Welcome everyone to the brand new Pincushion Book Club!
I realized after awhile that one of my favorite parts of our sewing classes is the various discussions we get into about the history of clothing, the impact of the fast fashion industry, and the lost art of sewing. Well, I decided to turn that favorite part into something even better, a monthly book club!
I've put together a year of books to read and discussions to have, all of them centered around the history of sewing and fabric, the politics of fashion, the future of the fashion industry, and the history of dress. Some of these titles were recommended to me and some were just found after doing some internet digging.
Each month we will read a different book and then have a virtual discussion on the last Tuesday of every month. You can sign up for the monthly discussion here. You can also skip to a specific month by clicking below:
Below you will find the various titles listed by month; you can join us for one or all of them! I've also added our Amazon Associates link to order your copy of the book. Other Las Vegas bookstores such as The Writer's Block or Barnes & Noble also carry a few of these titles.
I look forward to a year of reading and discussions with you all!
by Tanisha C. Ford
From the civil rights and Black Power era of the 1960s through antiapartheid activism in the 1980s and beyond, black women have used their clothing, hair, and style not simply as a fashion statement but as a powerful tool of resistance. Whether using stiletto heels as weapons to protect against police attacks or incorporating African-themed designs into everyday wear, these fashion-forward women celebrated their identities and pushed for equality.
In this thought-provoking book, Tanisha C. Ford explores how and why black women in places as far-flung as New York City, Atlanta, London, and Johannesburg incorporated style and beauty culture into their activism. Focusing on the emergence of the "soul style" movement—represented in clothing, jewelry, hairstyles, and more—Liberated Threads shows that black women's fashion choices became galvanizing symbols of gender and political liberation. Drawing from an eclectic archive, Ford offers a new way of studying how black style and Soul Power moved beyond national boundaries, sparking a global fashion phenomenon. Following celebrities, models, college students, and everyday women as they moved through fashion boutiques, beauty salons, and record stores, Ford narrates the fascinating intertwining histories of Black Freedom and fashion.
Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years
Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times
by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
New discoveries about the textile arts reveal women's unexpectedly influential role in ancient societies.
Twenty thousand years ago, women were making and wearing the first clothing created from spun fibers. In fact, right up to the Industrial Revolution the fiber arts were an enormous economic force, belonging primarily to women.
Despite the great toil required in making cloth and clothing, most books on ancient history and economics have no information on them. Much of this gap results from the extreme perishability of what women produced, but it seems clear that until now descriptions of prehistoric and early historic cultures have omitted virtually half the picture.
Elizabeth Wayland Barber has drawn from data gathered by the most sophisticated new archaeological methods―methods she herself helped to fashion. In a "brilliantly original book" (Katha Pollitt, Washington Post Book World), she argues that women were a powerful economic force in the ancient world, with their own industry: fabric.
Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and
Makers for a New Textile Economy
by Rebeca Burgess
There is a major disconnect between what we wear and our knowledge of its impact on land, air, water, labor, and human health. Even those who value access to safe, local, nutritious food have largely overlooked the production of fiber, dyes, and the chemistry that forms the backbone of modern textile production. While humans are 100 percent reliant on their second skin, it’s common to think little about the biological and human cultural context from which our clothing derives.
Almost a decade ago, weaver and natural dyer Rebecca Burgess developed a project focused on wearing clothing made from fiber grown, woven, and sewn within her bioregion of North Central California. As she began to network with ranchers, farmers, and artisans, she discovered that even in her home community there was ample raw material being grown to support a new regional textile economy with deep roots in climate change prevention and soil restoration. A vision for the future came into focus, combining right livelihoods and a textile system based on economic justice and soil carbon enhancing practices. Burgess saw that we could create viable supply chains of clothing that could become the new standard in a world looking to solve the climate crisis.
In Fibershed readers will learn how natural plant dyes and fibers such as wool, cotton, hemp, and flax can be grown and processed as part of a scalable, restorative agricultural system. They will also learn about milling and other technical systems needed to make regional textile production possible. Fibershed is a resource for fiber farmers, ranchers, contract grazers, weavers, knitters, slow-fashion entrepreneurs, soil activists, and conscious consumers who want to join or create their own fibershed and topple outdated and toxic systems of exploitation..
