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Inspiration Bound

When you’re a sewer, you look at everything in a new light; inspiration can come from literally anywhere. Living in New York City, I often see fashions and art that inspire me, but I also have a few standbys at home for when my creation well is running a little dry.

I absolutely adore fashion history exhibits and books, and here are just a few of my all-time favorite inspirations in print form:

Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century by the Kyoto Costume Institute: This is my favorite fashion history book by far. It has more than 700 pages of full-color photographs of garments ranging from the 1700s to modern times. Almost every page is a photograph and I find something brand-new every time I open it. This is the version I have, but it looks as though there is an updated version as well.

Fashion by Cathy Newman, a National Geographic publication: I cannot get over the beauty of this book every time I rediscover it on my bookshelf. It highlights photos of fashions from around the globe with stunning photography and discussions from designers. It covers historical and modern fashion with an explorer’s approach to the presentation. I cannot recommend checking this out enough.

In Fashion magazine
: After every season, In Fashion creates a collection of magazines presenting almost every collection from around the globe. I usually pick mine up at a local newsstand, but they are also available for order online. The text is in Japanese and English, and the translation leaves a little to be desired, however they are a wonderful resource. They make trends like colors and silhouettes easy to identify by having all the collections at your fingertips and spark new ideas with every page.

What other inspirational publications do you have on your bookshelf? Do you look at them often?


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  1. Ceeayche | | #1

    The Mode in Costume, by R. Turner Wilcox (1958). It was a textbook for my mother's class many years ago. It's all line drawings, but I find it is great for ferreting out forgotten details and proportions.

    The September and October issues of the fashion magazines (Vogue, InStyle, Harper's Bazaar, and Town and Country). Excellent resources for learning the little details that update the basics to this season's whims. And the Oscar, AMA, and Emmy versions of InStyle for party clothes.

    Fashion Runway on Wealth TV.

  2. Tatsy | | #2

    One of my favorites is Secrets of the Couturiers by Frances Kennett from Exeter Books, 1984. I had never heard of Charles Frederick Worth or Paul Poiret and had barely heard of Claire McCardle, but she explained why these individuals were pivotal in the development of modern fashion. In addition to describing what set each couturier apart, Kennett chose one particular technique that the designer used often or to good effect and explained how to incorporate these techniques into one's own sewing. She also gave examples of ways some of the classic lines could be updated.

    I've owned the book since it was new and still pull it out when I'm looking for ideas. It's amazing that some of these designs are more than a century old and still look timely.

  3. ohiostar | | #3

    I wish I could say I have ONE book that inspires me, but it really depends on what mood I am in when I am looking for inspiration. I have back issues of magazines when I need a quick inspiration pick me up. But my favorite books include Colette Wolf's Manipulating Fabric or any one of Claire Schaeffer's books that require lingering over with coffee or chocolate AND pastry.

  4. Rabia | | #4

    I just finished reading 'Yves St. Laurent; Images of Design". Now THAT was inspiration! I also read the book from the Metropolitan Museum, from which Threads took a lot of its back covers. GORGEOUS. I also like to look at my Erte books for ideas!
    I am definitely going to look up "Secrets of the Couturiers"

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