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Paper Pattern

Without a pattern, creating a garment can be a difficult and time-consuming process. It is possible to create a pattern by deconstructing a similar garment piece by piece to gauge shape, size and fit: but thankfully, since the mid 19th century dressmakers haven’t had to.

An early helping hand came from Samuel Beeton, husband of the famous Mrs Beeton, who launched The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine in 1852. It included Mrs Beeton’s Practical Dress Instructor, the forerunner of the paper pattern. From him the baton passed to Ellen Curtis Demorest, milliner, dressmaker and one of the first female entrepreneurs in the United States. Apparently, one day Ellen saw her maid cutting out a dress from some wrapping paper and was struck with the idea that she could copy fashionable garments on to paper. Aided by her sister and husband, she devised a mathematical system for sized patterns and used her husband’s magazine, Madame Demorest’s Quarterly Mirror Of Fashions, to distribute tissue paper patterns as free gifts from 1860.

Surprisingly, the Demorests lacked the foresight to patent their paper patterns and it was left to another inventor, Ebenezer Butterick. A passing comment from his wife as she made a dress for her baby son prompted Ebenezer Butterick to develop patterns that were size graded. Experimenting with stiff card templates he set the sizes; but only the substitution of tissue paper made the patterns suitable for mail order. At first they offered a range of men’s and boys’ styles cut and folded by members of the Butterick family at home: but within a year they had expanded into the house next door and taken premises in New York. In 1866 they introduced their women’s patterns, dresses and jackets and the following year they introduced the first Butterick magazine, the Ladies Quarterly of Broadway Fashions, to showcase patterns and offer the latest fashion news. In 1873, Butterick created a new publication, The Delineator, which by the turn of the century was considered to be the finest women's service and fashion magazine.

The effects of Butterick patterns were far-reaching. Before the introduction of graded patterns, fashion was a phenomenon exclusive to ladies of high standing. Who else could afford to pay for the latest styles from Paris or New York? These patterns kept women in step with the latest fashions at low cost. Fashion responded with gowns that were too copious or complex for the amateur seamstress, dyed with expensive anodyne dyes: but the revolutionary idea of fashion for everyone was unstoppable. Women were no longer limited by their abilities, only the availability of patterns.

Butterick weathered the Great Depression and two World Wars, continuing to sell patterns to an ever more economical population. During World War II Butterick's President Leonard Tingle negotiated with the government to keep clothing restrictions to a workable limit. The growing shortage of ready-towear caused an increase in the demand for patterns. Butterick responded with a new, slim silhouette and shorter lengths were adopted for jackets and skirts.

Evidence of post-war optimism came with Butterick’s purchase of new printing equipment. The 'printed paper pattern' was the most significant development in home sewing patterns since its invention. Bold dots, notches and lines replaced the holes that previously marked darts, matching points and fold lines, and made following a pattern easier. So easy, in fact, it sparked the 1950s phenomenon that was “pattern 6015”. Dubbed the 'walk-away' dress, because you could "start it after breakfast... walk-away in it for luncheon!", its simple wrap design and easy construction meant demand soared. Sales of the pattern were so great that at one point manufacturing of all other patterns ceased, and only the 'walkaway' dress was produced until all back orders were filled.

Paper patterns may not have caused a sensation of this magnitude in recent decades but demand from those clever enough to cut and construct their own clothes has never faltered. Sarah jane Downing


To follow the history of the sewing machine is to unravel a sensational story: a tabloid editor’s dream, encompassing violence, vendettas, sexual impropriety, scandal and reversals of fortune of almost comic proportions.

Until 1851 every seam and buttonhole was painstakingly stitched by hand. Battling against the dying light in the days before electricity it was common for seamstresses, tailors and embroiderers to go blind. Thomas Hood's ballad The Song of the Shirt, 1843, depicts the hardships of the seamstress… “with fingers weary and worn, with eyelids heavy and red, a woman sat in unwomanly rags, plying her needle and thread.” A machine that could take the strain would prove to be an invaluable invention but its evolution was a stop-start affair and the actual prototypes were equally unreliable.

The time line began in 1755 and over the next 60-70 years at least six inventors attempted to produce a working sewing machine. Misfortune seemed to beset those who tried, a case in point being Barthelemy Thimonnier who patented a wooden sewing machine in 1830. Commissioned to sew uniforms for the French army, Thimonnier attracted a dangerous enemy in the Parisian Tailors’ Guild. Fearing unemployment, a group of 200 panic-stricken tailors stormed his factory destroying every machine and burning down the building. A frightened Thimonnier fled for his life with a single surviving machine and died bankrupt in England years later. If it wasn’t mob attacks it was administrative errors. One of the cruellest twists of fate befell John Fisher, who in 1844 received a patent for a machine that produced lace. Fisher's design incorporated all the functions of a successful sewing machine and should have made him a fortune but his patent was ‘misfiled’ leaving Elias Howe to step in and secure his place in history.

