Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Documentary - Code Debugging the Gender Gap

Code Debugging The Gender Gap by filmaker Robin Hauser Reynolds. My husband, daughter and I went to a screening of this documentary hosted by Amazon last night. My husband falls into the category of the concerned father of a daughter who may enter the world of coding and computers. He is also a strong believer that you should pursue what you love and it shouldn't be hindered by gender or colour. In the panel and Q&A after the movie Robin mentions that Dad's often question her how they can help change things so it is easier for their daughters when they enter the workforce. Her main recommendation is to add your voice and support to encouraging diversity. The tech world is like many other careers out there, if you happen to be a women or a person of colour it is most likely you are treated differently then the white males at the same company. A variety of groups and individuals are trying to change this in the fast growing world of tech.

Something that stood out to me throughout the film was that coding and computers have become an important part of life. So why aren't kids being taught more about it throughout their school years? I come from the world of fashion in my career choice and computers have become an integral part of this world also. Knowing the basics of coding and how computers work has practically become a neccessity, be it for your website, design and production or marketing. I find that there is more blurring of the lines between what is tech/business and tech/creativity. Computers have become another essential tool to becoming successful in practically any type of career. Knowing the basics of computers is about equal to knowing how to read and write nowadays.

This documentary does a great job discussing this matter with a good variety of people both male and female. It has people from Etsy, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and more all talking about how they are trying to make their teams more diverse. Thus far it has been an uphill battle with many potholes but progress is being made. Etsy has went so far as to start their own intensive training courses to increase the job pool. I know Amazon has a few organizations within the company to help and encourage female employees along with their diversity team. Anything that helps people to be treated as an individual instead of being accessed for their gender, colour or cultural background is wonderful. In an ideal world it wouldn't be necessary but I think we have a ways to go before that happens.

If you have a chance to view the movie - Go for It. 

The movie is a great conversation starter and provides a variety of potential ways to decrease the gender gap. It is encouraging to see a range of organizations debunking the myth that a career in tech is for white males. Training is gradually being made more accessible to the general person and girls are being encouraged to persue a computer science education. There is still a long ways to go and this is something everyone should be aware of. But if you know someone whose interest is twigged by coding start checking for local oppportunites for them to learn. CoderDojo is one I like or check out

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Review - Unmentionable The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners

Therese Oneill's book Unmentionable The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners is a fun light hearted read. One of those books you pick up and read a chapter, giggle a bit and put aside for some amusement another day. It will burst many idealized views of the Victorian era something which Horrible Histories has been doing for a while. The nice thing about this books is that it focuses on women and their plights.

It strips away much of the glamour that is shown in the standard movie set during the Victorian times. Most of the movies show the people as looking very glamourous in their dress and freshly bathed. Both these things were not really part of the Victorian life. Therese Oneill gets down to much of the nitty gritty about a Victorian life, lack of clean water being a big part of that. People very seldom bathed and their general cleanliness or lack there of would make most of us shudder. We must always remember they did not have the general conveniences of running water let alone showers.

She also covers menstruation, cosmetics, undergarments and the many perils connected with them. Each of these things could result in sickness and perhaps even death. Often women were institutionalized when they suffered from maladies of womanhood, though this was a method more affluent society used to deal with their women. Women of the working class had to learn how to deal with strenous labour, being responsible for the running of the household and during this have multiple children. Once you start studying any era, class distinction becomes an important part of it. Therese's use of historical publications through their pictures and ads is a humourous addition to many of the chapters.

A fun addition to my collection of fashion related books as many of them are very textbook like. This is a more accessible book to the average reader(someone who isn't fascinated with the history of textile mills) as long as you are ok with the humour and snarkiness it contains. The chapter titles reveal a lot about the book - The Treacherous Art of Bathing, Being a Good Wife: How to Avoid His Eventual Resentment for as Long as Possible, Public Behaviour:Avoiding Scorn, Dangers and Museums just being some examples. This was a wonderful book to take with me on transit as it is perfect for reading in snippets, and not so acedemic that being surrounded by distractions is a problem.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


