Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: Girling Up & Girl Code

Girling Up by Mayim Bialik was a quick read, it is written for tweens and young women but I enjoyed her humour and anecdotes even though I belong in neither category. She does a wonderful job of emphasizing that everyone feels the odd man out at times. Mayim references many different points of her life, personal and professional(actress and neuroscientist) throughout the book She stresses that she was a late bloomer and jokes that her first kiss was on screen during a Blossom episode and we can now see her portrayal of an socially awkward adult on Big Bang Theory. The book is broken down into six chapters starting with How Our Bodies Work and concluding with How We Matter. She discusses hormones, sexuality, education, respect, self worth and how to deal with life. Mayim does all this in a down to earth manner and it was an enjoyable read.

Girl Code by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser is a book I would strongly recommend to any girl who is considering coding as a career. Both Andrea and Sophie talk about what their perceptions of coding were before and after their experiences within this world. They discuss many preconceptions they started with and how they were altered. Their summer together at Girls Who Code totally changed their lives, the final project resulted in Tampon Run which then went viral and they both learnt a lot about themselves during this time. It will be interesting to see if either girl persues coding or computer science careers later in life. Andrea and Sophie are very different girls and come from very different backgrounds but they found a similar love in coding and striving for social change. Coding provided them both with a voice and a strong sense of accomplishment. 

Both books are very positive and would be a great read for any young women who is struggling to find herself or just needs that little extra support in knowing they are not alone in their struggle. They are being put in the pile of books for my daughter to read which lives beside her bed. I hope she discovers and reads these when the time is right.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Who? Nelly Don the Company and the Woman Part 1

Nelly Don born Ellen Quinlan(1889) in Parsons, Kansas the 12th child of Irish-Americans. After finishing high school at the age of 16 she moved to Kansas City and got a job as a stenographer where she met Paul Donnelly a fellow stenographer whom she married at the age of 17. Nelly wanted to continue her education so when she was 19 Paul helped pay for her to attend Lindenwood College in Missouri, she was the only married student. After graduation in 1909 she returned to being a housewife. Nelly hated the standard fashions available for a housewife at the time so she started to design and create her own housedresses. After being continually asked by neighbours and friends about her clothing she decided to go into business.

At the time housedresses sold for .69 cents and Nelly dresses sold for $1.00 each.  She had a hard time convincing any retailers to sell her dresses until Peck's Dry Goods agreed to take 18 dozen dresses on consignment in 1916. Paul managed to scrape enough money together to buy fabric and some foot pedal sewing machines.It took Nell and two friends sewing for two months to get the order finished. Her pink gingham empire-style housedress which was fitted and trimmed with ruffles sold out in a few days. 

From the very beginning Nelly believed that dresses should look stylish and flattering on women of a wide range of sizing. 

Each design was prototyped in every size to ensure that it fit correctly and little alteration would be needed beyond what Nelly worked into the design of the garment. The dresses often had slide fasteners and adjustable waistlines and belts. Another feature was "Double stitching at the waistline tape in one piece dresses. Rip out the top row of stitching for added shoulder-to-waist length". Most of the dresses could be washed and drip dried with minimum ironing and had at leat one pocket.

Nelly made her first million dollars by 27 by reinventing the housedress. She pioneered clothing piecing production by taking inspiration from aviation and car manufacturing industries on production. By 1923 she employed 250 people(mainly women) and her dresses were sold in most department stores across the U.S. She was always a great publicist as she understood the benefits of cross promotion. She provided all stores with extensive marketing support through pamphlets, radio and newspaper ads but also insisted they agree to exclusivity and sell no other dresses. Many department stores had a whole area which was labeled the Nelly Don Shop.

Friday, June 9, 2017

What? is Conscious Consumerism

What is conscious consumerism and why is it important? Also How can we make our children aware of the concept? A basic definition is using our dollars to vote for what we believe. This mainly means only buying items or services that match our own ethical and moral beliefs. This brings up my mantra of "Knowledge is Power"

When discussing the topic with my daughter it usually starts with the "Gimmies, WantEms & NeedEms". Which heading does the item fall under? I feel this is very important base when discussing consumerism, we should always be aware of which heading every item we buy falls under. I think we are all guilty of the Gimmies & WantEms and we often try to convince ourselves and others that they are really NeedEms. Often the terms can blur as we may need something but do we need that particular one. 

