Friday, 29 June 2012

Continuous Fly by David Neustadter

© Ooe Yofukuten - Continuous Fly

Designing Jeans, is something I've been lucky to enjoy these past 10 years, but theres a detail that seems to be bring joy to a small minority ( including me) and its a inner battle within the denim community and its regarding flys Construction methods. 

Most designers will have not probably notice or even seen a "Continuous Fly" before, and for sure some would even say: "whats the point?"

The Continuous Fly was invented by David Neustadter and he was able to patent his design on 30th October, 1877. But its widely believed that this detail was used by Neustadter Brothers as early as 1875 on their 1st work pant -  The Neustadter Brothers in San Francisco manufactured the "Boss of the Road" overalls as early as late 1850's. 

Above: David Neustadter's Patent for is Continuous Fly

Its amazing as Neustadter's Patent clearly outlines his reason for inventing the detail, and its a joy to read even today: 

"My invention relates to a certain improvement in overalls and pantaloons, having for its object to STRENGTHEN the garment at the point where the inner seams meet, where the greatest strain is received, and at the same time to SIMPLIFY the construction and cost of manufacture. To this end my invention consists in making the "fly" or facing of the sides of the front of the garment in one continuous strip or piece..."

Above: Boss of the Road Patch "with patented Continuous fly" - 
Credit to: Henry Wong of

It seems strange to me, a detail which clearly STRENGTHEN's and SIMPLIFY's is missing from modern denim of today. But to be honest its no surprise. Most good functional details get watered down in time, and lost. As a manufacturer of Denim myself, i can see to speed up production it was left out, but this detail should have remained in my books. 

For me a very small number of Denim and Fashion brands uses this detail, they are clearly on the VERY top of their game and are (in my books), True Denim / workwear Specialist -

Notable brands Like: Ooe Yofukuten, DENHAM, Warehouse / Duck Digger, Rising Sun & Co, Hellers Cafe, and notable high end fashion designer Carol Christain Poell all use Continuous Fly across there top spec garments. I shall too when i release my own brand.

Above © CAROL CHRISTIAN POELL - 1 piece Selvage Continuous Fly
The Allure of this detail, also makes its all nice a neat and clean on the inside. Esp if you don't want horrible over locking. Its defiantly a standard. Ive also seen Continuous Fly on many modern military  garments to date, which is nice to see ! esp as they seem to think its still a good standard detail to use even to this day. 

Below is another example of a Continuous Fly, this time on a vintage Chino sample from my Archive.

Lots of denim companys say there Premium, but i say 'pah' to the word Premium. It seems easy now to get selvage, and selvage from good suppliers, even have concealed rivets, even hemmed on Union Specials, but how many so called Premium Jeans Companies have Continuous Fly's... ?

Monday, 12 March 2012

SINGER 114w103 - Chainstitch Embroidery Machine

The love affair with chain stitching is somewhat eclipsed if you have one of these. The Singer 114w103 is the first chainstitch machine Singer made, starting around 1911. It was 1st used in a treadle table and often called a “Cornely Type”, modeled after Cornely of France’s design that went into production in 1865.

These single needle chain-stitch machines were used to stitch names onto garments, workshirts, handkerchiefs etc...  Now most embroideries are done on modern computerised machines, but there something quite amazing using the freehand crank below the machine, while directing your embroidery above, and controlling the speed with your feet.

Roy Slaper of "ROY" has one of these machines, which he, by hand chain stitches the shop / or often his own name in the jean on the pocket bag. check out a video of him using this amazing machine on his selvage duck pants for Self Edge...

Pocket Highway © Roy Slaper

1st 2 images © Grain & Gram - Roy Slaper on his Singer 114w103 
 © Roy Slaper / SELF EDGE
© Roy Slaper

Finding one has been tricky, they sometimes pop up on ebay, and sell for 300-500USD but theres a guy in japan who re-conditions them, stripes them down, re paints them... and even makes custom boxes for them, ( so you can have the hand crank on top of the main table) and so they can fit on any modern table, with out much modification.. I personally like them with the paint coming off.  This will be the next machine i invest in for sure.

Below are some more images of this special machine.....
Above image © The West is Dead - (much respect !)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Miniature "mini" Denim

Early Levi's - mini denim - photograph (c) mohsin sajid

The fascination of producing miniature versions of things has always been embedded in us. It first of all shows us skill, craft, and knowledge to be able to produce things in mini form. Countless art movements, paintings, books have all been produced in miniature. It only seems natural, when you Master something, Miniaturisation is the way to go...  

I first came across my 1st a miniature levi's pant in a vintage denim shop in Tokyo back in 2004. i was blown away. I wanted one.. but was told "not for sale, only one..." but i was also told, back in the day, sales teams would make miniature versions of the collection to sale against, and this way would not break their backs lugging the collections around the country - Everything would be made in the correct fabric - so it would be a true representation of the garment - Not quite sure if its true, but its a nice story. 

