Friday, March 31, 2017

Reorganizing - Books Etc

I have been reorganizing a lot lately. I needed to make room for a desk in my studio and finish sorting boxes that were still unsorted from the move. So the task was successful. I now have many of my books in my bedroom and some of them in my husband's home office. While going through the many books I own I eliminated some, they made their way into some of the local Little Free Libraries( I love these, and there are quite a few in the area). As you can see from the following picture I still have a few books. My studio is also nicely organized at the present with all notions sorted by type and then colour.

As I went through my books, I decided some were worth rereading and others I just didn't want to give up. I also have many fashion reference books which I use off and on. Some of them quite frequently, often it is for a particular design I may have in my mind and I want to refresh myself on a technique or fabric compatibility. I now have books picked out for the next few months to be read, because of course I found some books that had been boughten and not read yet. About once a year I check my books for this, you know the ones that got misplaced in a pile somewhere.

One of the books I pick up and reread parts of now and then is "how to start a home-based Fashion Design Business" by Angela Wolf. This is partially due to the advice Angela has at the end of the book that it is a good idea to reevaluate your business every 6 months.

I have a tendency to be neglectful of doing proper paperwork at times, which is the main reason it is very good for me to reference Angela's book. It helps remind me to fill out my worksheets when working on a new design, or when I am doing some custom work for a client. Many clients don't care about a detailed invoice explaining every cost involved but I find they work well for my records in the end when giving a new client a quote.

This time I picked it up because I am presently setting up a US business bank account, registering my businees in Seattle and working on a new eCommerce site. Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. Thought it was a good way to help make sure I wasn't forgetting anything. Going back to the basics  is something we should all do occassionally. Right now I am dealing with the differences of business in Canada and the US, there has been a bit of a learning curve. This whole move has helped remind me how complacent you can get and how easy it is to pick up bad habits.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Simplicity 0591 - Cosplay

This was a free pattern that came with an issue of Cosplay Culture 
magazine. I have been enjoying reading the Cosplay Culture magazine for the last three issues. I am even considering getting an actual subscription instead of picking them up at Barnes & Noble when I notice a new one. I partially decided to pick up the first one I bought because it had a free pattern with it. Cross promotion and free things worked on me this time. My daughter had been telling me she needed a new cloak so I decided to get the magazine and give the pattern a whirl. Since then I have purchsed two more magazines.

When I was digging through some of the numerous bins of fabric stored in the basement trying to sort them, I happened to come across some black crushed velvet. It was enough fabric for the cape with hood, Score!! There was also a piece of sparkly fabric just big enough to line the hood. I decided lining the cape wasn't really necessary if I serged all the seams and the velvet had enough weight.

 Then I dug some more and found a patterned burgundy velvet to make the hat. I used a piece of black felt on the underside of the brim to give it some more structure and finished the edge with some satin bias tape.

I opted to make the medium cape with hood so either my daughter or I could wear it. It is about 10" shorter then the original pattern as she is 5'1", it ended up being about ankle length on her. On me it is below the knees so it works for both of us. The cape has a yoke piece which I always prefer as it helps with the drape of the fabric.
The hat has a piece of wire in the back seam so you can shape the crown some, which my daughter and her bestie thought was wonderful.

I had made these partly so they could be worn at Mythicworlds but we had Seattle weather that weekend, actually it was raining harder then normal for here. Anyways they did not get worn but the cape has presently taken up residence on my mannequin which lives by the front door. We switch up her outfits off and on. The hat has made its way to my daughters chest of dress up clothes aka cosplay outfits. Dressup clothes is no longer an acceptable term in the house, terminology sometimes has to change as they get older ;).

Monday, March 27, 2017

Getting Established in Seattle

In the last while I have been reworking things for my business. The first hurdle was to get an employment card in the US so I could legimitely earn money there. It has been a bit of a learning curve sorting out immigration status,fillling out it seems scads of paperwork, filing for a business licence, getting a US social etc. Something the average person doesn't really concern themselves with, though in today's culture is becoming more common. 

A nice view of Seattle from Kerry Park outlook

For the last while I have been continuing with my some of my established clientele in Ontario but customs often throws a hurdle in my way there. When shipping items across country and into a different country, customs and other shipping costs throw a whole new expense into your world. So keeping those relationships viable is sometimes a challenge. I do greatly appreciate my Ontario clientele but we all have to admit I am no longer residing in Canada. Made In Canada has long been one of my selling points and it is no longer true presently. Also Made Locally does not work in that sense anymore. I am a strong supporter of Made Locally so thus while in Seattle, well Seattle is my Made Locally :).

Another focus of my business is ethical/eco fashion and I have very mixed opinions on shipping when I consider this. Are you really maintaining a small carbon footprint when you include all the shipping that is often part of creating and supplying ethical/eco fashion?

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

What? - Crimplene

 (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.