Since starting at a new university in September, I have been very busy and slightly neglecting my sewing. However, it has still been in my thoughts, and I haven't abandoned it completely!
The last 10 days of September were a whirlwind of excitement since I had my small collections from the Future Oceans fashion show in a pop up boutique. It was so fun to see my garments being displayed in a storefront, and the area that we were given to show our clothes was absolutely stunning. I am still so grateful that I was able to be a part of that, even just to see what it looks like to have my eco couture for sale in a mall (it was a pinch me moment).
I also did sell a few pieces through the 10 days, so the past few weeks I have been altering my patterns to fit the customers measurements, printing custom fabrics, and sewing the dresses.
Luckily, my university has a maker space with an industrial sewing machine, so that part was easier than I thought that it would be.
Since making the orders for my Future Oceans dresses, I have been hit with inspiration. This is also thanks to my classes, since I am writing a research paper about the Chemise a la Reine (which I'm sure I will make a version some day, since I've been fascinated with them for ages). Doing the research on clothing in the late 18th century has been giving me so many ideas. I thought that I would talk about some of those tentative ideas here.
Up first: a Robe a la Francais, also known as a Sacque Back Gown.
I have been in love with these gowns since middle school, when I saw a photo of one on pinterest. These gowns have such a unique construction method, and if they done properly they are absolutely stunning (at least in my opinion).
It would be so much fun to chose the decoration for this type of dress as well, which makes my decision to make one even easier. I am planning on draping it myself using the instructions from the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.
Another gown that I have been desperate to make for a few years now is something inspired by Crimson Peak. I loved Lucille Sharpe's costumes throughout the movie (the red and navy dresses in the above photos) since I love the natural form era (late 1800s). I am also a sucker for beautiful yet morbid things, so these costumes are right up my alley. I don't want to copy any of the dresses from the movie, but I would like to make something inspired by them.
Other than that, I have other ideas swirling around in my head but I'm not sure how much time I will have for sewing, and since both of these ideas are pretty big (I would need to also make specialized undergarments to go under them, so that will add quite a bit of work) I think that they will take a pretty long time.
Thanks for reading!
I have been taking videos of a lot of my progress while I have been working on my collection right now, and before taking a video I always take a quick picture to make sure that it frames everything I want it to. I ended up with a bunch of photos of my workspace, and I found it interesting to see how I set myself up without even realizing it. It was also interesting (for me, at least) to see all of the places that I work on projects. Here is a peak at where I work on different parts of my projects.
I often work on my bed when I am hand sewing. I love watching movies, and it's fun to watch something while doing some hand work. I also have a habit of watching the same movies over and over again, which is why I watch them in my room and not in the living room (to save my poor parents from hearing the same movie a million times).
I need a lot of space for pattern drafting, so I take over our dining room table for it. I normally start out with a tidy and pleasing work space and always end up with a very cluttered one. Pattern drafting is not my favourite thing to do, but I have grown to appreciate the way it works, and it is satisfying to end up with something made completely from scratch.
Most of my time is spent in my studio since that is where all of my supplies, my sewing machine, and my serger are. It's also nice to have a space where I can leave everything set up exactly how I want it to continue working the next day. It is usually pretty crazy while I'm working on a project, and I tidy in between.
While I print fabrics I take over the dining room table again. It takes up a lot of space just like the pattern drafting. I also cut on the dining table, although I prefer to cut the smaller pieces on the floor of my studio. Printing the fabric is a pretty messy process, so I have a plastic table cloth to put down before I start.
Since learning about the Fashion Industry through my Textiles course in design school, I have been far more aware of the effect I have on the world. Working with Future Oceans has just added to my desire to make my footprint as small as possible.
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, only beat by the oil industry. One of the largest issues with the industry is fast fashion- all of the companies that make clothing as cheaply as possible and make in bulk. This clothing is meant to last for one season, then be thrown out. That process causes a lot of stress on the environment.
Almost every step of creating clothing in a factory is terrible on the environment, such as dyeing (fabric dye is highly toxic and difficult to clean out of water since it is made to last through everything) and cutting (since a great deal of fabric is wasted and thrown out from not being cut carefully).
