Stitch in time: How fashion evolves


There are only three factors of life that are important – shelter, food (water included) and warmth (clothes). Any other consideration is vanity and/or luxury.

Truthfully, the more civilized a people and nation became, the more pronounced the attention is bestowed upon fashions, fancy or otherwise.

In some countries, vast importance was, and still is, given to external display, like robes and other outer garments.

Beyond warmth. Quite certainly in cultivated nations, dress is quite often more than mere body cover, and has a significance beyond warmth. It has been quoted, and is quite true, that some people may be clothed, but that they are often not dressed. This implies that dress is frequently an expression of character, advertising to observers the disposition of the wearer.

A fashion change is often an indication of an alteration in the manners and way of living in part or in the entire nation.

It is the concern of the tailor not only to make garments, but to study the present fashion, and to advise what alterations or slight differences in the cut and color of clothes that will be best suited to different tastes of people.

Stitch in time. Since early clothes were made, there have been several types of stitches, such as the “basting stitch,” the “back and fore stitch,” the “back stitch,” the “side stitch,” the “back pricking stitch,” the “fore pricking stitch,” the “serging stitch,” the “cross stitch,” and the “button hole stitch.”

There was a distinct kind of stitch for hemming, filling, fine drawing, prick drawing, over casting, plus another for what is called covered buttons.

Getting started. All the tools required by the apprentice or journeyman tailor were not large or expensive. A yard of linen for a lap cloth; two pairs of scissors; one pair moderate in size for common use and a small pair for button holes; a thimble; a small piece of bees wax; a few dollars worth of various size needles.

A master tailor may require more than an apprentice: a sleeve board; a trusty iron.

The sleeve board may not be known to many today. It is used to place the sleeve while seams are pressed with the iron or as older tailors called “goose.”

Coming to America. During the late 1800s, tailor-made clothing came onto the American scene.

Redfern and Company of London had a branch adjoining Delmonico’s and well-dressed ladies hurried there for the new streamlined look.


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