A few years ago I stumbled across three of the most incredible ensembles: a wool wedding suit from the mid 1910's, a 1920's/30's lace evening gown, and a 1940's wedding dress. Out here in Alberta, we don't find that much vintage clothing from these eras, and especially not for the price that I got them at!
Originally I was just going to bring home one, but they were all not being properly taken care of (such as the silk skirt of the wedding dress being Safety Pinned to the hanger...). It was nearly painful to see these stunning pieces of history stuck in a place that had no idea how to take care of them, so I took them home and started researching how to take care of delicate, old clothing.
The longer that I have them, the more glad I am that I picked them up. Even if I never was able to wear them or show them to another soul, they have been able to give me a world of information about how clothing was drafted and made in these eras.
This wool wedding suit no longer has a lining (whatever is left of it is shredded on the inside), but the rest of it is in fantastic condition! This suit has some of the most gorgeous details on it, and the classic silhouette of a World War One women's suit. I obviously am not doing it justice, since I don't have the proper undergarments on, but I couldn't help but get photos before I put together the proper underpinnings.
This next ensemble is my favourite out of the whole lot. The 1920's and 30's have always been one of my favourite eras clothing-wise, and it is extremely rare to find here. Alberta was devastated by the Great Depression, so any clothing from that era was mostly worn completely through.
This soft pink evening dress came in three pieces: a silk low-back slip to go underneath, the lace dress, and a matching lace bolero. The bolero is so beautiful with the dress, but it is so delicate that I decided not to put any stress on it.
This dress has a side closure of snaps, and a much fuller skirt than you can see here. It moves like a dream! I was thrilled when it fit me so perfectly for photos.
The last piece that I managed to grab - the 1940's wedding dress - is in the best condition out of them all. The lace has no tearing or holes in it at all, and the silk skirt is perfect. It also came with a wedding veil, which was in worse condition so I didn't take it out of the box.
Have you ever found any wondrous vintage finds that you just couldn't leave behind?
10 Best Costume Films
Since we have just passed the craziness of the Oscars and I am currently taking a Film class, I thought that it would be fun to talk about costumes, and some of my favourite movies for costumes.
This is nowhere near close to a complete list of fantastic costume designers, since there are so many that I missed or did not include either because they didn't fit properly into a category or because they have had so much coverage already.
So lets talk movies!
10) Musicals - Monte Carlo
My first category is musicals. I have never been a huge fan of musicals, but some of them have pretty incredible costumes. West Side Story has some of the prettiest 1950's prom style dresses, My Fair Lady has the iconic black and white dress with the massive white hat (this is one of my favourite musicals, and the first one that I saw), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has that fabulous, strapless pink gown for Marilyn Monroe, and the matching sparkly red dresses for Marilyn and Jane Russell. Grease is pretty hard to forget, although I never fully agreed with Sandy completely changing her style to be with Danny (whats wrong with a cute pink cardigan and an A-line skirt?). And I could never forget The Sound of Music's curtain play outfits or Liesl's pink dancing dress. Colleen Atwood designed some fabulous costumes for Sweeney Todd, all done in a very specific colour scheme.
Despite all of these amazing films, I chose Monte Carlo by Ernst Lubitsch for my favourite costumes in a Musical. The film, which was made in 1930, stars Jeanette MacDonald and Jack Buchanan. It's a fun little story about a bankrupt Countess who is looking for a rich husband, but falls in love with her hairdresser. Little does she know that her hairdresser is actually a Count. The costumes were all designed by Travis Banton, and they show the best of Hollywood fashion in the 1930s. Jeanette McDonald's costumes are fun and feminine, with layers of tulle and fur and every other luxurious trimming that could be used in the era. She also wears some lovely negligees and even a pair of lounge pants. In addition, this film is not very well known, which is why I chose it for this category.
9) Contemporary Films - Crazy Rich Asians
This category is less about actually designing the clothes and more about choosing them, but that doesn't make it any less important. I considered the cute, vintage styled outfits in The F Word (also known as What If), or To All the Boys I've Loved Before. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days has the stunning yellow evening dress that she wore near the end, and Cameron Diaz has some pretty fantastic outfits in The Holiday. We don't take Rom Coms very seriously, but they put as much effort into choosing the wardrobe as any other movie.
