Saturday, March 31, 2012

April 3rd: Beginning Spinning and Barcodes

      This Tuesday, we will be getting together together at the new studio space to give people a chance to kick the tires. Come to the new building and walk up the stairs to the left. You will see a bunch of comfy couches and chairs for people to sit down in and hang out. The address is:

Acorn to Oak Handmade
5825 Triangle Drive
Raleigh, NC 27617

       We will be discussing two matters:

7-8 pm Barcodes and Store Supply Chains: We will be going over how to do deal with retail stores by understanding how barcodes work and how to purchase them cheaply. Many people do not realize that they can get their own barcodes for $20-30. While you can spend $600-700 to set up a business barcode system, many people do not need an infinite number, only 1 or 2 to get started. We will go over the history of barcodes and how they got started, how stores use them to track product. This will help any members hoping to sell to stores or on Amazon in the future.

8-9 pm Beginning Spinning: Theresa from HooksandEyes will be coming to talk to us about spinning roving into thread. We will be making drop spindles from dowel rods and old CDs. Bring any fiber projects you are working on and we will be practicing spinning as well as showing off scarves, bags, or sweaters you're working on. I will be bringing the scarf I am working on. If anyone wants to bring extra yarn to swap or chat about yarn shops in the area, that would be great.

Have a great day. Can't wait to see everyone there.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Textile Friday: Where We Source Our Supplies

                                “A price is something you get. A cost is something you lose.” ~ An old designer quote on the value of outsourcing vs. in-house training

         Many people don't realize that here at Li Sashay, we strive to source everything as being manufactured for our apparel and textile goods within a 2 1/2 hr. drive. Little, if anything we make has parts that come from far away. Forget China, most of our thread, fabric, and buttons are produced locally here at mills in the Piedmont and Mountains of our beloved North Carolina. It helps of course that North Carolina is a textile state. At the time of writing, we are around 95% supplies from North Carolina, the major exception is I have yet to find a place in the Piedmont that produces silk and I have a designer I do work with that loves silk. No system is perfect. Much of my buy local drive comes from the food movement, not textiles.
         However, it has a distinct advantage in that I actually feel as if I know what I'm giving my customers. Every system is imperfect so this knowledge is tempered with a reality we live in the real world. Otherwise, I'd never sew with silk. I've toured the plants, chatted with sales guys, kicked the tires so to speak on the drums, spinnets, and a million little things. It means a host of  details our customers rarely stop to consider. The threads last longer, I can get parts shipped in 2 days from the sewing machine factory near Charlotte, and any textiles are unlikely to fall apart in a season. A thousand little things that say quality to me. It's not to say the system is perfect, but it let's me sleep at night knowing I'm not supporting child-labor or unfair wages. The garments that are made entirely in this state will have a "Made in North Carolina" label on them to distinguish everything from the hardware to thread being made here in our state. And now, I hope to share my peace of mind with you. And to any new designers getting started, North Carolina is a great state to manufacture in. Have a great weekend.

       See ya on Monday.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day Twenty-Seven: Free Zombie Mice Kit

          Alright, I've been holding out all week while putting these kits together. Thank one evil kitten I had to fend off while trying to watch Walking Dead for this inspiration. Our thanks for being awesome customers. As we look forward to our eTextiles class in April, I have put together a few free zombie mice kits to let people practice their hand-sewing skills and torture their cats at the same time. The directions are on Instructables. It should take you roughly an hour to sew your very own. You can get one for free at the Studio or I will be happy to mail you a kit with $5 shipping until they run out. This is a great way to get better at sewing eTextiles and a lot of fun.  I hope you are also having a lovely March. Best of luck on your weekend and see ya on Monday.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Textile Friday: Azlon's Brain-lock

                          "'Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material." Leviticus 19:19

