Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Barbie Update

Having spent some time away from the lingerie history blog provided me with opportunities to try other things and to write about other topics--and to get a doctorate. Recently I developed a Pinterest habit that has not replaced my facebook habit, as I hoped it would.  However, there are a number of pinners who enjoy lingerie and lingerie history, which re-fired my interest in writing about underwear.  I like the art of fashion.  I like comfortable clothing.  I like to explore the evolution of clothing styles and fashions as it expresses culture and the layers of meaning that underlie cultural expression. [Well, it might take a lot of spandex to smooth that issue.] The purpose of this post is to survey the fashion icon and cultural touchstone doll Barbie since 2011.

Career Barbie

In 2014 Mattel launched Entrepreneur Barbie to encourage girls to see themselves as capable capitalists. Barbie has taken groundbreaking gigs before.  As many as 180 careers in 57 years puts her tops in job-hopping.  She even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit issue.

A Variety slideshow features Barbie and friends through the years, including some film and TV tie-ins.

Barbie in 2016

In 2016 Mattel released a major update to the look of Barbie to make her look more like a real woman.  She will come in a variety of body shapes--including curvy, petite, and tall--and hair styles, eye colors, and sizes that will mean doll clothing will come in different sizes.  Tall is my favorite body style!

The update is a long-awaited response to criticisms from moms who want their daughters to have more realistic toy options.  Barbie has long been a leader in women's empowerment, and this move marks a shift from the blonde and skinny sexy ideal to an all women are sexy and strong ideal.  For several years this shift has been taking place in the fashion industry, where plus size and real women models are gaining exposure.  All this should be good for boys as they begin to see women in a realistic way.

While Barbie sales are in the $300 million per quarter range there has been a noticeable drop in sales over the past 4 years. New body shapes will help with problem as people rush to buy "their" Barbie--and the clothes she needs.  The new types are not designed to have interchangeable outfits.

Barbie in the Movies

Two movie news items:
  1. My favorite real life Barbie, Reese Witherspoon, and her female-positive film production group, Pacific Standard, signed up in 2015 to produce a biopic of Ruth Handler, Barbie's mother.  The group owns the film rights to Robin Gerber's Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.

  2. Another film is being discussed as a collaboration between Sony and Mattel that will bring Barbie herself to live action movie theaters featuring comedian Amy Schumer.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Panty Tutorial: How to Sew Underwear

I haven't written to this blog in a long time. It hasn't been forgotten, more like being finished in favor of another project. Along the way the print version of this blog, produced in a scrapbook, was completed and a second edition begun. The electronic version was stolen by some teenagers that did a "smash and grab" of all my tools one afternoon while I was out walking the dogs. Thanks to vigilant neighbors all was returned that same afternoon. All except a pair of cheap garden boots and the hard drive with my Visual Lingerie Dictionary drafts. My interest in underwear remains strong. While looking for a "Life's too short for boring panties" print to frame this blog post with directions to sew your own panties popped up. While sewing panties is outside the hobbies I want to get practice, a how-to was missing from this original blog. So, here it is.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Medieval Bra Discovered

source BBC History Magazine The history of underwear just expanded. Following the 2008 find of 2700 pieces of linen in a 15th century castle 4 bra-like garments and some underpants have been authenticated. Previously, no women's underwear clearly designed to fit the breasts has been found. This is a significant find for that reason. These garments were designed to support the breasts and were decorated with lace embellishments. Beatrix Nutz, an archeologist from the University of Innsbruck, made the discovery during renovation of Lengberg Castle, East Tyrol, Austria in a room stuffed with various trash. Is this proof that if you keep your junk long enough it will be valuable again?
They resemble modern bras because they have distinctly cut cups. One of the most well-preserved pieces of underwear looks like the longline bra of the 1950s, as it has an extra piece that extends down to the bottom of the ribcage. Like a corset, six eyelets on the left side of the body would be used to fasten the garment with lace. Another bra has two broad shoulder straps and a possible back strap (it hasn't been preserved, but partially-torn edges suggest its existence). It's elaborately decorated with needle-lace, sprang-work (an early form of knitting), and finger-loop-lace. Two of the more fragmented specimens appear to be a combination of a bra and a short shirt, as they have additional cloth above the cups to cover the décolleté. They also have lacework for decoration.
(source) There were some medieval texts that referred to bra-like garments -- sometimes mentioning pockets for the breasts or shirts with bags -- but until now, there has been no physical evidence for the underwear. Fibre samples of two of the bras were sent to the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zürich to be Carbon-14 dated. All results confirmed that the lingerie is from the 1400s. They were most likely sealed in the vault in around 1485, when renovations were made to the castle. Pictures

