We Love Print

For many years, the internet has been hailed as the death of print.  In the periodicals area of the library, we know that’s not true, because we see hundreds of students and visitors going though our magazines every semester.


Just so you know, we update our list of subscriptions all the time.  We’re trying to always have the newest, most interesting sources for fashion, art, and design.  Here are some newer titles you might not have seen yet.

Acne cover

Acne Paper began as the print sidekick of the Acne Studios in Stockholm.  It expresses the studio’s point of view on art, fashion, and current culture, with offices in Stockholm, London, and Paris.  It’s grown to be an influential source for fashion ideas.

You can take a look at the work of Acne Studios:




Fat cvr


Fat Magazine comes from similar interests in art, fashion, and daily life expressed through designed things.  Published in Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, it picks up the thread of challenge common to art and brings it into current-day fashion layout, graphic design, and photography.

 http://www.fat.fi/  and also



fructose cvr


The magazine Hi Fructose is focused on illustration, not fashion.  The magazine is filled with graphic design, drawing, sculpture, and other contemporary arts aimed at inspiring artists of all sorts.

You can look at more about the magazine here:




Oh Comely cvr

The next title, Oh Comely, comes from gentler impulses, advertising itself as a compilation that “makes people smile, full of quiet moments and stories.”  This magazine, published in London, is designed to be pretty and soothing, rather than challenging and thought provoking.  “Read it with a cup of tea or a toddy,” declares the publicity text.


And of course it comes with/from a blog…




You can find the current issues of all these titles on Display at the Periodicals Desk on the 6th floor.  For the most recent additions to our list of titles, you can look at the “Newly Added Titles” tab on the Periodicals by Subject List.



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Decadence has Some Repeat Themes

I came across this in this morning’s news.  Fun site, eh?



If you’re curious about 15th and 16th century fashion, the library has lots of books on the subject.  Here are a few:

Renaissance Dress in Italy, 1400-1500, by Jacqueline Herald.

4th floor, Art Reference, GT964 .H47 1981

The Northern Renaissance, by Kate Heard.

4th floor, Art Reference, N6370 .H43 2011

Dress at the Court of Henry VIII, edited by Maria Hayward.

4th floor, Art Reference, GT1755 .G7 2007

You can also search in ArtStor for “paintings” from time range: 1450-1600:


And, of course, up on the 6th floor in Periodicals, we have such magazines as Complex, XXL, The Source, Fader, Vibe, Trace, and i-D.



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The designed world

Look around you.  Every single thing you see, from pens, to desks, to telephones, to scissors and tubes of handcream, has been designed by a person or a group of people.  It’s fitting during NYC Fashion Week to recognize that not just our clothing, but everything we sit on or at, or use or even touch, is the result of someone’s creative thinking.


kikkoman btl

I don’t know about you, but I’ve used that soy sauce bottle an awful lot, and never given its designer a second thought.  It would be seriously cool to have had that kind of creative impact on the world around us, though, wouldn’t it?



Here’s another designer whose work is familiar:


London Fashion Week S/S 2013 - Burberry Prorsum arrivals


Not surprisingly, we in the library have a lot of information on designers and inspiration for designers.  We’re in the business of trying to inspire YOU, in fact.  And teach you some history of your craft while we’re at it.



One big designed space that many of you are learning about right now is that of the American home.  Many of you are currently working on this project for HP 231.  You may not know that we’ve set up a Library Guide to help you with this project:


split level p-141In the Lib Guide, url listed above, there are a lot of websites that have information to help you research this project.  This website contains hundreds of scans of building company catalogs, sample homes, and floorplans.  Just be sure to only use ones where the original diagrams or drawings that have printed dates.  (This makes it a documented primary source.)


In case you are wondering what makes a good source vs. a bad source, we’ve written a Lib Guide on that, too…



If you’re researching industrial designers (those folks who design the things around us) there are a lot of really interesting lists and articles on the web.   Here are a couple, for example:



But in the library, we also have a lot of good books on the history of design.

conversations book cvr


This author of this book interviews all kinds of designers.

