Thursday, 28 April 2016

Tendonitis is Tripping Up My Sewing Plans

There hasn't been much sewing since my right hand ballooned up earlier this week. Not only was it ugly, like bull-frog ugly. 

No offensive meant towards bull-frogs.  I'm sure
there is another bull-frog out there that finds
this one quite attractive. 

It also hurt to move my fingers. It kind of freaked me out and lead to a panicked call to a physiotherapist. So, long story short... I've been advised to take a break from sewing until things settle and wear this thing again.  

I think my next sewing project should be designing a more attractive cage to keep my thumb straight that doesn't have velcro. Velcro ruins my clothes. Yeah, I know I can just cover it with a cut sock but it is warming up and it is, well, ugly.  

Talking about the good, bad and ugly, I picked up a new book at the library.  

I admire this man's wit, to me he is a wise person who highlights how fashion is more than material things in our closet. It is about history, politics, innovation, culture, subcultures, fitting in, protesting and expressing ourselves. I know this book will keep me entertained and occupied while I take a break from the sewing room because I've always enjoyed Gunn's blunt, witty, and astute observations.  


Monday, 25 April 2016

Do You Follow Trends?

I wouldn't define myself as a trendy person. By the time I get around to sewing the "latest trend" it is typically gone. I watch for the latest must have fashion trends just for entertainment, rarely because I'm dying to jump in. But here is a "must-have fashion trend for 2016" that I must admit I do like. The off-the-shoulder look.  

Dress by H&M, Top by Zara.

Of course, this look has no place in my everyday life without a deluxe roll of double sided tape. Working in a school environment is a very physical job, this is not the sort of look I could pull off at work life. If I were a woman of leisure or off to some beach side restaurant to have lunch, it might work.

bcgb {Source}

I was surprised that this look is being shown as a to-watch-trend but I couldn't find too much evidence of it in the new spring releases from McCall's, Butterick, and Vogue.

I was, however, able to find some off-the-shoulder looks in the current offerings from previous releases. With the exception of Gertie's new one-shoulder dress.  Nothing as modern edgy and chic as the black RTW top from Zara shown above. The pattern offerings from the major four pattern companies seem to be mostly made up of reincarnated seventies bohemian chic. 

Lovely if you can pull off the look but I'm a middle aged (ouch, that hurt) lady with a bit of a mid-section (need to hit the gym) who fantasizes of being dressed as stylishly as the folks on Advanced Style. Except, I'm eating Nicoise Salad at some beach-side restaurant somewhere in Europe. I'm not asking for much, am I? 

Should I side-step this trend as Sandra Halliday warns?  

Call me foolish or call me a risk-taker, but I think I found a pattern in my stash that might work despite Halliday's dire warnings. Vogue 1038 is a dramatic off-the-shoulder tunic that looks stunning with capris.  I know this to be true because a fabulous version has been modelled by Tia Dia over at Mezzo Couture. Forget about trying to recreate that Zara top, I'll be sewing this Donna Karan design (and will make my own Nicoise Salad). 

How about you, will you be sewing the off-the-shoulder look this season?  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 24 April 2016


I have Rachel Comey's Vogue 1507 in queue to be sewn. 

I can't wait to get to work on these pants and I have some white denim that I'm planning on using. Just one problem, I need a zipper. Vogue patterns failed to mention on the notions list and in Vogue pattern magazine that the 6" exposed zipper needs to be a separating zipper. In this town, no such thing exists. Trust me, I've looked.  

This afternoon, I was looking through Mitchell Fabrics and even though I did not find the exact size of zipper I needed, I did pick one up slightly longer hoping that I will be able to make it work.  

Once I found the notions I needed, I thought that I would take a look at the fabrics. Since I was there, why not?  After taking a look up stairs I went downstairs to the Annex where I found some striped knit and I walked by a pile of knit fabric on the ledge near the stairs. There was this cherry red cotton knit that I went to pick up when at the wall of home decor fabric a saleswoman helping two young men, yells in my direction, "GET YOUR PAWS OFF MY FABRIC!"  

Top of her lungs she yells across at me. She startled the young men who were standing beside her and they quickly turned towards me. I'm sure people upstairs heard because she was right beside the open staircase. Totally embarrassed I step away from the cotton knit and quickly went upstairs.  

I paid for my items and quickly left the store. And driving home, I just felt angry at myself that I let someone's unprofessional behaviour made me leave. It made me angry because I didn't knowingly or deliberately do anything wrong. I'm sure she could have handled the situation differently. And when I got home, I called the store to speak to a manager. But there was no manager, there was only a supervisor and it was the woman who yelled at me.  

We spoke. She apologized. I'm still not sure why she told me to get my "paws" (which I find very offensive) off her fabric. To be completely honest, I don't really care. She did me a favour, I didn't need to add anymore fabric to my stash. I just wanted an apology for the way to spoke to me. And I think I'm officially turned off from fabric shopping. Thank goodness I have quite the stash to keep me occupied in the meantime.  

Fashion Revolution Week 2016

Today, marks the end of Fashion Revolution week and the anniversary of the tragedy at Rana Plaza. Today in Bangladesh, protesters are once again demanding justice. 


Bangladesh is home to four million garment workers many who work in unsafe conditions for little pay while big brand labels like H & M and Joe Fresh continue to have their products made in South Asia. There were over forty officials including the owner of Rana Plaza who were arrested following the tragedy, yet no one has been convicted since the 2013 building collapse. Media attention following the tragedy highlighted promises that working conditions would change but little has happened since that time. Are we doomed to stand idly by as western consumers continue to gush over cheaply made and priced fast-fashion?