Above 4 images (c) Levi's - Big E era mini Levi's

Theres been a trend on mini denim for a little while now, its seems like every cool brand is taking this, old concept, and spinning it with a little help from marketing. Plus its fun and hard / pain in the ass to do. Quite funny, our good friends at levi's did re-invent this very same concept and showed us all how it should be done, check out the image below from there bread and butter show for ss12.
Above LEVI'S(R) LVC SS12 collection - all Miniature - pretty cool is an understatement !.

Even in the Levis meat packing LVC shop in NYC,  you can see some mini denim representations next to there fits... - super cool : 

Above 2 images from LEVI'S(R) LVC Meat packing store on 414 W14th

Given the excitement of mini denim, about a year ago, i decided to make my own mini from my DKNY JEANS slim block i designed. I even got the global visual merchandising in on it, to pitch an idea for a Xmas store concept... The sad thing is, it was never picked up, but my mini denim was produced - Below are some prototypes of my selvage version, and images of the ones we got made with one of our factories...

Above my crude selvage attempt at mini denim - (c) MOHSIN SAJID / DKNY JEANS 

Above are the factory versions of the mini jeans we made for DKNY JEANS - of course not selvage like my mock up - but nice attempt never the less, using correct fabric and washing treatments from SS12...

Below are two great designers, Jason Denham and Julian Dash who have both dabbled in mini denim- I very much like how Jasons mini denim has pencils in it.

The Great Japanese brand Momotaro Jeans, also very recently made a mini denim version of their pant, esp nice is the hand scraping  / whisker marks and washing treatment.. super nice....
Above Image (c) Momotaro Jeans

Long Live Mini Denim !

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Reece 101 "The Iron Duke" Chainstitch Key Hole Button Holes

While making my own denim sample collection, its been clear to me, from the start, to try and get all the correct machinery. The love affair with all things old, has led me to "The Iron Duke" The Reece 101.

This Chain stitch button hole machine, is one of the most respected, best-known models. These monsters have been the standard for keyhole chainstitch button holes for ages and recognised through-out the industry as probably the best keyhole machine ever made..

One of the main reasons why its so popular, is because of a few details that makes this wonderful machine stand out. 

Stationary Bed Plate
The Reece 101 is the only machine worldwide which allows the work to remain stationary while the head travels around the buttonhole. This guarantees that the garment does not move during the sewing cycle.

The only Hand Hole model in the world
Its one of the 1st machines capable of sewing an imitation hand stitch buttonhole, with a top gimp attachment. The hand hole is, without a doubt one of the best buttonhole you will see anywhere and it gives the appearance of a hand sewn buttonhole.

Getting hold of one is fairly easy, ( lots of ebay) plus many online sellers -  Mainly because so many of these bad boys have been made. Just like the Union Special 43200Gs most of the Reece 101s have now found there way to China in mid 80's. Of course spending upwards of 3000GBP > 10,000GBP is a big commitment for anyone... Luckily there are many sewing specialist companies reconditioning and rebuilding these monsters - specialist jobs which the machines are stripped down, reconditioned or rebuilt, repainted, reassembled & tested by experienced specialist Reece trained engineers - crazy!.

check out BRAITHWAITE: 
They are Reconditioning and rebuilding many... some which look brand new after the rebuild !

 Above is a video of a Reece 101 in action - (source Youtube)

Ive just ordered my 1st Reece 101, its a old beauty, but personally i don't think its sacrilege to just use a old 1950's Singer buttonholer to do this job... esp if its a few pieces to show a client... but if gonna do it right, i say invest in the 101 !

Below is a 1950's Singer Buttonholer and comparisons vs Reece 101- For me this was the easiest / simplest way to get a key hole button hole, (when i started) I always knew i would need to jump to "chain stitch" later, as they look so much more better - but, after my business kicks off, buts its a good logical step before i invested in the Reece 101 esp if you want your products to look professional.

There are many moulds you can get, which is handy, I esp like the eyelet one...

Above is a comparison Singer Buttonholer vs Reece 101
Its easy to see how neat the Reece 101 is compared to others.. esp domestic Singer buttonholer - note the nice chain stitch on the front side on the Reece 101.  

Me sewing a very early prototype, on a Selvage fly - using the Singer Buttonholer 

Below are more images of Reece 101 chain stitch buttonhole - enjoy:

The Formation of button hole machines is quite an interesting story.  Author / Denim Historian Michael Allen Harris can explain / sum it up for us. Above is a video of him and i believe his father in law, in a Mine searching for Denim, They come across a denim pant with hand stitched button holes. Below are images of similar hand stitched button holes, Video and images (C) Michael Allen Harris - 
But i guess nothing will be better then just going to a tailor and getting it done...