While large companies run like this, there isn't a ton that we can do. The good news is that there are things that are easy for us to do that can help! I'm sure most people have already read so many things about this since sustainability is such a buzzword right now, but I thought that I would add my take on it. Feel free to add any more ideas that you have in the comments below!
#1 - Don't Throw Away Old Clothing
It's not helpful to keep old clothing that you don't wear anymore, but you don't have to throw it out. Donating pieces that you don't wear anymore because they don't suit you are don't fit anymore is a great way to feel really good about yourself and help others, while decluttering your space. If it has been too well loved and can't be donated, sometimes clothing can be re-purposed. Flannel shirts can be cut up and are great for cleaning mirrors. Buttons can be good to keep for crafts, and sometimes keeping strong parts of a garment makes a good patch for kids clothing.
#2 - Make Do and Mend
Sometimes well loved clothing gets holes in it. Especially since most clothing that is made in factories isn't made very well - buttons come off easily, seams split open, and hems come undone. All of these problems are really easy to fix with a needle and thread and a few minutes. I'm terrible for letting my mending pile get pretty big before doing anything about it, but each fix is fast and can be done in front of the TV. If you don't know or want to sew, most dry cleaners will do simple mends for you, or you might be able to find a local seamstress or fashion student who would be happy to do it.
If you want to learn how to sew, there are tons of videos on Youtube teaching simple knots and stitches that you can follow along to.
#3 - Research Where Your Clothing is Coming From
This one takes a little bit more time, but it always pays off in the end. Doing a quick search on the brand you like to buy is a good way to either set your mind at ease or tell you that maybe you should find a new brand. Brands that use sustainable fabric, make their products in Canada, or do anything else to help usually market it on their website so it's easy to find. If they have a sinister background, there are often multiple posts about that if you google them. You don't always have to buy from an expensive brand to be choosing well, there are a lot of cheaper brands that are joining the bandwagon and either produce all of their clothing sustainably or have an ethical line. It also doesn't have to be difficult to find - for example, Mountain Equipment Coop is well known for their initiative for reducing waste, water, and carbon emissions during their process.
#4 - Only Buy What You Need
When it comes to being kinder to the environment, buying less is always helpful. This doesn't mean that you have to live off of a capsule wardrobe (although if you do that's great!), but just think through something for a day or two before you purchase it. Taking even an hour to think through a purchase before buying it really helps with deciding whether it's actually something that you would use versus just something you really like but won't wear after the first week. To help me decide if I would actually wear something often enough to justify buying it, I think about my other clothes and decide whether or not they would go together. If the colour/cut/style doesn't work well with my other clothes I'm far less likely to wear it.
I left this tip for last because it's the most expensive. This one isn't necessary obviously (well, none of them are), but if you want to spend a little bit more for a nice piece that you would like to have for a long time, this is the way to go. All of the previous tips are easy to do cheaply, but often when buying from smaller brands or more couture labels, you do have to pay more. The positive to this is that if you do have the money and are willing to spend it, whatever you get will last forever and some brands even will mend them for you if anything happens. How is this good for the environment? There are multiple things that are great - by having a piece in your wardrobe that's well sewn that will last forever you are saving a lot of money long term as well as fabric by not having to re-buy it. Also, these smaller brands or items from local seamstresses are usually made either in small quantities or made to order. That means they save fabric, choose better quality fabric, and use less equipment (meaning less energy). Another pro for this is that you know the artisan who made what you are wearing was payed a fair wage to create it.
I am a huge advocate for supporting artists, and even if you aren't able to purchase something from them, just sharing their work or spreading the word is incredibly helpful
Do you have any other tips for keeping you wardrobe sustainable?
I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the 10 designers to create a small ready to wear collection and one art dress for a fashion show that will take place on Canada Day in Victoria, BC, at the Victoria International Marina.
I had so much fun coming up with the design ideas since I could do whatever era's and whatever styles I wanted to, as long as I used eco-friendly materials to make them. I am currently working on the ready to wear pieces and having a great deal of fun playing around with the materials and designs.
