Only A Sunny Smile - The Fabrics

Monday, 25 March 2013

I am working on a post about the 'ethical' and 'sustainable' side of my work, in which choosing fabrics plays a fundamental part. For now though I am going to talk you through my fabric choices for the spring summer collection 'Only A Sunny Smile'.

Having a very particular idea in my head of how I wanted this collection to look (rather than starting with the fabrics and working from there) meant that this collection involved a hell of a lot of research into what would be the best fabrics. I have already learnt so much over the past few years about the making of fabric and done a lot of reading into ethical fabrics and ones that don't damage the environment or people making them, but often things can get confusing and everyone seems to be saying different things! I ended up using only a few different fabrics for the whole collection.

Organic Cotton Sateen:
This fabric is great! Made from GOTS certified organic cotton it is soft and lovely to work with. I bought it in plain white and then hand dyed it myself in small quantities. This means I can know that no harmful chemicals have been used. It does mean that one batch may slightly vary from the next, but I think that's part of the charm in having a hand made garment. I used this material for my Madeline dress and used the same technique but dying organic cotton jersey for my Emerald top.

Now, for this fabric I broke my rule of only using natural fibres, and unfortunately it is synthetic. I knew in my mind exactly what fabric I wanted to use for my Dahlia dress, in fact this was the first dress I designed for this collection, and based everything else around, and I had so much difficultly finding the perfect fabric. I first looked into using old cotton velvet, reusing vintage pieces I found on eBay or even curtains, but this couldn't work, I needed something soft and drapey and plain cotton velvet is too stiff and wouldn't look good. Then I found beautiful velvet made from a viscous/silk mix, the actual fabric is stunning, however, viscous, although originating from wood, is created using a method that is polluting, dangerous and uses a lot of water. Silk also, it pretty intense, it is made from the cocoons of silk worms, and they farm and kill them, not particularly nice. Another reason I didn't want to use this fabric is that it is not able to touch water and has to be dry cleaned. I want my clothing to be wearable and nobody likes paying big dry cleaning bills. When I was in Paris in January I stumbled across the exact fabric I imagined. It was a difficult decision for me to make to use this fabric, I love the look and feel of it, but I'd really like to know if anyone has any solutions for buying velvet type fabrics that can match these man-made ones in feel but not production?

Liberty Print Tana Lawn: 
I knew I wanted to use Liberty fabrics for this collection. The quality of them is amazing, they feel soft and light for wearing in the summer months, and the floral prints just scream English summer time. Although not organic, I emailed Liberty and it is printed within the UK. Being 100% cotton means it is lovely to wear, also, it is not too stiff like other cottons so is very easy to take care of. I have used Liberty print bias binding throughout the whole collection to neaten edges and finish things off, I made this all in my studio and it adds a lovely touch to the garments, even if you can't see it from the outside! I used Liberty tana lawn for the Trixie top, Florance and Daphne dresses and the Rosie playsuit.

I am sorry for this rather wordy post, look at the pretty pictures I took of all the Liberty print fabrics when I was buying mine though! I hope you find this post interesting and a little insight into the process of choosing the right materials. I'm already stocking up on organic cotton and British wool for my autumn winter collection. If anyone has any advice on buying more ethical/environmental fabrics I'd really love to hear it! I think it's pretty important we look after this amazing planet we call home.

Bits & Bobs

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

We rearranged the bedroom and it is an awful mess. Can't seem to find enough space for everything to be put away / Taking product photos for Rob's new online shop / My sister was home last week and we chose the fabric for her bridesmaid's dresses that I'll be making / Surprise presents in the post from my sweet friend Sarah, some amazing wooden knitting needles and some new music for my ears / Making even more of a mess by getting out old photos. I love these instant photos and will share some here soon. Also, lovely old photos of my parents in the 70s ( oh dear my dad's hips and ginger 'fro) / Boiled eggs for breakfast.


This week I have also been listening to this song on repeat. Beautiful.

Coffee And TV

Friday, 8 March 2013

(not much TV, but I've dedicated this evening to catching up on all the telly I haven't been watching)

It's funny when you look through Instagram photos and realise how much you take photos of the same ruddy thing. Coffee, flowers and dresses. But to be honest, this is pretty much my life at the moment.

Hello weekend, you snuck up on me. Hope everyone has a lovely one!

Only A Sunny Smile

Monday, 4 March 2013

Photography - Beci McDonald
Model - Ljiljana Pajovic
Styling - Isabel Knowles
It is official, I am launching my SS13 collection and I'm so pleased to share it with you. You can check it out in my Etsy, and I have also redone my online store too. It has been quite different the way I have developed this collection, I started with a theme, a mood and idea and went from there, whereas normally I fall in love with the fabrics and then work around them. To me it feels more of a consistent collection and I love the way it all looks together like this.
I really wanted to name this collection, as I feel it gives more of an insight into the feeling behind it rather than just, SS13, or Spring Summer. I ummed and ahhed about it for ages, settled on a Gershwin lyric, but then it didn't feel right. After trawling the internet (and bookshelves) for quotes and songs and poems I found this beautiful F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that seemed just too perfect;

“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.”

I wanted this collection to conjure up images of long summer evenings, Gatsby's garden parties, cocktails, swimming in lakes, dancing all night, and staying up to watch the sun rise. Playful and fun, but with a hint of darkness to it, uncertainty or mystery. The quiet time when most people have gone to bed and you sit around planning the future and reminiscing on the past until the sun comes up on a new day.
Each piece is named after a female character from P. G. Wodehouse's 'Jeeves and Wooster' stories. These have been some of my favourate stories ever since I was little (I still can't sleep without a story tape - I miss tapes!). The world that Bertie Wooster lives in is a ridiculous one and I think it is lovely, and full of silliness. Also, when I'm working long into the night and nothing is on the radio but dance music, spooky stories, or the shipping forecast (which actually I like to listen to) I always seem to go back to the 'Jeeves and Wooster' audio books to help me through til morning, they are read by Richard Briers who sadly died a few weeks ago, I think he was a jolly good chap!
Anyway, I'm sure you get the gist, go and have a look! Now I must start on my AW13 collection...

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