Sunday, December 29, 2013

Off With Their Legs!

There are som trends that should never be embraced by anyone other than drunk college students--they get a pass because they can look back and say "I was drunk".  One such trend is cut off shorts.  No, not the ones most of us had when we were kids and got a hole in the knee and mom cut them into shorts reasonable to wear in public.  No, I am talking about the mom jeans cut into booty shorts and then everything in the Hobby Lobby discount bin affixed to them as "embellishment".  These, folks, are not suitable clothes for adults or persons in general.

Yes, it is winter in places.  However, there is a large area of the country experiencing a season called "not summer" where such garments can be gotten away with without dying so I feel that such a post is still relevant.  Sure, it is nice that people are reusing discarded garments to make these but sometimes we need to ask ourselves "maybe they need to be discarded for a reason" and "where can I donate this that recycles textiles?"  Industrial rags would be a better use for them.  Just because you "decorated it yourself" does not mean you did a great job or that you should wear your art.  Slathering t-shirt paint on your shorts does not make you a creative genius.

There are several logical reasons to dislike this trend.  The pants themselves that are being used--high waisted pants and mom jeans--are not a good look, period.  Shorts so short I don't have to wonder what cheek your tattoo is on are not in keeping with our social contract where we have agreed that such things are to be seen only at private parties.  It is hard to take someone seriously when their crotch is coated in glitter, puff paint and metal spikes.

Sure, you can wear these shorts.  Just do so in private since the rest of us don't want to have to see your privates when we're just trying to buy dinner at the grocery store.

Photo is from

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grandma's Jar of Buttons

One thing about sewing or craft projects is it seems you always need to go out and buy stuff and create more trash and waste more gas.  Sure, you know that the factory worker (you!) was not in unsafe conditions when the garment was made but just look at all of the waste!  Well, there are some clever, easy and cost effective ways to reduce your waste--one is to reuse old buttons. 

I swear, new buttons now cost over $1 a piece!  And for what?  A small piece of plastic.  Turns out there is no need to rush out and constantly go buy them.  You can reuse old ones.  Buttons far outlive whatever garment they're attached to--it isn't like the buttons have gone bad on something with a hole or stain.  Your grandmother used to have a jar of buttons she collected, did you ever wonder why?  Because if she reused the buttons, she didn't need to buy new ones!  Saves money and reduces waste. 

No, I don't have a jar of buttons I've pulled off my old clothes.  I tend to donate them instead of completely destroy them.  What I do instead is to buy bags of old buttons on ebay.  It usually costs about 1 penny (99% savings!!!) a piece and I wind up with all kinds of interesting ones that otherwise I'd never find.   My favorite was a big bag of buttons from men's pants that were stamped with the names of bespoke tailors all over America.  You would be surprised what is out there--antique inlaid buttons, ones of hand-carved bones, buttons from firms long-defunct. 

Below is a sweater I knitted for a relative, I finished it with vintage tailor buttons.  The variety of buttons available for reuse in the world is impressive--why waste your money on new ones when you can give ones we already have a new life?

In support of which kindly brings me much traffic

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pound of Flesh

There are somethings about the fashion industry that bother me deeply.  One is the issue of worker safety.  It has been over 100 years since the Triangle Shirtwaist Company disaster--seamstresses burned to death in their NYC factory with no escape route.  The sad part is that it still happens.  We like to think that whoever made our clothes got to go home from work and hug their kids.  Reality says likely not.

Just because you bought something with a "Made in Italy" stamp does not mean that whoever made it was exempt from exploitation.  Reuters reports that on Dec 1, 2013, 7 workers burned to death during a nightime fire in their factory/dorm.  They slept in an area made of cardboard walls.  No wonder they never had a chance.  The factory had illegal building occurring that was not up to standards.  The article hints at that fact that the workers were working in near "slave-like" conditions and were probably illegal.  Too bad it doesn't elaborate on what life was like for those workers or what company they were producing garments for.  No dress is worth such suffering.