So far I have gotten all of my fabric through KenDor Textiles, which is a Canadian company that specializes in eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics. I have so far printed two of the fabrics, drafted two of the patterns, and cut out those two dresses so they are ready to be sewn together. Once I got my fabrics in, it has all been coming together pretty quickly!
I can't wait for the actual show so I can show everyone exactly what I have been working on, but for now here are some sneak peaks!
If you would like to hear more about V.I.M. Future Oceans, you can check out their website here, Instagram here, and their Facebook page here.
I recently printed an owl fabric for a friends mom, and it was such a nice stress reliever while being in school. I love printing fabrics, and I love owls, so this was a lovely project to have during my reading week.
I now have three owl stamps, made for me by my mom (her website is here).
I recently started school, so I have been a little bit busy. While I am loving school, and learning tons of new and helpful things, it has been quite stressful getting started so the blog has been paused. Now that MakeFashion is done, and I have gotten used to my new schedule, I have lots of plans for the winter season!
After a trip to Fabricland a while ago, I am filled with inspiration! The first thing on my list is something that I have been wanting to make for a long time- a kitchy, 1950's wrap dress. I picked up the McCalls pattern M7354, and a fabulous printed cotton. I will be binding the dress with cream bias tape, and picking out two cream buttons to finish it off.
The second pattern that I picked up is a pattern that I have admired for a very long time, and now that I am confident enough in my sewing skills I am ready to make it! I am going to do a trial run with a plaid flannel to make myself a night gown, and then I will make myself a few slips to go underneath my dresses.
I have always been a huge fan of Patterns by Gertie, and I have used a few of her patterns before, so I did not hesitate to get a few more of her patterns! The first one here is a skirt and blouse pattern. I am making the skirt out of some left over wool from a 1940s styled dress, and I haven't decided what to make the shirt out of quite yet.
I also got a stunning boat neckline dress pattern with a V back. This dress can be made as an A-line or as a pencil dress, and I am thinking of making the pencil version first. I may make it out of some left over wool from my Bomb Girl Trousers, but that is yet to be decided! I have so many different fabrics that I think it woulds be fabulous in.
Another Gertie pattern that I grabbed is for petticoats! This is thrilling, since I have been wanting to make myself a petticoat or two for ages. The more interested I get in 1950s fashion, the more that I need (okay, maybe not need... but really want!) a petticoat to underneath all of the full skirts that I have. The last one I am extremely excited for (okay, I am excited for them all, but this one is pretty good). It is a Sabrina style dress with a pencil skirt and full back. I am planning on making this out of a burgundy silk dupioni. I was originally saving this dupioni for a natural form era dress inspired by Crimson Peak. I still would like to make a dress like that, but it will be out of a different fabric.
The last pattern that I picked up is the 1890s pattern from Angela Clayton! I absolutely love her blog and youtube channel, and I was so excited when her first pattern came out. I am hoping to make a jacket for myself with this pattern, and at some point I think I will be needing an 1890s ensemble...
Thank you for reading, and I hope that you are as excited about all of these ideas as I am!
I am very excited to be working with MakeFashion for a second time, and this time I am a Team Lead!
I thought that I would explain my dress a little before the show, and let everyone know where they can see it, if you would like to.
I decided to design my technology around something close to home- mental illness. The dress is based on the idea to help people struggling with things such as depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. A switch at the waistband of the dress allows the wearer to change the colours of the lights in the skirt. Each colour of light means something different- the green means that the person wearing the dress is comfortable in the situation, yellow means that they are getting anxious/uncomfortable, and red means that they are not in a good place. We came up with this format since it could benefit many people- I have a hard time with touch and being overwhelmed (with noise, etc), and having a red light would be nice to let the people I love know that I would like some space, and that it is not their fault. Having something the let the people around you know what kind of head space that you are in helps avoid miscommunication.
MakeFashion is paired with Beakerhead this year, so the fashion shows will be at the Beakerhead event on September 22. To get behind the scenes access to the show (get to see the models and designers getting ready for the shows), reserved seating, a gift bag from team Luminary, access to the VIP lounge, and a ride in the Beakernight Hot Air balloon you can get the Luminary Experience here!