 (ICI) developed and trademarked Crimplene in the 1950s. The thick polyester yarn is called Crimplene as is fabric made from this yarn. The yarn can be woven, but was most usually seen in a double knit. Crimplene fabric is heavy, wrinkle-resistant, wash-and-wear and easy to sew.
Crimplene will always give me fond memories. As a young child I remember having numerous outfits and other things made from the fabric. We lived in an area where various family friends worked at the Celenese plant in Millhaven. It was the Millhaven Fibers Plant and was the third polyester plant in the world opening in the fall of 1955. I always just remembered it as Celenese in Millhaven but see that name entered in 1972. It had started life as a polyester tire plant but in the late 60's early 70's it switched to yarns. The reason I had numerous things made from crimplene was the fact that the plant sold ends by the pound. I remember digging through a garbage bag, picking out colours, and then cutting squares so a blanket could be made. It seemed everyone in the neighbourhood had one of these blankets in their car, on the porch, with the picnic basket. It was something that could be thrown on the ground and easily washed out and then hung on the line if it got dirty.
During the 80's lines kept shutting down in the plant and they became one of the many textiles plants that closed or were retrofitted to create something else. Millhaven Fibers ceased to exist and now Celenese creates emulsion polymers and medical molds etc, not crimplene.

 Various adverts can be found like the one above showing men's shirts made from the fabric. I mostly just remember men wearing the pants and seeing what was referred to as leisure suits on TV. Like Mr Furley on Three's Company, this is how I practically always picture Don Knotts.

This following pattern picture is one of the most common looks I remember. These are also similar to what you can mostly find at vintage or thrift shops now. The vibrancy of the colours and prints were exceptional and it is one of the reasons crimplene is so recognizable and still has a following. Much of the clothing you can find nowaday looks new, the main thing when looking at it is to check for pilling, snags and pulls. But then if you are a purchaser of vintage or used clothing this is one of the standards to check for on anything.

 This is more similar to what I would of been wearing. Though by the time I reached the age of the girls in the advert I refused to wear crimplene. It may be extremely easy to care for because it was wash and wear but I assure you on a hot day it is not your friend.

Now if I could of had an outfit like Diana Riggs/Emma Peel from The Avengers I probably would of lived in it. This is one of the iconic looks of Emma Peel. I always was envious of her wardrobe and I have to admit I still am. She was one of the first strong self-sufficient women I remember from TV and she had the coolest clothes and boots.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Educational Commercials & Slippery Slopes

Yesterday I went down that slippery slope that happens sometimes when you start researching something. Intially I was looking for a particular documentary (Bra Wars: Boom or Bust) which I never did find. Will have to keep searching for that and maybe eventually I will get to watch it. But I did start finding a variety of what is classified as educational commercials put out during the 40's. 

These are actually quite fascinating in a surreal sort of way. Many of them start with a plot very reminescent of the movies of that decade. You Tube has scads of these commercials posted once you start looking or if you just click on a few of the suggestions on the sidebar. I am aware that my sidebar is probably quite different then many people out there. That thing called search history is sometimes a benefit, sometimes not.

Here is an example that I found quite surreal, it involves a dream sequence and time travel. I will warn you it is around a 1/2 hour to watch and at the end you may question why you kept watching but hopefully not. It is titled Tomorrow Always Comes and you will be introduced to Bur-Mil Rayon Fabric and Newform slips. It is interesting to see how greatly advertising has changed and in many ways the customer was probably better informed then today. They even cover the best way to wash Bur-Mil Rayon and discuss its colour fastness. This is only one of many I ended up watching and it led to a variety of research into fabrics and their creation. The history of textiles is a very fascinating topic to me and I don't need much encouragment to increase my education on the topic. I am sure this may result in a few more blog posts.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pattern Review - Butterick B5997

The other day at Barnes & Noble I decided to pick up the latest SewStyle magazine as a treat for myself. It had a variety of patterns packaged with it, the Butterick B5997 was one of them along with a wrap dress which I may try eventually. I had been thinking of making myself a simple cotton sleeveless blouse so I started digging through some of my fabric.

I knew I had purchased some cottons when I was last at Esther's Fabrics on Bainbridge Island. Esther's is well worth the visit but be warned you will mostly likely find something you have to buy ;). Across the street there is also a wonderful yarn shop called Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. Bainbridge Island also has a marvelous museum -Bainbridge Island Museum of Art- which has a special focus on local area artists. Going across on the ferry and just walking a short distance can make for a great afternoon. (That's my commercial for a trip to Bainbridge Island done lol)

After digging for a while I found my pile of prewashed cottons. The fabric I decided to use was the end of a bolt I had got at Esther's and there was just enough with a little creative pattern outlay.

