If you have ever looked at my About page, this photo is from when I was 10 years old. I was wearing my 'Prairie Dress' (made for me by my grandma and inspired by Little House on the Prairie. I lived in this dress for years) and sewing in the garden. If you look at the bottom, I was making one of my little dolls.
This is one of the questions that I get the most when people find out that I am a seamstress. This and 'when did you start sewing?', both of which I will talk about in this post.
A few days ago my mom found my old blog. This discovery has delighted me to no end. It's a great deal of fun to see how I started, as well as how I wrote when I was in middle school and running a little blog. Yes, I started writing a blog when I was in middle school. My original blog was called 'Kate and Kompany', and it was about the little art dolls that I started sewing when I was seven. Along with that, I post bits about making little clay dolls (of which I still have a few) and playing around with scrapbooking.
Each of my art dolls were made with scraps of mostly quilting cottons that I was given by my grandma's and anyone else who sewed that we knew. They also had names and little stories to go along with them. I think that was the part that I enjoyed the most - I have always enjoyed finding interesting names and writing little stories.
All of the dolls are inspired by history (not much has changed, hey?), and some of them are mermaids and faeries.
I started writing the blog in 2011, when I was 11 years old. It doesn't have tons of posts, but I did keep it up for 3 years!
The pattern for the actual doll bodies was from a wreath, interestingly enough. It was a fall wreath pattern, if I remember correctly, that had a little witch or something attached to it (kind of like this pattern).
My mom would make the body and legs for my on the sewing machine, since I wasn't comfortable on the machine yet, and I would do everything else. I enjoyed it immensely, and this is how I spent a lot of my spare time. I also sold some of these dolls to people around Airdrie (as you can see, Airdrie is a very supportive city).
It's always fun to look through the things that I've sewn to see how much I've learnt, even just over a few months. Seeing this, with the very beginning of my sewing was so fun for me. If you would like to check out my middle school blog, it's still up here. Enjoy the ramblings of a 12 year old me!
I was lucky enough to get a message about collaborating from LAL Couture, a company that makes custom sized and handmade lingerie. It was very difficult to chose which sets I wanted (all of them are stunning, and have such a vintage vibe to them!), and I am so thrilled with the two that I picked.
The first set that I got is the Diane Pajama Set, and the second set is the Susan Lingerie Set
It was so exciting to get these in the mail, and they are so beautifully made! The materials that were used are high quality and feel amazing on the skin.
I also had so much fun getting photos of them, since they both have such a retro look to them.
My summer has been pretty hectic (although thoroughly enjoyable), so this is the first time we have been able to go and do a photo shoot for the last project that I made for school. This is a cotton twill shirt dress that I designed, patterned, and created for a final project for one of my college classes this year.
After going to Victoria for the Future Oceans Fashion Show a few weeks ago (post about that here) I had a week back at home to get used to the idea of not having any important sewing projects for the rest of the summer before driving out to Kelowna, BC with my mom and sister. Kelowna is a beautiful city and we spent a few lovely days there, and I got tons of inspiration for a few new projects. After getting back, I've had a few more days to rest and tidy (my sewing room has been looking a little crazy). Today was kind of my last chance to do a photo shoot for a while since I have lazer eye surgery at the end of the week, and after recovering from that I will be driving out to Manitoba to see family.
Anyway, some information about this dress: I was inspired by military styles as I so often am, but after making it I realized that it also looked a bit like a Safari dress. To go with that theme, we got photos at the zoo. I love animals, so this was a great place to do a quick photo shoot.
As I mentioned earlier, it is made out of cotton twill with a tiny bit of stretch to it. It's a pretty simple design with short sleeves, slight gathering at the front shoulder for shaping, and an otherwise straight silhouette. The extra details are what I spent most of my time on when designing it. The dress has cuffs, a two piece collar, button placket, and breast pockets with flaps, box pleats, and top stitching.
I'm really pleased with how this dress turned out and you should be able to find it on my Etsy shop pretty soon.
Thanks for reading!
The day has finally come that I can talk about the Future Oceans fashion show and the pieces I made for it! I have been waiting as patiently as possible to show what I've been working on, and I am so excited to show the pictures that I have from this weekend.
There were some incredible photographers at the event as well that I will be showing photos from as soon as I am able to.
Before I talk about my designs at the time that I spent in Victoria, I want to talk about the reason for this show. Future Oceans partnered with the Victoria International Marina (where the show was held), Natural Talent Alliance, and the Ocean Legacy Foundation. The point of the show was to give a platform to ocean conservation in the fashion industry. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter, and by bringing attention to it and giving people an alternative we are taking the first step to turning the Fashion Industry into something that is more earth friendly and thoughtful.
