My New Dress

Life is too short to blend in. Dress cute!

My New Dress Spring/Summer 2012

Posted on | March 10, 2011 | No Comments

It’s time to start thinking about dressing your favorite little lady for Easter! In 2011, Easter week-end falls at the end of April (22nd thru 25th) so now is the perfect time to begin your search!

Check out My New Dress Spring/Summer 2011 for a selection of dresses and skirts that are sure to put a smile on the face of your pint-sized fashionista!

Have a browse and let us know what you think!

I’m Really Feeling Felting!

Posted on | December 5, 2010 | No Comments

The second fabric embellishment technique that we are experimenting with is felting. I love the possibilities of it! From thick boiled pieces to gossamer thin pieces of art created with roving and silk, wool really is an amazing medium. It’s controllable and easily manipulated into great shapes and the colours that are available really span the entire spectrum.

The requirements for this, our ‘accessories’ project stipulate that we are to ‘create a bag or a scarf using felted wool and embellishments incorporating design influences from the Southwestern Asian cculture.” Although I do understand that Lindsay has expanded the list, allowing for some freedom in what we create. One girl is doing a laptop case for example…great idea! Another is doing fun hair pieces. I might even create a few for the fashion show!

The final product must also include a form of repeat motif; a form of fabric paint, stencil or block printing; and a form of embellishment (beading or applique).

My idea lays out as follows:

  • A bag (bien sur!)
  • Hot water felting (Boiling water actually. Several boils.)
  • Green wool to represent the Green Tara (Who? She’s considered by some to be the very first big ‘F’ Feminist! Info to follow!)
  • Pink lotuses as part of a repeat motif. A shout out to Buddhism and Hinduism. Two birds, one flower!
  • A needle felted lotus applique on the strap or as a closure. I’ll use a stencil to create the flower.

I started by sourcing some 100% Peruvian wool chez Michaels. I was surprised by the colour selections. So vibrant! I chose my green and got to work! I chose green to represent the Green Tara of Buddhism. Here’s the back story:

Goddess Tara, a female Buddha and meditational deity, is arguably the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She is considered to be the goddess of universal compassion who represents virtuous and enlightened activity. The story of Tara’s origin, according to the Tara Tantra, recounts that aeons ago she was born as a king’s daughter. A spiritual and compassionate princess, she regularly gave offerings and prayers to the ordained monks and nuns. She thus developed great merit, and the monks told her that, because of her spiritual attainments, they would pray that she be reborn as a man and spread Buddhist teachings. She responded that there was no male and no female, that nothing existed in reality, and that she wished to remain in female form to serve other beings until everyone reached enlightenment, hence implying the shortfall in the monk’s knowledge in presuming only male preachers for the Buddhist religion. Thus Tara might be considered one of the earliest feminists. Green Tara is Tara’s most dynamic manifestation. Her color symbolizes youthful vigor and activity. The Buddhist Lord of karma (action), Amoghasiddhi, is also associated with the green color, thus signifying that they belong to the same family. This is a further affirmation of the perception that Green Tara is a goddess of action.

To begin, I cast my mind way back (no pun intended!), got my knitting needles out of storage and spent several days knitting my stress away. I really enjoyed it and found the clicking of the needles quite soothing. I produced a rectagular piece for the back of my bag and a long thin piece that will serve as the strap.

Once completed, I boiled those puppies! Actually, I boiled them a few times, washed them with Dawn dishwashing liquid in the washing machine on a hot heavy cycle and tossed ‘em in the dryer. The condo smelt of wet wool and Dawn. Surprisingly, not at all unpleasant! The Dawn is essential I discovered as it removes the natural oils and lanolin from the wool making it crimp up and shrink. It also removes some of the colour from the wool but not enough to really make that much of a difference. Wool obviously holds colour extremely well.

Once I thought that they were the size and tightness that I wanted, I gave them a quick rinse in a vinegar bath to remove any left-over soap residue (apparently, over time, it will start to break down the wool.) and a quick steam iron. The hot steamy iron allowed me to shape the pieces into almost perfect rectangles. The way that wool can be manipulated is really amazing! It can even be shaped around forms. You’ve seen those crazy felt hats! There are a couple on display at Beehive on Douglas if you’re interested. While I was there, I picked up two bunches of roving (one with pinks and browns and another with blues and greens) and some felting needles so watch your pocketbook!