Conscious consumerism can be very abstract at times as it does come down to each individual. There is no defined demographic, though much effort has been given trying to determine one. Transparency in the supply chain has become a big part of many companies over the last decade and it has become much easier for the average consumer to find this information. An easy way is to look for companies mission statements or at least see if they have one or look for the About Page. See if they have similar beliefs to your own, do they care about their workers as individuals.

We should as consumers always think about where something comes from, how was it made, who made it, does the company support similar beliefs to our own? This is all very important but it is a lot to think about when we need to buy something as simple as socks or decide where we should buy our next coffee. Which is why total conscious consumerism can be a difficult thing to follow through on. I strongly believe in trying to walk the walk not just talk the talk but sometimes it can be difficult to only buy things we truly need or to care about every little step of how the the product has made its way into our hands. 

Conscious Consumerism is a topic very important to me and I have been thinking about it quite a bit lately. Part of the reason for it being forefront in my mind is because I have been asked to make an 1.5 hr presentation on the topic. Luckily I have a while to prepare and sort out how best to approach the subject beforehand. My daughter is very interested in contributing her viewpoint on the topic as a middle school student and I plan on including this. The presentation is geared towards how to make Conscious Consumerism part of teaching your child about money management and ethical decision making so having her viewpoint will be an added bonus. I am sure my research will take me down many side paths so the trick will be not to stray too much from my outline for the presentation ;).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

June's Reading List

I have to admit that I haven't quite finished last months reading list. "The Design Of Everyday Things" by Don Norman has slowed me down a bit. It is very interesting but it is not a book that has absorbed me for large periods of time. I will probably finish it this week and I have been absolutely intrigued by parts of it but it has been a slower read then my norm. "Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time" by Terence Michael O'Malley has opened a slippery slope for me. I have now ordered the true crime novel about Nelly Don's kidnapping and I am presently working on some posts about her. "Magnifeco" by Kate Black is a wonderful book to be introduced to conscious consumerism, she does a good job discussing options. I did not discover much new myself but I still enjoyed the book.

For June I have picked four books partially due to the fact that I have a longer airflight plannd for later in the month which always make for good reading time. It was also because I have boughten new books so my pile isn't really decreasing ;).

"Making Ideas Happen - Overcoming The Obstacles Between Vision & Reality" by Scott Belsky caught my eye one day at a bookstore. This is one of those business books I read ocassionally as a way to focus myself on actual business, will have to wait and see how it reads. "Girl Code - Gaming, Going Viral and Getting It Done" by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser was another book that caught my attention from the shelf. Each girl is writing their perspective of what they learnt while learning to code and how their game "Tampon Run" going viral effected them.

"Girling Up - How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular" by Mayim Bialik, PhD. What can I say part of the reason I bought this is because "Hey She was Blossom" or nowadays Sheldon's girlfriend aka Amy Farrah Fowler. I also love the fact that she decided to leave acting for a while to get a degree in Neuroscience and become a mother. As she states on the back of the book it is about "The Science of Being a Girl". I am hoping that my tween daughter will also decide to read this book along with "Girl Code".

As for "Fashion Is Spinach - How to Beat the Fashion Racket" by Elizabeth Hawes, well it is partly due to the title it made it to my personal reading list. There is a personal joke between my husband and I that I like green things, food, enviromental choices, eco-fashion. Elizabeth Hawes is also known for her strong opinions on the fashion industry and never seemed to have problems voicing them during her career in the fashion world. I have read mixed reviews on this book and am looking forward to reading it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Where? My Studio

This past week I have actually been spending some time in my studio and sewing. The last while I have been trying to introduce a new routine which is more well rounded. I always have a tendency to go on sewing binges and immerse myself in production work for days in a row. Surprise, surprise my body doesn't like this treatment. So I have been trying to sew for an 1-1.5 hours then taking a break, this is against my nature, it always seems to be feast or famine situation with me. I will sew 8-12 hrs a day when I am in a sewing mood with few breaks. My new routine involves trying to break up my jobs more throughout the day, this has not been an easy task for me. 