           This Friday's post is for my new intern, Dejah, who asked me to explain textile fibers to her in terms of helping her buy better clothes that will last her longer. Before I get started, I am not an spinner, dyer, or weaver expert, and my cousin Jay can kick my butt any day of the week on this subject. This is brief summary of rules of thumb for the end consumer looking to buy clothing that lasts, not a how-to-create fabric for which one spends years mastering or how-to-buy for designers which possibly takes just as long. Making cloth is as difficult, complicated, and interesting as sewing it into clothing. There's a lot of science behind fabric. We are looking to buy good quality clothing today, not spend 10 years going to school for the privilege of taking extra chemistry classes.
            So, how does one wade through the sea of fabric changes since the 1940s when man-made fabrics came on the main market without going to school for it? Even the term man-made can be misleading for some people as rayon for example is sometimes made from cotton, just the overall plant and not the white stuff at the top. Worse, many spinners will create blends that have a specific hand feel, but fall apart quickly as they lack the desirable properties of the objects they are mimicking.
            First, after finding a piece of clothing you like, look at the label tag on the inside. You should find two pieces of information. First, the fiber content and second, the wash-care instructions. The fiber content will tell you the overall quality of the piece of material in your hand (it's strengths and weaknesses) and the wash-care instructions will tell you how the garment is actually to be treated in day to day use.
            What is fiber content? Fiber content is the materials that go into the make-up of your clothing. It generally comes in 3 major grades or categories which are sometimes sub-divided. The top grade or highest quality grade are 100% fabrics (generally natural) that are woven or felted. They are primarily natural fabrics: wools, cotton, silk, leather, fur, and linen. Natural fabrics breath easier and have certain natural resistances to mildew, moths, sunlight, wrinkling, static shock, etc. The best of these will often have additional finishes to give desirable qualities the wearer may want (water resistance, luster, etc). And interfacing to provide a foundation to help the pieces hold up over time. Whenever possible, I prefer to work with natural fabrics over anything else or suggest them to people to buy. Mostly because I like happy customers. Cotton and leather are particular favorites. Natural fabrics are made to last a minim of 15-20 years or 140 washes typically and I've seen numbers ranging in 700-50,000 before if people follow the wash care instructions.
            However, it is not always practical or possible to afford the best. Sometimes your desire for the best possible quality has to meet the reality that a $60 t-shirt is not an affordable t-shirt or $3000 for a dress for a 1 time event is not going to happen for most people. So what do fabric producers do? There are 3 major solutions I've seen, all with pluses and minuses. The most reasonable solution I've seen is for manufacturers to offer a cheaper version of the same shirt as a knit instead of a woven.  Knits have a tendency to sag over time, but this is my favorite thing to tell customers if they can't afford a top of the line woven shirt or dress, to look for the same thing as a knit. It will lack the build up and foundation of a better quality garment, but it will have many of the same positive wearing and wash qualities. Be aware that knits have a tendency to sag over time and lack the foundation of wovens so they won't hold up as long. When looking at knits vs. wovens, I generally drop the life of knits down to under 10 years.
           Next, you see manufacturers using lower quality goods for medium quality fabrics. For example, many secondary quality fabrics are made from cotton plant left-overs, wood pulp, cellulose, etc as a realistic offering by a manufacturer to offer a similar item at a less expensive price. The item will generally last a 4th to a 10th as long as a garment made of the higher quality natural fabrics and command a lower price. Many manufacturers speak of 30-60 washes as typical. You can think of this as the difference between 1st cold-press olive oil and normal olive oil.
            Lastly, my least favorite method...blended fabrics. Blended fabrics are an old trick that has been around for thousands of years in which sellers attempt to stretch their higher quality goods further by mixing it with cheaper quality stuff and hoping no one notices. The seller passes their medium quality goods off as top shelf or "as good as" at half the price. It's one of the oldest proscriptions in the Torah or Old Testament. Trust me, if old Jewish merchants don't like it enough to write about it repeatedly as both legal and otherwise...there's a very basic reason.
            In theory, blended fabrics would have the best properties of both fabrics. This is the sales pitch you get in the store when you go to buy the fabric, what you never get mentioned is that blended fabrics also combine the worst properties of both fabrics. Sometimes this is so bad that manufacturers will simply refuse to manufacturer the blend all together. One of the worst examples is Azlon which is blended milk fabrics that Italy popularized in the 1930s as feeling like the best of both silk and wool. In falling in love with the positive properties, the hand texture, everyone forgot to add that the stuff smells like spoiled milk, rots quickly, and is very weak. Azlons are no longer manufactured in the US since the 1970s. This is an obvious example, but if at all possible avoid blended fabrics and pick another of the middle of the road choice if you can't afford to buy top shelf for a particular item.
              At the very bottom are two types of fabrics. They are natural fabrics that are considered unsuitable for spinning such as jute or low/odd quality. At time of writing, hemp, ramie, kapok, angora, cashmere, mohair, vicuna, and rubber are examples of this bottom level natural fabrics. Some very desirable fabrics like cashmere don't wear well as it doesn't spin well. However, scientists are constantly experimenting and improving techniques. Since vulcanization, rubber has become much more popular and is now often used in shoes and latex. Rubber now has the weird distinction of being both a natural and man-made fabric. Of the 21 family classes of man-made fabrics, most are in this bottom category due to their weaknesses, particularly to heat, except for rayon and nylon. Some people also love glass as well for commercial applications. It's a pretty specialized fabric though. That's fiber content in a nutshell, buy the highest quality you can afford on your budget for your core wardrobe and you can break the rules a little in your fashion wardrobe. It doesn't necessarily make sense to spend the extra money to get something that lasts if you only plan to keep it a season or two.
              And now, the second half, wash care instructions. How you treat an object after you get it will determine how long you get to keep it. There are two basic types: dry clean only and machine washable. Dry clean only is for clothing that does not need to be regularly washed, but should be cleaned every season. It is often used for wool or leather garments. Wool is the most common example because it becomes much weaker when wet and so much be handled carefully during cleaning. It can also apply to some silk and linens. Be realistic about your actual budget, good clothes are useless if they aren't clean. Many men will spring to get their dress shirts done as they like the extra starch. This is a personal choice.
              Next, machine washable. Machine washable clothing makes up the bulk of most people's wardrobe in our modern society. Wash your clothing correctly. When in doubt follow these conservative rules. This will probably be on your tag if you buy clothing from the US. Most clothing will be a cold wash and pay attention to this. Man-made fabrics since the 1940s are heat sensitive and if your fabric has had permanent press technology applied, you will take out any extra help the manufacturer put in to help you with heat. The same commonsense point applies for your dryer.
               Acid warning: wools, silk, and dyes will be substantially weakened by BLEACH as it compromises the cell membranes. REPEAT, do not use bleach on natural animal fabrics EVER unless you want your favorite sweater turned into a pile of goo. This does not apply to plant fabrics such much to other things like cotton. Otherwise, you can follow the wash care instructions. My default is to separate lights and dark and wash everything in cold water then medium tumble dry for the dryer. That will pretty much take care of most fabric quirks. But read the directions and try to pick non-fussy clothing.