History of the Sewing Machine
by James Parton
Excerpt from History of the Sewing Machine
To be a poor stranger, with a sick wife and three children in America, 13 to be in a purgatory that is provided with a practicable door into paradise; to be such a person in London is to be in a hell without visible outlet.
About the Publisher
Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com
This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity
by Monica L. Miller
Slaves to Fashion is a pioneering cultural history of the black dandy, from his emergence in Enlightenment England to his contemporary incarnations in the cosmopolitan art worlds of London and New York. It is populated by sartorial impresarios such as Julius Soubise, a freed slave who sometimes wore diamond-buckled, red-heeled shoes as he circulated through the social scene of eighteenth-century London, and Yinka Shonibare, a prominent Afro-British artist who not only styles himself as a fop but also creates ironic commentaries on black dandyism in his work. Interpreting performances and representations of black dandyism in particular cultural settings and literary and visual texts, Monica L. Miller emphasizes the importance of sartorial style to black identity formation in the Atlantic diaspora.
Dandyism was initially imposed on black men in eighteenth-century England, as the Atlantic slave trade and an emerging culture of conspicuous consumption generated a vogue in dandified black servants. “Luxury slaves” tweaked and reworked their uniforms, and were soon known for their sartorial novelty and sometimes flamboyant personalities. Tracing the history of the black dandy forward to contemporary celebrity incarnations such as Andre 3000 and Sean Combs, Miller explains how black people became arbiters of style and how they have historically used the dandy’s signature tools—clothing, gesture, and wit—to break down limiting identity markers and propose new ways of fashioning political and social possibility in the black Atlantic world. With an aplomb worthy of her iconographic subject, she considers the black dandy in relation to nineteenth-century American literature and drama, W. E. B. Du Bois’s reflections on black masculinity and cultural nationalism, the modernist aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance, and representations of black cosmopolitanism in contemporary visual art.
The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish
by Linda Przybyszewski
As a glance down any street in America quickly reveals, American women have forgotten how to dress. We lack the fashion know-how we need to dress professionally and beautifully. In The Lost Art of Dress, historian and dressmaker Linda Przybyszewski reveals that this wasn't always true.
In the first half of the twentieth century, a remarkable group of women -- the so-called Dress Doctors -- taught American women that knowledge, not money, was key to a beautiful wardrobe. They empowered women to design, make, and choose clothing for both the workplace and the home. Armed with the Dress Doctors' simple design principles -- harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis -- modern American women from all classes learned to dress for all occasions in ways that made them confident, engaged members of society.
A captivating and beautifully illustrated look at the world of the Dress Doctors, The Lost Art of Dress introduces a new audience to their timeless rules of fashion and beauty -- rules which, with a little help, we can certainly learn again.
Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes
by Dana Thomas
'A gripping blockbuster ... Thomas researches meticulously and writes with simmering even-handed anger' TELEGRAPH. Fashionopolis is the definitive book on the cost of fast fashion, and a blueprint for how we get to a more sustainable future. Fashion has blighted our planet. Today, one out of six people on earth work in fashion, churning out 100 billion garments a year. Yet 98 percent of them do not earn a living wage, and 2.1 billion tonnes of clothing is thrown away annually. The clothing industry's exploitation of fellow humans and the environment has reached epic levels. What should we doBestselling author and veteran journalist Dana Thomas has travelled the globe to find the answers. In Fashionopolis, she details the damage wrought by fashion's behemoths, and celebrates the visionaries - including activists, artisans, designers, and tech entrepreneurs - fighting for change.We all have been casual about our clothes. It's time to get dressed with intention. Fashionopolis is the first comprehensive look at how to start.Reviews: 'Fascinating ... Powerful ... Thomas has succeeded in calling attention to the major problems of the fashion industry' New York Times'Thomas takes a story most of us think we know, but tells it better and in compelling, readable detail' The Times'Engaging and thorough ... Fashionopolis has implications beyond cloth and thread' Financial Times'Thomas is a conscientious reporter - as evidenced in her research, which is studded with statistics' Times Literary Supplement.
Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle
by Clare Hunter
From the political propaganda of the Bayeux Tapestry, World War I soldiers coping with PTSD, and the maps sewn by schoolgirls in the New World, to the AIDS quilt, Hmong story clothes, and pink pussyhats, women and men have used the language of sewing to make their voices heard, even in the most desperate of circumstances.
