trusst me

I want to begin my "bresearch" (bra+research) with a brand called Trusst Lingerie.  

I found this brand particularly compelling for their lofty (and worthy!) goal of helping alleviate back and neck pain form women who wear size D & above.   

What magic can a Trusst bra do for these women that another bra can't? 

On the Trusst website, they say they are using principles like physics in addition to 3-D printing to create their patented "Breast Advanced Support Technology," or "BAST" for short. 

I still feel unsure of exactly what this means, but they say that they use "engineering principles of a bridge truss" to harness the "core of your body to lift your breast weight from underneath the bust, reducing strain on the shoulders and back." 

Intriguing and impressive!

I'm interested to read that their bras DO NOT have underwire! Rather, a 3-D printed molded cup, softened by padding and lined with the GARMATEX brand technical fabric, Kottinu. 

If you're wondering what exactly "Kottinu" is, well, that's what I'm here for. 

GARMATEX Technologies Inc. is a Canadian company that researches and develops scientifically engineered fabrics and technologies.  You may know them for some of their other fabrics like Coolskin, Warmskin, Satinu, or Slimskin (to name just a few). 

Kottinu is one of their newer fabrics.  I haven't personally touched any Kottinu, but the claim is that it feels like cotton, but unlike cotton, it wicks moisture away from the body.  It's also anti-microbial!

Kottinu is so high tech that Canadian firefighters are wearing it under their gear to help keep them cool in moments of extreme heat. 

So why use it on a bra? Well, Kottinu's wicking properties help keep sweat from building up underneath the bra, which ultimately helps prevent rashes and chafing. 

In addition, the anti-microbial properties of Kottinu help keep the bra odor free!

OK, so you're convinced you'd like to buy a Trusst bra. But how do you buy a bra online with confidence? 

Trusst has this cool tool on their website called "Find My Fit." 

You click on this button and follow a series prompts to find your size.   You're going to have to wear a good fitting bra to begin, nothing with padding or minimizing, and you're going to need a measuring tape. 

Then you just need to take two measurements-  measure the fullest part of your bust, then the band below your bust.  Take this measurement to the nearest 1/4".  Enter in those numbers and, bam! Out pops your size! 

If your size is not available, the company gives you their email address for you to email them with your size or to ask for sizing advice. 

Trusst only has four bra styles with a few colorways in each.  But if you click into a style you'll see that each style comes in a whopping 27 sizes ranging from 32F to 42G!

The proof is in the pudding (as they say), so I decided to read through a few reviews.  One customer titled her review, "Lifesaving," and said that she had tried "literally every bra out there, including ones allegedly specifically designed for busty girls with smaller ribcages...I was legitimately considering surgery as a last resort until I saw an ad for this company and figured, what have I got to lose? Best decision ever."

As someone who works in fashion and focuses on fit, this kind of comment is what gets me out of bed every morning and sometimes even brings tears to my eyes.  

I'm excited about all of these new bra companies, not just because they are interesting from a fit, marketing, technology and logistics perspective, but also because they are serving a customer who had previously been left out, a customer who deserves, like all of us, to find clothing that fits them and flatters them and makes them feel like the best version of themselves :) . 

Stay tuned for more about bras!

it's time to go bra shopping

A few years ago I started hearing ads for the lingerie company, ThirdLove, on some of my favorite podcasts.  This was when I first became aware of the many new, direct to consumer lingerie brands, looking to not only sell us new bras, but to reinvent what a bra is and how we shop for it. 

"Direct to Consumer," or DTC brands are hot topics in the fashion industry these days.  Brands who have their own retail stores have greater day-to-day expenses (ie- rent, sales associates, shipping to the stores, logistics).  Direct to consumer brands don't have to pay for retail space, so they can afford to take more risks with their product.  They can stock more sizes and colors in their virtual store without having to worry about shipping that product to thousands of stores around the country.  Some brands, like the Girlfriend Collective, ship directly from their factory (in their case, Vietnam). 