I made space for my new adjustable desk which I can use standing or sitting and it is actually in my studio. This took a bit of work and reorganizing to accomplish, it also forced me to finish going through the numerous boxes that had been moved from Canada. Those mystery mixed boxes that I kept looking in and then closely quickly have finally been sorted. Mystery boxes were in abundance after having a moving company pack my old studio. I had also condensed two studios, my home and business into one just previous to the move. Anyways it is great to have my desk and computer in my upstairs studio, partially due to the fact that my studio gets natural light. Though I do admit to still using my laptop while sitting on the living room couch a lot.

My sewing machines are on an kitchen island I purchased at Ikea, it is nice and sturdy and the surface doesn't vibrate when I am sewing, which is a definite plus to me. I use my sergers and coverstich machine while standing and sit to use my sewing machine. By not sitting for long stretches of time my shoulders and back don't get as sore. I like to have two sergers threaded and ready to go, one of them normally threaded with a neutral like black, cream or white.

I still haven't managed to clear everything out from under my cutting table, maybe some day, we all need goals ;). The other thing I didn't manage to get organized was a place to leave my ironing board up. I am thinking to solve this issue I may make myself a board that can be used on my cutting table. I also need a place to leave a dress mannequin and my steamer accessible, but as I said we all need goals. Or perhaps someday I will find that magical room which is "bigger on the inside."

Monday, May 22, 2017

What? Is a Magic Mirror

What is a magic mirror? A lot of us instantly think of something similar to the image above, most everyone knows the story of Snow White. The magic mirror is something that is now referenced in the world of fashion quite often. It varies immensely but the main idea behind all of them remains the same, to enhance the shopper's experience. They have been making appearances for at least 10 years now at different levels of technology but they still haven't really hit mainstream as first predicted when introduced.

I have been coming across them quite regularly in my research on garment sizing. Nothing that is available thus far deals with sizing issues well and they are mostly used in stores as a novelty due to their cost. Normally they are seen in the main retail store area as a giant touchscreen where a customer can scan through available stock. 
Some take a picture of you and then you can tweak images of garments and fit them on your image. You get a rough idea of whether the garment is some thing you may like without actually having to try it on, and you get to play with technology. They don't give you an accurate idea of how the garment will fit.
Others remind me of dressing a paperdoll, the cool thing is that the paperdoll is you. The person is you on the screen and you scroll through different outfits playing dressup. I have seen this method used at fashion related exhibits at museums as a way to make the exhibit more interactive and a chance to see yourself on the red carpet. Both often give you the option of sharing the image through social media or via email.

Another magic mirror type includes RFID(Radio Frequency Identification) technology. The RFID's are being embedded in the mirrors and when you enter the changing room with garments the tags are automatically scanned. The mirror can then suggest other possible garments and accessories to complete the outfit. Some may even suggest options that suit your silhouette better or makeup options. Ones that have a tablet in the change room can allow you to request other sizes or colours from a sales clerk or even the option of purchasing garments without even leaving the change room. 

The question is Do Magic Mirrors enhance the shopping experience? Is technology simplifying or confusing matters more?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Where? Kinokuniya Bookstore

My daughter has discovered Anime in the last while so I decided we would take a visit to Kinokuniya Bookstore here in the International District, Seattle. Of course they have a membership card like most bookstores of today, and surprise I got one. Anyone who knows me at all knows I am a sucker for bookstores and getting a membership card like this to help support my habit, how could I resist.

Until now I hadn't made it to Kinokuniya, though it had been on my radar for a while. Since my daughter has been watching back to back episodes of Black Butler and I finally got her to watch Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle I decided it was time to check it out. I think she has fallen in love ;) I envision more Anime movies in the near future.

Here she is checking out the Funko POP selection (she is now the proud owner of Sebastion from Black Butler). She's wearing her newly altered suit jacket and pants as I picked her up right from school and it had been recital day. Of course she is also wearing her Sans hat as it seldomly leaves her head.

I was impressed with the wall of ENFU Stickers and bought myself a new one to put on my laptop. I have boughten a few of these stickers since moving to Seattle. Both of us found many things we wanted and I didn't even check out the stationary area. I was kinda of afraid to as I knew I would find an assortment of writing implements that I need. Another bookstore has been officially added to my list of places to frequent.

A little WEAR? blurb

My daughter wearing her new Sans hat as her old one is looking a little worse for wear. The old one is made of fleece and more of a dingy grey then white. I made her new one out of a nice cotton knit which will be much more comfortable this time of year.