Fashion designers have always been inspired by older styles. They pay homage to beautiful clothing of the past, while bringing new meaning to silhouettes, construction techniques, and embellishments. Custom clothiers and home sewers have the ability to personalize and update beloved looks from years or decades ago. This year, Threads challenges the members of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals to create a contemporary ensemble based on a vintage inspiration.
Rather than looking for garments in thrift shops or museum collections, we ask you to find inspiration in the unparalleled digital library of sewing patterns belonging to the Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island. This online resource (CoPA.apps.uri.edu) catalogs thousands of patterns from 1847 to the 2010s. It can bring you closer to dressmakers of the past, by showing you the designs they used to create their self-sewn wardrobes. The archive is fully searchable by year, garment type, pattern company, and more. You’ll find images of the pattern envelopes in most cases. In some, there are also scans of layout diagrams, offering a hint about what the pattern pieces look like.
You’ll need to apply to the librarian in charge for a free login to the archive; follow the directions on the site to do so. Once you log in, you are free to browse all the pattern listings. Whether you’re a fan of Edwardian styles or 1970s-era looks, or anything in between, you’re sure to find images that spark your creativity. You might even find long-lost favorite patterns from your early days of sewing.
From the archive, select up to three patterns as inspiration for your contemporary design. In your artist’s statement, explain which element(s) of each pattern you have adapted for your design: It could be the overall silhouette, interesting style lines, a detail such as a collar, sleeve, or special closure, or applied embellishment. Be sure to create a full look: Every top must have a bottom and vice versa, or design a dress or jumpsuit. Include links to your source patterns on the CoPA website, or embed images from the site into your statement, so the judges can view your inspiration. Also provide up to six photos of your finished look: a full front view, a full back view, and four detail views of your choice.
Enjoy your exploration. We know you’ll find your way back to the present, enriched by sharing the sewing treasures of dressmakers and tailors of yore.
Questions? Contact the Challenge coordinator at email@example.com
The Challenge is open to formal, emeritus, and retired members with at least one year of continuous membership in the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. Entrants must maintain their membership in good standing throughout the entire Challenge process, from submission of Intent to Enter through publication of winning garments by the magazine. The winner of Best Overall is asked to serve as a judge for the next year's challenge, and therefore cannot enter.
If you are currently a student, emerging, or patron of ASDP and would like to change membership categories so you can enter, contact the VP of Membership at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 1, 2022: Intent to Enter Form and fees submitted online by 10:00 PM EDT.
April 30, 2022: Entry Number(s) sent to Entrant via email. First round submissions will be handled electronically, so please add email@example.com to your safe list and save all Challenge related emails.
August 1, 2022: First round entry submissions are due 10:00 PM EDT as registered on the Challenge inbox. Complete the Challenge Submission Form online. You will be attaching your photos, Artist Statement and Runway Commentary in the form. You will also need to complete the Fashion Show and Member Showcase Entry form.
September 20, 2022: Notification of status of all entries by email.
October 20, 2022: Finalist entries are due at Conference for final judging.
October 21, 2022: Winners will be announced at Conference during the Runway Fashion Show and Member Showcase.