stories from my red thread life

Welcoming Fall with Open Arms

For as long as I can remember, I’ve cared very little for fashion (and yes, designing clothing for a living I am well aware of the irony). Living in Toronto with its climactic extremes, I’ve spent most of my life seeking comfort over beauty: keeping warm and dry during the long chilly winters and cool and protected during the scorching summers. But my interest always turns to fashion in the fall, my favourite season, with its cool days, beautiful transformation of trees and the resulting carpet of leaves underfoot, and more relaxing pace after trying to squeeze every drop out of our too-short summers. Throughout my childhood our family rented cottages every August, and it was then that I developed my interest in tweed, wool, and all things Fall. My mother bought an array of August fashion magazines (the only month she bought them) and on rainy days I pored over the images of stunning models decked out in beautiful fabrics that I coveted. The rich, earthy colours and natural textures had me in a thrall. This year I was very fortunate to find exquisite fabrics for my Fall season that put me in a similar state of joy, and [...]

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A sneak peek into the future

Ok, maybe that title is a bit lofty. But I thought I would give you a quick look into how each season’s designs come together, in case you’re interested in that sort of thing. First of all, you should know that if you plan to sell clothing through any stores, each season has to be designed pretty far in advance. It’s currently market season for the Fall/Winter season, which means that sales reps and designers are busy showing Fall samples for the lines they represent at wholesale shows around the world. Most stores do their Fall/Winter buying in the early Spring, so everything needs to be designed, sewn and photographed by February at the latest.  Fall clothing starts to ship to stores in August, which happens to be the same month that the Spring/Summer lines for next year are at market (they ship the following March, which is – you remembered! – Fall market time). Confused yet? I used to sell all of my work myself, at great shows like the One of a Kind Show in Toronto, and my online store. Those were simpler days – I bought an assortment of fabric I loved in whatever quantity was available, [...]

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Pink vs. Blue

As the mother of three young girls and a designer of clothing for girls, I spend a huge part of my day immersed in the childhood world of girls. So when my customers started complaining a few years back that they were having trouble finding great clothes for boys and wanted me to design some, I first told them to check out the great stuff for boys designed by my friend Carol at Kid Brother, and then I started thinking about creating some clothing for boys. I knew that flowers and pink would be out of the question, of course, but I didn’t realize how strongly social constraints affect parents of boys when shopping for clothing. Now, one year after designing my first small collection of boys’ tees and pants (see images below), I remain fascinated by the fact that parents are quite adventurous when dressing their girls, and often conservative when dressing their boys. The thing that stumps me the most is bias against colours, which I perceive as mostly gender-neutral. Why is blue a more masculine colour than red or purple? Why are bright colours considered more appropriate for girls than boys? Why are dots less masculine than [...]

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Pink vs. Blue

As the mother of three young girls and a designer of clothing for girls, I spend a huge part of my day immersed in the childhood world of girls. So when my customers started complaining a few years back that they were having trouble finding great clothes for boys and wanted me to design some, I first told them to check out the great stuff for boys designed by my friend Carol at Kid Brother, and then I started thinking about creating some clothing for boys. I knew that flowers and pink would be out of the question, of course, but I didn’t realize how strongly social constraints affect parents of boys when shopping for clothing. Now, one year after designing my first small collection of boys’ tees and pants (see images below), I remain fascinated by the fact that parents are quite adventurous when dressing their girls, and often conservative when dressing their boys. The thing that stumps me the most is bias against colours, which I perceive as mostly gender-neutral. Why is blue a more masculine colour than red or purple? Why are bright colours considered more appropriate for girls than boys? Why are dots less masculine than [...]

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Fabric Utopia

Even though I mostly design clothing, many of the fabrics I use are meant for quilting. Quilting cottons are very high quality textiles, very washable, and they come in a vast array of prints, some fabulous, many not so fabulous. Sometimes searching for great prints is a frustrating endeavor – I’m very picky. But when I find something I love, it’s exciting. So when the opportunity came up for me to attend Quilt Market last weekend, a huge trade show in the U.S. devoted to quilting fabrics, I jumped at the chance. I flew to Houston and went straight to the show, where I spent two days in blissful surrender to the largest amount of fabric I’ve ever seen in one place in my entire life. I ordered wild linen prints from Japan, gorgeous buttons made in Germany, French trims, and a lot of great cotton prints for next year’s designs. But the most exciting part of the show was something I didn’t expect at all – I got to meet some of my favourite fabric designers, and to tell them how much I love working with their designs.  Here’s a picture of me with Amy Butler (you can also [...]

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