After reading today about yet another new lingerie start up, I decided it was time to do a little digging.  I want to know more about these brands- for instance, how do you sell bras, arguably the hardest item to fit, over the internet?  How do you create brand awareness when you only exist in the nebulous of the world wide web?  How do you re-invent a garment that has gone through relatively little change in the past 30-40 years?  

I want to start off my bra research (bresearch?) by acknowledging the overall shift in the intimates market we have seen in the past, say, five years. 

As Fiona Ma pointed out in an article about lingerie in Women's Wear Daily recently,  it used to be about how one appeared to others in one's lingerie.  Bras were decorated in lace and/or rhinestones and photographed on tall, conventionally beautiful models wearing stilettos. 

I would like to add- women's undergarments in the past were either portrayed as sexy, or utilitarian, but it seemed we didn't have much in between. 

Enter the rise of athleisure! 

Women today are asking for their clothing, including their undergarments, to fit and flatter their bodies, to be comfortable, to go from work to yoga or maybe a bike ride.  

I'm going to start my research (bresearch) focused on these new and innovative bra companies, but will move onto other innovative types of undergarment companies (Spanx, Commando, etc!).  Let me know if you have a favorite brand of bra or undergarment and I'll do some research on them!

Let the bra shopping commence!

Warmer Weather

It's officially summer!

Okay, so not yet, technically not until next Wednesday, but summer weather has officially arrived. 

The warmer weather plus an upcoming trip to Texas made me address an issue I have every year- I just don't have enough tank tops.  Or tank tops that I like.  However, I DO have a large collection of graphic t-shirts I adore. 

Why do I adore graphic tees? A few reasons. You can dress them up, dress them down, they can make a boring outfit look edgy and interesting.  They give you an opportunity to mix patterns and colors in a new way.   They are great for travel because they are comfortable and low maintenance.  AND they are great for warm weather because the 100% cotton breathes and keeps you cool!

Problem is, they have sleeves.  And I don't want any sleeves while I'm in Texas. 

So, I picked out a few of my favorite graphic tees, the ones that were maybe more summer themed to me (aka, sail boats, cacti, bees), and turned them into graphic tank tops.  I didn't want a racer back in this situation because, as much as I love a racer, sometimes it can feel a little more casual and I still want to be able to dress these tank tops up depending on the occasion. 

I saved all the little cut off sleeves that I plan on making a massive, super-soft crazy quilt with one day, once I finish all my t-shirt work (it might be a while). 

What I love about traveling with separates (aka- a skirt+top+cardigan as opposed to a dress) is that you have way more ability to adjust to the climate.  AND you can create way more outfits from fewer items, creating an illusion of a variety in your wardrobe even if you only pack a few items.  Even better? If you spill something (as I often do!), your whole outfit isn't out of the running for the rest of the trip, just that one piece that got dirty. 

Ahh, the joy of a cute and fitted graphic tee (or tank!).   Thank you, J.Crew, for creating so many that I adore. 

 

 

Tiny Harem Pants

One of the (many) exciting things about having tiny nephews is making tiny clothes!

I want to make a pair (or two!) of harem pants for my nephews out of a cute t-shirt or some left-over fabric from other projects.   

The nice thing about harem pants is that they have no rise, so they require pretty minimal sewing and are really cozy and comfy for the wearer.  Plus, just adorable!

Here's the sketch I made up for the harem pants I plan to make.  I was thinking to add a little faux drawstring (real drawstrings are not legally allowed on kids clothes), but I might skip this depending on the t-shirt or fabric I try to use. 

 

Harem-Pants-tech-sketch.jpg

A Tough Tee

I've come upon a hard t-shirt to transform.  On my journey thus far, if a t-shirt was too small or just not appealing to me to transform into something I might wear, I've been cutting them down into 2" strips, which I will later make a (hopefully) really-awesome quilt with.  More on that later. 