I had almost no choice but to say that Crazy Rich Asians has the best current wardrobe in a Rom Com. Mary E. Vogt did an incredible job finding gowns that walk the fine line between gorgeous and ridiculous, exactly as I imagined them to be in the book. Obviously Constance Wu's Marchesa dress that she wore to the wedding was incredible, but I especially loved Gemma Chan's elegant wardrobe throughout the film.
8) Classics - The Big Sleep
The obvious choice for best costumes in a Classic would be pretty much anything that Audrey Hepburn has starred in or something that has Edith Head as the costume designer. Audrey Hepburn was costumed almost entirely by Givenchy, and Edith Head was responsible for some of the most iconic looks in Old Hollywood, such as the gowns in White Christmas and Vertigo. Most of Marilyn Monroe's costumes are also unforgettable, and have left a lasting impression on fashion such as the white dress in Some Like it Hot.
To be honest, I am in love with nearly every costume in every Classic Hollywood film. The men's suits are always impeccable, the women's day outfits are elegant and strong, and their evening attire is always jaw-dropping.
The Big Sleep might be a bit of an unusual choice for this category, but it is not as well known as the other films that I've mentioned, and it has left just as lasting an impact. Released in 1946 with costumes designed by Leah Rhodes, this movie introduced the genre of film noir. Lauren Bacall is mysterious and cool throughout the movie in perfect suits and slinky evening dresses. The version of 1940's fashion that we see in our heads was practically invented by Leah Rhodes in this movie, and you can see how it has inspired thousands of high fashion collections ever since.
7) Sci Fi and Dystopian - Blade Runner
It was a bit difficult to find options for this because tons of dystopian movie costumes aren't supposed to be beautiful. The Hunger Games costumes were well thought out with 1930's, Great Depression era styled costumes for those living in the districts and couture, ridiculously over the top dresses for those living in the Capital. Divergent separates each Faction with clothing, and Ex Machina focuses on how important clothes are to Ava. Mortal Engines has a great steampunk look with a few references to The Matrix with leather jackets and thin sunglasses.
Blade Runner was an easy choice for this, with the 1940's film noir look. I like the costumes best in the 1982 Blade Runner, done by Charles Knode (the strong shoulders, dark eyes and lips, and hair styles are iconic), but the costumes worn by Ana de Armas in Blade Runner 2049 are fantastic as well.
6) Fantasy - The Fall
Fantasy is such a fun genre for costume design because absolutely everything can be used. No fabric is too crazy, no country or era of inspiration is too unrealistic, no headpiece is too big. Lord of the Rings is one of the best known fantasy films, and it obviously has some lovely pieces. However, some of my favourites are Mirror Mirror with it's bright colours and huge gowns, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (not loved by all, but I will always remember the brilliant red dress in the first film and the military inspired pant outfit in the second), and the steampunk designs of Hugo. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a fun, fabulous spin on the 1920's, and Big Fish gives a dreamlike quality to the film with the circus inspired looks.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you will probably know that The Fall, directed by Tarsem Singh, is one of my all time favourite movies. Every single thing about this movie is stunning and thought provoking. It helps that the costumes were designed by the amazing, wonderful, distinctive Eiko Ishioka. Her colour choices are bold and bright in this movie, which fits in perfectly with the locations. She is known for her sculptural designs, and we get a good helping of those throughout the film with her delicate hats and head pieces. If you are ever in the mood for a beautiful, wistful, bittersweet film, this is the one for you.
5) Foreign Films - In the Mood for Love
Some of the best costumes come from foreign films. I will never forget the time that I first saw Amelie with her iconic hair and retro dresses, or Hero with it's monochromatic look. The Curse of the Golden Flower is one of the best examples of historical Chinese dress, and Belle de Jour has stunning 1960's fashion. Breathless gives us the most iconic of French fashion, and it did not have a costume designer - the outfits worn by Jean Seberg were all her own clothes that she brought for filming. Generation War (Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter) has some gorgeous 1940's fashion worn by Katharina Schüttler.
Once again, if you have read by blog for a length of time, you will have heard about In the Mood for Love, directed by Wong Kar-wai. So far I have made two dresses inspired by the ones that Maggie Cheung wears in the film, and I have brought the movie up on other occasions just to gush about how stunning it is. I'm even writing an essay about it for my film class. William Chang designed the cheongsam's that Maggie Cheung wears, all of them in stunning fabrics that both blend in and stand out in every scene. The saturated colours that she wears are right at home in the world that she lives in, probably because William Chang was also in charge of the set design.