               Wow, that was a long post. Hopefully no one was too bored. Check in next week.          

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

3D Printer Workshop: Part 3

           This week we decided to switch class 3 and 5 to skip ahead and give people some idea of how to actually work their 3D printers as well as look ahead to our jewelry lecture in July. If you drop by Tuesday night, you got to see a lot of guys bent over computers with 3D printers making fancy blue squares. Also, we got to unveil the jewelry kiln for the meeting, this will be making a reappearance in July when we do some jewelry casting. It's an old Jelenko that has seen better days, but works, and I'm always more interested in things that work than anything else.

     Have a great day. I have a cool surprise for you this week I'm working to unveil.

Monday, March 19, 2012

April Acorn to Oak Team Meetings and Cross-over Events

              Wow, April is fast approaching. This coming month the Acorn to Oak Team is doing a number of cross-over events with the Splat Space and the Visual Art Exchange in downtown Raleigh and Durham. It's nice to get out of the regular comfort zones and stretch the wings a little. I would also like to officially welcome Shannon Talton to our team as a leader. This title is long overdue for all her tireless hard work and contributions over the past year. Thank you, welcome, and we look forward to having you on board. Shannon runs Art'n'Silk (you can see one of her scarves here on a model  at right) as well as sharing office space with me. It's fun to see her work and if you've taken any of her classes I'm sure you've enjoyed painting on fabric with her.

For April we will start focusing on the first half our our look into the Twin Arts (Spinning and Weaving), Etextiles, and How-To-Run-A-Successful Online Storefront. The second half of the month will be several cross-over events with other art communities in the area.We love partnering with other artists and seeing them grown.

April 3rd: Barcodes and Wool

6-7 pm: How to set-up a Barcode Tracking System: A lot of designers get stuck taking their idea successfully to stores and selling it. A great idea needs legs and math. Math, that thing that makes artists run screaming for the hills. Many people are put off with the idea of how barcodes work or how to use them as a tool to leverage. It's too simple and cheap for people not to take advantage of this tool. With Amazon and many major companies requiring barcodes for their tracking systems, we will go over the history of barcodes and a 4 point way to sign up and register for your own barcode or series of barcodes inexpensively.

7-9 pm Beginning Spinning With HooksandEyes: Theresa is going to be feeding my unhealthy obsession with knitting handmade items for a few hours. You addicted to yarn too? Bring out your latest project: knitting, crocheting, loom weaving, you name it for fiber arts and we will spend a couple of hours knitting, crocheting, spinning, and watching her demonstration.

This event is free and open to the public at our Acorn to Oak Studio, 5825 Triangle Drive, Raleigh, NC 27617

April 17th: E-textiles: Cross-over Event with Splat Space

7-9 pm: This week we are having fun hanging out with a fellow design studio in Durham, Splat Space. These great guys are constant DIY tinkers. We will be looking at the new eTextiles Aniomagic, a design system people here are getting into using in their clothing and accessories. Aniomagic has replaced Lilypad for me in the past 6 months and I think it's ease of use is worth sharing.

This event has a $25 supply cost (You take home a kit at the end of the evening.). You can find Splat Space in downtown Durham at: 331 West Main Street, Durham, NC

April 21st: How-To-Sell-Online: Cross-over Event with Visual Art Exchange

3:3-4:30 pm: Acorn to Oak will be a small part of a workshop the Visual Art Exchange is hosting for beginning artists to help educate and help them grow. We are so flattered to be invited and can't wait to see where this leads. The Visual Art Exchange is a wonderful place downtown.

This event is free and open to the public. You can find the Visual Art Exchange in downtown Raleigh at: 309 West Martin Street  Raleigh, NC 27601. Hope to see you there.