In the meantime I have this t-shirt I just adore. It reminds me of happy days at my neighborhood swimming pool, with one of my favorite swim coaches, Rob (I think he even drew the cartoon on the t-shirt! Not too shabby, Rob!).  I just can't cut this one up into tiny strips.  And beyond that, I'd really like to find a way to make this into a wearable something for myself. 

So, what's the problem, you ask? Well it's about 2-4" too short for my current tastes and height.  It's probably a little snug as well, but if I can get it to be a bit longer I can then figure out how to deal with the circumference (and it might even be OK as it is). 

To deal with this too-short tee, I took a knit racer-back tank pattern I had, cut off the top portions then combined them.  The idea is that I will shift the whole body down, then use the sleeves as the racer-back strap portion of the top.  Make sense? Sort of? I've drawn up some images below to help illustrate.  Hoping to have time to work on this one this weekend... will update you on the outcome. 

A Brief History of Dyeing

Hi Everyone, 

I've been working on some other projects at home and didn't get a chance to do a podcast recording this weekend.  So instead I'm posting the written form of a previous episode, #7- the History of Dyeing.  Hope this is helpful to you, in case you prefer reading! 

********

Hi everyone, welcome to the seventh episode of Curious About Clothes, the podcast that digs deep into what we’re wearing, where it came from and what it all means.

This week I wanted to give a brief overview of something I think we all take for granted, how our clothes get to be the color they are.

Maybe you’re heard a bit about how much water pollution can happen as a result of dyeing textiles,  maybe you know someone who’s really into natural dyeing but don’t know much about it. Maybe you’ve never thought about it all until this moment!

No matter how much you’ve thought about it, your closet and drawers are filled with clothes that have been dyed.  Piece-dyed, garment dyed, yarn-dyed, tie-dyed, shibori dyed… did you know how many ways there are to color your clothes? To be honestly, neither did I until I started researching for this podcast.   So let’s dig in and learn a little together.

What is a dye?

So, let’s start at the beginning- what is a dye- how is it different than say, a pigment, or a paint?

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, a dye is a “substance used to impart color to textiles, paper, leather and other materials” in a way that the color is not easily altered by washing, heat, light or other environmental factors the material is likely to be exposed.

How is a dye different form a pigment- a pigment is a solid color, you can grind up that solid color and mixed it with a liquid to create paint.

But a dye is something that binds, chemically, with the textile fibers, allowing that color to remain there year after year.

Most dyes are “organic compounds”- which means they contain carbon.   Pigments can be both organic or inorganic (meaning they don’t have carbon).

The less complicated way of saying this is that if you have something colorful (like a pigment), you can easily make a paint with it- that’s pretty simple.  But to dye a textile so that it holds that color, ideally over the lifetime of that garment, the dye has to have the right chemical make-up so that it will affix to that textile and not just wash or fade away.

What is the history of dyeing?

-Here’s an important date to know in the history of dyes: until 1850, pretty much all dyes were obtained from “natural sources”, for example- vegetables, plants, trees, lichens (what’s a lichen”!?) and insects.

-If you’re wondering what a lichen is, you’re probably not alone!  Lichens are actually a combination of two organisms- a fungus and an alga, who have a symbiotic partnership and together create a lichen!  Lichens are really unique things- no two lichens are alike! They don’t have roots, stems or leaves. They are not the same as moss, but they do like to live in the same habitat as moss, so you’ll often see them together.   If you’re at a computer, google some photos of lichens- they are really beautiful things you probably never thought much about before.

And now, back to dyeing.  How long have we been dyeing textiles?  This is a difficult question to know the answer to, because textiles generally decompose pretty quickly and we don’t have too many remaining examples of ancient textiles… but we do have a few!

One place we have found these preserved textiles is in the Egyptian tombs in Thebes.  Here we have found an indigo dyed garment that dates back to about 2500 BCE. We have also found hieroglyphs that show extraction and application of dyes, so we know that mankind has been dyeing textiles for at least 4500 years.

