Sunday, 30 September 2012

Book review: DIY Couture

Recently went through Rosie Martin's "DIY Couture: create your own fashion collection".  Now that I have studied patternmaking, and have more experience with constructing garments, this is not the book for me.  However, if you are a newbie, and you find it hard to follow sewing instructions, then this might be the book for you.  Rosie uses a combination of basic shapes and garments from your own wardrobe to create patterns, and then uses very visual instructions to show construction.  She also provides lots of inspiration for modifications and using your own personal style.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

To Die For

Another post about a great read from the library (but I need to take it back).  This time its 'To Die For: Is fashion wearing out the world?' by Lucy Siegle (2011).  This book is not for the faint hearted, as it delves deep into the fashion industry and exposes the web of environmental and social issues that are getting worse.  I almost didn't finish reading it as it gave a pretty scary account of the fashion industry and made me question why I'm developing a business that is part of it.  She researchers fashion's footprint for water, pollution, oil etc.  You can calculate the footprint of your won wardrobe at  She also looks into the animal industries such as wool, leather, cashmere etc.  Her research into fast fashion are particularly disturbing with its low price tag, and disposable mentality, combined with low-quality fabrics made with unfair work practices and a trail of pollution and destruction (  After so much doom and gloom, she then talks about how we can make it better; by being smarter consumers, choosing ethical brands, sustainable fabrics, mending our clothes, recycling garments, and planning our wardrobe purchases. 

This lead me to think more about how I want my business to help the fashion industry move to a more sustainable model.  I aim to encourage my readers and clients to choose sustainable fabrics, clothes that fit and flatter them, pass on garments that can be worn by someone else, and use as rags those that can't.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Thoughtful dressing

Another interesting find from the library, 'The Thoughtful Dresser' by Linda Grant (2009).  Ms Grant wrote this book to try to "get to the bottom of this relationship we have with our clothes and why we love or hate them and what they mean to us and how we are linked to them in all their intimacy with our own bodies".  She explores why we wear what we wear, why looking good matters to us, how we show our individuality and culture, and sexiness.  She interviews a number of interesting people related to the fashion industry.  But her most fascinating interviewee is a holocaust survivor who talks about the need to look pretty even in the darkest times of her life to give herself confidence.

There is discussion about 'porno-chic' versus sensual, suggestive dressing with confidence.  Comments on how clothes can express your personality, but also help you fit in with your peer group, or represent a rebellion, or just cover you up and give you invisibility.  She bravely talks about fashion and real women, and quotes a designer as saying "I still think that clothes look better on thin people... They look better in a size 8 and 10 than they do in a 16 and 18".  Ms Grant goes on to say "Fashion is a visual aesthetic.  It's concerned wholly and entirely with how things look.  The designer is thinking about fabric and drape and tailoring and colour and above all innovation, newness, modernity... Pity the poor designer who must see his clothes degraded by proximity to the ordinary human body...  it has not been the designer's business to consider what makes the people who are wearing his clothes look better".  Unfortunately, this can create a lot of insecurity for women with gorgeous curves and non-standard sizes.

Fashions are constantly changing, "Are we dictated to by fashion's whims, its short-term memory, its teeny attention span, its boredom, its love of the shock of the new?  Or is fashion dictated by the human desire for change?  There is a primal need for newness.  Women get weary if forced to wear the same shabby dress".

The same fashion will be:
Indecent - 10 years before its time
Shameless - 5 years before its time
Outre - 1 year before its time
Smart - at the time
Dowdy - 1 year after its time
Hideous - 10 years after its time
Ridiculous -20 years after its time
Amusing - 30 years after its time
Quaint - 50 years after its time
Charming - 70 years after its time
Romantic - 100 years after its time
Beautiful - 150 years after its time

Why do you wear what you wear?

Monday, 30 April 2012

100 ideas that changed fashion

I borrowed Harriet Worsley's (2011) book from the library to see what she considered the top 100 things that changed fashion.  For most of them I could see why they were included, for example couture, celebrities, punk, jeans, etc.  But some things I felt could have been lumped together.  I would have put musicians, Royals, and supermodels in with other celebrities.  Some ideas I wasn't convinced about their effect on fashion, such as 'bold prints' (which have been around for hundreds of years), 'false eyelashes', particular bags (like the clutch, IT, and shoulder), the 'open shoe' (surely not that new since the Romans were using them), and 'raw photography' (as opposed to fashion photos in general).  She mentions mass manufacture,  eco-fashion, and make-do-and-mend, but I think the effect of fast fashion on the environment and the fashion industry is still being played out, and that sustainable fashion will become more important in the future.  The book still makes for interesting reading and has beautiful images.  What would your top fashion influences include?

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Hello and welcome to Sage Threads.  After being a stay-at-home mum for several years, my youngest started school and it was time for me to start earning an income again.  But I didn't want to go back to my pre-parenting life as a volunteer manager and metal conservator, so I took the leap and re-trained.  I decided to pursue my enjoyment for sewing, and along the way discovered that I loved patternmaking, and creating garments for "real" bodies.  I'm also interested in sustainable fabrics and up-cycling, and hope to run some workshops and sew-alongs in the future.

Sage Threads is my new home business in custom dressmaking and patternmaking.  If you find it hard to buy ready-to-wear clothes that fit, I would like to make you a wardrobe that makes you feel fabulous because the garments fit and flatter.