An Online Trove of Historic Sewing Patterns & Costumes

As Halloween draws nigh, our thoughts turn to costumes.

Not those rubbery, poorly constructed, sexy and/or gory off-the-rack readymades, but the sort of lavish, historically accurate, home-sewn affairs that would have earned praise and extra candy, if only our mother had been inclined to spend the bulk of October chained to a sewing machine.

Not that one needs the excuse of a holiday to suit up in a fluffy 50’s crinoline, a Tudor-style kirtle gown, or a 16th-century Flemish outfit with all the trimmings....

Accountant Artemisia Moltabocca, creator of the historical and cosplay costuming blog Costuming Diary, has primed our pump with a list of free historical medieval, Elizabethan and Victorian patterns, including ones for the garments mentioned above.




Click through the many links on her site and you may find yourself tumbling down a rabbit hole of some other cos-player's generosity.

That link to the custom corset pattern generator may set you on the road to creating a perfectly fitted Viking apron or a good-for-beginners tunic. (Bring out yer dead!)

Fancy even more choices? Moltabocca’s Free Historical Costume Patterns Pinterest board is a veritable trove of dress-up fun.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Costume and Textiles Project has detailed downloadable PDFs to walk you through construction of such anachronistic finery as a 1940’s Zoot Suit, a 19th-century boy’s frock (above), and a man’s vest with removable chest pads (hubba hubba).

An 1812 Ohio Militia Officer’s Coat from the Ohio Historical Society.

A pair of Nankeen Trousers courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum.

A bullet bra (hubba bubba redux!)—pair it with a 1940s Vogue hat and handbag and you’re ready to go!

A Regency Drawn Bonnet and an Improved Seamless Whalebone Underskirt from E. & J. Holmes & Co, Boston, 1857.

If you’re feeling less than confident about your sewing abilities, you might make like an upper-class Roman in an Ionian chiton.

Or just curl a synthetic wig!

Press someone else’s seams with a straightening iron (above), then kick back and enjoy the vintage ads, photos of antique garments, and the period information that often accompanies these how-tos. And check out the 1913 patent application for Marie Perillat’s Bust Reducer, a miracle invention designed to “prevent flesh bulging while providing self adjustable, comfortable, hygienic support.”

Begin with some of Costuming Diary’s historical sewing patterns before delving into its massive pattern collection board on Pinterest.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her current sewing project is 19 headpieces for Theater of the Apes Sub-Adult Division’s upcoming production of Animal Farm at the Tank in New York City. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

“The Philosopher’s Web,” an Interactive Data Visualization Shows the Web of Influences Connecting Ancient & Modern Philosophers

How do we begin to read philosophy? Can we slide a book from the shelf, thumb through it casually, picking out the bits of wisdom that make sense?

Should we find a well-known “important” work, sit in a quiet study, read the preface, translator’s introduction, etc…

How soon we discover we know less about the book than when we started.

We go wandering, lose ourselves in secondary sources, glosses, footnotes, comments sections, Wikipedia articles…. The important book remains unread….




In-between these two extremes are a variety of approaches that work well for many an autodidact. When data scientist Grant Louis Oliveira decided he wanted to undertake a self-guided course of study to “more rigorously explore my ideas,” he began with the honest admission, “I find the world of philosophy a bit impenetrable.”

Where some of us might make an outline, a spreadsheet, or a humble reading list, Oliveira created a complex “social network visualization” of “a history of philosophy” to act as his guide.

“What I imagined,” he writes, “is something like a tree arranged down a timeline. More influential philosophers would be bigger nodes, and the size of the lines between the nodes would perhaps be variable by strength of influence.”

The project, called “Philosopher’s Web,” shows us an impressively dense collection of names—hundreds of names—held together by what look like the bendy filaments in a fiber-optic cable. Each blue dot represents a philosopher, the thin gray lines between the dots represent lines of influence.

The data for the project comes not from academic scholarship but from Wikipedia, whose “semantic companion” dbpedia Oliveira used to construct the web of “influenced” and “influenced by” connections. (Read about his method here.)