Other ancient textiles found include those from the Paracas Peninsula in Peru- these vividly colored textiles date back to about 600-175 BCE

Lastly, dyed textiles from the tombs of the Pazyryk valley in Siberia date back to about 400 BCE. Here we all sorts of textiles, wool rugs, silk scarves and assorted clothing remarkably preserved in burial chambers covered in solid ice.  The rugs found are multicolored and are intricately decorated with deer, horsemen and geometric decoration. This burial site, excavated from 1929 to 1949 was significant for showing that the the history of rug and carpet weaving is much older than we had previously thought.


Dyeing continues

-Dyeing is very difficult, as I said earlier, so much of it relies on the chemical compounds being juuust right so that the fabric will hold onto that color.  Ancient dyers probably came across dye through trial and error, and once they found their dye recipes, they held onto them tightly because they were very valuable.

-by 1000 BCE the Phoenicians were the most famous dyers in the Mediterranean, particularly for their discovery of a highly valued purple dye called Tyrian Purple, named after the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre.

-This tyrian purple dye was made from shellfish in the Eastern Mediterranean and was the most expensive dye in the world due to its bright color and durability.

-Tyrian purple was restricted for use only by royalty and some senior politicians and clergymen.

-the Phoenician knowledge of textile dyes spread to the Greek and early Roman civilizations.  

-Dyeing textiles became lucrative and important in the Roman Empire, and as the empire expanded, their expertise in dyeing textiles expanded with it.

Pliny the Elder

-Pliny the Elder was a Roman author who lived from 23 AD to 79 AD.  He wrote many things, although he is most remembered for his series of books called The Natural History.  The Natural History was a huge compilation of various different “natural” subjects including astronomy, geography, zoology, botany, medicine and agriculture.  Pliny got much of his information from Greek authors, although he also contributed some of his own theories based on personal experience.

-Although his work is not always accurate, it does give us a great insight into the world he lived in, in addition to recording information from Greek authors we no longer have writings from.

-Pliny the Elder met his end in 79 AD when he went to look into the origin of some unusual clouds- these clouds were formed by Mt Vesuvius and he died as a result of that eruption.

What does Pliny the Elder have to do with dyeing textiles?

Well, dyeing textiles was one of the many things Pliny the Elder wrote about, he gives us insight into how people had been dyeing textiles up until that time and confirmed that ancient dyers were aware of what we call mordants.

Mordants:

-”Mordant- from the latin word Mordere- meaning to bite or to fasten, so a mordant is the substance that binds the dye to the fabric

-For a dye to work- color particles must dissolve in a solution and then be absorbed by the fiber molecules

-Dyeing something is complicated because many dyes to not remain permanently fixed to the fibers without something additional to act as a bond between fiber and dye color.  This what mordants do.

-Common mordants are metallic compounds like aluminum, iron or copper. 

Back to Pliny the Elder-

Pliny the Elder described the accomplishments of early Egyptian dyers and explained how fabrics treated with different mordants but dipped in the same color dye would result in different colored fabrics.

In other words, Pliny the Elder tells us how sophisticated ancient dyeing was- they had figured out through trial and error that you need a sort of chemical glue to bind the textile and the color.

Dyeing continues

-Dyeing of course did not end with Pliny the Elder!

-Dyeing continued to be an important skill in Europe.  

-Once the Romans started to withdraw from Western Europe in about 400 AD, dyeing continued to develop throughout Europe- particularly in Germanic Kingdoms and Viking areas.

Dyeing in Medieval Europe

-Dyeing flourished in Medieval europe

-and in the 12th C. AD. we see the First dyers guilds being formed Germany

-Guilds in different area specialized in particular dyes or techniques.

-Apprentices would learn the secrets of dyeing from master dyers

-These master dyers had recipe books which were closely guarded... and for good reason! Attempts to steal dye secrets were frequent.

Europe gets connected to the rest of the world

-In the late 1400s, Europe became connected to America and with this connection came material for dye use.

-The late 1400s was also the start of a sea connection between Europe and India- Suddenly Europe now had greater quantity and quality of dyes available.