For the decorative front of the bag, I decided to use the felting technique called Nuno Felting. While this technique is more Japanese than ‘southwestern Asian’, I couldn’t resist trying it. Nuno felting refers to felting wool and light weight, usually natural fiber fabrics together into one fabric. During felting, the wool fibers migrate through the weave of the cloth. When the wool shrinks, the other fabrics shrink with them. The result is a wonderfully textured fabric that is light weight, drapes well and provides a beautifully finished cloth — like nothing else you have ever seen!

The process happened on my kitchen counter as follows:

 

I made a thin prefelt out of a natural wool roving. I layed out a waterproof plastic surface, placed a piece of netting on top and covered it with thin wispy pieces of roving first in one direction then placed another thin layer over top of the first. Once felted together, these layers will form the base for the Nuno felting.

Once the wool was placed, I wet it down with a solution of warm water and, you guessed it, Dawn dishwashing liquid!

 Once the wool was sprayed down, I placed another piece of netting over top to hold everything in place and began a feltin’ by rubbing the netting with a crumpled up plastic bag in a circular motion. I continued this, occassionally flipping the entire piece over and working the back, for about twenty minutes. The friction causes the wool fibres to crimp together, the warm soapy water causes some shrinkage.

Now it was time to Nuno Felt!

To create my repeat motif, I decided to use little pink silk flowers that I pulled off the stem and worked them to change their shape to look like lotus flowers. As part of the motif, I also decided to use a colourful silk fabric that I had on hand. I chose to represent the Lotus flower because of its importance in the Buddhist religion. Here’s a quick lesson on the lotus flower:

The lotus (Sanskrit and Tibetan padma) is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and one of the most poignant representations of Buddhist teaching. The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.

The lotus is one of Buddhism’s best recognized motifs and appears in all kinds of Buddhist art across all Buddhist cultures. Scrolling lotuses often embellish Buddhist textiles, ceramics and architecture.

I chose the pink lotus because it is the supreme lotus, generally reserved for the highest deity. Thus naturally it is associated with the Great Buddha himself.

From the readings that I have done online (I’ll include some links at the bottom!), many who do Nuno felting advocate the use of bubble wrap in place of the more traditional bamboo mat and this worked great for me!

I layed out a layer of bubble wrap, placed a layer of netting on top of it, placed my prefelt piece on top of that then placed my strands of wool roving, pieces of silk and my new pink lotus flowers on top of that, in the design you see above. I placed the pink roving over top of the lotus flowers to give them more staying power. The roving around the flower edges will crimp up and hold fast to the roving underneath and the flower will be trapped kind of like a bug in a spider web.

Once my design was placed, I put a piece of netting on top and got to work felting! I used the same technique as I did to create the prefelt: circular rubbing motions both vertically and horizontally and on both sides of the piece. I read that it is very important to check the pieces periodically to make sure that the netting isn’t getting caught in the roving. While this can actually be a pretty cool design effect, I was not looking for that here. I was glad I checked because this was happenning. All I had to do was gingerly pull the netting away from the fabric…no harm no foul!

Once it seemed that the piece was fairly stable, ie it was one piece with all of the fibres intermigling and stuck together, I rolled the whole shebang like a jelly roll, stuck it in a fishnet thigh high stocking that I happened to have on hand (!) and proceeded to roll it on the counter several hundred times, applying as much pressure as I could with each roll (my arms got tired!). The rolling is a great way to control the shrinkage. The piece will shrink more in the direction you roll…see! So controllable! How much you shrink the fabric depends on your final use.

I opened the roll several times as I worked it to check my progress and stopped only when I thought the piece was tight/stable enough. I determined the proper ‘tightness’ to be when I was unable to pull any of the roving away from the silk underneath. This meant that the roving had gotten in through the silk and the pieces were fused for good. Less felted pieces are more subject to pilling and stretching.

Once this was achieved, it was time to full the piece.