Masachusetts farmer Elias Howe was a slightly Dickensian figure who suffered from hereditary lameness, poor health and chronic bad luck. He patented his prototype in 1845 and tried to sell it to the tailoring trade. Despite numerous demonstrations of its ability to sew 250 stitches per minute, the machine had no takers. Eventually Howe went to England in the hope of conquering the European market but while in London fell prey to unscrupulous businessmen. News of his sick wife forced him to scrape together funds for a steerage berth on a boat back to the States. Shortly after his return, she died of consumption having lived most of her life in poverty. Faithful to the maxim that things are darkest before dawn it was at this

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Bamboo has a new presence in the American art world: no longer viewed only as an exotic horticultural specimen or a design motif on linens and tableware, bamboo is now a recognized artistic medium. The venerable properties of bamboo have been upheld in Japan and China for centuries and its symbolism is underpinned by its practical virtues: bamboo can house, clothe, feed and support; it is used for houses, fences, bridges, furniture, toys, construction scaffolding, hats and musical instruments. It can also delight asethically, and is a sexy material for sculpture. Strong and flexible, its long fibers allow it to be readily cut into manageable widths for ultimate manipulation, while its satiny, curved surface adds texture and sheen.


The historical, cultural and spiritual contributions which bamboo has made to Japanese culture are extensive, impressive and well documented. However, with the exception of those bamboo artists who were recognized as Living National Treasures from 1967 onwards, bamboo craftspeople were never revered and their work never considered to be a highly sophisticated craft. There is however a basic respect for materials that permeates the Japanese sensibility. It is fundamental to the perception of the world around them and may be linked to the Japanese language. Studies have demonstrated intriguing differences between English children, who are likely to recognise and group simple objects by shape, and Japanese children who are more likely focus on the material first. This careful attention to basic materials extends to objects designed for everyday use and prevented the development of a rigid distinction between art and craft. Most bamboo ware was created for home, garden or field, tea ceremony or ikebana; but the rise of bamboo as a sculptural material represents an evolution of ideas rather than a dramatic break with the past.

Japonisme is a term used to describe Japan’s influence in the late 1800s on European and American taste. As Japanese prints, kimonos, fans, furniture and artifacts appeared in European and American expositions, Western audiences became enamoured with the exoticism of the East. Artists were quick to respond. Some simply incorporated Japanese elements into their own work: consider Claude Monet’s “Madame Monet in a Kimono”. Monet lived with an extensive collection of Japanese prints and the Japanese, in turn, collected his work. Others, like James Abbott McNeill Whistler, developed new ways of seeing and interpreting that vision on canvas. “Caprice in Purple and Gold, No. 2: The Golden Screen”, contains Japanese decorative items and the intense colours of lush fabrics. Still others travelled to or lived in Japan for some length of time and immersed themselves in Japanese life and culture.

As the West looked East in amazement, Japan had for centuries gazed longingly towards China. Early Japanese artists and craftspeoples had studied and produced work in a spirit of deference to the ancient Chinese culture. It was exceptional figures such as revered tea master, Sen no Rikyu, 1521-1591, that influenced and altered bamboo basket making. Rikyu preferred unpretentious everyday objects, and the use of bamboo in its natural, rustic state. Moving away from the symmetrical, formal styles of Chinese basketry, and following the leadership of Rikyu, flowers for tea (chabana) were arranged as they would appear in nature and the baskets were developed in a new Japanese style referred to as wagumi that were asymmetrical and woven in wider, rough cut bamboo strips.

After the Meiji Restoration, Japan opened its ports, and the Japanese were exposed to the Western world. Within the artistic community, the friendship and artistic exchange among practitioners of different disciplines flourished. The collaboration between ceramic artists Shoji



attire selv edge .org collection for Ljungbergs. She has named it Kimono, in homage to the beautiful kimonos she admired during her stay in Japan. “The basic colour of this collection is indigo, a colour I rarely use. It is not common in Sweden, especially not for public spaces.” The new collection holds eight different patterns; five inspired by Japan but a further three were inspired by India where Anna journeyed after Japan.

Being born in Skåne, the southernmost part of Sweden, Anna was brought up surrounded by earth colours, corn fields and a soft landscape: the south of Sweden provides no hard contrasts or bright colours. Anna tells of being a small girl on a traditional country farm where everything remained the same for generations, every object or piece of furniture had its given place, and there it remained. It was a safe world of

Anna was brought up surrounded by earth colours,

landscape: the south of Sweden provides no hard

The desert landscape of Rajasthan made a deep impact on her. “My colours! Everywhere I could see my own palette coming alive. It was strange and wonderful. Everywhere I looked, there was the earth-coloured landscape with its ochre sand and in the distance women strolling in their beautiful cerise, orange and green saris, vivid dots of colour. It was amazing to be surrounded by all these colours. Of course I had seen India in pictures, but to actually be there and get first-hand experience was very special to me.”

continuity that, of course, Anna revolted against, plunging straight into a world of art and design. “I think I found the almost neon-bright colour schemes are a necessary way to deal with my childhood.”

