Monday, November 1, 2010

Sewing Thread - Stitching It All Together

Thread is a tightly twisted strand of two or more ply of yarn used for hand and machine sewing. Some facts about sewing thread:
  • The difference between thread and yarn is that thread is used to sew together garments and other products, while yarn is a collection of fibers that is woven or knit into textiles. All threads are made from yarn, but yarn is not made of threads.
  • The first 'thread' to be used in sewing was made from animal sinew and plant fibers.
  • There are three types of thread, animal, plant and synthetic, based on the materials they are made from.
  • Silk is an example of thread made from animal products. The silk caterpillar weaves a cocoon made from silk that it produces. These cocoons are unraveled, and two or more strands are twisted together to form silk thread. Silk makes a very fine, stretchable and strong thread.
  • Cotton is an example of plant fibers used to make thread. Fibers of cotton are spun into a fine yarn; two or more strands of yarn are twisted together to make the thread. Cotton thread tends to shrink and is not as strong as silk thread. The thread is singed over an open flame and mercerized (dipped in a solution of caustic soda) to improve its strength and give it sheen.
  • Nylon and polyester thread are examples made from synthetic materials.
  • Ninety-five percent of all thread of all kinds manufactured are used in industrial and commercial sewing.
  • The development of the cotton thread industry in England was the result of a blockade during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. This prevented raw silk from entering the country, so no silk thread could be made for sewing. Patrick Clark invented a method for twisting cotton together to make sewing thread.
  • The original threads made by Clark were not strong enough to use in the new fangled sewing machines of the later 19th century. George Clark, a Grandson of Patrick, developed a six-stranded thread with the qualities necessary to be used in sewing machines.

The Sewing Thimble - For Seamstress And Digitabulist

A sewing thimble is worn on a finger or thumb by someone doing hand sewing to help push needles through the material being sewn and to prevent fingers getting stuck by the needle. Some history and facts about the sewing thimble:
  • Thimbles of one sort or another have probably been around since the beginning of sewing, more than five thousand years ago.
  • The oldest known thimble is made from bronze and dates from the 1st century A.D. It was found in the ruins of ancient Pompeii.
  • Thimbles have been made from many different materials, including all types of metal, wood, glass, porcelain, bone, leather, rubber, whale bone, marble and ivory. Thimbles made for the use of royalty were fashioned from diamonds, sapphires and rubies.
  • Hand-made metal thimbles were made by either casting the thimble in a mold, or rolling a piece of metal into a cylinder and soldering a cap onto it. The dimples in the thimble were punched by hand.
  • Thimble production became mechanized around 1850 in England. The dimples were no longer hand-punched in to the thimble, but were done by machine. Industrially manufactured thimbles differed from hand made in that the metal was much thinner, the top of the thimble was flat and the dimples were made in a regular pattern.
  • In the 19th century higher quality thimbles began to be made from silver. This metal is quite soft and a steel needle sometimes pierced the thimble. So a steel thimble was made and covered inside and outside with silver.
  • Fine china thimbles were used for sewing delicate silk, as the thimble was very hard and smooth, thus eliminating any chance of snagging the material.
  • Thimbles are more than an object for use by seamstresses. They have become works of art in their own right. From early hand made ones to modern ones decorated in many different ways, thimbles are a highly collectible item. Sewers and non sewers have made thimble collecting a popular activity. People that collect sewing thimbles are known as digitabulists.
  • The most expensive thimble on record was auctioned off at a London auction house. It sold for over $39,000 in 1992. It was a 16th century gold and jeweled thimble thought to be a gift from the Mogul court in India to Queen Elizabeth I.

