Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waste reduction and crafters helping the community

At the studio we are always trying to minimize waste.  We have many strategies for sorting and maintaining our inventory of materials from start to finish.  When working with vintage sweaters, we first cut larger items like clothing (sweater dresses, pull overs, cardigans etc).  Inevitably there are always scraps leftover.  We sort these by colour and save them to make accessories like hats, mitts, armwarmers and legwarmers.  And after that we still have useable scraps.  They're pieces that maybe aren't suitable for our designs but things that would be good for other projects.  Anyone who sews or builds or crafts will know that at some point you have to draw the line with saving materials. 

So the scraps that we can't use get donated to local crafters and artisans.  I often advertise on craigslist and kijiji and anyone who wants scraps ranging from sweater pieces to woven cottons left over from bedsheets and dress shirts is welcome to come take some as they become available.

I've had many people including felters, quilters, teachers, community organizations and people starting up their own business come to make use of our left overs.  I was recently in touch with mother Ella and daughter Kyla.  Kyla Kirk is a teen who has been eager to get involved in many causes over the years.  She started out with fundraising campaigns but has since decided that she wants to become more deeply involved. 

Her current project, Pillows and More combines her talent for creating and sewing with her desire to raise money for those in need.  Kyla has been creating and selling pillows, pet beds and fabric accessories to raise money to travel to a developing country with the Me to We Foundation Youth Program in order to be part of the process of building wells and a school.

Visit Kyla's website to take a look at her creations and make a purchase to help her help others in need.

Congratulations to Kyla and her supportive mother Ella for working towards positive change!

If you're a local crafter, hobbyist or teacher who would like some fabric scraps for a personal project or a class you're teaching get in contact with me: to see what we have available!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Style Spin!

Recently my friends Irene, Cat, Laura, Patti and Kirsten of the Deadly Nightshades have been organizing the Style Spin.  Style Spin is a bike tour that starts out at the Drake Hotel and visits various fashion studios around the city. 
Cat Essiambre of the DNS
The Deadly Nightshades are a self described "all girls midnight bike gang" who go around the city making art, fashion and mischief among other things.
This tour they visited The Burroughs Building (Philip Sparks), 401 Richmond (Janet Attard) and our very own rustic 310 Spadina! 

So we spent the day cleaning up the studio!

Guests entering 310 Spadina
Myself and my friends Halyey, Hillary (Ruth Weil) and Jade were happy to give tours of our studios.  We ushered the 50 some guests up the stairs to our 5th floor studios and let them have a look around.

Studio Paper People

Jade shows off her reclaimed guitar string earrings.
Our guests were very enthusiastic and had lots of questions about our work!  We showed off our workspace as well as some exciting new designs for fall 2011!  A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Picking Treasures!

So normally when we go picking I'm mainly looking for basics: large wool pull over sweaters, bedsheets, basic men's dress shirts.  But to get all the fancy doilies and vintage handkerchiefs I have to go into this weird miscellaneous bin.  A lot of thing things that end up in this bin are things that you might have to ask, "what is this?" and ponder for a while.  There are a lot of small fabric remnants, non-descript ornamental fancies, dish towels and sometimes doll clothes.  This time I was lucky enough to find some choice handkerchiefs and my prized pick: a mini bolt of vintage lace!  I'll be saving this lace for something special!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fun with images!

Laura-Jean of Fresh Collective has been working on re-branding her line, Fresh Baked Goods for the past year.  At our Fresh Collective University meeting last month she presented an inspiration board with all sorts of words and images to represent her new brand.  It really took me back to my years at Ryerson.  The first step to each project was to create a theme board and present it to the class.  After presenting her board, Laura-Jean then asked designers to volunteer to make and present one for the next class.  My first thought was ugh, I already have so much work on my plate.  Now that I'm done school I don't need to do this sort of thing anymore.

But to be honest, I've been having so much fun with branding and playing around with images lately that I broke down and volunteered!  So I spent a good chunk of my weekend with magazines and computers and scanners to create these exciting them boards!

I started out with words that inspired a lifestyle.  I came up with: gypsy, hippie, adventurous, in nature and artiste (my colleague Shannon of Things Aren't So Terrible put on a vest at the store earlier in the year and said it made her feel like an "artiste".  I think she meant it mockingly but the word stuck in my brain).  Originally I was going to make only one board but after having all these separate yet similar images I decided to go with four.  I then elaborated furthere with words evoking feelings/lifestyles and ones evoking more visual and tactile elements. 

One of the important things about inspiration boards is finding the right images.  They have to be high (print) quality and they have to be original and inspiring.  Nothing like the pixelated clipart type images that a Google images key word search would turn up.  During my time at Ryerson, one of my favourite places to get such images was the library.  I would go to the children's section because those books always have the most fanciful illustrations.  I would take the books to the copy shop, get colour copies made and then collage them into fun scenes and compositions.  I didn't even think to use a scanner . . .

So for this round of inspiration boards I thought, where to start?  I haven't done one in about 4.5 years!  I used to do a lot of collaging for fun.  I would collect images from everywhere: magazines, postcards, posters on the street etc.  I still have a box full of clippings so I went through it.  Next I went through the small collection of magazines I have stashed away.  These were great for finding all the inspired backgrounds and scenery I used in the boards - key for setting the mood!

The collaged body parts are also taken from fashion magazines.  I love the playfully chaotic compositions that come together when you borrow an arm here, a head here, some extra hair from over there.   But this time instead of trying to find exactly the right size head or arm I was able to resize them in Photoshop.  Who would have thought? 

Next and most importantly came the outfits.  Having plenty of past photoshoots to pull from, I took garments from Paper People past, cut and collaged them together to emphasize layers, textures and colours.  It made me wish I could make clothes like these in real life but isn't that silly?  I DID make all these!  And then lastly, each post got a prop to tie in the mood or lifestyle that each board is trying to convey.

I had so much fun with this project.  I was going to wait till the next Fresh Collective University meeting to unveil these but I've just spoiled the surprise!  I guess I needed to spice up my Monday!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More graphic design fun!

So Gigi's last project for me is to create new hang tags for my clothing.  I've been using the old ones for 4 years or so.  The ones I have are great but I'm getting a little sick of looking at them so I wanted something totally fresh and new.  Here's a sneak peak at the design she came up with.  These ones may not go into print until Spring/Summer 2012 (so think next February-April) because we've already got most of the goods priced and ready to go for Fall/Winter 2011/12.

I can't wait!  It's going to be a folded card with more information on the inside so these are the front and back covers.  I think it would be really fun to have them dye cut along the edge of the doily but we'll have to see how much that's going to cost.  I'd also like to have them printed on recycled paper like my current tags.

If anyone needs a graphic designer I'd love to recommend Gigi!