Learning about how terrible the fashion industry is on the environment was making me lose my faith in something that I really love. Being a part of this helped me get excited about it again.
I hope that this show will help in getting people and brands to think twice before choosing certain fabrics
The event started on Canada Day with the ribbon cutting for the Victoria International Marina. There was live music, performances by the Nanaimo Contemporary Ballet, and the fashion show.
We had so many incredible people working together to make this a reality!
I created 6 Eco Couture pieces inspired by different eras and 1 Art Dress. The Art Dress was created from garbage that was fished from the ocean. The Eco Couture pieces are all created from eco friendly fabrics from KenDor Textiles, a Canadian company that specializes in environmentally and socially responsible fabrics.
I will wait to talk about the design process of each of my pieces for when the photos come back and you can actually see them in detail (all of these photos are just from my phone), but for now, here are some travel pics!
I was in Victoria for 3 crazy, hectic days that were filled with fittings and photo shoots. The first day I spent almost entirely at the Marina (which is a stunning building) getting ready for the show. We had an amazing lunch at Spinnakers (Canada's first microbrewery), and spent the rest of the day planning and prepping.
We were housed in the most amazing Bed and Breakfast called Abbeymoore Manor. It's an old house with beautiful rooms, the best breakfast I've ever had, and really friendly staff.
The next day that I was there was Canada Day, meaning the day of the fashion show! I've been working on this for 6 months, so it was like a dream to be there.
Luckily enough, the designers weren't needed until noon so I had all morning to myself. I ended up going for a walk to the Craigdarroch Castle, which was a 5 minute walk away. The castle was built in 1890 by Robert Dunsmuir, who passed away before it was finished. His wife, Joan, lived there until her death in 1908. During WW1 it was used as a military hospital, and after that it was used as a College, Conservatory, School Board, and now a museum.
We were able to use a beautiful yacht, the Ascente, as our backstage. They were extremely generous with us and the space was the nicest backstage that I have ever worked in. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime.
The last day that I was there was photo shoot day! And boy, did we have some really incredible places to take pictures in. While a group of people went to get photos at the ocean, I went with another group to the Government House. I can not wait to get all of the photos back from the 2nd because not only are the photographers fantastic, but the locations were some of the prettiest places I've been to since Germany.
The last location of the day was Hatley Castle, which some of you may recognize from movies such as X Men and Deadpool. Everyone here was also so accommodating for us and we were able to go everywhere on the extensive grounds to get photos.
If you aren't from Canada, you might not understand how exciting it is to find 2 castles, but in Canada it is very rare to have such old and beautiful architecture.
I can't wait to show you my pieces in better detail, but in the meantime I hope you enjoyed a bit of a behind the scenes of my time for the Future Oceans Fashion Show!
As anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know, I absolutely love movies. I watch a ton of them while I work on my sewing, and they directly influence most of the things that I make (which is why most of my dresses are named after certain characters). I have been sewing non stop lately, which means that I have also been watching A Lot of movies. While there are a million more that I could talk about, I thought that I would share 6 movies that maybe didn't get as much attention as I thought that they should. This is a completely random array of movies, so they go from historical, to rom coms, to very dark and gritty.
Enjoy, and let me know if you have any movies that you would add to my list!
And if you prefer period dramas or costume movies, I have another post with those here
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Based on a book by Emily M. Danforth, this movie is set in 1993 about a girl who is caught with the prom queen at prom. She's sent away to a 'treatment center' called Gods Promise that uses questionable gay conversion therapies.
I read this book a few months ago and finally got to watch the movie recently, and both were beautifully done. The cast and soundtrack are fantastic, and the subject is respectfully handled.
Starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, this film is based off of a true story. Set in 1942 in Prague, it's about the 2 Czech soldiers who are sent back to their home country to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich is a high ranking Nazi officer who was the main architect of the Holocaust. This mission (which was called Operation Anthropoid) was the only government-sponsored assassination of a senior Nazi officer during the second world war. The history behind this movie is incredible and filled with courage, I would very much so recommend doing a little research on it.
The Red Riding Trilogy
These 3 films are set in 1974, 1980, and 1983 and follow a series of violent crimes in Yorkshire. The films are based off of the books by David Peace and allude to some real-life crimes, though the movies are not by any account documentaries.
These movies were surprisingly good (I hadn't heard much about them before watching them), but very dark, so I wouldn't recommend them for anyone who may be sensitive with these kind of themes. Plus, the costumes (especially in the 1974 one) are fantastic and very fun to watch.
However, if you liked the TV series Ripper Street or Broadchurch, you might like these movies since they have a similar feeling.
The Song of Sway Lake
The Song of Sway Lake is a recently released Indie film directed by Ari Gold. I have seen some mixed reviews about this one, but I absolutely loved it.