The worst fact is that this is not an isolated incident.  Tragedies of this nature seem to be regular occurances world-wide, like in Bangladeshby WalMart suppliersin Pakistan, and even factories in the US burn down.  Workplace safety is important, no worker should burn to death in a garment fatory.  What should you and I as consumers do about this?  Quite farnkly, I don't know.  Post comments of any ideas!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thwarting The Felt Monster

So, I have this pair of work socks that are 100% wool and I have washed and dried them repeatedly.  The results?  Stiff tubes of felt that are so difficult to put on that it makes me want to cry.  I obviously did not follow the care instructions.   But, I have other pairs of wool socks that do great in the washer and dryer.  Turns out there is a reason. 

Sheep wool is a part of the skin of the sheep.  The fibers are covered with "scales"--little pieces of protein arranged over the fiber like the scales of a reptile.  All animal fibers have them and the softness of the fibers are directly correlated to how big the scales are.  Turns out that when you get a blob wool warm and wet and then agitate it, scales on the fibers all start to interlock with each other acoss the fiber strands.  Ever look at a piece of felt?  It is a clump of wool where the fibers have become all matted together and trying to pull it apart is an exercise in fulility.  It is like that because the scales on the fibers have become interlocked.  My socks have clearly turned to felt. 

What about my wool socks that are just fine?  Turns out there is an industrial process that can be used to treat the wool to prevent felting called Superwash.  This is a non-technical explanation--if you need a technical one, you will want to consult industry publications.  What Superwash treatment does is remove to scales off of the fibers or what amounts to gluing them down so they can't interlock with each other.  There are several different processes to accomplish scale removal--acid washes, polymer coatings and gas treatments.  All of these result in wool that is perfectly safe for humans to wear and use.  The processes themselves can be toxic to humans and can involve things like cholrine gas, ozone gas, or sulphuric acid.  Each process is subject to patent law and simply not something you can do yourself.  There actually is not a factory making Superwash wool in the US as the amount of wool needed to make such a facility economically viable is not available in the US.  If you purchase Superwash wool products they are probably from Germany, South Africa or China since that is where the Superwash facilites are located.  When wool felts it also shrinks, and since shrinkage can be undesirable the Superwash process was invented to combat this.  It seems be remarkably effective!

Some other factoids:
--not all washable wool is Superwash
--industry estimates say about 5% of Superwash uses acid methods and 95% use polymer coatings
--wool items made before the early 1970s are never Superwash
--while polymer-treated wool can go in the dryer, the heat from the appliance can cause the polymer to lose some of its effect so air-drying is the best way to dry Superwash items if you want them to maintain their Superwash traits.

Photos are of Madelinetosh DK in "Thunderstorm" and Malabrigo Rios in "Zarzamora", both are Superwash treated wool products

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hello My Pretties!

Wow, it has been a long time!  I have been neglecting this blog in a very bad way.  It is not intentional.  It just happens.  The problem has been badly compounded by the fact that for the past few years all I have worn to work is a corporate polo and the finest waterproof pants REI has to offer.  Sorta puts a cramp in how many designer dresses you need to be looking at.

I think I may start this up again.  Not completely talking about what just went down the runway, but also talking about what I've made lately.  See, I love to craft.  And, my cousin next to me in age passed away on June 30th, 2013 in a workplace accident with 18 of his coworkers.  You probably saw it on the news.  It has been a very difficult loss.  One thing that has made me feel better is making things myself.  He always believed in me far more than I ever have and he would be very proud of me for putting myself out there and trying.  So, for him I will share with you what I have been making lately.  Most of what I make is either for the friends & family of the people around me and then sometimes for the foster kids in Arizona.  Sometimes, it is for myself.  There's a certain satisfaction you get from knowing that you made your own armor that day.

So, while you can expect some fashion commentary, also expect to watch a hobbiest play with raw materials in their dining room.  I leave you with this, a sweater i knitted for the son of a childhood friend from "Sprintime Baby Cardi" pattern on Ravelry :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...