Conversations: Up Close and Personal with Icons of Fashion, Interior Design, and Art,  by Blue Carreon.

5th Floor, Main Stacks TT515 .C37 2014



modern world design


Industrial design is a relatively new name and new profession for something people have done for thousands of years.  But events like the World’s Fairs have helped make these tasks into prominent professions.

Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939, by Regina Lee Blaszczyk, et al.

5th Floor, Main Stacks NK775 .F88



These are only a few of the many books we have in the library to help you find out more about the people who designed the world around you.  Check out more in StyleCat, using search words like:

Decorative Arts – History


Interior Design



And good luck with your spring-semester projects!



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Deconstructing Classic Outerwear

Recently, when I was flipping through magazines in PERS, I came across these images of a classic outerwear staple, the Balmaccan or men’s raglan-sleeved raincoat.  These images are from Apparel Arts magazine’s April 1946 issue, but it’s obvious that the design of this coat hasn’t changed much in the last 70 or so years.


I thought you all would find the breakdown of these layers interesting and maybe even useful.  When this was published, Apparel Arts was still a menswear-industry news source. (It was later absorbed into Esquire, and recreated as a consumer magazine, Gentleman’s Quarterly.)


I’m fascinated that this style is still so current (Michael Kors has an indigo version currently in stores), down to the raglan sleeve, side slit pockets, and button tab on the wrists.

The garment industry has been making less and less well-constructed versions of its classic garments with each fashion cycle, due to rising costs, availability of materials, price point of the garment, and so on.  But this garment is so basic in its details, I doubt that a current version could be constructed without pretty similar cuts of hymo (an interfacing), lining, or buttons.


You can find these old issues of Apparel Arts magazine up on the 6th floor of the library, in the Periodicals and Electronic Services Department.  I hope they inspire you as they do me.

We have this title in the following formats and runs:

Apparel Arts: Christmas 1931-Feb. 1950 (SPARC and also microfilm)

Apparel Arts: April 1943-Dec. 1949 (at the PERS desk, 6th floor)

Esquire’s Apparel Arts: Jan. 1950-June 1956 (at the PERS desk, 6th floor)

Apparel Arts: July 1956-Winter 1957

Gentlemen’s Quarterly: Spring 1958-May 1983

Gentlemen’s Quarterly: June 1983-Current

While most of these issues live at the PERS desk on the 6th floor, there are also other copies of many issues in SPARC.  Check StyleCat for details:


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Needles in the Stacks – Draping

Denise n Beth

We welcome you back for a holiday version of Needles in the Stacks.  We’ve designed this post to help you decide which of the many draping manuals out there should be on your holiday wish list.

Here are the books we looked at this fall:

Drp-drp 1n2cvrsDrape Drape,

Drape Drape 2,

Drape Drape 3.

All three volumes by Hisako Sato, and kept in the same place:

4th Floor Art Reference TT520 .S286 2012


drape sato 3There are three books in this series, which we’re discussing together.  The author wrote and designed all the garments presented in each.  Each book in the series contains instructions for making a group of non-traditional garments.  Sato distinguishes these by using soft but weighty fabrics draped into many folds (hence the title).  The books include pictures of the pattern pieces, detailed written directions, computer-generated “how-to” images, and photographs of petite young women wearing versions of the finished garments.  The books also came with pattern pieces, but these have long since disappeared from our library copies.  Hence, it is more of a designer “how to” (see our “Couture edition” from 3/21/14) than a draping manual, but we’ve thought a lot about it anyway.

drdr dress pcs 001-1

Denise and I agree that the patterns shown here are super interesting.  However, the maker needs an intermediate level understanding of both draping and sewing.  The garments are clearly illustrated, as you can see.  And just as clearly they are not for beginners.  The pattern pieces are unusually shaped and often defy conventional construction methods.  Computer-generated drawings demonstrate numbered steps for the many tasks involved.


The dress pictured on the right gives some idea of the unconventional draped detailing in these books.  This is dress #5 from the first book.  The design owes something to couture and movie gowns of the 1930s, but Denise and I agree that this is a great dress.  Unlike some garments in this book, this would probably be flattering on women of every shape, from Plus sized down to Model-like.


