Keep Your Cool With The NCC

The summertime is in full swing here in Chapel Hill, and like most people I’m running around looking for something to wear that won’t make me pass out from heatstroke in ten minutes or less. A surefire answer, for me at least, has been to make some garments myself. For a quick course in choosing fabrics and laying out pattern pieces, come in to the NCC’s lovely (and air-conditioned) reading room to peruse Margaret Hoffman’s Sew Far, Sew Good!. This 1958 publication starts with the aforementioned textile basics, expounds on some design philosophy, and even delves into a modest gallery of women’s apparel silhouettes and style lines (see sample image below).

And even if you’re an accomplished seamstress, pay us a visit for some textile inspiration: I recently found D.A. Tompkins’ Cotton Values in Textile Fabrics, printed in 1900, in our stacks. This fantastic volume showcases swatches of NC-produced cotton fabrics, from a North Carolina-made 10-ounce duckcloth to imported Swiss embroidery. My personal favorites are the rich violet “Amisilk,” a mercerized cotton with a sateen face, and the green and yellow checked Madras shirting.

Anna Julia Cooper, 1858-1964

Anna Julia Cooper was born into slavery in Raleigh in 1858.  She attended school at St. Augustine’s College just three years after the Civil War ended, and became the fourth African American woman in the country to receive her doctoral degree (in 1925, from the Sorbonne).  She later worked as a teacher and educational reformer in North Carolina and elsewhere, fighting for civil rights, gender equality, and educational opportunities for African American students.   She died in 1964 at 105 years old. The UNC Library has several items written by and about Anna Julia Cooper. Click here to see these resources.

The United States Postal Service recently released their 32rd annual Black Heritage stamp, which features a portrait in profile of Anna Julia Cooper.  You can purchase the stamp here.