Today continuity and change are important factors in the ongoing process of her work. Her vibrant studio differs entirely from her home, where white is the dominating colour. Anna and her family live in an old villa, built in 1920, on the outskirts of Stockholm. She uses white as a base “for its calmness and openness” and adds colour with cushions or wall hangings: “my ever changing home gallery.”

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For Ikea Anna is collaborating with Maria Åström, another well-known Swedish designer. Their collection entitled Stockholm will be released 1st of April in Sweden, France and Germany – but the rest of Europe including the UK and the USA will have to wait until autumn 2006 or spring 2007. The collection of cloth, carpets, curtains and throws is in a surprisingly restrained palette of corn fields and a soft contrasts or bright colours.

black, white, grey and beige with just one strong colour combination. The designs – squares and stripes from Anna and a pattern of a walnut tree leaf from Maria – are more predictable.

It has been a year of contemplation and hard work. Anna has taken up traditional shibori and is striving to master the skill. She has also started to work with new combinations of colours. “If Japan has been most influential regarding the construction and drawing of patterns, then my colours definitely can be traced to India… and Skåne!” Cia Wedin


Daniela Gregis makes beautiful clothes, evocative of the heat and dust of Italian summers grape-soaked, richly harvested, impassioned in the making, and engrained with the history of family, of collective labour, of good work done, and relaxation over olives, bread, wine… Her latest collection is ageless and timeless, and promises unbleached linens and cottons, frayed and patched as though revamped from the closets of wise maiden aunts in dusty sundrenched villas in the lushest countryside of Italy. These clothes are tender, they comfort a range of body shapes, and make easy country sirens of us all – and they do what the best of fashion does by allowing a space, a gap for our own narrative. An allowance to be peaceful, comfortable and sexy in our own skin, as all the best seductresses are…

These are frocks and smocks, vests and bibs that speak of rural innocence, but ride up over sun-blushed knee. Previous years have seen works in red – with chalky white, glowing orange, blue-black violet – accent colours of virginity and the papal eye – but essentially colours of passion. They are cut and framed in flattering geometric or gathered shapes, faultlessly constructed in body-honouring forms.

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INDULGE textiles to buy, collect or simply admire. 26 Pin money World events and the evolution of graphic design all on a packet of needles... 15 The final straw Look for refined, sculptural shapes this spring.

INDUSTRY from craft to commerce. 16 The sewing machine wars A surprising tale of scandal, sexual impropriety and Mr Singer. 24 Cut out and keep The invention of paper patterns brought fashion to the masses. 48 The woven art of Artextil A tangible sense of pride has been passed from father to son.

ANECDOTE textiles that touch our lives. 32 Missing pieces Jen Jones won’t take the neglect of flannel quilts lying down. 39 Carry on How the handbag became indispensible. 96 Cat’s cradle How long is a piece of string?

CONCEPT textiles in fine art. 62 A rock and a slow pace Sue Lawty produces quietly monumental work in fibre and stone. 58 Full bodied Italian Spend a month or two in the countryside with Daniella Gregis. 66 Mutual admiration society How a traditional Japanese material has inspired artists from East to West.

ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends. 50 Countryside alliance Avant garde fashion in a rural retreat. 78 Book extract Print in fashion: Design, development and technique in fashion textiles. 81 On the prowl Jean Charles de Castelbajac: a French fashion revolutionary. 44 Bag lady Kate Constable was captivated by the discreet charm of the Waldy bag.

COHABIT stunning interiors beautifully photographed. 76 Flaxen beauty Old wood burns brightest, old linen washes whitest... 72 Squaring the circle Anna Sorensson’s bright designs.

GLOBAL travel destinations and ethnographic textiles. 54 Richly furnished The Milanese have no time for inner beauty; in this city style is substance. 37 Our man in Panama Take your hat off to one of the finer things in life. 34 A step in the right direction Suzhou Cobbler aims to revive Shanghai’s reputation for style.

INFORM the latest news, reviews and exhibition listings.

04 bias / contributors 07 news Trends and essential ideas 13 miscellany In your Easter bonnet 82 read Textile Treasures Dressed to Rule Fashioning Kimono

Reading List 84 international listings 88 view A Terrible Beauty Anna Piaggi Digital Perception Egyptian Landscape Off the Wall Fashion in Colors

95 coming next The Colour issue: Spring brings all things bright and beautiful. 93 stockists 80 subscription offers A Tait + Style felt pincushion for every new subscriber plus Vaxbo linen, Panama Hats and tickets to the Country Living Spring Fair.


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