A Delayed Christmas Present Pt. 2

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The second present I got this Christmas that just about brought me to tears was from my stupendous uncle. He gave me a TREASURE TROVE worth of old Ciba Review journals.

For those of you who don’t know about Ciba, they are a chemical company (Chemische Industrie Base) that has fingers in everything from paper and inks, to textiles and dyes, and even agriculture. You can learn more about this Swiss company here: BASF.com

They published research journals that covered everything from historic textiles and dyes, history of costume, botany, and “native” clothing (which the politically correct call “traditional dress”… )

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I’m still in the process of organizing them. Once I’m done, however, I will be not only posting up scans of the articles for your reading pleasure, I will also be writing reviews and cliff notes of the articles.

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Sound academic and boring? How wrong you are. As a former fashion major, I can honestly say that in the library at the School-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, we had nothing nearly as comprehensive as this collection I have been gifted. So I do this for all of the costume designers, fashion historians, textile designers, dye chemists, historians, fashion majors and in general curious individuals.

This is my Christmas present to you, and I hope some of you can find a use for it all!!!! 🙂

P.S.- Sorry some of the photos are upside down! :S

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A Case of Auto-Pilot and a Missing Key

Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen- adults seem to busy to pay attention to the world around them.  We run through our lives spending half the time on autopilot while we think of other, more important things.  You know it’s true.  Maybe you came home from a really rough day at work. You walked through the door, you took off your coat. Then the next thing you know,  your on the sofa with some hot chocolate, or what ever always makes you feel better. You don’t remember getting it. You don’t remember  going to the sofa.

Or maybe you’re driving to work. you get into the car, you pull out of the drive way, and the next thing you know, you’re merging for the exit ramp. You don’t remember any of the drive. You don’t even remember changing lanes the first time.  (this brings up a question on whether or not adults should be permitted to drive, unsupervised. but I leave that to you to ponder today).

In both cases, you were on autopilot. You’re brain just didn’t care enough to pay attention. Besides, your body clearly could do everything all on it’s own, with out YOU to bother it.

I am often guilty of not paying attention. I search for my workshop keys for at least half an hour everyday. I can never find my glasses when I wake up in the morning. To find my cell phone when I’ve put it down, I have to call it and follow the ringtone like a bloodhound. I found it in the refridgerator once.

This week, however, I had the most amazing memory lapse in the history of my life. I lost the key to my work shop. Not as in  “oh, silly me, I put it in the icecream box!”, or “oh! It fell under the sofa!” I mean REALLY lost it. I ripped apart my house. And it was NOWHERE. SO then I spent a day prowling the streets of my neighborhood, examining sidewalks. No luck.

I should probably explain why I was so worried about this key. If you wanted to get VERY technical, I wasn’t supposed to have it. Sure, I worked for the school, and so obviously needed to be able to get into the costume workshop to do my job.  The administration felt differently. I wasn’t a full fledged teacher, so I was not, in their eyes, worthy of possessing the mystical magical key that let me in to a 10×20 ft windowless box that was tiled with asbestos. Because I might STEAL something.

Never mind the thousands of hours I log working on the productions. Never mind the fact that I was the one who restocked the first aid kit in the shop out of my own pocket because the school was too cheap.  And never mind the countless fundraisers I’d organized to get supplies and money for the costume shop. In their eyes, I was nothing more than a 5’10”, 160 lb., well corseted FELON.

The moral is that they didn’t want me to have this key.

So it would be no far stretch to think that the administration would dance a jig over me losing my illegitimate, bastard key. “Lost it, dearie? oh GOOD! Replace it, dearie? Oh, sweetheart, I don’t think we could!” So I started thinking up more and more far fetched plans for getting in and out of my workshop. How much did a lock pick set cost? Could a lock pick turn a dead bolt? Maybe I could borrow my boss’s key, and then get a copy made? All horrible ideas, especially the last one, since the key said DO NOT DUPLICATE, and it would have involved fraud, bribery and the cunning use of a micro mini skirt and a push up bra to get a new copy made.

As it got closer and closer to me having to tell my boss that I had lost the key, I became more and more panicked. I couldn’t sleep. I was too nauseous to eat.

And then, last night, my mother came home. She dropped her purse and her coat next to the phone, and looked over at the computer desk.

“Isn’t that the key you were looking for?” she asked me.

It had been sitting on the computer desk. Not hidden. It was placed neatly in front of the keyboard. I had spent three days looking for it, and yet had managed not to see it.

Was it simply a case of autopilot? Had I taken the key to the computer to use the USB attached to it, and gotten side tracked? Or had I realized in the middle of the act, that I was trying to use the WRONG USB, and so had gone to get the other, forgetting the first? Had I run out of coffee and needed to refill my cup, and then decided that coffee and brownies were perfect together, and so had decided to make brownies?