If you would just like to check out a show, tickets to Beakernight are $8, and you can get them here. The show is at Fort Calgary, and my dress will be at the first show at 8pm!
I loved working with MakeFashion last year, and I have met so many brilliant people through this opportunity. I can't wait to show everyone the finished product!
To see more photos of the finished collection, click here
I have been trying out different ways to naturally dye fabric, since I would love for my garments not to be wasteful and to be good for the environment. I use quite a bit of unbleached muslin, so I wanted to try out some new colours for it. I have already done lots of tea staining (it just makes the perfect cream colour!), so the other day I tried a method that I have seen in books. This involved steaming fabric with rose petals folded in it. The final product wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it is very pretty! I think next time I will try with deep red rose petals in the hopes that it will make a pink or lavender colour.
To try it, I just used a small section of unbleached muslin, which I dampened. I then arranged rose petals on it in a random pattern. Once I was happy with where the petals were, I folded and rolled the piece together and tied the ends with strings. That was steamed for a few hours, and then left to cool. After it was cool enough, I unrolled it, took out all of the petals, and left it out to dry.
Have you ever tried natural dyeing? How did it turn out?
The hardest part about sewing is that I can get lots of things done, but it doesn't look like it until I have photos of them! In the past few weeks I have been working on tons of different projects, but I don't have any of them finished yet (although two are almost done!). I have also had a few very neat opportunities to do something a little different, so my sewing room has been pretty crazy.
I do have a few very exciting things that I have been working on behind the scenes: the first is that I have been making prototypes for a Calgary activewear company called Intuitive. It has been an absolute joy so far working with the company, and I am more than excited about this collaboration.
The second thing that I have been working on is my second time working with MakeFashion! Last year I was a part of the runway show in Calgary as a seamstress. This year I am lucky enough to be a team lead. My dress is called Breathe, and has to do with helping with anxiety and mental illnesses. MakeFashion will be at Beakerhead this year in September. I can't wait to tell and show you more!
On the side, I have also been working on dirndls (I made one from a Gertie pattern, liked it so much that I immediately started a second one!), a tiered 1950's summer dress, wool cigarette pants with a matching sheath dress and blazer, a 1960's colour blocked dress, and lots of repairs. My mending pile has gotten out of hand!
If you follow me on instagram (here), then you will know that I have also been working on setting up an Etsy account. So far I have hit pretty much every obstacle possible (why are computers so confusing??), so it still isn't up....
But I have made progress, so it should be here soon! I will be selling some of my costumes, as well as embroidery to start.
Thank you so much for your patience with everything, I can't wait to show you all of the things that I have been working on!
When it comes to the books in my collection, I have been extremely lucky. I have been given so many books by family friends and other people who have already gone through a costuming or fashion program.
Out of all of my books (I have quite a few...), these are some of my favourites. There are so many more that I would like to eventually collect (Norah Waugh and Janet Arnold being some of the authors that I have seen are necessary in a costuming library), but I am so pleased with what I have so far.
The books that I use for inspiration and help fall into a few categories. First are the books that are specifically for sewing. Of those, my favourites have to be the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking, Corsets, as well as The Art of Needle Craft. The Art of Needle Craft was published in the 1930s, and a beautiful little textbook! It shows different stitch types, and has helped me with my embroidery products. The American Duchess book has been so popular among historical costumers, and it has so much invaluable information! I wish it would have been out when I made my first costume, since it was an 18th century era dress. Corsets is a book about historical corsets, and how they were made. I haven't so far used any of the patterns, but I am definitely planning to use them, and I love looking through the book for inspiration.
The second category would be the books about history. I have tons and tons of history books, since that is something that I am fascinated by and love to learn about. I narrowed down my favourites to the ones that are more about clothing through the eras. One of my first books about this, and still one of my favourites is The Survey of Historic Costume. This books is massive, and has at least a few pages for pretty much every era. It also shows modern designs that are inspired by history. Another favourite of mine, which is much newer, is my Charles James book. I have many, many favourite designers (Coco Chanel, Dior, Zac Posen, Alexander McQueen, and so many more), but right at the top of the list is Charles James. He had very sculptural designs, and the best thing about the book is that it gives a glimpse into what goes underneath the dress. I also have a great little book about the Regency era. Unfortunately it only has a few pages about the clothing, but the book does talk a little about everything. The next few books could belong in a few categories, but I decided to put it into this one because they do have great bits of information in them. I love the books by Megan Hess, especially Coco Chanel. Along with the information, it has beautiful pictures throughout.