Friday, July 08, 2011

Lingerie Designers

"Ayten Gasson creates exquisite confections of luxurious pure silk lingerie, trimmed with vintage Nottingham lace, all made in the UK."

Here is an interview between the designer and Style Bistro where ethical design is discussed.

It seems that ethical design includes use of green materials, reuse of vintage textiles, and promotion of local manufacturing is enhanced. All is new again. This time is pretty silks and laces.

Esty Lingerie is the creation of writer and designer Estelle Puleston.

For an interview with the designer or some background follow the links.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chantelle Lingerie Book

Chantelle Lingerie Book - Assouline Publishing Inc.

[Hardcover, Jacket
80 Pages
6 x 8.5''
15.5 x 21.5 cm
50 Illustrations
ISBN - 9782759404599]

Launch of the Chantelle book

"A major event for 2010 is the Chantelle book published by the prestigious Assouline publishing house.
Tracing its history, essentially linked to the evolution of women's fashion and figures, this beautiful work makes Chantelle the first lingerie brand to be seen in the collection "Memoirs of Fashion", alongside the most renowned Couture designers.
This book is sold in specialised upmarket bookstores all over the world, as well as in the Assouline bookstores.."

About the Book

Synonymous with French sophistication, Chantelle is a prestigious lingerie label with a rich history, enduring savoir faire, and seductive design. As a family business founded in the 1870s, the company pioneered the manufacture of innovative elasticized knits and then flourished in the 1920s as flappers replaced stiff corsets with sleek, athletic shapewear. Continuing innovation and dependable excellence, especially in bra design, have made Chantelle the lingerie brand of choice for tasteful women.
About the Author

Anne Zazzo is the curator of the lingerie section of the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris

Beginning in 1876, an innovative corset maker introduced elasticized fabrics into his products and an international fashion house was born....

Shanghi Barbie store closes after 2 years

The six-story store, complete with spa, cafe, design studio, fashion stage and shelves and shelves of Barbies and Barbie products, closed Monday, 28 March 2011.

6 floors of Barbie?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fully Fashioned Stockings

Davenport Hosiery Mills building once located at 400 E. 11th St. (home of today’s Chattanooga Times Free Press) Chattanooga TN owned the trademark for Hummingbird hosiery (1942-expired). They did make the Hummingbird brand and Davencrepes (circa 19390). It appears the Davenport Mills company is extinct.

Previous posts on this topic: hosiery history links post

The Worker-Dandyist International blog has a nice feature on the parts of a full-fashioned stocking from May 2007. This post took me back to the project this blog supports--a lingerie dictionary--and the entry on Fully Fashioned Stockings.

tips for storing and caring for stockings from Behind the Curtain. She has some updates here and here (with some discussion of how to layer panties and garters for greatest practicality.

