books that keep on giving

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Summer heat is here ~ time for gentle thinking and reading rather than activity. And so this book has come out of hibernation.

Clambering languidly up on my soap box, herewith a favourite para for your consideration, or not, as you choose. . . ๐Ÿ˜‰

โ€œLike home economics, dressmaking is traditionally a womanly endeavor that can explode gender stereotypes. Scientists say that the average man has a better capacity to imagine a three-dimensional object than the average woman, but how can this be true of the dressmaker starting from scratch? She not only imagines the dress, she also makes a blueprint of the pieces to achieve the shape she wants and figures out the steps to put the whole thing together. Dressmaking is a form of engineering. And in order to make the final product look good from the outside, a dress is put together inside out. Show me a bridge builder whoโ€™s been asked to do that.โ€ The Lost Art of Dress:The Women Who Once Made America Stylish, by Linda Przybyszewski, p. 282


โ€œ…the American Association of University Women issued a report in 2010 about how to get more women to succeed in fields of study that were traditionally dominated by men: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics–the STEM subjects. One of their recommendations was to teach girls to work with their hands in grade school and junior high. They suggested encouraging them to draw and play with construction toys.โ€ Ibid., pp. 282-3

Then she goes on to write about Mary Brooks Picken, who was weaving and sewing at five, founded a national mail order dressmaking school, authored decades of sewing books, and was the first woman trustee of Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

I decided to check out details and found the report mentioned by Ms. Przybyszewski here.

The sections I felt specifically applicable to the quoted passages are cut & pasted below.

Typical summer heat and humidity, reminiscent of walking through warm treacle, has slowed me down enough to troll through happy memories of my own mechanical tendencies.

And to interesting blog posts written by many of you, Lovely Readers, who hack up patterns or design your own, clean and repair your own old and new machines, and share your experiences on-line with words and pictures.

Examples include Mel of The Curious Kiwi and Linda of Nice dress! Thanks I Made It!!.

At $100 or more per service, I sure clean and oil my machines regularly, and have been known to take out screws and clean a few gears.

What about you?

Ever thought about yourself as an engineer? Know anyone you’d consider an engineer!


11 thoughts on “books that keep on giving

  1. Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

    Thanks for the mention! Not to say I am an engineer. My son is. You should hear how he sticks his nose in and starts describing and offering his educated advice on what I do with my fabric and machines. I figure … do a lot of reading and listening (there’s lots of help out there!), give it a shot, practice and be patient, and the possibilities for learning are endless! I love it all!

  2. witness2fashion

    A very clever theatrical designer I know operated a costume construction studio for many years. When working with clients on costumes for industrial events (and once, on costumes for “animatronic” mummies) she realized that the couturier’s expression “making a muslin” was meaningless to her clients. When she switched to saying she was “making a prototype,” the engineers immediately understood why custom-made costumes are expensive: Developing a prototype always costs more than the final product of mass manufacture. Incidentally, theatrical costumes are always “built” rather than “made.” They have to survive much more wear (eight shows per week, month after month) than ordinary clothes.

    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      LOVE your explanations! Yes, have worn operatic costume that had to be built for multiple sizes and worn for decades whilst a production was rented by companies around the world. Everything prototyped, down to the shoes & socks we peasant extras wore. Will remember this when dealing with engineers who don’t understand why “building” the look of a document or web site takes so long!

  3. craftycreeky

    Interesting thoughts, I suppose it is like engineering with fabric, my dad was an engineer and my mum did dressmaking, so I’ve always been happy to try and make things whether from fabric or from wood for garden objects.


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