Time is so accelerated today. Technology advances practically at the speed of light. Micro-chips double in capacity year over year. The camera on your phone is as good as if not better than the camera’s you buy as separate items. With the information of the world literally at your fingertips, it’s hard to put in perspective just how advanced silk weaving was for it’s day. Silk has been found in Henan province dating to 8500 years ago. And we know clothing for the elite in China has been made of silk for at least 5000 years.
Several weeks ago, I mentioned the impulse buy of 5000 Years of Chinese Costumes. Which book came in while I was at Hot Raqs. Then I had to prep to vend at Miss Fisher Con. So I didn’t really get to sit down and look at until last night. Now, I am a fairly quick reader, but I have not yet had a chance to actually read the book. However, I quick glance through shows a wealth of pictures. Photographs of extant garments. Line drawings of what garments are believed to look like, based on bronze statues found in tombs or left as relics or family artifacts.
And it is fascinating! The line drawings almost always have a picture of the statue it was based off of. And from that one can see the Chinese were exceptionally skilled weavers. We may have been introduced to Damask by way of Syria, but there is little doubt the Chinese did it first. They were brocading silks, as early as the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-618 CE). Satin is known as such because this weaving technique originated in Quanzhou, and was introduced to the West by way of the Silk Road, and Arab traders who called Quanzhou by the Arabic word, Zayton.
But the most exciting picture I found was on page 120, where there was a photograph of an extant garment. Labeled as being from Huang Shen’s tomb of Southern Song in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, the garment is an Over-dress made from crepe fabric. Now, in my post on Crepe de Chine, I had said the earliest reference I was able to find to Crepe de Chine was from the 19th century in France.
I should have waited to write the Crepe de Chine post. The Song Dynasty was from 960 to 1279 CE. So my guess was off by an alarming 600 years. Which is good news for anyone who likes Song Dynasty costuming. Not so good news for the egg on my face…
I have not yet had time to fully read this book, at this point I am giving it enthusiastic endorsement. 5000 Years of Chinese Costume is an excellent reference and I am excited to see what else I can learn from this beautiful book.
So….very….close! One post a day from March 16 to April 21. It is April 19. Three more posts. It has been a LONG five weeks. So, what have I learned. I learned that inspiration can come from unexpected places <ahem, Facebook>. I learned that my best time to write is between 7:30pm and 9pm. I learned that somedays, you just have to plug along <almost every weave post I did. I get that it’s highly relevant to my blog, but man I hate writing them.>
I learned that when I really decide to do something <write a blog post a day> then I am damn well capable of pulling it off. This bodes well for my pattern making and digitizing desires. I also learned that I work best when I focus on one project at a time. So I can blog….or I can pattern….or I can digitize. But trying to do all three at the same time is crazy making.
I learned, in my small chunks of downtime, that I sort of enjoy Anime. And exercise. That last one shocked the hell out of me, but I kind of like weight lifting. It feels like I’ve accomplished something when I actually complete a trip to the gym, a little promise to myself kept. And I’ve learned. I may not have enjoyed writing every single post, but I learned something from each one written. Whether it was my new speculations on Cartridge Pleating, or what exactly made Organza different from Chiffon.
And while I may not enjoy writing (I hate writing…I’m pretty damn good at it, but I hate it), I do love learning. And I learned that I have mad respect for people who make their living writing. How the hell is anyone able to write, day after day after day, and keep the energy and quality high? And as a life long bibliophile, I am eternally grateful to those who do make their living from the written word. Not sure I’m ready to be one of them, but maybe someday. In the mean time, I am going to ponder my last two posts of this sojourn, and a new writing schedule. While I don’t intend to write every day, I do want a regular posting schedule. After all, I’m not done learning yet!
So this is a brief review of Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele P. Margolis. I honestly don’t even remember how this book came on to my radar to begin with. It’s not new. It was published with copyrights in 1985. Even so it is solidly written. It covers basic geometric shapes, darting, shaping, slopers, and style techniques.
And one might look at this book and assume it is dated, but the pattern blocks are solid and the instructions are clearly written and detailed. And the designs don’t LOOK dated. They look timeless and elegant, with design details that have periodically cycled through stylish and in to classic, and back in to haute couture.
The book flows logically from one concept to the next, covering how to add or remove fullness, and how to design necklines. Button placement, collars and closures, cowling and yokes. Margolis even covers how to make uneven opening, plackets, and tabs. Everything is truly covered in an easy to read and digest format.
I’m sort of loving this book and can see why, even with a copyright of 1985, this book is still being printed and sold for the home sewer. This is a strongly recommend, even if you don’t intend to make your own pattern line for sale. If you only need a book to help with minor adjustments, even just drafting a different collar for a commercial pattern–I would recommend this book for your collection.