Thread Cult










January 2014
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A new exhibit at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art explores how high fashion influenced bereavement rituals during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. In this episode, Jessica Regan, co-curator of the exhibit Death Becomes Her, discusses how the silhouettes of women’s clothing changed during this time period and how elaborate mourning rituals created a booming business for dress makers, as well as a costly investment for women who needed to wear black for an entire year. Jessica also shares some of her fashion and textile must-sees at the Met. 

Outro: Fauré’s Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48: Introit, The Choire of King’s College Cambridge,  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment & Stephen Cleobury


Direct download: 34_Death_Becomes_Her_SMALL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54am EST

History, home ec, and fashion converge in this episode, an interview with historian Linda Przybyszewski (Professor Pski to her students), author of The Lost Art of Dress. Professor Pski fills us in on the fascinating and little-known story of the "dress doctors"—a group of early 20th-century seamstresses, scientists, and artists who taught girls and women the art of dressing (and living) with style, taste, and beauty. If you've ever wondered why vintage sewing books are so rad, you can thank the dress doctors!  Outro: "Born on a Train" by The Candy Strypers

Direct download: The_Lost_Art_of_Dress.m4a
Category: -- posted at: 10:47am EST

Sometimes home is the best place for great ideas to thrive. Fifteen years ago, Natalie Chanin discovered just this when she moved her nascent clothing company—Alabama Chanin—from New York to her hometown of Florence, Alabama. Since then, she’s built a thriving clothing and lifestyle company that merges craft and fashion in a beautiful way. Christine and Natalie talk about starting her business, how to get over creative bumps in the road, and how changing your perspective can make you more successful. Outro music: "Insprie Me Forever (Secret Anomaly Jonez Mix)" by Spinningmerkaba


Direct download: 31_Alabama_Chanin.m4a
Category: -- posted at: 8:25pm EST

Textile designer Heather Ross is best known for her whimsical fabric designs and illustrations for children's books, but her art springs from a darker past. This month she publishes a memoir about growing up in a dysfunctional family in rural Vermont and her path to becoming an artist, entrepreneur, and mother. In this episode, Heather and Christine discuss the book, how she gets creative work done (hint: early in the day!), and tricks for surviving muggy city summers. Outro music: "Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously," by Lee Rosevere

Direct download: 31_DIY_Life_with_Heather_Ross.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:34pm EST


Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, a traveling exhibit, currently at the New York Historical Society, explores how quilts, flags, and other sewn goods communicated the wartime experience. Curators Lynne Bassett and Margi Hofer discuss how cotton and textiles played a powerful part in the conflict, and how women's work contributed to the war effort and eventually helped propel the suffrage movement. Outro: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" sung by Odetta

Direct download: Civil_War_Quilts.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:34am EST


For someone who sews, the workrooms of haute couture houses are probably just as (if not more!) interesting than what we ultimately see on the runways. Claire Shaeffer has spent her career studying the construction techniques for haute couture, expensive ready-to-wear, and historic designs, and written more than 20 books on the subject. This episode, Christine and Claire discuss a variety of topics, including Claire's background as an acrobat, shadowing dressmakers in Paris workrooms, and her two newest books on Chanel. Outro music: "Bughici - Suite for Violin, 8 Ardeleneasca, moderato" by Advent Chamber Orechestra

Direct download: 29_Claire_Shaeffer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49pm EST

Whether you're a fashion history buff, or just really like to play dress up, the world of historical costuming offers a unique perspective on how people lived and moved in the past. This episode, Christine catches up with Lauren Stowell, creator of American Duchess, a blog focused on sewing costumes from the 18th through 20th centures, and the creator of the American Duchess line of historically-accurate footware from the same period. Lauren shares a cool new shoe for pre order, and Christine shares an exciting opportunity for amature sewers (hint: it involves being on TV!). Outro music "Handel -- Entrance to the Queen of Sheba for Two Oboes, Strings, and Continuo allegro" by Advent Chamber Orchestra.


Direct download: 28_American_Duchess.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am EST

#27 Susan Khalje’s Cocktail Party


Need advice on sewing for special occasions? Susan Khalje, the renowned couture sewing teacher (and Thread Cult’s first repeat guest!), has you covered. This episode, she and Christine discuss her soon-to-be released online cocktail dress class, as well as the art of the French jacket, dressing for your body type, and how investing in quality fabrics can make you a better (and saner!) sewer. Outro music "Wave Rider" by Necronomikon Quartett. 

Direct download: 27_Susan_Khalje.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:29pm EST

Nora Abousteit helped found and then founded, a beautiful and fashion-forward site that lets sewers, knitters, and other makers share their work and sell their patterns. This episode, Christine and Nora discuss building an online crafting community, how indie designers can use Kollabora to sell their fashion and home decor patterns, and Nora shares an exciting new video component of the site. Outro music: "Waterflies" by Drama for Yamaha

Direct download: Kollabora_An_Interview_with_Nora_Abousteit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:08am EST

Liesl Gibson creates super chic, modern sewing patterns for both kids and women. This episode Liesl and Christine talk about her design process, the resurgence of sewing as craft, and the delicate dance of balancing motherhood with a successful business. Outro music: "Paradise Engineering" by Yacht

Direct download: 25_Liesl_Gibson_of_Oliver__S.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am EST

Maura Grace Ambrose, Austin-based artist and founder of Folk Fibers, makes beautiful, timeless hand-dyed and hand-stitched quilts. In this episode, Maura and Christine discuss the art of natural dyeing and hand quilting, foraging for dyestuffs, and how quilts tell their own stories. Outro music: "Smoothest Runes" by Thick Business

Direct download: Stories_in_Cloth_with_Quilter_Maura_Grace_Ambrose.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:20am EST