I will post more details as each week nears. Have a great week and can't wait to have you drop by.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Textile Friday: The Fashion 40%

       Ahhh, fashion...the wardrobe spark that makes you, you. This is your voice to express your taste. The hardest, most fickle part of building a wardrobe. Most fashionistas, stylists, and who's who scramble each year to pull out the trends for the season. If you watch the runways, people will talk about this or that being in. How, every 6 months you throw everything away and start over. While this is not true for your core wardrobe, it is often true for a handful of "in" items that are in every season. 99% of the waste and fun of the fashion industry comes from "fashion." Fashion is the little things that make you, you. Think of style as the canvas and fashion as the paint. Fashion is the flirty shoes you have for your date night, your favorite bracelet cuff you wear with your jeans, the hot little top you just can't live without. makes a great "shopping guide" you can see here. These cute earrings are from their spring guide. It will tell you what prints are in and accessories. In general, fashion has a 2 1/2 year turn cycle so you will need to buy 1 piece every season to stay current. This will be 40% of you overall shopping budget. However, the point of fashion is to express your taste not slavishly follow what the "experts" say. In general taste changes with time. The you of today will not necessarily like the things you do 5 years later. And that's fine.
         If you are in love with butterflies, or a particular movie, or something in particular speaks to you, buy it. Don't second guess yourself. This season I'm into the concept of lunch escapes, this fall it will be something different. Fashion accessories are traditionally:

1. Jewelry- Your watch, earrings, necklace, bracelet, etc. Many people will buy an entire set (matching necklace, bracelet, and earrings) instead of just 1 or 2 pieces at time. There's some really great jewelry talent in the area. This is something I particularly love to shop for at arts and crafts shows as a small unique piece of wearable art.

2. Hats- Come and go. Some people never wear them, some people are never without them. Hats in general are the fastest changing items of fashion. They provide a perception of elongating the face so people with short necks or particularly round faces often do well with hats. Choose a hat that goes with your face.

3. Summer Bag- While your everyday leather bag should be the highest quality you can buy, many people have a second summer cloth bag or purse to drag to the park or on vacation that they will switch out every few years. It is often wise to have your bag complimentary to your spring scarf in case the weather leads you to a cross over.

4. Fashion Shoes- I like to think of these as flirty date shoes. But then I have like 12 pairs so no comment. The women's shoe department is called the "shark tank" in retail for a reason. Many guys have summer sandals or tennis shoes.

5. Athletic workout gear- Have a favorite sport, budget it in your fashion wardrobe part. Athletic gear rarely works as long as core wardrobe. Much of it today has spandex which tends to fall apart.

6. Sexy Lingerie/Swimwear- Summer swim trucks or that hot little number? Apply here.

7. Scarves/Prints- Many of the season's prints are lovely on a silk scarf and much cheaper than in a dress. These go really great if lighter colored to flatter your face in the spring when you're washed out from the pale winter season.

8. Winter Scarves, Gloves, Mittens, and Specialty Wear- Alright, I've mentioned the basics, now remember that accessories vary according to your taste. If you live in the tropics, you may want to pick up some beach sarongs, or in New York...a beautiful pair of leather gloves.

             Whatever you buy, enjoy. This is my grandfather's gift to me. I hope that it will keep you in good company as well. I miss him very much and this is my regift to you, my readers of a small portion of the wisdom he lent me. Have a great week and check in next week when we go motorcycle racing.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recap: Part 2 of the 3D Printer Workshop

     Welcome back from another fun Acorn to Oak meeting on 3D printing. I am so excited to see this technology take off.  Last week everyone put together the electronics, this week everyone put together the outside frame to their 3D printers. One of the neat things about this event is there is almost nothing I can actually name in terms of parts going into these classes. It's a treasure hunt each week in identifying and being exposed to this wonderful world I had never thought about before. While there were a lot of cool things, the two neatest things in my mind for the evening was learning how shrink wrap tubing works and assembling the base. You can see Evan working on a neat stepper motor on the right.
           Once you finish your work, you wrap it in this loose plastic that when exposed to heat...suddenly shrinks. It's pretty neat stuff. While there's a lot of little tricks to assembling the outside, it's impressive when the last piece is installed or the y-axis. You can see Kevin hard at work here.
        I will post more pictures on facebook after I get a chance to look through them. It's so cool to see this all come together. Can't wait to show you all more next week. It's hard to think in 2 weeks all these machines will be up and printing.

         Yeah! Check in tomorrow for a really awesome surprise and the last of our 3 part series in how to build a wardrobe that saves you money.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day Twenty-Six: How to Make Librarian Cotton Gloves

        This week I'm pouring through our photos from the shoot to release our new collection: "Lunch Escape." While I do that, I invite you to have fun with me as I catch up on recapping some other projects. Today we're going to be super quiet and visit the museum. As some of you guys may know, Nash has landed his dream volunteer job downtown going through the State's archives. I'm thrilled for him and it deserves a super-shiny pair of white cotton reading gloves as they don't really make white gloves for guy's hands his size that I can find. I see lots of cool weapons and theater costumes in our future.

         If you want to make your own, you can do it in an evening with thread and a needle. You just need: fabric scraps, needle, scissors, button thread, and paper.

1. Trace your hand and cut out the master pattern. (See above.)
2. Trace your pattern on fabric with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
3. Pin and cut your gloves out.
4. Sew together with a basic whip stitch.
5. Turn inside out and voila you're done.