I may never know.

Personally, I am maintaining that my house is haunted by a poltergeist, that decided it was bored with my key, and was kind enough to return it.

The conclusion you draw from this tale is up to you. However, once you have finished reading this, I suggest you take a moment to look around you, and really look. other wise, next time it might be you, searching in vain for a missing object that is right in front of you!

Until next time… ::sinister laugh and creepy organ music::

The Glitzy, the Glamorous, and the Mundane

When people think of fashion, They probably think the same thing I thought. They think of Alexander McQueen gowns, and the glamor of fashion shows. They think of perfectly tailored Armani suits, homes in the Hampton’s, Italian villas and French chateaus. They think of cameras, and flashing lights and dresses on red carpets.

And sure, some of them will think of the way fashion rapes the earths plants and animals (let’s not get started on Vicuna, shall we?); How many little critters have to die for a mink coat, no matter how luxuriously soft it feels? And how about the way cotton was manufactured by slaves for a while? or children in sweat shops in Indonesia?

We each choose which side of fashion we fixate on. Probably because trying to fixate on the gritty and the glamorous would lead us all to nudist colonies.

However, very few people, even those going into fashion as a career, are prepared for the mind numbing boredom that is sewing a sample. What is a sample (you innocently ask)? A sample is a test garment made of cheap fabric, usually some type of muslin, which is used to check the fit of the garment, the viability of a pattern,  the style lines, see what needs tweaking. Essentially, it’s the rough draft of your product, used so you can find and fix every single flaw there is, AND so that you absolutely, positively, 100% KNOW how to sew that baby together without messing it up. Because, let’s face it, Seam rippers and Duoponni silk? Not good bed fellows.

Now, in the perfect world, us aspiring designers would be able to draft a pattern that is a perfect fit, and would be such stunning savants that a sample would be superfluous. Unfortunately, this is NOT a perfect world. And so sample sewing is what I have just spent the past week and a half on. Not on multiple samples, mind you. Just on one. One sample dress in cheap muslin. And I haven’t even gotten it on a model yet!

The bright side of the tedium is that i really HAVE found every single flaw- The waist line was a little long (so I’ll have to bring that up about an inch…) and the seam allowances on the sleeve were wonky (MEMO- seam allowances are a good thing). Then of course the neckline was off, and the skirt hem is all sorts of wrong. but the important thing is that I can FIX it! I may have drunk every last ounce of caffeine in my county, and have blood shot eyes that make me look like a victim of Ebola, and, okay, so I’ve got a tick in my left eye and I’m a little bit twitchy…

But the important thing is, The sample is going on the model tomorrow!!

The moral of this little story, is this-  In the glamorous world of fashion, for the small designer, there will be hours upon days upon weeks doing the most boring job in the world- sewing a sample. My suggestion is to use the sample as a chance to really bone up on your sewing skills. Make that sample like it’s going to be embroidered with diamonds and given to the Queen of England. Sure, it’s absolutely demented and delusional… but it will get you through it to the final product!

Trust the Tutorial

Yesterday I finally downloaded my PatternMaker software I cracked my knuckles, rubbed my hands together, and got ready to draft the most amazing dress the world has ever seen. I had my models measurements. I had a sketch of what I wanted the dress to be when I was done. I was ready to go!

Unfortunately, when I opened the program up, what I got was like the Geometrist’s Paint Program. Circles, Rectangles, Lines, POLYGONS??? What was I supposed to do with this? I tried to draw a line, and it didn’t work. I got the rectangle, after 10 failed attempts, but then couldn’t erase it. I begged my computer. I implored, I wheedled, and then after 4 hours of FAILURE, I cursed my computer and started yelling. It was time to go the the Help Topics and surrender my pride.

But even the Help Topics didn’t tell me what I was doing wrong. All the pages just kept telling me to do the Tutorials. And where the heck were they?! Another hour of cursing ensued before I found the tutorials on the website.

In two hours I ran through the first 5 tutorials and had a fully functioning back sloper. Piece of cake.

Today I booted up my computer and, with a fresh cup of coffee and some sleep, decided to explore the files in the PatternMaker. I found the Tutorials, on my hard drive, conveniently labeled “Tutorial” (had I bother to check yesterday? No. I’d just gotten really inventive with my insults directed to my computer).

This morning I cracked my knuckles, rubbed my hands together, and, like a much more logical person, I opened up the tutorials and settled down to learn more about the program. My computer and I have since made up and are back on speaking terms.

The moral of this story is that, regardless of how sure you are that you KNOW what you’re doing, running through 12 short tutorials really won’t hurt you. And it may save you HOURS of frustration. Food for thought.

I’m now off to try and scale a pattern. With more coffee, of course!