Threads of Life is a chronicle of identity, protest, memory, power, and politics told through the stories of needlework. Clare Hunter, master of the craft, threads her own narrative as she takes us over centuries and across continents—from medieval France to contemporary Mexico and the United States, and from a POW camp in Singapore to a family attic in Scotland—to celebrate the age-old, universal, and underexplored beauty and power of sewing. Threads of Life is an evocative and moving book about the need we have to tell our story.
Cotton: The Fabric that Made the Modern World
by Giorgio Riello
Today's world textile and garment trade is valued at a staggering $425 billion. We are told that under the pressure of increasing globalisation, it is India and China that are the new world manufacturing powerhouses. However, this is not a new phenomenon: until the industrial revolution, Asia manufactured great quantities of colourful printed cottons that were sold to places as far afield as Japan, West Africa and Europe. Cotton explores this earlier globalised economy and its transformation after 1750 as cotton led the way in the industrialisation of Europe. By the early nineteenth century, India, China and the Ottoman Empire switched from world producers to buyers of European cotton textiles, a position that they retained for over two hundred years. This is a fascinating and insightful story which ranges from Asian and European technologies and African slavery to cotton plantations in the Americas and consumer desires across the globe.
How to Read a Suit: A Guide to Changing Men's Fashion
from the 17th to the 20th Century
by Lydia Edwards
Fashion is ever-changing, and while some styles mark a dramatic departure from the past, many exhibit subtle differences from year to year that are not always easily identifiable. With overviews of each key period and detailed illustrations for each new style, How to Read a Suit is an authoritative visual guide to the under-explored area of men's fashion across four centuries.
Each entry includes annotated color images of historical garments, outlining important features and highlighting how styles have developed over time, whether in shape, fabric choice, trimming, or undergarments. Readers will learn how garments were constructed and where their inspiration stemmed from at key points in history – as well as how menswear has varied in type, cut, detailing and popularity according to the occasion and the class, age and social status of the wearer.
This lavishly illustrated book is the ideal tool for anyone who has ever wanted to know their Chesterfield from their Ulster coat. Equipping the reader with all the information they need to 'read' menswear, this is the ultimate guide for students, researchers, and anyone interested in historical fashion.
Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History
by Richard Thompson Ford
Dress codes are as old as clothing itself. For centuries, clothing has been a wearable status symbol; fashion, a weapon in struggles for social change; and dress codes, a way to maintain political control. Merchants who dressed like princes and butchers’ wives wearing gem-encrusted crowns were public enemies in medieval societies structured by social hierarchy and defined by spectacle. In Tudor England, silk, velvet, and fur were reserved for the nobility and ballooning pants called “trunk hose” could be considered a menace to good order. The Renaissance era Florentine patriarch Cosimo de Medici captured the power of fashion and dress codes when he remarked, “One can make a gentleman from two yards of red cloth.” Dress codes evolved along with the social and political ideals of the day, but they always reflected struggles for power and status. In the 1700s, South Carolina’s “Negro Act” made it illegal for Black people to dress “above their condition.” In the 1920s, the bobbed hair and form-fitting dresses worn by free-spirited flappers were banned in workplaces throughout the United States and in the 1940s the baggy zoot suits favored by Black and Latino men caused riots in cities from coast to coast.
Even in today’s more informal world, dress codes still determine what we wear, when we wear it—and what our clothing means. People lose their jobs for wearing braided hair, long fingernails, large earrings, beards, and tattoos or refusing to wear a suit and tie or make-up and high heels. In some cities, wearing sagging pants is a crime. And even when there are no written rules, implicit dress codes still influence opportunities and social mobility. Silicon Valley CEOs wear t-shirts and flip flops, setting the tone for an entire industry: women wearing fashionable dresses or high heels face ridicule in the tech world and some venture capitalists refuse to invest in any company run by someone wearing a suit.
In Dress Codes, law professor and cultural critic Richard Thompson Ford presents an insightful and entertaining history of the laws of fashion from the middle ages to the present day, a walk down history’s red carpet to uncover and examine the canons, mores, and customs of clothing—rules that we often take for granted. After reading Dress Codes, you’ll never think of fashion as superficial again—and getting dressed will never be the same.