In Search of a Threads Back Cover
When I was on vacation in California, I decided to pay a visit to the Western Costume Company in Los Angeles to say hello. I was looking for vintage garments we could feature on the back cover. And, boy, did I find them! Western Costume Company has provided costumes for the stage and screen for almost a century. Below are a few photographs I took at that first meeting. As it turns out, they have thousands of vintage garments from all decades. (They also have garments from the future; I enjoyed seeing the wardrobe from the movie Waterworld–and many others.) There are actually miles of aisles of costumes from movies and stage. They also have a reference library and a store for theatrical supplies.
Later, I returned to photograph many of the wonderful garments you see on Threads‘ popular back covers. During that shooting I asked Susanna Sandke, the curator of the vintage collection, if she had a thinner dressform. She brought me Audrey Hepburn’s custom form. So everytime you see one of our back covers you’ll know it’s Ms Hepburn’s body underneath.
Beyond the glamour of the Hollywood set, though, is the inspiration from the incredible construction and embellishment techniques used in these yesteryear designs. I’d like to try making the undulating satin cord jacket. Which is your favorite?
They reach the clothes from rolling ladders. This is one partial row from hundreds. Western Costume has miles of aisles of original garments and custom made costumes.
Susanna Sandke, Western Costume’s “Collection” curator, inspects a beaded and embroidered silk velvet dress from the twenties.
The embroidered design on net reminds me of fire flies on a hot summer evening. I see a debutante standing by the gazebo.
This jacket is an engineering mystery. Made entirely from satin cords stitched together, it is amazing. Where does it begin and end?
What an excellent example of controlling the pattern of a floral fabric to accent the silhouette. The multi-colored fringe makes the dress seem to dance. The little lady in the background is my near 90 year old mother.
The gossamer fabric is so sheer it might disappear without the floral pattern. The inset lower third of the dress adds stunning flair.
Masterful tucks and pleats transform this silk charmeuse fabric into splendid architectural texture.
This three piece ensemble captures everything beautiful from the turn of the twentieth century. A feminine confection of pink, lace, velvet ribbon, and embroidered chiffon.
Western Costume in Northern Hollywood has been dressing actors for almost a hundred years.
Thank you so much for showing these pictures here. I'd sure love a closer look at the silver silk charmeuse dress. Thank you also for doing a great job as interim team editor. I so enjoyed your issues!
Also, thank you to everyone at Threads for reviving the back cover close-up picture tradition - it's such a pleasure to see these creations close up. They're so inspiring. Threads really "came back" when you restored this feature.
Im new to this site I just discovered it about 10mins ago. Im interested to check out everything else. Im in the beginner stage of learning how to design tee shirts, I want to learn how to sew t-shirts as well. I cant wait to meet people on this site.
I, too, look forward to the back-cover photos with the arrival of each of my Threads magazines. Thank you for the research. Those garments are treasures.
Ms. Neukam, I share the other's applause for your efforts to revive the tradition of the back cover.
I, too, work with vintage and antique clothing at the Whittier Museum. Our collection dates back to the 1800's to the present. Most of our clothes were custom made by either the owner or by dressmakers, although we do have some ready to wear designers, too. Judith, if you are ever in Southern California by all means give us a call we would love to show you our collection.
I think everyone loves the back covers. Do any of you watch Project Runway? I wonder if the last winner (I think her name is Lee Anne) wasn't inspired by our issue #132 back cover for her final collection. If you collect back issues, take a look at it. All of the "fins" in her collection certainly remind me of that jacket. Thank you all for your support and for reading Threads. You're the reason we're here.
The inspirational words you write about each piece featured on the back cover are wonderful. It is like giving each garment an identity and a personality. Keep up the good work.
I too love the back page and sad when it disappeared a few years back but so happy to see it's revival. I look so close sometimes at it that I could be inside the picture. The beautiful sewing and handwork are truly amazing. I love this magazine.
The back page is the first thing I look for when my magazine arrives. I wait for it with great anticipation. Figuring out how "they" did it is what really inspires me. I've been getting Threads in my mail box for more years than I can count on four hands. I love the articles that challenge me - I've been sewing for about 65 years and finally count myself as being more or less in the expert category. Even the articles for more beginning sewists often give me a new and more contemporary way to do things. Great magazine!
I saw a simple evening gown of cream-colored wool crepe (I think) which had a gorgeous silver/pewter/gold beaded bow flowing over one shoulder and down the side, and that immediately became my "someday" dream. Truly, is there some way of giving the readers a closer - and from more angles - look at these beauties?