         I've put more detailed instructions on Instructables if you would like to check them out.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Opening A New Door

         "There is a time for everything." -King Solomon Ecclesiastes

          Thanks everyone who came out to the photoshoot this weekend. It was fun to have you all. I've been spending the weekend relaxing and enjoying the weather. I love sharing the beauty of this area with others.
            Moving out to our new location has been amazing in terms of feeling as if it's also a positive parallel shift for both the company and myself personally. It's forced me to take a hard look at our personal and professional habits. Some of which need to change. Like personally drinking more water and taking lunch breaks to work-out, the company seems due to a similar tune-up. One of the great things about getting a new space is it shakes out the cobwebs of habit.
              Some of these have been obvious to me, I just hestitated to make the change. One is a desire to stop teaching beginning classes on a regular basis and cut back on my responsibilities that do not directly involve our company mission statement. I love the occasional moonlighting for a girl friend or guest invitation, but I've always felt happier working with my hands than giving lectures. There's something very real about making something people wear everyday with my hands that makes the smiles seem more real to me. Anyways, I hope to do more fun clothing this year. I've got a few surprises up my sleeve for spring and some new textiles I hope you enjoy. To a new exciting season and fun looks. Have a great day.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Textile Friday: The Core 60%

"Always wear clean underwear, you never know what's going to happen."
-My Aunt Mimi's advice to my 16 year old tomboy self on the importance of showers and regular laundry

          Welcome back! Last week you got your core color and 6-7 best colors. Now what? Color without fabric makes for some drafty days. Beautiful painted models are all very well for art shows, but the rest of us need a little help to look our best. How do you create this help without ruining your closet and pocketbook? You begin by building your core wardrobe. Every wardrobe is built on style and fashion. The core is the style part of your wardrobe and will make up 60% of your wardrobe as well as 60% of your clothing budget. You will buy 1 piece per season to go in your core wardrobe.
           The core wardrobe is the bulk of your clothing that you wear every day and primarly composed of solid colors, clean uncluttered lines, and good tailoring. Exclamation good tailoring! Tailored clothing will make you look 30 pounds slimmer. It should not pucker, sag, or pull. Put your money in clothing that makes you look good. You save your quirky taste or print you love for your fashion wardrobe. Look at yourself in the mirror when picking out style pieces and ask yourself, "Does this piece make me look good?"  Your core wardrobe should be easy for you to care for, clean, and as high a quality as you can afford. You may pick up your fashion piece for the season at a corner stall or as an impulse, but great care should taken when picking core fashion pieces as you can have them for decades.
          While fashion may change every season, in general style changes every generation (15-20 years). Another name some designers use is silhouette. The picture below is our current silhouette for women which just finished the drafting cycle in 2009-2011. Prior to that, it was done in the early 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s. In another 20 years it will change and all the master patterns will be redrafted probably around 2030. This accounts for any changes in population size such as height or weight. It is normally the result of several years of research. The data this revision is based on actually began in 2005.
         The core pieces of your wardrobe will follow these general lines. In order of importance, they are currently:

1. Coat (2-4): You will need at least one dressy coat and one casual coat. You can splurge and get  a raincoat, but many people combine their casual coat with their raincoat. Your dressy coat should be longer either 3 quarters or full to cover a formal tux (remember the tails) or formal opera dress. Many dressy coats are milk, fur, or wool. Your more casual coat can be shorter. Many are waist length.

2. Suit (1-3): You will need at least 1 good "interview" suit and 1 more casual suit. If you are in an office environment that demands daily suit use, you may want to add take special care to get extra separates that go with your primary suit. For example when buying your suit, buy a second pair of matching pants. Many good suits are traditionally wool, but Liz Claiborne has popularized cotton and washable suits in the 1960s-1970s which are an acceptable alternative if you are younger and/or can not afford regular drycleaning. Be honest about yourself about what your actual ability to clean is. Beautiful dirty clothes are not as attractive as slightly less expensive clothing that you can care for.

3.Dresses (1-3):  Go in an out of fashion, if you are man, you should substitute another suit or two for this or specialty . Dresses can be substituted around the world for any costume related to your culture. In some countries you may be buying a kimono, sari, or other traditional garment. Your opinion on dresses will determine if they are a core wardrobe item or not. Most women need a casual dress and an after 5 dress. You casual dress should be something easy to wear to a cook-out or afternoon event that can be dressed up with good jewelry to a more serious function like church. An after 5 dress is a period piece that changes with the seasons, I actually think of mine as a piece of fashion, not style, but then my normal life has never featured daily lascivious dinner parties.

4. Separates (15): In general this is the bulk of most modern wardrobes as they can be mixed and matched. Admittedly, I have more than 5 tops, this is one of the places I'm guilty of substituting dresses for separates as I'm not much of a dress kinda gal. You will need 5 tops: 1 dressy , 2 casual, 1 shell (sleeveless top meant to be worn under heavier items), and 1 shirt. I have closer to 5 t-shirts to get through a week of wash. Next you will need 2 jackets for everyday wear, 3 skirts, and several pairs of pants.

