Are you reading FI? You should be reading FI.

by Erin on February 16, 2007


welt pocket

La Bella Donna recently pointed out to me that I haven't linked to Fashion Incubator, which astonished me, but I checked, and she was right, I haven't! But I'm doing it with a vengeance now, because I read that site all the time, and I think everyone else should, too …. well, anyone who's interested in clothing production, because FI (run by the incredibly knowledgeable Kathleen) talks about how commercial, retail clothes really get made.

There's this huge gap in the fashion press that FI fills in. Usually you hear about the Designer-with-a-capital-D, who dreams up the clothes, and maybe there's an arty, floaty sketch or two … and then there's a picture of the actual item (on a clothes-hanger model, of course). Sometimes, MAYBE, there will be a mention of some handwork being done; embroidery, or pleating, or whatnot, but otherwise, there's just a big void: nothing about the patternmaking, the construction sewing, the fabric sourcing … you could just as easily assume the Brownies showed up overnight and sewed everything up for a bowl of milk. And that's the amount of attention paid to high-end stuff; lower-end stuff's production gets NO attention, unless someone finds out it's done in a sweatshop somewhere overseas.

But if you read Fashion Incubator, you learn all the gritty details. What makes a good commercial pattern? How do you source fabric? How do you find the people you need to work with, and how do you judge their work? How do you get your clothes into stores, and when? Fashion is, after all, a business, and FI is the trade blog of the production side of that business.

Personally, I *love* trade magazines, and I always have. When I had a not-so-great job working in a dry cleaners in high school, the best part was reading American Drycleaner magazine. (The next best part was folding starched men's dress shirts … you see, there was this special machine … but I digress.) It was like Christmas when our mail carrier misdelivered a copy of a welding journal to our old apartment. Heck, I used to read Folio, which is the trade magazine of magazine publishing, just for the oh-so-meta frisson of it! So as soon as my next Google Adsense check comes in (thanks for clicking on those ads, by the way!) I'm buying Kathleen's book (I'm going to buy it from the link on FI, but I'm linking here to Amazon so you can read the great reviews it got). I'm never going to be a fashion designer — I'm not suited for it — so reading her book will just be pure geeky pleasure.

Oh, and the picture above? It's from a series where she shows how welt pockets are done in industrial sewing and gives instruction on how you can make a jig to do something similar (if not exactly the same) yourself. Awesome.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

bani February 16, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Wow, I can see I’m going to become addicted to FI too. And I’m so glad to hear that you too have had a crap job in a dry-cleaners. I currently (I don’t even have the high school excuse) have to work in one, and while it’s always interesting to learn stuff, it’s worn real thin now (no pun intended). But the trade magazines bloody ROCK. And the special machine too…. :P Although I still hate folding shirts with a passion. I prefer actually pressing them, in the special machine that inflates them and blow-dries them pressed!

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Anonymous February 16, 2007 at 1:34 pm

I found Fashion Incubator a couple of years ago & have been hooked ever since. I don’t have Kathleen’s book though. Something I found very interesting on her site was her explanation of the shape of a sleeve cap. On the patterns we currently purchase the front and back sleeve are the same shape, (curvy) I can remember when I first started sewing about 35yrs ago they weren’t, the back was not as curved as the front. Funny thing was I had forgotten about that shape until I found her site, I wondered why I had trouble fitting the back of a sleeve – I thought it was me and my body changing shape over the years or whatever. I recently changed the shape of a sleeve to match her drawings on a knit fabric and it worked perfectly. Just another example of “they don’t make em like they used to”.

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twollin February 16, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Ah – Erin, you will LOVE that book. It’s like catnip, girl..catnip!! I too read the site. Kathleen is just amazing and the amount of information available on that site is mind-boggling.

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Nadine February 16, 2007 at 7:26 pm

Yay FI! I read it every day and I do have the book (although it’s currently on loan to a fashion design student).

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Lia February 16, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Erin, you truly are a heaven-sent! Thank you for sharing us Fashion Incubator, for showing us that a book such as Kathleen’s exists in the market! This information couldn’t have come at a better time!Thank you so much!

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Floridaprincess February 18, 2007 at 4:02 am

I luv Fashion Incubator, I have been over there for a year now. Kathleen is so knowledgeable. I have read her book and there is so much great information on her site. The people that post there are great.

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Kathleen Fasanella February 19, 2007 at 12:36 pm

gee thanks Erin! I didn’t know you visited my site so I’m flattered that you find it worth your time. This week’s postings are guaranteed grade A boring since it’ll be all trip report stuff from MAGIC. snore snore snore. I think that a lot of what I write is boring. I wish I’d come up with the dress stories thing and had been doing that instead :).Thanks for the press! I’ve been linking to you for awhile now.bestKathleen

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Anonymous February 20, 2007 at 10:50 am

I’m currently working on the welt pocket tutorial on FI. I have high hopes for this one. None of the others have worked very well. They all come out looking wonky and home made. mastdenman

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