Another category is all of the inspiration books that are just pretty coffee table books. Some of these do have costume photos in (I have tons of movie books because I love movies so much), and others have nothing to do with clothing. Out of all of them pictured, I have a few that I look through a little more often than others. One favourite is the Grand Budapest Hotel coffee table book.It has costume sketches from Milena Canonero, one of my favourite costume designers. I also love Amber Butchart's book on how movie costumes have influenced the fashion world. It includes Marie Antoinette, In the Mood for Love, Moonrise Kingdom, and many other favourite movies of mine. I also am often inspired by interior design books, such as Sibella Court books (Nomad is my personal favourite to look through). Her books are fantastic to look through since her designs are inspired by different countries. I have always been fascinated with places like India and Mexico City, and I love seeing little objects from these places. The last movie book that I look through constantly is the one for Crimson Peak.
The last category is magazines. I love sewing magazines (the ones that come with free patterns are the best), but I also read Porter and Vogue obsessively.
Where you do you get your inspiration?
I filmed a large portion of the process of making the Berlin Collection. To see more photos, you can see them here
I am extremely close to being finished a new collection that I have been working on since I got home from Germany- The Berlin Collection. My trip gave me so much inspiration, and as soon as I got home I started with a military, menswear, 1940's styled collection. I thought that while I finish off the last piece, I would share some of my inspiration. I will talk about it more in my post with the photos, but I based the collection mostly off of the resistance and rebels of World War Two, and the women who rebuilt Germany. I wanted to focus on the strong women that I learned so much about while I was there.
I was also inspired by the Candian tv show X Company, which is based on a true story. All of the characters have a fantastic mix of military and menswear styled outfits as well as beautiful evening and day dresses. Aurora (a Jewish Candian spy) and Sabine (a German woman turned resistance) are my personal favourites. My jodphurs are inspired the most by Aurora.
I hope you enjoyed a little look into the inspiration for the collection! I can't wait to show you what I have been working on over the past weeks.
The more that I have been working on my sewing, and the more opportunities that I have had meant that I needed a little more help in the studio. After lots of research (mostly done by my mom), we decided on a Janome. My sewing machine is also a Janome, and I love it- I find it very easy to thread and work, and it can sew through almost anything. The sewing machine I have has also last for years- it was my moms before I started sewing. When we went into the shop, I was looking for a smaller machine (I don't want all of the extra details, or a computer panel, just the basics). There was another machine that was a little smaller, and cheaper, but it was a manual threader which is much more difficult and takes more time. This machine (which is the Pro 4DX), is a model that they have been making for years, is very easy to thread, and has fantastic reviews. I am so excited to have this extra piece in my sewing room, I know that it will help me so much!
Because I got this extra piece, I needed a place to put it. My sewing machine sits on top of a beautiful old sewing machine given to me by a family friend. It is an old Singer machine that I am hoping to get it to work so I can sew some things on this machine (which is from the early 1900s). Unfortunately, I didn't have the table space on it to fit another machine. Luckily enough, we just happen to have another old Singer machine in the house. Ours is a slightly different make, but just as beautiful, and I am so excited to have it in my sewing room (I used to pretend to be sewing on it all the time when I was a little girl, so dreams are coming true here).
While we were in the city, I also picked up a few patterns. I am so excited about these, as I will be using all of them to build up my wardrobe (I have the hope that my whole wardrobe will be made by me except for sweaters, shoes, and such). I even have the fabric for pretty much all of the projects that I have planned, so hopefully they will be quick to finish!
I have been planning a Mexico dress for a long time, and I finally have a set plan for it! I originally was going to do a tiered skirt with a white blouse (similar to an outfit that my grandmother has a picture in when she lived in South America). When I found this pattern from Vintage Vogue, I thought it was perfect. It has the tiered skirt look that I wanted, but with a twist. I am planning on printing my own cotton to make this with, with the skull (like a sugar skull), and a rose in bright colours.