Many of the garments are  asymmetric, and all take advantage of fabrics with both weight and softness, using these characteristics to create garments with inherent movement (hence the titles).  Recommended fabrics include cotton, wool, and silk, many of them knits or crepes.  These characteristics are clearly shown in this “goddess” dress (book 1, dress 17), illustrated here by a sewing blogger:


The shape of this garment, seen in the pattern pieces below, is characteristic of Sato’s work, using many pleats arranged asymmetrically across the body.

Drape_Drape_Goddess_DiagramA quick search on the internet shows the international popularity of Sato’s three pattern books.  As the author of this blog listed, nearly two dozen bloggers have worked their way through patterns in these books.  She’s compiled a list:


By and large, these bloggers have had good results from working with these patterns.  That may be that these bloggers are better than average sewers, or it may be that Denise and I are wrong about the difficulty of these patterns.

Regardless, I wonder if these patterns are so popular because of their unconventional (avant-garde, even?) construction and finished appearance?  Or is it that western-European seamsters are on the hunt for construction challenges beyond the standard sloper variations of darted bodice + skirt or pants + sleeves?  Or is it that these garments reflect an extreme expression of the shifts towards less-formal, increasingly-knit garments that are taking place in western European/American society?  I don’t know that it matters, other than to a student of the cultural history of clothing (completely guilty here), but I find the popularity on the internet of Sato’s designs pretty intriguing.

(in a wonderful play on the books we’ve researched, Alabama Chenin, owner of the company of the same name, and author of the two books in our library… interpreted a Sato pattern, then blogged about it here:


We reviewed Chenin’s books in an earlier “Needles in the Stacks” post, which you can (re-)read here:

http://blog.fitnyc.edu/volumesandissues/2014/03/21/needles-in-the-stacks-couture-edition/ )


jaffe relis drapingDraping for Fashion Design, by Nurie Relis and Hilda Jaffe, 4th edition.

TT507 .J34 2005

I confess to being fond of this book, because it is an expanded version of the manual I used in Mrs. Sica’s lectures in *my* draping class here (in 1987).   But, readers, this book is an even better draping manual.  It begins with an explanation of how draping fits into the design industry.  It continues, as do many of these books, with a description of the tools needed, as well as some details about human reference points for as they appear on a mannequin.

The bulk of the book illustrates the draping process with careful step-by-step written descriptions, including how to layout the cloth and prepare it, but using all drawings.   Overall this book makes an attempt to cover every variation of a basic bodice, skirt or pant, in as concise a way as possible.  Denise and I both found the instructions to be easy to follow.  While it includes a lot of  how-to for some pretty complicated garments, it’s a good book for novices both because of its breadth and it’s clarity.  The book has been expanded from the version I used, now including foundation patterns for knits, swimwear and sporting wear, tailored garments, and some basic fitting info.  Designwise, fashion illustrations of the garments have been added, making the book a bit more friendly looking, in my opinion.  But friendly looking or not, it remains an excellent reference for beginning designers to industry stalwarts.  I think I need to update my wish list.


duburg drap cvrDraping: Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design, by Annette Duburg and Rixt van der Tol.

TT520 .D83 2008

The project of reviewing so many how-to manuals from the library’s collection has brought to our attention the changes in book design since the early twentieth century.  Technology has increased our expectations to require  photos instead of drawings, “modern”- i.e.  graphic design using more white space, as many photos as possible, and those in color instead of black and white.   As a professor of mine used to say, “We are all children of Modernism.”

