Friday, August 28, 2020

Therese de Dillmont

 Therese de Dillmont  (Oct. 10, 1846 - May 22, 1890) 


She was an outstanding needleworker and embroiderer with over 100 books attributed to her and her niece on the subject. She attended an embroidery school founded by Empress Marie-Theresa as a young woman, having been educated in Vienna.  She established her own embroidery studio with her sister, Franzisha and later moved to Paris where she wrote "Encycolpedie des ouvarages des damas" (Encyclopedia of Needlework) which featured thousands of textile designs from many countries, including China Turkey, Bulgaria and translated into 17 languages.

Embroidery on Lacis or Net Canvas as worked with D-M-C Persian silk  (soie de Perse)

Applique Embroidery on Damask Ground, worked with D_M_C Persian silk (Soie de Perse)


In 1878 she met Jean Dollfus-Meig at the Universal Exposition.  Recognizing her importance and the potential contribution she would bring to his company, DMC , manufacturer of fine threads and yarns, he invited to tour his factory in Mulhouse.  She then moved to the neighboring town of Dornach, establishing a school of needlework, cooperating with DMC in 1884.  With Dillmont's assistance DMC became known for their publications with clear instructions and illustrations. Even following her death in 1890 DMC continued to publish books under her name.

DMC is offering on their website free copies of Dillmont's designs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wm. E. Wright & Sons Co.

 It all began with bias tape. Designed to enclose raw edges, bias tape can be made from a single piece of fabric , obviously cut on the bias into strips. It can be single folded or double folded. However, bias binding can be found in the notions section of any fabric store.  It is available in a wide range of colors and several widths, along with a plethora of trimmings for any home sewing need.

Manufactured bias tape was the brain-child of Wm. E. Wright.   

Following a career as a traveling dry goods salesman, Wright moved to NYC and partnered with William Nagel to establish a business , W & N, to manufacture prepackaged, folded bias tape for home sewers.  In 1897 they formed Wm.E. Wright Co. Following Nagel's death, Wright bought his late partners shares.

When two of his sons joined the firm in 1905 ( later many relatives would become involved) the firm's name was changed to Wm. E. Wright & Sons.  It was following WWI that Wright was able to purchase color fast dyes from Germany, with a guaranty printed on each package. He also expanded his products into the British Commonwealth counties of Canada, Britain and New Zealand.  Wright died in 1926 and the company remained in the family.  To remain solvent prices were reduced from 15 cent tapes to 5 cents and sold their products to such stores as Woolworth and Kresge. The company also moved to a more fiscally favorable location of West Warren MA.         

Patterns from Supplement No.1

Some examples from my sewing notions collection

Following the move the company introduced rickrack and novelty trims.  The family owned  company entered into a series of acquisitions and limited partnerships. In 2001 Conso-Simplicity buys Wrights and the company name is changed to W.m. Wright Co. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Disappearing Department Store

 In a recent article in the WSJ (Wed. Aug. 5, 2020) Suzanne Kapner described the downward spiral of the iconic American department store.  The list of stores filing for bankruptcy includes, J C Penney, Neiman Marcus and the latest is Lord and Taylor.  Perhaps the reason for this business  debacle is not so apparent, it began in the 1980's says Kapner.  Long before the big-box stores, before Amazon and online shopping and way, way before the Covid-19 crises, corporate executives somehow lost sight of what the typical American consumer expected from the retail establishments. What consumers do not want, apparently, is the same stores in every mall in every city.  They do not want the same merchandise in every store in every city.  Why drive, attempt to find a reasonably close parking place if it will not be a pleasurable and unique experience.

I grew up in a very small town.  Our one room (there was also a loft)  "department store" had burned down when I was quite young but  I remember the town was quite devastated  by this event.  It meant having to go to the next town (somewhat bigger) to buy the most basic of household items.  Of course, a drive of about one hour brought one to a bigger city with a real three story department store.  It even had a restaurant , of sorts, more like a tea room.  The attendants wore gloves, and a type of uniform.  Best of all, their windows on the street level were gloriously decorated for holidays.  Now this was a true shopping experience.

Which brings me to the beginnings of the  era of big city shopping.  Paris was the birthplace of Bon Marche, which opened in 1852.  The growth of prosperous, urban populations who  were aware of the possibility of a pleasurable , rather than  a merely functional chore embraced the idea. The late 18th and early 19th century saw stores like Liberty's, Selfridges and Harrods of London become retail innovators.  Clientele was almost exclusively women and they were catered to with amenities such a ladies restrooms and salons.  Tea rooms enabled customers to spend an entire day. Harrods and Selfridges offered large food emporiums.  Emile Zola called department stores"cathedrals of commerce". 

America, especially NY City, had their share of grand-designed department stores: Lord and Taylor (Est. 1826 , in 2016 had 50 locations), Macy's (Est. 1858, with now nearly 730 stores), B. Altman          (Est.1865, closed 1989),  Bonwit Teller (Est. 1895,closed 1990), Saks Fifth Avenue (Est. 1902, sold to Hudson Bay Company), Gimbel's (Est 1910, closed 1986).

B. Altman
Bonwit Teller



Kapner's article quotes Rachael Shechtman, once a Macy's officer "Two things that made stores great were amazing customer service and great merchandise that you couldn't find elsewhere.  It's almost impossible to name a store that does that today."

It is obvious that CEO's and other executives  have to have a major rethink.  Fairly paid staff must know their customers and their merchandise. Perhaps there may come a backward shift in shopping habits, this remains to be seen.

Monday, August 3, 2020

A New Edition to Collections

A new edition to Collections

Several years ago Cinnamon produced a two volume set of interactive CDs which featured the history of feedsacks along with several hundred visuals of actual vintage feedsack fabrics.

During this stay-at-home period we produced another two set volume of CDs.  This time my collection of Indonesian textiles is the star accompanied by a bit of Indonesian history and a look at the techniques that produce these magnificent textiles.

Ship Cloth

Ikat dyeing

For information on Collections please see my web