Sunday, April 25, 2010

A brief comment on Isaac Singer and the Statue of Liberty...

The story of Isaac Merritt Singer is long and colorful! So, just a few surprising facts:

-Singer perfected the sewing machine that was produced by Orson C. Phelps of Boston (a familiar last name...I wonder!) in 11 days, and at a cost of forty dollars (1850).

-Singer had 22 children (oficially...but who knows if there were more...)

-He died in 1875 and left 14,000,000 pounds, a tremendous fortune in that, the family sued each other in order to get the money...nasty business...

-Singer's last wife Isabella Eugenie Boyer -a French model who married Singer when she was 22 and he was 52- apparently was the model for the Statue of Liberty made by the sculptor Bartholdi. By the way, she was the one who at the end, received all the money left by Singer!

-The name of the first lightweight domestic machine was "Grasshopper" (1858), the name of most advanced home sewing machine is "Quantum XL-5000" (2001).

Image credits:

The painting is of Isaac Singer by the painter Edward Harrison May.
The portrait photograph is of Singer's last wife Isabella, do you think she looks like the Statue of Liberty?
The photograph of a seamstress at her home sewing machine I found in:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And this is for the boys...

I always complain that men's clothing are in general...SO BORING...! But today I realized, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel:
Josephus Thimister is the name of the designer from Belgium that has changed my mind about creating interesting looks for men. Thimister who assisted Karl Lagerfeld and was the creative director at Balenciaga, is back with his own label. He presented a haute couture Spring/Summer 2010 collection entitle: "Bloodshed and Opulence" (military influence from the 1915 Bolshevik's movement), for men and women...
To pay homage to the guys, I am only posting photos of the men's my opinion: the best in this show.

Photos from:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The tale of the seam-ripper...a true horror story!

This story begins at midnight in a poor lighted room: while working on my second ensemble for my Fashion 130 project, and after three different solutions for the back closure of my dress (first attempt: snaps, second attempt: hook and eyes, third attempt: snap tape; non of these to my satisfaction), I decided to use a zipper.
Very diligently, I began to open the center back seam a bit more to accommodate the zipper, when suddenly I heard the noise...: riiiiiiiip... I was paralyzed and a chill came down my spine, could it be possible? Was this really happening? Maybe it was just my nerves acting out. I took a deep breath and checked the right panel of the back skirt; I did the unmentionable: I ripped the seam and part of the skirt panel, a huge slash about three inches long! When the cursing words came out of my mouth with severe intensity, my husband, daughter and cat flew out of the room to take refuge in the living room! It was impossible for me to get some sleep that night, so I waited for the morning to arrive.

A bit more calm, but still upset about the events of the previous night, I re-cut the back skirt section again, removed the damage part (this time with neurotic care and lots of light in the room!), sew the new piece; and finally, put on the invisible zipper (took me about 3 hours)...I was happy again, and my family could safely approach me.

What is the moral of this tale? Besides working with excellent light at all times, never get to close to a fashionista when upset: they have sharp tools in hand!

These photos show the end result of this tale of horror...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marcelo Senra, designer from Argentina...

The video from this link is very unusual, but the designs by Marcelo Senra are fantastic. I stumble upon this designer while checking the Ethical Fashion Show runway videos (held in Paris); this venue is for fashion designers who follow an ethical philosophy of production. Also, you might want to check Senra's web site:

Images from:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Prehistoric fashion...

I came across this interesting information: Researchers from Harvard University, Israel and Georgia have discovered the oldest fibers in a Georgian cave, about 34,000 years old (carbon dating). These prehistoric fibers were twisted as thread (perhaps some sewing was happening then!) and others were knotted; thus, archaeologists have concluded that these flax fibers were weaved into cloth (linen). Moreover, the fibers have been colored with black, gray, turquoise and pink: nice color scheme! it makes you wonder how old is the human desire for ornamentation!

The first photograph is one of the fibers they found, and the second photograph is the Dzudzuana cave in Georgia were the fibers were found. Photos courtesy of Science/AAAS (cave photo) and Eliso Kvavadze (fiber photo) from the site (very good source of information).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fire-proof dresses!!

On April 1st, I started my Fashion128g class: historical reproductions. The assignment is to recreate a Victorian bodice; thus, there is a lot of research to do. I decided to search for the fashion magazines of that era, and I found "Godey's Lady's Book" published by Louis A. Godey and his editor Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale (yes...a woman!). This magazine is full of great plates, information about trends of this era (colors used, textiles, hair styles, etc.), technological advances within the fashion industry and health industry; also, gives advice in social behavior and manners and provides an outlet for literature in the form of poems and stories.

One of the paragraphs that caught my eye is the one about the Fire-proof dresses; so, quoting this book:

"Fire-Proof Dresses.- Scarcely a week passes but we read sad accounts of young ladies being burnt to death, owing to their light muslin garments catching fire. It ought to be generally known that the light dresses may be made fire-proof at a mere nominal cost, by steeping them, or the linen or cotton used in making them, in a dilute solution of chloride of zinc."

Wow!, you think on the glorious Victorian gowns, but our modern minds forget the dangers of that time...

In 1859, it was proposed in England, that an Act of Parliament should be pass to regulate the sale of petticoats and they should be labeled "Dangerous". They even proposed to create a "Crinoline Insurance Company" to deal with the many accidents by fire. According to this article (Punch, January 8th, 1859), a proper lady should own her own fire-engine!! and they should fill in the tubing or hoops of the crinoline with water in order to extinguish any possible fire...

This Punch 1859 article and photo was found at; and, the information is from the book: "Mr. godey's Ladies, being a mosaic ;of fashion and fancies" edited by Robert Kunciow, The Pyne Press, Princeton, 1971. (Borrowed from Los Angeles City Library).