As you zoom in, click around, and access different views, the dots and lines wave like tendrils of a sea anemone. Oliveira describes the process thus: “the more influential the philosopher, the thicker and more numerous the lines emanating from him. You can click on any one of these nodes to see which philosopher it represents. If you click and hold, it will display the network of philosophers he has been influenced by, and has influenced. Each line has an arrow at the end to denote the direction of the relationship.” (Despite his use of the masculine pronoun, Oliveira's web of connections is not exclusively male.)

Both the project's site and Daily Nous have more nuanced, detailed instructions. While at first glance the Philosopher’s Web can itself seem a bit impenetrable, it reveals more of its inner workings the more you use it. Press and hold on one of the blue dots, and it expands into a smaller cluster of its own, showing a cloud of connections hovering around the central figure. Toggle the “focus” and you get secondary and tertiary relationships.

 

Click on the lines of influence and see, instead of an explanation, a somewhat mystifying “influence score.” Click on the “Filter” tab under "Settings" and find a range of filters that allow you to narrow or widen the scope of the map to certain historical periods.

In addition to individual philosophers, the web also contains the names of several writers, journalists, columnists, and popular public intellectuals, like Paul Krugman and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It also displays several movements or schools of thought as blue dots. Want to know the big names in “Insurrectionary Anarchism”? Click on the node and chose your levels of specificity.

The weaknesses of the approach are perhaps immediately apparent. What good is a cluster of unfamiliar names to the beginner, especially since each one appears devoid of historical and intellectual context? Oliveira discloses some other problems, including an issue with the software rendering accents and foreign characters (as you can see in Slavoj Žižek's entry above.)

But the more one uses the Philosopher’s Web, the more its utility becomes apparent. “Hopefully based on context,” writes Oliveira, “you should be able to figure out who these people are with a little bit of google.” Visualizing the connections between them gives one an instant sense of the communities and continuities to which they belong, and among each cluster will always be at least one or two familiar names, at least in passing, to act as an anchor.

All in all, the Philosopher’s Web should prove to be a useful application for a certain kind of learner, and it represents a step-up from the ritual of clicking through Wikipedia links to try and put the puzzle pieces together one at a time. The Philosopher's Web joins a number of other similar visualizations (see the links below) that aim at creating similar maps of the discipline.

Should you find the approach a little sterile and schematic, well... there's always that book you put down a few hours ago....

via Daily Nous

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

An Oral History of the Bauhaus: Hear Rare Interviews (in English) with Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & More

Image by Detief Mewes, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bauhaus, which operated as an influential school in Germany between 1919 and 1933 but lives on as a kind of aesthetic ideal, has its strongest associations with highly visual work, like textiles, graphic design, industrial design, and especially architecture. But a good deal of thought went into establishing the kind of rationality- and functionality-oriented philosophical basis that would produce all that visual work, and you can hear some of the leading lights of the Bauhaus discuss it, in English, on the record Bauhaus Reviewed: 1919 to 1933, now available on Spotify. (If you don't have Spotify's software, you can download it here.) You can also purchase your own copy online.




"The bulk of the narrative is by [Walter] Gropius, an articulate and passionate advocate for this remarkable experiment in education," writes All Music Guide's Stephen Eddins. "Artist Josef Albers and architect [Ludwig] Mies van der Rohe also contribute commentary. [LTM Records founder] James Nice is credited with 'curating' the CD, and it must be his editing that gives the album such a clear and informative narrative structure — one comes away with a vivid understanding of the development of the movement, both philosophically and pragmatically."

In between the spoken passages on the origins of the Bauhaus, form and totality, handling and texture, utopianism, and other topics besides, Bauhaus Reviewed 1919-1933 offers musical compositions by such Bauhaus-associated composers as Arnold Schoenberg, Josef Matthias Hauer, and George Antheil. You can hear some of the sound from the record repurposed in Architecture as Language, the short about Mies by Swiss filmmaker Alexandre Favre just below. In it that pioneer of modernism discusses the Bauhaus as well as his own individual work, all of it interesting to anyone with an inclination toward midcentury European-American architecture and design, none of it ultimately more relevant than the final words the master speaks: "I don't want to be interesting. I want to be good."

via Monoskop

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

To Read This Experimental Edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, You’ll Need to Add Heat to the Pages

The Jan van Eyck Academie, a "multiform institute for fine art, design and reflection" in Holland, has come up with a novel way of presenting Ray Bradbury's 1953 work of dystopian fiction, Fahrenheit 451. On Instagram, they write:

This week our colleagues from Super Terrain are working in the Lab as a last stop on their all-over-Europe printing adventures. They showed us this remarkable book they made "Fahrenheit 451". ---

Want to see how the novel unfolds? Just add heat. That's the idea.