That said, this book is attractively laid out using the best of the modern ideas.  It uses photographs in the how-to sections, and black mannequins with the white design lines to make the unbleached fitting-muslins especially clear.  The avant-garde design continues with a sideways-printed table of contents.

drp duburg bodyDenise and I were both frustrated at this book’s dependence upon the metric system. However we loved that the step-by-step illustrations are photographed muslins being fit onto a body.  This made the book’s lessons very clear.  This book provides something for both left-brain and right-brain learners.  The how-to is very technically written, and the images are good enough that you don’t need to read it if you don’t want to.

dr duburg diorThe book begins with basic slopers and womenswear shapes: skirts, bodices, dresses, sleeves, collars, pants, etc.  But the second section, after one has learned all the basics, explores the draping of some of fashion designer’s Greatest Hits between 1892 and 1995.  Beginning with a Worth day dress, step-by-step muslins are photographed to walk the student through the pieces in these gowns.  The Dior dress on the left is carefully worked out in muslin here: dr duburg dior toile


This book would be on my Wish List, if it were still in print.  Alas, but the only copies for sale are now going for $$$$.


armstrong cvr


Draping for Apparel Design, by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

TT520 .A742 2013

This is probably the most comprehensive draping manual we’ve ever seen.   Helen Joseph Armstrong began her writing career in 1985 with her basic patternmaking manual: “Patternmaking for Fashion Design” (TT507 .A74, 5 Main, Art Reference, and Circulation Reserves), and has continued to update this technical title regularly while expanding her writing to the art of draping as well.  Here is a bit more about Armstrong and her publishing career:


This book is laid out nearly the same way her patternmaking book is.  It begins with discussion of fabric grains and properties, including the bias.  It gives instruction on fabric preparation, correct measurement of the body, tools of the trade, and dart manipulation.  It presents instructions for draping just about every garment type regularly made in the western world, including bodysuits with cutouts.  It has an excellent section on laying out and cutting knit fabrics (which tend to roll),  lapel designs, grading and patterning jacket sleeves, with some bonus basic grading techniques.   Also bonus is the dictionary of draping terms, techniques, and garment descriptions.

twist hjaLike Armstong’s patternmaking books, each draping project is laid out with a fashion illustration of possible uses for the technique, then carefully-drawn how-to steps for draping the garment.   The illustrations are current-feeling, unlike some of the older draping manuals, which still use drawings from the 1940s.  The projects are then laid out from simple to difficult, and from basic bodices to skirts to dress slopers and beyond.

This is the comprehensive book.  If our readers plan to work in the industry (especially Special Occasion wear, which requires more draping than Mass Market), or wish to teach themselves the basic techniques of draping *anything*, this is a Must-Have book.


spech cloakeCutting and Draping Special Occasion Clothes: Designs for Eveningwear and Partywear, by Dawn Cloake.

TT520 .C58 1998

As someone who is constantly trying to keep my personal library limited to only the most-useful titles, and taking up the least space, I often wonder in which markets new books think to fill gaps.  My desire to have good manuals to hand, but not have shelves and shelves of them duplicating the same information, like the FIT library does, makes me especially picky about the ones which target a small niche, such as Special Occasion, or Shirtmaking (e.g. the books by David Page Coffin we reviewed here:

http://blog.fitnyc.edu/volumesandissues/2014/06/17/needles-in-the-stacks-professional-sewing-techniques-edition/. )

For Denise and I to be interested in a book that deals with a very small subset of the world of garment design, patternmaking, or construction, it has to offer more detailed information, better presented (e.g. the D. P. Coffin titles), than the manuals (e.g. the Armstrong above) we already own.  This book, “Cutting and Draping Special Occasion Clothes”  does not make the cut.

bad bodicesThis book is an odd one.  It has a gorgeous picture on the front, but absolutely no photographs inside.  How can one publish a book on eveningwear design without at least a few sumptuous pictures???  Even in 1998?  Furthermore, this book attempts to cover the basic patternmaking skills that go into eveningwear construction using crude hand-drawn illustrations and scanty instructions that assume a lot of prior knowledge.  Or perhaps they weren’t thought out well.  But neither the written nor the illustrated instructions  present as much information as any of the previous three books reviewed here.

Finally the pattern shapes and design suggestions lack creativity and range of design skill.  Save your pennies and buy the Helen Joseph Armstrong instead!

All righty, everyone!  This should help you figure out what to order your favorite FIT student this Christmas!  Or, perhaps your favorite student of life.  Have terrific holidays and peace to you and yours,

Beth & Denise





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