-In 1600- East India Trading Co. formed- Europeans able to see textiles from India- India has long been the home of sophisticated dyeing techniques (and this tradition continues today).

-Indian fabrics used mordants and block printing on these fabrics at levels still unsurpassed today.  Europeans were very impressed!

-Europeans now not only had a wide variety of quality dyes available to them, they also had increased knowledge of how these dyes could be applied to yarns and fabrics of all types of fibers.

The Invention of Synthetic Dyes

-in 1856 an 18 year old English Chemist William Perkin was experimenting with a derivative of coal tar, and he accidentally created what eventually became named mauveine or mauve.   It was a dye that created a sort of purple color, and it became all the rage! Even Queen Victoria loved it.

-The success of mauve sparked interest in chemists around the world to create other synthetic dyes using coal tar.

-Chemists also studied the structures of natural dye in an effort to imitate them.

-in 1869 chemists duplicated a natural form of red dye, and so began the decline of natural dyes in the consumer market.

-Synthetic dye was able to be produced at almost half the price of natural dye.  As new colors of synthetic dye were discovered, natural dye trade began to fade away.

-although Britain started the synthetic dye revolution, Germany quickly caught up and surpassed Britain as the leading creators of synthetic dyes.   In fact, at the outbreak of WWI, Germany supplied the khaki dye used on British army uniforms!

-As synthetic fibers, like Nylon, were increasingly being used, new research was put into how to dye these synthetic fibers, since synthetic fibers are difficult to dye (and stain! As you may have noticed on your own clothes).

Modern Dyeing

This is where I’ll leave you for today.  The next episodes I’ll tell you more about the plants, animals and minerals that make great natural dyes, in addition to discussing what the state of textile dyeing is today.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Curious About Clothes! If you’re an instagram user, you can find me at CuriousAboutClothes.  If you’re an internet user, you can find me at www.curiousclothes.com.  AND If you’re an email user, you can email me at curiousaboutclothes@gmail.com.

Please send me your questions and thoughts about this episode, or suggestions for future episodes are always appreciated!

Thanks and have a great week!

Sources:

https://www.britannica.com/technology/dye

https://www.britannica.com/technology/alizarin

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/beauty/lichens/whatare.shtml

https://www.penn.museum/documents/publications/expedition/PDFs/32-1/Rubinson.pdf

https://www.tampere.fi/ekstrat/taidemuseo/arkisto/peru/800/paracas_en.htm

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pliny-the-Elder

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/history-science-technology-and-medicine/history-science/the-birth-synthetic-dyeing

https://blog.patra.com/2016/09/07/to-dye-for-a-history-of-natural-and-synthetic-dyes/

Pattern Library

I’m working on creating a little library of styles for myself, thing that are basic but fit well that I could use as a basis to create clothing for myself.  

 

I have so many beautiful fabrics people have given me as gifts I need to use! So, starting with patterns, then I’ll begin sewing.  

 

Today I made a basic woven racer back tank to use for a light weight woven material, hopefully silk :).

 

 

Dyeing Today

Since I do so much research and writing to create each podcast, I decided to publish a written version of each podcast from now on, so if you aren't in the mood to listen, you can read! 

Will be recording this one today, so look out for the latest episode on your favorite purveyor of podcasts. 

Here we go!

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Welcome:

Hi Everyone, and welcome to the eighth episode of Curious About Clothes, the podcast that digs deep into what we’re wearing, where it came from and what it all means.

Las week I brought you up to speed on the history of dyeing from ancient times and left off in the early 20th century, when synthetic dyes were quickly replacing natural dyes as the standard for dyeing textiles.

Synthetic Dye History:

As you may remember, Mauve was invented, by accident, by a British chemist named William Perkin.  Perkin had been experimenting with coal tar with the intent of synthesizing quinine when he realized that he had created a wonderful purple dye.

Red dye was the next dye synthesized in 1869 by both William Perkin and two German chemists.