Men's Underwear - The Revealing History

What men wear under their clothes has a history all its own:
  • During the Middle Ages in Europe the loincloth was slowly replaced by undergarments that were similar to trousers. The legs of these garments were short, and the garment was tied about the waist by laces.
  • This underwear of the Middle Ages many times had a flap in the front to allow men to be able to answer nature's call. This flap was called a codpiece. These flaps were padded, probably initially for comfort. But paintings of the time show how the padding of codpieces became much more than a matter of comfort.
  • The start of the industrial age in the late 18th century made cotton fabrics widely available. Mass manufacturing of underwear was one result, and people began to buy underwear instead of having to make it themselves.
  • The jockstrap, or athletic supporter was introduced in 1874. It offered extra support and comfort to bicycle riders of the rough cobblestone streets of Boston.
  • The union suit was standard underwear for men in the late 19th century. Also called long johns, they provided coverage front wrist to ankle, and had a drop flap in the back (for obvious reasons).
  • The early 20th century saw the underwear manufacturing business boom. On of the companies that came from this boom was Hanes, and it quickly established itself as a top manufacturer of union suits.
  • U.S. soldiers in World War One were issued shorts that buttoned in the front as underwear. This design grew in popularity so much that it began to replace the union suit as standard underwear.
  • The first briefs came on the market in 1935. They were dubbed jockey because they gave the same kind of support the jockstrap did. The new style sold over 30,000 pair within 3 months. The buttoned underwear of WWI also gave way to the button less boxer shorts, named for their similarity to the shorts worn by boxers.
  • Underwear made from rayon, dacron and nylon was introduced in the late 1940's. The 1950's saw the introduction of underwear made from colored and patterned materials.
  • Boxer briefs were introduced in the 1990's that gave the support of briefs and retain the length of boxers. These were touted as something new, but were actually very similar to the type worn by soldiers in WWI.
What does the future hold for men's underwear? From form-fitting and hidden, to ultra baggy and exposed, what men wear under their clothes undergoes changes in trends and fashion as much as what they outwardly wear.

Zippers - History And Facts

The zipper is found everywhere in the modern day world, and is used in myriad applications. But the common zipper was not so common not so long ago:
  • Elias Howe, one of the pioneer inventors of the sewing machine, patented an early type of zipper in 1851 called The Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure. His sewing machine took up most of his time, and he abandoned his early type of fastener.
  • The next person in the line of zipper evolution was named Whitcomb Judson. A tinkerer and experimenter, Judson invented many labor saving devices, including a type of fastener he patented called The Clasp Locker in 1893. Some of these fasteners were used by 1905 in the garment industry, but proved to be impractical.
  • The next step in zipper evolution led to the zipper as it is known today. An employee of Judson's named Gideon Sundback first patented his Hookless Fastener in 1913, and with further improvements patented the new and improved version as the Separable Fastener in 1917. One of the first large customers for this fastener was the U.S. Army and the fastener was used in apparel and gear for U.S soldiers in World War One.
  • How did the fastener get the name 'zipper'? The B.F.Goodrich company opted to use the new fasteners on its rubber galoshes. An executive trying out a prototype of the galoshes by sliding the fastener up and down, and said, "Zip'er up!", emulating the sound made by the fastener. Thus the name zipper came into being. The story sounds apocryphal, but B.F. Goodrich registered the name as a trademark for overshoes with fasteners, Zipper Boots, in 1925. Other items began using the fastener, and the name 'zipper' stuck. B.F. Goodrich sued to protect its trademark, but was only allowed to retain its rights for 'Zipper Boots' and not for the name of the fastener.
  • For the first twenty years of the zipper's existence it was used almost exclusively for boots and tobacco pouches.
  • In the 1930's sales campaigns for children's clothing that were equipped with zippers stressed the independence the fastener would give children to dress themselves. When French fashion designer in 1937 raved about the zipper being used in men's pants, the zipper replaced buttons for fastening the fly of men's trousers.
  • Clothing with zippers was seen as inappropriate for women because the clothing could be taken off quickly. Many religious leaders frowned on the use of zippers for this reason, and zippers were found mostly in men's and children's apparel for a number of years.
  • Zippers today are made not only from metal, but nylon and other materials. They are available in many different colors, lengths and styles.