The next pattern that I got I have been admiring for years. I actually had planned to make this for graduation last year, but I ended up buying something and altering it instead. When I saw the Vogue sale at the fabric store (which is why all of these patterns pictured are Vogue), I thought that it was the perfect time to get this one. I haven't decided what fabric to use for it yet (silk to make it fancier? Or wool suiting for more of a winter style? Or perhaps muslin for a summer suit?), but I am very excited to make it, and I am hoping to make a few different versions of it.
This is another one that I have been planning for a long time, however I had not chosen out a specific pattern for it yet. When I saw this, I thought that it would be perfect! I have been wanting a nice pair of cigarette style trousers for years, and when I picked out this wool suiting from Bhatia, I thought it would make an adorable pair. I had originally planned to use the wool for a cocoon coat, but I decided that I would use these more often. I also would like to make a linen version of the shorts for this summer.
This pattern was a little bit of an impulse buy. 1940's patterns are a bit of a soft spot for me (I love the interested details, and how they managed to use as little fabric as possible while still using interested seam lines and such), plus the dress with the full sleeves reminded me of the Fendi ad that I think is stunning.
The last pattern that I got a few days ago came free with a sewing magazine. This one comes in a few lengths and sleeve lengths, and I thought that it would be perfect for a Wes Anderson styled dress. I chose a coral cotton to make it out of, and was inspired by Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom.
I also have a few patterns coming in the mail- the dirndl dress from Patterns by Gertie, as well as a few Vintage Simplicity patterns. Two of those are 1960's mod styled dresses, one is a 1940's skirt suit, and the last is a pattern for 1930's tap pants and bralette.
Other than shopping, I have been getting lots done. I won't share the majority of what I have been doing yet until I get photos, but I will give you a sneak peak. I also altered my 1930's wool skirt, since it was large at the waist. It was a quick fix, but I have been putting it off for months since alterations aren't my favourite. There are a few more things I need to alter, so I am hoping to do that soon.
After seeing Angela Claytons hilarious video that she posted a while ago about cooking recipes from the early 1900s while wearing clothes from that era, I decided to do something inspired by that. Unfortunately I am not as brave as she is, so I decided to use only one recipe, and it is one that I knew would work from Julia Child. I love reading through her cook book, and I love all the tips that are for women in the 1950's, so I decided to wear my newest 1950's styled dress and make a dinner using her cook book.
I made the Vanilla Sponge Butter Cake with the Butter Cream Recipe from Julia Childs Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The recipe is very simple, and nice and light!
The recipe asks for a 10 inch pan to be buttered and floured (if you want to make cupcakes it makes 12), and for a 350 degree oven.
First melt 4 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool.
Then gradually beat in 2/3 cups of sugar into 4 egg yolks, and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I also added some lemon zest and juice at this point to make it a lemon cake, but that is not necessary.
In a separate bowl, whip up 4 egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks are formed. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix until stiff peaks are formed.
Scoop a third of the egg whites and 1/3 cup of flour into the egg yolk mixture and fold together gently. Continue with another third of the egg white, 1/3 cup of flour, and half of the melted butter. Finish with the last of the melted butter, the last of the egg whites, and another 1/3 cup of flour.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or 20 minutes for cupcakes.
For the Butter Cream Icing, start by rinsing a bowl in hot water.
Then place 2 egg yolks, 2/3 cups of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of flavouring (I did strong lavender tea with some lemon, but you could do vanilla, melted chocolate, strong coffee, or pretty much anything else instead), and 6 ounces of unsalted butter. Mix these together until creamy, and place in the fridge until it is firm but still easy to spread.
I don't have very much footage of me making the icing in the video because I was only doing half the recipe and math is really not my strong suit... it took a lot of confusion and vague measurements for a butter cream to come out at the end!
Let me know how you enjoyed this type of video!
I also filmed a Get Ready With Me before I filmed this video, so I will put that up next week. It shows how I did my hair and makeup for the video.
Thanks for watching,