Apparently they actually have plans to market the book. When asked on Instagram, "How can I purchase one of these?," they replied "We're working on it! Stay tuned."

When that day comes, please handle the book with care.

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via Twisted Sifter

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A Virtual Tour of Japan’s Inflatable Concert Hall

After the massive Fukushima earthquake in 2011, architect Arata Isozaki and artist Anish Kapoor created the Ark Nova, an inflatable mobile concert hall, designed to bring music to devastated parts of Japan. Made of a stretchy plastic membrane, the Ark Nova can be inflated within two hours. Add air in the afternoon. At night, enjoy a concert in a 500-seat performance hall. Afterwards, deflate, pack on truck, and move the gift of music to the next city.

Marc Kushner, author of The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings, takes us on a virtual tour of the concert hall in the video above. Over on the website Dezeen, you can see an array of photos, showing both the interior and exterior of this ingenious structure.

via Swiss Miss

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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The Smithsonian Design Museum Digitizes 200,000 Objects, Giving You Access to 3,000 Years of Design Innovation & History

John Lennon poster by Richard Avedon

When we think of design, each of us thinks of it in our own way, focusing on our own interests: illustration, fashion, architecture, interfaces, manufacturing, or any of a vast number of sub-disciplines besides. Those of us who have paid a visit to Cooper Hewitt, also known as the Smithsonian Design Museum, have a sense of just how much human innovation, and even human history, that term can encompass. Now, thanks to an ambitious digitization project that has so far put 200,000 items (or 92 percent of the museum's collection) online, you can experience that realization virtually.

Concept car designed by William McBride

The video below explains the system, an impressive feat of design in and of itself, with which Cooper Hewitt made this possible. "In collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office, the mass digitization project transformed a physical object (2-D or 3-D) from the shelf to a virtual object in one continuous process," says its about page. "At its peak, the project had four photographic set ups in simultaneous operation, allowing each to handle a certain size, range and type of object, from minute buttons to large posters and furniture. A key to the project’s success was having a completely barcoded collection, which dramatically increased efficiency and allowed all object information to be automatically linked to each image."

Given that the items in Cooper Hewitt's collection come from all across a 3000-year slice of history, you'll need an exploration strategy or two. Have a look at the collection highlights page and you'll find curated sections housing the items pictured here, including psychedelic posters, designs for automobiles, architect's eye, and designs for the Olympics — and that's just some of the relatively recent stuff. Hit the random button instead and you may find yourself beholding, in high resolution, anything from a dragonish fragment of a panel ornament from 18th-century France to a late 19th-century collar to a Swedish vase from the 1980s.

Mexico 68 designed by Lance Wyman

Cooper Hewitt has also begun integrating its online and offline experiences, having installed a version of its collection browser on tables in its physical galleries. There visitors can "select items from the 'object river' that flows down the center of each table" about which to learn more, as well as use a "new interactive Pen" that "further enhances the visitor experience with the ability to “collect” and “save” information, as well as create original designs on the tables." So no matter how much time you spend with Cooper Hewitt's online collection — and you could potentially spend a great deal — you might, should you find yourself on Manhattan's Museum Mile, consider stopping into the museum to see how physical and digital design can work together. Enter the Cooper Hewitt's online collection here.

Temple of Curiosity by Etienne-Louis Boullée

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Free Courses on Design from the Famous California Design Firm IDEO Start This Week

A quick fyi: This week, the famous California design firm IDEO has launched two free courses--a 7-week Introduction to Human-Centered Design and a 4-week course on Prototyping.

As you might recall, we recently featured A Crash Course in Design Thinking from Stanford’s Design School. If that piqued your interest in design and design thinking, then IDEO's courses might hold appeal. You can enroll in both courses, at no cost, today.

More free courses can be found in our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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