Fully Fashioned Stockings
Before the advent of pantyhose, stockings were knitted flat, then "fashioned," or shaped, by hand and hand-seamed up the back. Traditionally, all stockings were made with a functional back seam and were known as "Fully Fashioned". Modern "seamed" stockings are knitted in a tube shape; the back seam is added afterwards purely for decoration.
Fully Fashioned stockings are tailored to the shape of a leg by decreasing and increasing the number of needles used for knitting. On a pair of full-fashioned stockings, the toe and heel sections have been reinforced during the knitting process, making them darker than the rest of the stocking. But the feature that separates the real full-fashioned stocking from the imitations is the doubled over, key-holed welt at the top of the stocking.
Full-fashioned stockings are knitted flat, fashioned by mechanical manipulation of programmed chains that articulate cams to drop needles from the knitting process creating the famous "fashioning marks" on the backs of the stocking. The stockings are then joined by hand on a looping machine, creating the seam up the back. The actual knitting is done on a flat knitting machine first developed in Loughborough, Leicestershire, England by William Cotton in 1864.
The stocking is started at the top, with the welt, an extra-thick section for gartering. Reducing the number of needles at the ankle, then adding needles at the heel, and again reducing the number through the foot shape to the fabric.
The modern fully-fashioned machine was made from 1940-1960 by Reading Machinery Company in Reading, Pennsylvania, who stopped production of the machines in the early 1960's. In 1959 and the early 60's to purchase one of the later models, the R100, the cost was a little over $750,000 each, minimum 4 machine order.
The length of the machine is about 45 feet long, and it could make 30 stockings concurrently. The company started out in its early days making a single section which made one stocking. Soon after machines added length, to make 15 (half section machines) stockings, and then went to full section machines (30 stockings).
Gio manufactures their Fully Fashioned stockings on the original 1950's Reading machines (from the old Aristoc factory). These are 57 feet long and have to be kept at a constant temperature of 80F during the knitting operation. Each machine has 30 knitting heads that can each produce just 15 pairs of 15 denier stockings in an hour. There are fewer than ten working machines in the world today; and, there are now believed to be only 4 manufacturers of Fully Fashioned stockings in the world, two of which are in Derbyshire.
The Process:
1. Fully Fashioned stockings are knitted white, each stocking is then sewn by hand on a machine by experienced seamists. The 'finishing loop' at the top back of the stocking is a result of the finishing process, and is created because the seaming machinist has to finish the seam by turning the welt in a circle.
2. Next the stockings are dyed in large vats and dried.
3. Although the stockings are knitted to the shape of a woman's leg, they are also "boarded" - each stocking is put on a dummy of a leg and steamed at a high temperature to tighten the knit, define the leg shape and remove creases.
4. Finally each stocking is checked again for quality control, and then matched with a pair of identical size and carefully packed for sale.
Heel Types
There are four different styles of reinforcing for a stocking heel; these are all based on a small triangular reinforcement extending slightly up the back of the ankle.
1. French point heel: this can just be called a "Point Heel" or "French heel" and sometimes a "swing heel". A basic triangle with the point extending up to the seam of the stocking.
2. Cuban heel: Similar in shape to the French heel except the Cuban heel is flat at the top.
3. Havana heel: similar to the Cuban heel in shape except that the Havana heel is wider than the Cuban.
4. Manhattan heel: This is similar to the Cuban heel however the Manhattan is fancier with a additional row of stitching around the edge, it is suppose to resemble a Manhattan skyscraper.
Anatomy of fully fashioned stockings:
Welt:- Reinforced area at the top of a stocking where the stocking is clipped onto the garter. Usually a double thickness of fabric folded over at the top and sewn onto the stocking above the run guard.
Finishing Loop:- Hole at the top of the seam where the seaming machinist finished the seam and turned the welt in a circle.
Run Guard:- A narrow strip below the welt designed to catch any runs which may develop. (see Under Welt)
Fully fashioned leg
Reinforced heel, toe and foot:- Much of the wear on a pair of stockings is where the foot touches the toes and shoe; so hosiery manufactures added reinforcement to these area in a attempt the extend the life of the stocking. This reinforcement starts off going over the toe area and continuing under the ball of the foot to the heel and going up the back of the ankle to join into the seam. By 1960 stockings knitted without the seam still had reinforcement--they are called RHT stockings.