Adolf von Baeyer led the research and development of the fist synthetic indigo dye in 1904.  With indigo dye the synthetic version was a chemical copy of the natural version.

These discoveries and continued work in the field led to the decline of natural dyes and today it’s rare to find natural dyes in a commercial setting

Dyeing Today

So, this brings up a good question- how are commercial textiles dyed today?

Dyeing Process:

Textile dyes can be dyed via batch, continuous or semi-continuous process. Batch process is the most common

Continuous processes:  heat and steam are applied to long rolls of fabric as they pass through a series of concentrated chemical solutions.

Batch Processing: aka exhaust dyeing- dye is gradually transferred from the dye bath to the material over a period of time. A big piece of fabric remains in a single tub.  Some batch dyeing machines can be pressurized, allowing for higher temperature.

Cotton, rayon, nylon, wool are fibers that dye well at temps of 100 deg. Celcius or below.

Polyester and some other synthetics dye more easily at temps above 100 deg. C. 

Quick refresher here:

As we continue to talk about dyeing textiles, it’s important to know that synthetic fibers may need a different dye process from a natural fiber.   No dye can apply to all fibers and no fiber takes all dyes.

If you’ve missed it in my previous episodes, here’s a quick rundown of the difference between natural fibers and synthetic fibers:

Natural Fibers: derived from plants or animals.  Plant fibers are made up of cellulose while animal fibers are made of of proteins.  Examples are wool, cotton, flax, silk, jute, hemp and sisal.

Synthetic fibers- generally derived from petroleum sources. examples : polyester, polyamide, rayon, acetate and acrylic.

Of all the fibers, the two biggest globally are cotton and polyester.

OK, back to dyeing!

First the fabric must be prepared!

The preparation process involves removing unwanted impurities- for instance, any dirt that got woven in the the fabric or inconsistencies in color from the fibers.  

Preparing the fabric is with detergents & washing, in addition to bleaching with hydrogen peroxide or chlorine to remove the natural color of the fiber.   If the textile is going to be sold as white, optical brighteners (basically, blue dyes) are added.

If you’re wondering what an “optical brightener” is, it’s basically blue dye.  Blue dye is added to make the white look whiter.

Dyeing:

To apply color to textiles the dye is transmitted to the fiber through water.  For a dye to sufficiently bind to the fiber, high heat is needed. In a commercial setting, pressurized chambers are sometimes used to increase the heat and assure that the fiber takes the dye.

As I said earlier, the type of dye will vary greatly, depending on the fibers making up the fabric (sometimes this is a blend of fibers) AND the intended use of the fabric.

For example- a textile to be used for car interior would need to hold up against light.  A fabric used for swimsuits would need to be very colorfast in water. In summary the type of dye used is based on the fiber and the intended use of the textile.

Finishing:

The last step of dyeing is called  finishing.  This is when treatments aimed at improving the quality of the fabric are applied. These include things like permanent press treatments, waterproofing, softening, antistatic protection,  stain release, microbial/fungal protection and so on. If your fabric touts any special properties, it’s due to a finishing chemical that was applied to the fabric.

Pollution from Dyeing:

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but textile dyeing and finishing is one of the most polluting industries in the world.  There are a few major reasons for its very damaging effects

1- it’s not very efficient

It's estimated that 10-50% of the dye is lost during the dyeing process.

The textile industry consumes a lot of water during dyeing and finishing of textiles.   The wastewater from textile plants is classified as the most polluting of all the industrial sectors.

Once a textile is dyed, it is washed to wash away any dye that isn’t affixed to the fiber (if this process is skipped, the garment may “bleed” onto other garments.

This washed-away dye is then put into the waste water and treated with all other wast water.  

2- synthetic dyes and treatments are MADE to outlive wash after wash and direct sunlight.  

Because dyeing is not very efficient, lots of dye is lost and runs out into sewage.  

It’s difficult to clean this type of wastewater and because the dyes are made to withstand light, temperatures,  detergents, and other chemicals, so not only are they difficult to remove from the wastewater, they are also resistant to degradation over time.

