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.

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