H & M Grand Opening {Source}
Photo credit:  Wayne Glowacki, Winnipeg Free Press
This year's focus was on the people and businesses in our own community that are part of the fashion industry. I wonder if a focus on customers might be another angle to generate awareness. People did ask me about the necklace I made out of labels and it gave me an opportunity to explain. It was wonderful to have the discussions I did and to see the shocked look on the faces when I shared facts about the environmental and human rights issues surrounding the fashion industry. The necklace will go down as my favourite item I have sewn this year. It gave me hope as it was a vehicle to share some awareness not only with others but also with myself.      


Friday, 22 April 2016

Fashion Revolution Week 2016

Show your label.


I don't wear my clothing inside out on Fashion Revolution day because well, dress code. But I found a way to display my labels. I borrowed this idea from Gayle Ortiz

Isn't it cool? I've wanted to make one for quite some time and finally I collected enough labels.  

I played around with placement,

changed my mind and then came up with this!  

It is not as fabulous as Gayle Ortiz's version but it will work for the purpose, to try and inspire thought and discussion. 

I sewed the labels onto a black melton wool background with a snap closure.  

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Fashion Revolution Week 2016

Faux Label or Faux Fur?

I'm going to turn a corner from Fashion Revolution Week's theme of featuring our own fashion community because there is something that I read that has haunted me for quite some time.


It has to do with fur, faux fur. There is a lot of it in the fabric stores. I never really gave much thought to it because I alway thought of it as a man-made fabric. And other than that, I wasn't really drawn to sewing a faux fur garment. But ever since reading this below, I've been thinking about faux fur every time I pass by a bolt or cut of faux fur at the store.  
Garments made from dog and cat fur are sold in markets and stores, as well as on China’s version of eBay, called — often as jackets or vests but also as fashion accessories, trinkets and trims, even as cat-fur car seat upholstery and dog-pelt mattress covers.
Mona Lung, a Beijing-based project officer for the animal rights group ACTAsia, estimates two million cats and dogs are slaughtered each year in China.
The U.S., European Union and Australia have laws that ban importing cat and dog fur, whether it’s trim on a parka or the cuff on leather gloves.
Canada has no restrictions on fur imports, except for endangered species.
According to Industry Canada, 60 per cent of all fur garments that enter Canada come from China, trade worth about $12 million annually.
Because the cat and dog fur is often exported from China as trim on inexpensive garments, the U.S. tightened its ban in 2010 by requiring that all fur products be labeled — even those valued under $150 — for country of origin and species.
Canada has no similar requirements, despite the introduction of several private member’s bills in Parliament. Activists say that Canada could become a dumping ground for this fur.

But even if a country has laws about products being labeled it doesn't mean that you're getting the right information.
Once fur is mislabeled it is almost impossible to determine the species because of the harsh tanning, dying and shearing processes, explains Judith Eger, senior curator of mammals in the department of natural history at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Heart-breaking and beyond cruel that this could even remotely be true. ~sigh~  Not only should we consider the human rights denied to many working in the garment industry during Fashion Revolution week, there are environmental and animal rights that are being callously disregarded by some. Yet, Peta suggests that faux fur "can be a good alternative" for those who want the look of real fur. I don't know what the answer is here. I just know that stories like these have profoundly made me think about what we wear.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Fashion Revolution Week 2016

Recently, I was at a talk given by Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, and most recently, This Changes Everything. She is also a film maker and social activist. During her talk Klein mentioned India's Earth Sciences Minister, Harsh Vardhan, comments that India's recent deadly heatwave was a result of climate change and the impact that the garment industry has had on climate change.  

Such an un-glamorous topic. But an important one because it made me think about the carbon foot-print my own sewing has on the environment.   

It is not just global fashion brands, some of those textile fibres end up in fabric stores. In recent years, I have noticed a trend in the aisles of the fabric stores. "UNKNOWN FIBRES" boldly stamped across fabric tags. Shouldn't I also be asking who makes my fabrics?    

But hold on a second! Fashion is part of the oil industry. Annually, the global production of textile fibres consumes 33 trillion gallons of oil. We don't like to think about it when we're at the fabric store and looking at those gorgeous colours lining the tables with bolt after bolt of fabric. Have you notice that there is a LOT of polyester out there? The main ingredient to produce polyester is ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. Not so hard to imagine now.  

One trillion gallons of water are consumed in the global production of textile fibres.  1 000 000 000 000 gallons.

This is enough to get me to start thinking about my own fabric purchases. Sadly I should admit that my fabric stash has a high quantity of polyester. I have to admit that it is getting harder and harder to find natural fibre fabrics.  But that can not become an excuse.  

In my community my favourite fabric store is Mitchell Fabrics. They sell a LOT of polyester as well, but they also sell organic cotton, fair trade knits, and natural fibre fabrics.


So today's shout out is to Mitchell Fabrics for making a conscious effort to offer fair trade and organic fabrics.  It is the place in the city that I can find silk, cotton, linen, wool suiting with or without man-made fibre content.  Unlike the other fabric stores in the city that seem to think it is okay to slap "Unknown Fibre" labels on their bolts if they even have a label. 

I know that I would like to know who, where, and how my fabrics are produced. I want to become more conscious about the carbon footprint my own sewing is leaving by what kind of fabrics and supplies I settle and search for along the way.   

How about you, has environmental and human rights issues played a role in your fabric purchases?


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