5. Handbags (1-3): Of the 3 handbags you should have, 1 will be for everyday use and should form part of your core wardrobe. It should be of leather and the best possible quality as it should last you many years without wear or tear. The other 2 are normally items of fashion that will generally be more updated. If you are a man substitute a briefcase or messenger bag for day handbag.

6. Shoes (5-6): My closet has more than 5 pairs of shoes, they are a personal weakness. In general you need 2 pairs for general everyday wear, 1 dressy pair, 1 evening shoe (must match you 5 o'clock dress), and boots or other shoes. Your two shoes for everyday wear are the core part of your wardrobe. They are often a pair of sneakers and leather close-toed work shoes. We will cover the fashion shoes next week. Core shoes need to be comfortable and not pinch or rub your feet. Shoes that are labeled "walking shoes" are often specifically geared to put up with the rigors of daily abuse.

7. Undergarments (7-15): If you are a man you will need 2 weeks of clean underwear (boxers, briefs, etc.) plus any specialty athletic wear like jock straps. Many men wear undershirts in addition to their normal clothes. You need at least a week's worth. You should have enough undergarments to last between wash cycles so that you are always wearing clean underwear every day. If you are a woman you will need at least 2 good bras for everyday use, 1 specialty bra that can go strapless, and at least 2 weeks of clean underwear. Swim suits, etc. are part of the fashion wardrobe and will be covered next week. Any good department store can generally help you get fitted with the right size and most have "clubs" where if you buy x number of items, you get a free bra, panties, etc. Jockey is my favorite as they have a line of machine washable stuff so I can just throw everything in the washing machine together, but good undergarments.

8. Hosiery/Socks (5-10): Like clean underwear you need at least 1 week's worth of socks. If you are athletic, this number will often double as feet sweat 1 cup of water a day. They are some of the most likely to be stinky if you do not take care of them. Good socks will be knit in the round. Athletic socks will be cotton and dress socks will normally be wool. Many good American socks now come with a lifetime warranty so it pays to shop around and buy American. An extra dollar or two on each pair may save you several hundred over a decade. Hiking/running stores seem to have some of the most durable in my experience. If you are lucky enough to live in North Carolina, you can drool over some of the sock outlet stores around Burlington. Yum, yum, yum.

             This adds up to roughly 40 items to populate a core wardrobe. This number has held true for over 200 years and you can read style books since the 1800s settle around this number for the well-dressed. Since core wardrobe clothing is made to last 15-20 years, if you buy 1 piece a season, then in 20 years you will replace every single piece in your wardrobe. There may be some common sense reasons to break this rule from time to time. It normally has to do with sales, your temperament, or the fact that many if us have to replace underwear more frequently than technically suggested. It may very well make sense to consider buying 2 bras when you get the 3rd free when you are replacing your bra. Or another year, when buying a suit, it often makes sense to go ahead and buy a second pair of pants so the following year you're not desperately searching for the pants mate. The most common example of breaking the 1 core item a season is many of my male clients would only shop every 5-10 years and instead of selecting 1 or 2 items at a go, they will replace their entire wardrobe at once.
           Do what works for you!
           Alright, I hope this has been helpful for you in building the style part of your wardrobe. This advice is all oldie, but goodie. I hope it saves you money and helps you dress better. If you would like learn more, Iowa College Professors have created a whole line of style and costume books worth reading. England also has some great books as well. Check-in next Friday when I cover the remaining part of building a wardrobe: fashion.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dipping My Toe in The Italian Chiaroscuro Pool

             There's a lot of fun in working with red skin undertones. Most commonly seen in Italian designer color palettes, fabric and accessories in these colors also look great on Middle Eastern and African skin tones. My old boss, Ralph Lauren, loved doing his summer khaki collection paired with deep dark African ebony models. We have several African American models coming to the shoot. One of the tricks with working with people with red undertones is to make sure you watch the blues, you want to make sure the skin glows, not looks ashen. You can see the lighting done correctly on right for Ayanna while I have picked a close miss from one of the photographs Sway sent me below. I have other photos she did that are fine, but wanted to point this out as it's a common mistake that's done in the fashion industry. It's a subtle difference, but with such beautiful women it's really worth the effect to show them at their best.
            Anyways, hopefully you will have fun meeting Ayanna and Sway in person. They are both great models and I'm sure everyone will have fun meeting them. One of the really great things about skin tones with red undertones is they look really great in contrasts. The Italians are famous for their Chiaroscuro paintings that contrast light and dark undertones. I won't claim to be Michelangelo, but it is a fun technique that is very flattering. Especially with khaki coming in this season for summer vacation, models with red undertones are popular. I hope that you have fun meeting both these lovely women.

Check back tomorrow when we post more models. Since it looks like we will run out of time to list everyone before Sat, I will mention all remaining models I do not get a chance to feature beforehand afterwards.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sat Photoshoot 1-4 pm

             Alright, we are going ahead and posting pictures of the location for the photoshoot at Umstead Park. For everyone who is coming, we are meeting at: Techshop RDU
                 5905 Triangle Drive
                 Raleigh, NC 27617
                 (919) 782-2344.