This is where I saw the greatest shrinkage and bubbling of the silk. Some people like to scrunch the felt into a ball, add very warm water and toss the felt onto a waterproof surface. I chose to scrunch it into a ball, add very warm water and squeeze it in my hands. Either way, you need to work the felt briefly, then open the felt and stretch it and neaten the edges. I continued this process until the felt had shrunk to my desired size and the piece seems fairly stable. If any design elements are loose at this point, it will be easiest to needle felt them in later (with a small amount of roving). You can trim the edges of your piece if you don’t like how they are shaped.

A quick finish in a vinegar bath and I had my three main pieces for my felted bag!

I decided that to further stabilize the Nuno felted piece, I should back it with a lining type piece. This also made the piece easier to attach to the back felted piece of the bag.

Then I put all of the pieces together like so:

 

Finally, I did some needle felting which I liked most of all! Again, I was surprised and impressed by how workable the wool was and by how much control I had over the design I wanted to create. Very fun and most definitely not the last time I will work with wool.

I forgot to take a picture of the final product so you’ll just have to wait until I get it back!

Felting–You should try it!

Fashionable Businesses of Scale

Posted on | November 29, 2010 | No Comments

For our Business Class this week, we were asked to pick three fashion companies that fit the following categories: A so-called ‘cottage business’; a mid-sized business; as well as a large-scale business. The differences between the three are of scale and range from small, with perhaps one designer and retail representation in mostly local stores to a large conglomerate with several lines produced per year, penetration in several markets across the fashion spectrum and one ‘head’ designer with a big name, huge cache and many fashionably dressed minions.

For my small-scale business, my ‘cottage’ business, I chose Yaletown-based designer Jason Matlo who has been on the Canadian fashion scene for several years.

 Jason Matlo made his first splash in the fashion industry when, fresh out of school, he won the 1998 Smirnoff Designer of the Year Award.

Since then, clients have worn his dresses on red carpets at the Gemini Awards, JUNO Awards and Leo Awards. He also appeared in an episode of the Life Network / Oxygen reality TV series, Making it Big, winning the opportunity to display his designs in the chic windows of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The Jason Matlo brand currently includes his main ready-to-wear collection, a bridal collection and a new line, Babe, which retails at about half the price of his ready-to-wear pieces. His pieces are stocked in 10 or so stores across the country with a heavy representation in Vancouver, as well as 5 stores in the Eastern United States.

 

 For my medium sized business, I chose Canadian designer Kimberley Newport-Mimran who is the co-founder, president and head designer of Pink Tartan.

As the designer behind Pink Tartan, Kimberly brings years of fashion industry experience and her own personal style which, she says, permeates all her designs. Described as practical clothes that can take women from day into evening, Pink Tartan has become the label of choice for many top models and A-list celebrities including Kim Catrall, Jenny McCarthy, Vanessa Williams, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kate Hudson, making it one of North America’s most coveted lines. Kimberley has also designed uniforms for the boutique luxury airline, Porter Airlines, and for hip hotels including the rooftop bar at 60 Thompson and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Tropicana bar.

Pink Tartan designs can be found at most higher-end women’s fashion boutiques across Canada, internationally in Dubai and throughout the United States, including online through Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor.

For my large-scale business, I have, of course, chosen Chanel, currently headed by my own personal fave, Karl Largerfeld.

Unkle Karl fulfills his titled role of Creative Director chez Chanel with seeming ease, producing 2 Ready-to-Wear collections, 2 Haute Couture collections, a Resort collection, shoe collections, handbag collections, perfume, menswear, and the list goes on. He even shoots most of the marketing material for the historic Fashion House.

Chanel itself, of course, was born thanks to the vision and perseverance of one very hard-working Coco Chanel. The House was built on her iconic style: heavy on the tweed suit and impeccable in its construction. Karl Lagerfeld, when he took over at Chanel, brought the ideas and winning aesthetic of Coco back to the forefront with much recent success.

 

Check This Out!

Posted on | July 20, 2010 | 1 Comment

A great blog for those interested in the business of fashion:

http://www.businessoffashion.com/



  • Karen Jordan's fashion fuelled treasure hunts left her with a fearless appreciation for fashion experimentation and an understanding that clothing represents a challenging and groovy medium for self expression.
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