Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wasteful Fashion Part 1: Distressing

It's not all patchouli, nag champa, rainbows and unicorns in my life right now so I have decided to write about something not so happy to go along with my mood. I was just going to do one entry on the topic of waste in the fashion industry, but as I read more and more I decided to make this into a segment.
I was watching a show and they were at a distressing factory for a designer jean company. The workers there were all minorities and were taking perfectly good jeans and distressing them. You know those jeans will hit the stores for $300+. In my head all I could think was this is just another way of how wasteful America is. Taking something perfectly good and making it look old to make money. This like mostly everything comes at a high price to the health of the workers distressing and the environment.

"A textile worker takes a break at dawn after sanding jeans all night at a clothing factory in Guangdong Province, China. The blue dust from the jeans is a heavy irritant to the lungs. The factory where this worker is employed uses a wear-and-tear process to achieve the fashionable distressed look for the approximately 10,000 pairs of jeans it produces every day. Thousands of workers labor around the clock scrubbing, spraying, and tearing jeans in order to meet the production demand. China is one of the world's largest producers of jeans."

Long story short if you want your jeans to look "hip" take a pair of jeans you already own if they aren't already "hip" then follow the ideas below to turn "even the oldest, most unfashionable pair of jeans into bohemian-chic attire".

1 If making distressed shorts, cut them into shorts first.
2 Place a block of wood (or some other solid surface that you don't mind possibly damaging) within the pant leg or denim region you want to distress.
3 Rub a steak knife, cheese grater, or scissors vertically or horizontally against the area of denim that you would like to distress. Rub gently for mild distress; rub longer and more vigorously to create more visible distress (such as holes and tears).
4 Take scissors or knife and go up over the vertical hole your make to have the "distressed look".
5 Do not cut holes with scissors. This creates an unfrayed, and consequentially unstylish bland hole. :)
6 Fray jeans by rubbing sandpaper around pockets, knees, hemlines, or any other area of denim that you would like to have a soft, worn appearance.
7 Dampen a sponge with bleach and rub it around the outer edges of holes for a "distressed look".
8 Tear off a back pocket.
9 Wash your jeans.
10 Wear your newly stylish distressed jeans.

Alternative Methods
Take the nail file and start filing away at one area. Some jean "lint" will come off, and it can get quite annoying. Peel it off the nail file as well as the jeans every couple of seconds. Keep filing until you get the desired size of hole. After a little bit, the white threads will appear. Once this happens, do not file the white threads. This will result in them ripping and then you are left with a complete hole and not a wear mark.
Another great way to make your jeans look distressed without completely ripping them to shreds is to use a cheese grater around areas that show the most wear and tear (knees, behind, around the pockets, etc). Do this with a light hand, or else you might go through the fabric.
Also think about different stains; paint, oil, and bleach work well. Don't go overboard on the stains. This is one area where less is more.
Own and wear a regular pair of jeans for a couple years. You'll find that they become distressed naturally, and this way you can out-cool all the trendy kids because your jeans are authentic.
Afraid of ruining your jeans? You can buy jeans that already have small rips, and rub a knife or cheese grater around the edges of the rips until you're satisfied.
Use a dremel tool with a piece of sandpaper to distress seams and edges. Also, you can use sandpaper to get great looks too.

As for my own sewing projects I will be finishing a project really soon and will be debuting it early next week. I also hope to be writing more frequently so stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In my neck of the woods

(The tree in front has been topped. It is a sad day in the life of a tree when it gets topped. Please don't top trees.) Right across from my apartment is "The Sewing Workshop," a sewing and art school. Can you believe it? A couple of weekends ago I dragged my hung over self across the street and to the open house they were having. Three hours later still hung over I crossed the street to go back home, but this time I was full of new knowledge and excitement for sewing. That was the first time I had been in there. The Sewing Workshop was showcasing there upcoming classes. It felt good to be surrounded by sewers. I will give you some of the highlights for me from the open house.

  • Jasmin Zorlu: she was attending. She is an amazing hat designer and millinery. She was wearing a fish skin hat that she had designed. Although I am not really down for wearing animal products she "strives to use sustainable materials whenever possible, like the eco leather 'fish skin', cashmere sweaters, and fruit bags in my handmade headwear." She calls her hats Sculptural Headwear for Earthlings. She has an upcoming hat making workshop that I would love to take. Check her out at:

  • Jarred Garza: One of the teachers at the school. He is one of the designers for Ric Rac Clothing. He talked about his classes. I was mostly interested in his vintage re-dux technique. He searches thrift stores in search of vintage pieces and remakes them into more modern pieces. It was cool to see his excitement for it. This is something I would love to do.
  • Cockades: French hat decorations popular during both wars in the 20th century. They were used as military insignia, award ribbons, show bows, jewelry, hat and clothing decorations. One of the teachers was showing quick tutorials on how to make these. They are basically ribbon that is folded insanely awesomely.

The Sewing Workshop might not be the hippest place in town, but it is very professional and it offers a wonderful selection of amazing classes. I would definitely recommend them. Unfortunately there classes are out of my budget right now, but hopefully in the future.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Picnic Time

I didn't finish them by Christmas. I didn't finish them by New Years, but I did finish them by Martin Luther King Day! Yeah! It's hard to find something to make for all my friends that they won't throw away and think is lame :). I used a book from the library. It's a good book that I recommend for beginning sewers. It's called Simple Sewing. I decided to make the picnic placemat project in the book. It is used as a placemat and napkin. I can just imagine bicycling somewhere and stopping and having a picnic in a park with these or for camping etc. They are double sided with a pocket for silverware. It rolls and ties up with ribbon. I made each pair with a different fabric. The fabric I used is really sturdy and they should be washable.

On to the next projects. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pizza & the Runway

I was waiting at the bus stop last week and looked up and there it was, an ad for the new Project Runway. Who knew. It really was a surprise and put a little spring in my step for the rest of the day (ads don't usually do that to me). I was disappointed with last seasons in L.A. and figured I wouldn't really watch it again, but something deep down inside me is saying that "I just I just have to watch it!" I think it will be better that it will be back in New York City. I am also excited because I am going to reinstate pizza night as well to complement PR. I already know the pizza's for this week that I want to make. So I can't create an outfit in one night, but I can create pizza. What's better then Project Runway, good company, homemade pizza, knowing that I only have one day of work till the weekend and a big glass of wine? No please tell me. Well if you don't already know Project Runway Season 7 starts this Thursday January 14th. Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My 10 sewing resolutions for 2010

1) Make my own duct tape dress form. This has been on my list of things to do. It would be very helpful with all of my projects and it will be fun to make!

2) Make vintage inspired pieces. I am in love with this dress and very inspired by it.
3) Use more recycled materials. Use materials I have or re-make items I don't like. Buy less new fabric. These dresses are made out of records.

4) Continue to be inspired by nature and my surroundings. Use more natural colors and colors I see around town. I love the colors of the edible greens growing in the concrete jungle with cigarettes as fertilizer. :)

5) Use more solid colors to make classic pieces.

6) Learn and experiment with new techniques.

7) Maybe buy or find a Serger so that I can sew with jersey, t-shirt material and stretchy fabrics.

8) Work with sexier fabrics like lace and satin. Maybe make lingerie.

9) Start to explore men's wear

10) Have fun, relax and Sew Sally Sew!!!!!!!!