4) Films set in the 20th Century - An Education
Anything set in the 20th century is right up my alley, and gives me most of the inspiration for the dresses that I make. It is impossible to forget the Green Dress from Atonement (designed by Jacqueline Durran, who also designed the dresses in Little Women, Anna Karenina, 2005 Pride and Prejudice, and Beauty and the Beast), or any of the quirky looks from Wes Anderson's movies. Some of my personal favourites are Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (the best of 1930's fashion), The Bookshop, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and The Great Gatsby.
Designers taking on 20th century can have a ton of fun because so much changed so quickly. Every 10 years there were new, majorly different trends that had popped up, and the later you get in the century the more options people had for style.
Women had much more freedom when it came to style in the 1960's, and one of my favourite examples of the era is An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig and costumes designed by Odile Dicks-Mireaux. The movie starts with innocent, schoolgirl fashion with plated plaid skirts and sweater sets, then moves on to expensive, high end fashion from the 1960's. Both Rosamund Pike and Carey Mulligan's costumes are to die for, with outfits that are a mix of elegant and extravagant.
3) Period Films - Bright Star
As can be expected, I absolutely love period films. I grew up on Jane Austen, and good period dramas are what have been getting me through midterms. This is no small genre- there are so many costume designers that specialize in period dramas. The Duchess and A Royal Affair are both excellent examples of 18th century fashion, and Marie Antoinette has a fun view of the same era. Gone with the Wind is still a popular period drama, and the curtain costume has been remade time and time again. Tulip Fever is a beautiful look at a unique era- the 1600's, which isn't shown nearly often enough. I also enjoyed the costumes in the newest version of Little Women, which ended up winning the Oscar for costume design this year!
My absolute favourite example of historical costumes is from Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion and costume design by Janet Patterson. The early 1800's are often stylized because it is an unusual look for the modern eye. I think that Janet Patterson took the most interesting, most unique and bizarre styles of the era and made them gorgeous even to the modern eye. Abbie Cornish got the best looks with her huge bonnets, pelisses (the long coat like she is wearing in the top photo) and spencers (a short jacket), and interesting evening gowns. It also helps that the character Abbie Cornish plays sews her own gowns.
2) Period a Bit to the Left - Anna Karenina
I didn't want to count these movies under Period Films because although they are all set in a historical era, the costume designers didn't intend for the costumes to be accurate to the time. A fantastic example of this is Moulin Rouge, with the 1800's/1900's flavoured ensembles with a twist. I also love Crimson Peak, with the natural form era gowns with morbid little details. The Sherlock Holmes movies by Guy Ritchie are a steampunk version of the bustle era.
My absolute favourite movie like this is Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright and costumes by Jacqueline Durran. Durran flawlessly mixed 1850's fashion with 1950's couture. I love the styles of both of these era's, and the end result is a theatrical, almost magical look. These costumes also work perfectly with how choreographed the movie is.
1) Films About Design - Phantom Thread
I couldn't help but include this as one last category. Films that focus on fashion or designers always have some of the best costumes in them, and I love seeing the things that I do on a daily basis up on the big screen. Some of the best movies about fashion are Coco Before Chanel, Oceans 8 (I loved the Zac Posen gown that Rihanna's character wore to the Met Gala), and The Devil Wears Prada.
My favourite movie that I have ever seen about a designer just has to be Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and costumes by Mark Bridges. Not only does this movie do a great job at showing what designing, pattern drafting, and sewing actually looks like, it also has some pretty fabulous 1950's gowns.
What would you chose for each category? Do you have any recommendations?
Created in the 1850's, photography changed the way people viewed the world. The original method of capturing a photograph involved a great deal of chemicals and patience, and I was lucky enough to see that process this weekend when I got a tintype done by Riley J.B. - a photographer and alchemist who practices the art of the wet plate collodion process (you can read more about his process here).
I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that I won a tintype, and it was such a fantastic experience.
His studio in Calgary is held in nvrlnd, which is a art collective that is in an abandoned hotel in Ramsay. The space is stunning, and we were also able to pop in at other studios in the building to see what some of the other artists are working on.
We were able to watch the entire process of preparing the plate and developing it after, and I am now a proud owner of my very own tintype.
To learn more about the process and see his other photos, check out Riley's website here.
Next week I will post more about the dress that I wore!
How did you start sewing?
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!
VIM Future Oceans
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!
Movies with Great Costumes
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!