I modified the pattern slightly by only doing one pin tuck on the front instead of the three on the pattern. I also extended it down further. Another tweak was merging sizes a bit as I have hips and I don't like my tops to get caught on them. Side slits were another addition for the same reason.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It Started With Some Fabric From Spoonflower

Tiny Steampunk Octopuses 6 by Jade Gordon which I purchased from Spoonflower Fabrics. At first I wasn't sure what colours to pick up and then I decided to just go for it. So the results was a very punchy bright bra and pantie set. The panties have a bright orange back.

I am quite happy with the bra and it fits well. Used the Simplicity 8229 by Madalynne as my starting point for the bra. Changed the strap by making them from the same fabric as frame. Also decided to use some colourful elastics I had and treat it like FOE(fold over elastic). Otherwise used the pattern with a few fitting tweaks that I have documented and included in the pattern sleeve for future reference. It has been a challenge for me but I have been doing a better job of keeping my notes for each pattern organized and all together. When I get working I have a tendency to create piles that then get set aside and sometimes piled with another pile. Have finally realized digging through piles and searching for loose notes is not the best use of my time and guess what sometimes it is really frustrating ;).

Now the panties were not such a success. I manged to pin them on the mannequin so they fit more like what I was going for but they need some alterations. The main problem was the heavy elastic I used on the waist and legs. Basically it makes both too loose aka too large. The leg in the back actually sits away from my bum, I really hate pantie lines, but this is definitely not a solution. Perhaps if I cut them apart at the side seam and change the angle of the seam and remove some excess fabric I can make them wearable. Already determined it was way too much work to rip off the elastic and start anew but I refuse to just toss them. The elastic may of been fine if I had used different fabric for the back but I went for a stretch mesh - Note to self Stretch mesh and heavy elastic don't play well together.

Stretch mesh has been my go to fabric lately for panties especially when I am trying to match another fabric. I bought a nice variety of colours at Pacific Fabric and it is something they consistently have. But stretch mesh doesn't work with everything no matter how hard I try to make it. The issue with making panties is that I don't really like tricot that much for them. Other options are stretch laces but sometimes that is more textured then I want. As for a nice light cotton spandex mix I haven't been having much luck finding that. To create a nice basic pair of panties sometimes seems quite elusive. Something with no prints, no texture and breathable fabric.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review - Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction

This is a book by Norma Loehr of Orange Lingerie. I read it originally close to two years ago when I initially purchased a copy but when I decided to finally use her Marlborough bra pattern I decided a reread would be good. The layout is simple and concise and works well for reference. Norma covers various fitting issues and her suggestions of alterations to a full frame bra pattern are presented well. She covers simple tricks for sewing with bra fabrics and how to fit an underwire correctly. The fact that she stresses well fitting underwire is essential is something I strongly agree with. Just switching out underwire in a ready to wear bra can create a drastic difference in its fit. This is something I have done for clients so they can actually get some wear out of bras that otherwise would just remain in their lingerie drawer.

A chapter which I think anyone making bras can benefit from is The Bridge Test. Norma does a great job of explaining in great detail how to do this while stressing that the space between an individuals breasts can vary greatly from person to person. The ideal fit for a bra is for the bridge to rest flat against your body. Now this is a bit difficult to do yourself so this is where a bra fitting buddy can be beneficial. Anyone who has tried to take accurate measurements themselves can attest to the fact it is better if you a have a measuring buddy when sizing a pattern.

A good friend and I had an amusing time following Norma's instructions to the tee. We actually followed her fitting techniques from start to finish. It was the perfect way to truly test the book. It helped my friend understand how a bra should correctly fit and I got to prove some points by attempting to fit what I knew to be totally wrong. She came away with a lot more knowledge on why she had a hard time finding bras that fit correctly and I got to practice how to best phrase certain questions when dealing with a client. Many people are not comfortable discussing measurements let alone ones for their intimate wear. Fitting ready to wear bras can be a challenge due to the intimacy involved but custom bra fitting can be even more intimate.

I would recommend this book it actually does Demystify various aspects of bras. The layout also makes it easy to reference when wanting to double check something be it for your own creations or to help explain the procedure of bra fitting to a client.