Bingeable: Making the Cut

Warning: fan girl post

I binged Making the Cut and I loved it.

The designers / contestants in this reality show create products, and each episode’s winning clothes are “immediately” available to actually purchase online via Amazon. I know, I know, its so commercial… and wonderful all at the same time.

Plus I can use the fashions and lessons here in the classroom to show that we can design and market for real people at affordable prices and still make a successful brand.

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame, are back with a broader vision: finding not just a good garment, but an all-around designer/entrepreneur to be the “next global fashion brand.” The challenges go beyond the clothes, to include managing a working group, creating an ad campaign, and standing the pressure of competition. In both the first and second season, I thought they picked the person who could do all that and be a design wizard, too.

The week I watched the second season, I dreamed about being a designer — which was useful in that it pushed out so many other contemporary worries. For several days running, there was no pandemic in my thoughts. Nice break.

Also, I thought the styles were worth the watch. In the first challenge, Gary Graham made a handkerchief hem dress out of an army blanket and an indigo batik he created himself. It won the night, as well it should. I seldom disagreed with the judges, so the experience was satisfying.

Several designers on this year’s show emphasized designing for all kinds of bodies, a breath of fresh air. This is something I can take into the classroom as an example of working with real people and being successful. The clothes are not priced in the stratosphere, either. Mr. Graham’s dress is $79.90.

Recommended! Enjoy!

Some Digital Fashion Archives

Here is a handful of interesting, perhaps lesser-known archives of interest to fashion researchers.

Barnett Hook Papers and Needlework, Ohio University.

“Many people viewed master needleworker Barnett A. Hook of rural McArthur, Ohio as a curiosity during his lifetime—in fact, he sometimes made his living highlighting his status as one of “only four men in the United States who teach embroidery.” Ohio U has digitized his papers and needlework samples. (Ok, a little local promo here.)

Needlework by Barnett Hook in the collection of Ohio University Libraries

Pantograph Negative Collection, 1940-1945, Illinois Digital Archives

“This collection of images from the Pantagraph, a Bloomington, Illinois newspaper dating back to 1846, records the history of Central Illinois through the work of Pantagraph photographer-reporters between 1940 and 1945. The Pantagraph was known for its coverage of agricultural concerns as well as local sports and social events in 10 counties surrounding McLean County. ”

A search on “fashion” or “apparel” yields a set of black and white photographs with styles from the era. “Campus Fads, Illlinois State Normal University,” shows off jump suits, cuff bracelets, plain pumps, and an alligator clutch bag.

From the “Fashion” subject set of the Pantograph negative collection, 1940-1945

Europeana: Fashion Collections

“Europeana works with thousands of European archives, libraries and museums to share cultural heritage for enjoyment, education and research.”

You probably already know about Europeana: catwalks, individual designers, costumes, jewelry items… nearly 800,000 items.

But I enjoyed discovering their “Fashion Stories”: having all these digital objects to choose from means they can create digital collections such as Masks and Head Coverings, which seems apropos of the moment, and Corsets, a popular research topic among undergraduates I work with.

Phillip Lim, S/S 2009, from

Los Angeles Public Library Digital Collection: Fashion AND Los Angeles Public Library Digital Collection: Clothing

” The Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection contains images from the 1850s to the present, documenting all aspects of life in Southern California, with an emphasis on Los Angeles.”

Subsets of a larger collection of photographs, circa 1930-1964.

A Los Angeles fashion show, about 1930.

3-D Tour of the Museum of Ethnic Costumes, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology

This “Street View” tour from the Museum’s Google Culture pages lets you walk through the museum and look at the exhibits. Zoom in to see more details in each display case. Included are outfits, jewelry, shoes, and even weaving looms.

New Books: Bloomsbury 2020

We haven’t had a new books post in a while, so here are some that are on my if-they-ever-let-me-buy-books-again list, all from Bloomsbury.

A Guide to Changing Men’s Fashion from the 17th to the 20th Century

By: Lydia Edwards

I want this as a companion to How to Read a Dress, which impressed me.

Fashion, Dress and Post-postmodernism

Editor(s): José Blanco F., Andrew Reilly

This is a topic that fashion and gender studies both would be interested in.

Reading Fashion in Art

By: Ingrid E. Mida

Some cross-over here for both art and theater costume students.

Costing for the Fashion Industry

By: Nathalie Evans, Michael Jeffrey, Susan Craig

I’ve had a hard time finding books that cover costing garments, and it is part of an assignment given every semester.

Busks, Basques and Brush-Braid: British dressmaking in the 18th and 19th centuries

By: Pam Inder

This one’s for me: 18th c costume details love love.

Communicating Fashion: Clothing, Culture, and Media

By: Myles Ethan Lascity

The intersection between communication, fashion, and culture is of growing interest to the students I work with.

Fashion, History, Museums: Inventing the Display of Dress

By: Julia Petro

We have a fledgling museum program, but they don’t talk much about mounting fashion exhibits. Maybe they should.

Cosplay Resources

I made a page for my Costume History LibGuide about Cosplay. I was surprised how hard it was to find good sources — so I’m sharing and hoping you will help me grow this list. Feel free to copy!

Word List

This word list, which isn’t in my guide, should be useful for all you librarians. I’ve marked the LCSHs with an asterisk.

With this wordlist, I’ve had success in databases finding useful articles from about 2002 forward.

Cosplay*costume design*characters
alternative histories*fashion*video games*
fans (persons)*clothing and dress*comic strip characters*
steampunk culture*gearcartoon characters*
role playing*gadgetvideo game characters*
victorian futurismmodels and modelmaking*dungeons and dragons*
cybergothic, cyberpunktechnology in art*women superfheroes*
fandomwearable technologygraphic novels*
subculture*dress upanime
geeks (computer enthusiasts)*comic books, strips, etc.*
street style

Books about Cosplay and Steampunk

Here are a few good books we have in our library; do you have others you can recommend?

Some Cosplay Websites

I only found a few that were not sales-oriented. What others are you aware of?


After Comic-con International, (San Diego), the list of orgs and events should probably be local. On my guide, I have the nearest large convention and several local groups.

League of Awesome Librarians

This isn’t immediately Fashion-librarian related, but I was writing this for our library newsletter and I thought you might be interested as well.

Last Spring I went to the Library Unconference, a unique gathering spnsored by the Library Collective that I really enjoyed.  The sessions were all highly interactive, immediately useful, and well-presented.  Plus the swag was The Best. That group has now launched an online community called the League of Awesome Librarians.  There is a subscription fee, so I considered that a little review would help people consider whether it’s worth it.

Once you’ve joined (there are 3 levels of support that get you more or less online content), you have access to the posts, discussions, Mastermind groups, and social media of the LAL site.  The site itself is well-designed, and makes easy sense.  At the mid-level membership, there are also quarterly “free” webinars, and if you buy in at the “I’m rich” level, you even get a quarterly sway bag.

There also multiple ways to meet up with librarians, subgroups to join, regular discussion starters to weight in on.  I like that the topics encompass library minutia as well as tangential fun topics like:

We’ve all got one—a lipstick shade, a candy, a soda flavor (cough, New Coke, cough). What discontinued product do you want to make a comeback?

(This prompt was a piece of larger theme of comebacks in librarianship: books, ideas, articles). 

Well done. The feel of the LAL is friendly, immediate, realistic, useful. I’m enjoying it so far. Happy to answer any questions.

(No, this is not a paid advertisement or even something LAL suggested, just my genuine boost of a good thing. -SBS)