Please call the front desk if you get lost and need directions. We meet  at 1 pm and at 1:15 pm we will head over to the park where we will set-up and start shooting at 1:30 pm. Break down is at 3:30 pm.

             If you need directions, from Glenwood, turn into Umstead Park and drive all the way to the end. Look for the lake/sign which says "Boathouse" in front of you. Follow the path 500 yards to your right down to the Boathouse where we will be shooting.

             There are four separate stations for the models, they will rotate every 30 minutes for people to take different shots, perspectives, etc. Hopefully this will give everyone a chance to goof around and have fun. In order from left to right, the 4 locations are:

1. The dock- There's a huge dock that juts into the water and little cove below it. Models can move anywhere for shots in this area. Please be aware that sometimes owners with friendly dogs will come by so be prepared for cute guys and wet dogs.

2. The Bridge- A cool metal bridge is right before the dock, you can rest on either side or intertwine yourself in rungs. Lots of good possibilities. These are mostly for edgy shots. You can shoot from either location. There's a tree on one side and not on the other so shots are softer closer to the boathouse and more crisp closer to the dock.

3.Below the Bridge/Falls- There's an amazing rock formation and landscape directly below the bridge. If you're at the bottom looking up, wow. Especially with a few clouds in the sky. I don't know how many people will be brave enough to climb on those rocks, but they are awesome.

4. The Boathouse- This spot has a number of good shots both in front of the boathouse with an old well, fence, and sign. There is also a small path that goes behind the boathouse to some great small trees and water for very nice frames shots.

Everyone will be setting up at 1:30 at the 4 locations. The models will then rotate every 30 minutes until 3:30 when we break-down and go home.

I'm really excited to see this come together and can't wait to see all the raw talent. Yeah, next week...recap and we start releasing our new product.

Check in tomorrow as we discuss how to build a core wardrobe.

You may see more photos on facebook.

3D Printer Workshop Part 1: Good beginnings

            Wow, we had a great time with the 3D Printer Workshop last night, lots of happy introverted people hunched over soldiering irons taking stabs at Ardiuno boards. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Luis has really designed a wonderful printer and course work that workCan't wait for next week. Check back in as you see more designers creating their dreams in 3D.

Check-out some of the great photos Rye took that I put up on Facebook to wet your appetite. I love how much new technology there always is in our industry. The idea that one will be able to create better and better products for you, our customer, is the thrill that gets me up every morning to work with my hands another day.

And to you and what gets you up in the morning!

More Cute Models for the Sat Photoshoot

    Alright, I'm a bit behind in posting models to the blog that will be at the Sat shoot. We are catching up from an awesome first night of 3D printing. I will be posting pictures shortly, it was nice to see the class come together so smoothly after much work. Busy weeks are always good. Alright, today we have 2 fun models Heidi and Mikki. Both of these are what I would call traditional models. They've done a number of guest appearances, etc. A slim build and great faces the camera loves. I hope you also have as much fun photographing them in person.

Just a reminder for everyone who is coming, we will be meeting at Techshop RDU, 5905 Triangle Drive, Raleigh, NC 27617 at 1 pm and then everyone will be driving over to Umstead Park together to do test catalog photos. If you come late, please see the front desk for a copy of the map to handle parking.

Bring business cards for contact info and I will be compiling a master list for any artists or crafters who can not attend in case you need a model for an upcoming photoshoot you're doing.

The going rate in the area is $100 per half day (1-2 hrs.) and $200 per day (3-6 hrs.). This meeting is free, but you will need to plan to pay for all follow up sessions.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Textile Friday: Color Me A Wardrobe

