last time I was surrounded by creative people and I really enjoyed being around the energy of different artists and their ideas. It’s a very productive and invigorating feeling.

7. What is your motto?

Life is Art. And conversely, “When there’s a will, there’s a way”- works for all sort of sewing problems, haha.

MissValentine0601 has made quite an impression on us through her incredible creations. Check out her ten favorite creations and keep tabs on her through her MySpace, Deviantart Gallery, blog and Etsy shop.

Rethinking Fashion Week

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It’s a whirlwind. A spectacle. When fashion week comes to town in New York city there’s nowhere to hide from all of the madness.

Or is there?

I’ve noticed recently that many fashion labels, small and large alike, are creating alternative methods for showcasing their collections. Gone are the days of Bryant Park’s transformation into a white fashion wonderland, and here, alive & kicking, are the days of more thoughtful, economical & downtown venues with designers hosting presentations. For what good can a 5 minute runway show do for young designers (besides set you back tens of thousands) when all of the big wigs are showing at the same time?

Last winter I hosted my own fashion show in an art gallery in SoHo. I was about to launch my first exclusive collection for Shopbop.com and I was looking for an outlet to showcase the pieces. I asked my friend, gallery owner Jonathan Shorr, if
we could transform his space into a live-model fashion presentation for an evening and he agreed (for free!). Against a backdrop of another artist’s paintings, I dressed my girls and filmed them getting ready and walking around the gallery before the opening. When the doors opened, we projected the video on a blank space of white wall for all to see close-ups of the clothing & jewelry. By the front entrance sits a bay window with a ledge where the models could pose for people outside to catch a glimpse. It lasted about 3 hours, a perfect amount of time for editors and buyers to be able to pop-in between shows, it was really very fun. Cost: $250.

Next week I will cover the fashion presentations of 2 good friends of mine who’ll be doing similar shows. My friends over at Hayden Harnett have rented a room at the Chelsea hotel. Their invitation? A little black leather wallet with a key to the suite!

Survey

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Hi everyone, just wanted to let you know about this opportunity, we are wondering if you would like to share your thoughts for a community research project and help us improve the site. Take this survey and enter to win a gift certificate from Amazon.com!

COAT CHECK

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We’ve noticed a reoccurring theme this season: Tailored jackets, Victorian twists, and men’s wear translated into a feminine silhouette; we’ve designed our monthly theme around these concepts.

We’ve dug through our archives and are excited to delve into coats that you have created and re-explore our double-breasted Talea jacket. There are so many great examples of how you transformed it into the perfect late winter coat. How about making it out of a bold print or bright red, to make the last weeks of winter fun and fresh? You could also crop the pattern for a shorter, mod look and wear it with a voluminous skirt. It is a classic style that will outlast seasonal trends while providing instant satisfaction!

Here are a couple of How Tos which will help you transform the Talea into your very own:

Talea- Variation 2- Double Breasted Pattern Alteration

Sew a zipper in the Talea coat

Lengthen a pattern

Bound Buttonholes

Gathered Sleeves on Ruched top

Sustainable Living Festival/Fashion Jam

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Next weekend i will be attending the Sustainable Living Festival here in Melbourne. On Friday the 20th you will find me in the Federation Square Atrium at the Design Market where i’ll be promoting Wardrobe Refashion and BurdaStyle and will be there from 10 until 6.

On Sunday the 22nd i’ll be at the Fashion Jam hosted by Craft Cartel which is being held in the Federation Square Play Dome from 1:30 until 4pm.
Come say Hi if you’re in the City.

Fashion Students Race Against the Clock

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The Kent State University fashion students worked feverishly through 20 long hours to create a garment to be judged in a fashion show. There were many great entries and prizes, one person even won a scholarship from Coats & Clark!

Theresa Rietschlin, the winner of our prize (pictured above) will help us create a new pattern for the site. Congratulations to all that entered, we are excited to see the pattern that comes from this.

Top Sewing Machines

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In the market for a new machine, but don’t know where to start? Consumer Reports’ March 2009 issue is out and inside is their top seven machines for the year. While you can’t view which ones made the list without looking at the magazine in person or subscribing online, you can read an article on choosing the right machine for your needs. Similar entries can be found on About.com’s Sewing blog as well Not Martha’s guest spot at shelterriffic.

While I realize that buying a sewing machine is kind of like buying a car – everyone has their preferences that are driven by your price range, I’d still love to hear what your favorite machine is!

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