"After his father's suicide, a young record collector and his friend go to his family's lake house to claim a valuable jazz recording. While he is there, encounters with his estranged grandmother and a neighbor dredge up years of family suffering."
The cinematography is really beautiful in this one, and the soundtrack is so great- I've been listening to it while I work for the past few weeks since I watched it. The movie has a very nostalgic feeling to it that is just enhanced by the music. (Listen to one of the songs they recorder for it here)
The F Word/What If
If the other movies that I have recommended so far are a little depressing for you (I know, a lot of these are not for the faint of heart), this is my favourite Rom Com. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, this movie is sweet and funny and quirky all at once. And yes, this one has a really great soundtrack too (anyone listen to Patrick Watson's music? Because they have a few of his songs in this film). This movie never fails to make me smile.
Please Stand By
For my last recommendation, here is another sweet movie. This is a coming of age movie starring Dakota Fanning about a girl with Autism. She escapes her caregiver to submit a 500 page script about Star Trek to a screenwriting competition.
I thought that Dakota Fanning did a fantastic job of portraying an Autistic person, and the end of the movie actually made me cry a few happy tears.
These are just a few of the movies that I've seen and enjoyed so far this summer. I also have found a couple really great TV shows that I thought I would bring up here as well.
Fortitude (murder mystery set in the Arctic Circle. So good but so creepy)
Love/Hate (Contemporary Irish mafia. You can watch this series on Youtube for free, since it's pretty hard to find anywhere else)
Derry Girls (This is a comedy on Netflix set during the 1990s in Northern Ireland)
Big Little Lies (this show is crazy popular, but since Season 2 just started I thought that I would bring it up. It's great, please watch it if you haven't already)
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?
For the next one in my Umbrella Academy series is The Handler! The Handler is very different in the comics than in the show. She has a fabulous 1950's style in the show, with a fascinator, fingerless gloves, and a beautiful A-Line coat. I immediately fell in love with her costume, hair, and makeup when I first watched the show, and I have the urge to make her dress.
Underneath the coat, I wore my pencil dress from last years little Fall Collection (photos here), and the rest are all pieces that I had in my closet already. The coat is from Reitmans, the fascinator I have had for a few years, and the gloves were hand made (not by me). I ended up wearing this little outfit to the Comic Expo in our area since I liked wearing it so much, and I love The Handlers personality.
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).
In my Looking Back at 2018 post, I talked a little bit about some things that I wanted to do in the new year. I thought that it would be fun for me to write about some of the things I want to do, and some of the things that I am excited for in 2019!
The goal that I mentioned in that post was finishing some of the projects that I started last year- the biggest of those being a few historical costumes! I have the posts written for them, and I have large chunks of each project done, I just lost the enthusiasm to actually finish it... I am hoping to finish off these ones this summer (I am giving myself some slack during school, since I drop most hobbies during the semester).
Another goal of mine is to read more! I have been reading a lot more recently, but I went through a bit of a hump last summer when I wasn't really interested in anything. I am hoping to keep up my fascination with everything this year and learn lots of new things and read lots of new books.
I also am hoping to take a few classes outside of my college courses. As much as I enjoy sewing, sometimes doing it all day every day can lead to a bit of a burn out. I have decided that learning something different might help break things up a bit, and I have never regret taking more classes before!
Other than my goals for the year, I also have a few things that I am getting very excited about that will be happening this year. The first (and most exciting for me) is that I am looking into going to Greece with a friend this summer! After going to Mexico and Germany in the past few years, I have definitely caught the travel bug, and there are so many places that I want to go. Greece has always been close to the top of my list, so I can't wait to cross it out.
I am also getting quite excited about my training goals. I started working out during the first semester, and it has helped me manage my stress. My goal is to get stronger (especially my very weak upper body), and I have had a friend help me out with this goal! I am very excited to see some progress, and it has been fun to be a Brand Ambassador for Just Strong as well, to help me keep determined.
The last thing that I am very excited for this year is how far I will get in my program through the college! I am currently taking a 2 year Costume Cutting and Construction major through Olds College, and by the end of the year I will be 3/4 of the way done! I can't believe how fast the first semester went, and how much I learned in such a short amount of time. I think this year will fly by.
My mom has always had a word of the year that she tries to follow throughout the year. I don't normally join her, but I decided to chose a word for the coming up year. After looking through the thesaurus for quite a while, I decided on the word Fortitude. I love that it sounds strong, but its more than that. It is about not giving up, keeping your determination.
Do you chose a word of the year? What is yours this year?
PS= The shirt I am wearing in these photos are from Just Strong, the company that I recently became a Brand Ambassador for! You can purchase anything off of the website with my code, FUNKKATH10 and get 10% off. I do get a small commission with purchases with my code, and that money will go toward my college. Thank you so much for your support!