            Today we're starting the first of a three part series designed to help you, our customer.  The first question most people invariably ask when presented with the concept of why build a wardrobe in a world of cheap, easy clothing, is "Why should you or I bother to take the time and effort to put together a wardrobe in the first place?" The easy answer is that building a wardrobe will save you time, money, and help you get ahead in life.
          The average American buys 52 items of clothing a year, that's 1 piece a week. That adds up to a lot of waste each year. You can watch this video from last year to get an idea of what that actually works out to in a year of buying.
          Most experts say you should actually be buying 4 pieces a year.  That breaks down to 1 core wardrobe piece and 1 fashion piece per season. Since the average piece of clothing costs $15-20 each, building a wardrobe will conservatively save you directly $720-960 a year just by changing why you shop in a clothing department store. Forget storage or any other indirect costs. This adds up to a huge difference in expenses annually simply by understanding a few principles to selecting clothes that will actually both look good on you and withstand the seasons. Add to that that a well-designed wardrobe with save you time every morning getting dressed and make you look 30 lbs. lighter and we all have a compelling argument to spend a little time thinking about how to look our best. Plus you're saving the environment by producing less waste.
         All good wardrobes are built around a core set of elements. They start with you and feature your natural coloring, body type, and overall trends/fashion. Today we will be starting at the very beginning with color, you can check in next weekend for body type. There are few things worse for a person than a beautiful top in the wrong color. So how then does one select the right colors for one?
        The answer is that one starts first with one's skin, then hair color, and finally eye to determine what colors to use in their wardrobe. When looking at skin there is the underlying color and the actual shade of the skin itself. There are 3 underlying skin colors in the world. They are the primary colors: blue, red, and yellow or gold. Blue is more common in Northern European and Russian descent skin types. Red is more common in Latino, Middle Eastern, and African skin tones. Yellow is more common in Asian and Indian skin tones. Skin tones can vary within family and you can be a mix. For example, I have completely blue undertones and strong Irish coloring, while my brother pulls from more of our great-grandmother's Italian side so he has some red undertones in addition to blue. If you have questions on how to determine your underlying skin type you should visit a department store make-up center and look for an older, more experienced saleswoman who will actually know what they are talking about. Estee Lauder does a particularly good job of training their salesforce so I like to recommend them if at all possible. The salesperson will need to look at your wrist to determine if your veins look yellow, blue, or red.
         Your underlying skin color will determine what types of fabric dyes will look best with your skin. Otherwise your skin will lose it's luster making you look old and bringing out your wrinkles. Most people believe that the primary fabric colors are standard across the world for clothing. They are not. Dyers generally add 4 parts per 10,000 of the particular base color: blue, red, and yellow in different parts of the world to bring out the underlying color and make your eyes sparkle and skin have luster to it. Otherwise, it will result in skin that looks ashen and sick. This is why one color may do wonders for you while the same color in a slightly different shade will not be flattering. For example, true yellow makes people with blue undertones look sick. True blue makes people with red undertones look ashen. And true red in people with yellow undertones makes them look florid or intoxicated. Where your fabric was processed in the world will often have an effect of making you look to years older or younger by effecting your natural skin tone. In the US, fabric is often marked with it's country of origin. I have a very hard time wearing true yellow without some blue mixed in. No matter what other colors you use, you should look out for this problem when selecting clothing. You have a color that will look great, neutral, and awful on you. I look great in true blue, neutral in true red, and awful in true yellow.
          Now that you understand what your base color is, you need to start building your wardrobe colors that will look good on you. A base wardrobe is normally built around the 3 following colors: black, brown/tan, or blue. This base color is used to provide a backbone through your wardrobe and allow you to mix and match pieces resulting in less orphan items. Many people in the world use black as the backbone of their wardrobe as it is slimming and flattering, but not everyone has dark enough coloring to wear black well. Brown or tan is often a color associated with redheads. Blue is often used as a religious or friendship color and for people who are too fair to wear black well. You should pick one of these and use it as a base for your wardrobe. Every item you build into your wardrobe should be compatible with you base color. This allows you to pull and go in the morning when you are bleary-eyed and scrambling to meet the bus, car, train, etc. You can pull different shades within the same color scheme, but the overall trend is for 1 primary color.
         After you determine what your base wardrobe color is for your wardrobe, you need to decide on your accent colors. There's an old website called "color me beautiful" which uses your hair color to separate you into 4 seasons and has a whole color swatch system they can mail you for $20-40 to stick in your wallet for shopping. This is a great thing to have with you when trying to pick out clothes in a store. Take the 30 second test and it will tell you the 3-4 best colors for you plus wardrobe suggestions. If you change your hair color, you will need to update your color selection. While a person can look good in thousands of colors, there are usually 6 colors that will bring out their best features. This is what you should stock in your wardrobe.
         Lastly, the eyes and skin tone will often dictate accent colors. Grey eyes like mine will often change color depending on if they are subjected to dashes of blue, green, or grey so many people will add small splashes of color to their clothing to help their eyes sparkle. It is a fun little back pocket trick. You can use the trick of adding white around the face (such as a collar or strand of good pearls) to help keep you from looking washed out as your skin color lightens over the winter. Many of the traditionalists like to recommend clothing shopping done primarily in the summer and fall with pearls added to fall outfits in the spring to compensate for the bleaching that winter gives skin color. This often allows you to get around having two separate closets for spring and fall. Older women often also use pearls to counteract the grey in their skin.
      So go take the test and mark your best colors for your wardrobe. Have a great day. I hope this classic advice is helpful to you. I will see you back next week when we continue my 3 part series on my grandfather's advice on how to build a wardrobe to save you money.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Acting in Color

"Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty."

- Coco Chanel, fashion designer

 Today we're visiting the stage, particularly our local theater scene as we continue to prepare for the photoshoot next weekend. We have two lovely actresses for you Karen and Constance. Established actresses are a favorite of catalog producers because of their ability captivate and hold an audience. This ability often increases with age, the most famous recent example being Nautica's french model Chloe. A number of retailers, especially my old boss, Belks love photographing women in their 60s and 80s for catalogs due to how interesting women can become over time. I can't wait to laugh with these two in person. To age and beauty. I love when the two combine.

What beauty do you feel becomes better with time?