For example, a very common type of dye, Azo dye, has a half-life of approximately 46 years!

3. Treating the water may make the situation worse!

The problem is that with some synethetic dyes, the application of chlorine to the water actualy makes the dye compounds MORE mutagenic/ aka more harmful.

4. The dye color interferes with aquatic life:

The dye color, if released into the water supply also will get in the way of water plants recieving light.

5. Not just the dye washes into the waste-water:

In addition, any pesticides used on the textile (for example cotton uses many pesticides) will wash into the waste water during the initial cleaning process.

6. Rules about textile pollution vary from country to country.

Countries have different legislation regarding what can be released into the waste water- There are limits in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Turkey and Morocco.  But in India, Pakistan and Malaysia, the emission limits are recommended but not mandatory.

Pollution in the Textile Dyeing conclusion:

An increased demand for textiles and synthetic dyes have lead to an increase of pollution.

It’s estimated that 20% of global water pollution comes from textile dyeing

BUT there is some good news here: because textile dyeing is one of the most environmentally unfriendly processes, there is a lot of room for improvement!

How can we dye better?:

Natural Dyes

With concerns about the environment, natural dyeing would be an obvious direction to go.  

Natural dyeing is generally non-toxic.  Dyeing with natural dyes still produces wastewater, but this wastewater isn’t generally harmful to the environment and is made up of plant or animal matter that can be filtered out.  

We are seeing natural dyeing make a small comeback in the commercial world-  if you google “naturally dyed clothing” or “naturally dyed sheets”... whatever it is you’re looking for, there are quite a few companies out there selling textile goods dyed with natural dyes.  

But, considering the fact that being “eco friendly” is so trendy right now, why aren’t we seeing natural dyes in a bigger way?

Natural dyes have a few drawbacks.

The first drawback of a natural dye is that they can be expensive.  The reason natural dyes are a bit pricier is because you need a lot more of the natural dye substance to create a color in comparison to a synthetic dye.

Natural dyes can also vary in consistency of color.   This makes sense right- if you’re growing something, it’s impossible to ensure that this batch is exactly the same as the next batch.   Color yielded from a natural dye is going to vary from dye bath to dye bath, and most companies put a lot of time and effort into ensuring their products are very uniform in color and quality.

Personally, I believe this could be marketed as a good thing, as something that makes YOUR shirt unique, because the yellow on your shirt is unlike any of the other shirts.

Natural dyes can struggle with availability.  Because land is generally required to grow natural dyes, the availalbility and quality of that dye is dependent on the season and weather.   As compared to a synthetic dye which can be produced at anytime, year round, regardless of weather!

Natural dyes aren’t totally harmless either- although most natural dyes are non-toxic, some natural dyes can cause some negative effects when vapors of that natural dye are inhaled or it’s on the skin.   I like to think of it this way- yes, generally speaking, things found in nature are less harmful to people and the environment. But, arsenic, mercury, poison ivy, these are also thing found in nature that aren’t great for us.  So, just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s not harmful to us or other living creatures.

Lastly, some people would argue that the amount of land & water needed to grow a natural dye isn’t sustainable and is using valuable resources.  This argument can only be made in regards to some dyes, since many dyes are made from the scraps of vegetables and don’t need to be grown of their own accord.

What other options do we have?

As I said before, the good news is there is a lot of room for improvement, and there are many people who are passionate about finding a better way to dye textiles

Waterless dyeing

One of the more recent technological innovations in the dye world is waterless dyeing.

Waterless dyeing uses CO2 as the carrier of the dye (instead of water).  This technology was devbeloped at German Universities in the late 1980s. A Dutch company called DyeCoo was founded in 2008 and has taken this technology to the commercial world and now has huge brands like Nike and Adidas using this technology.

This technology is great for several reasons- first, there is no water usage at all!  Second, it’s much more efficient- you aren’t losing your unused dye in the runoff water.  The dye colors are consistent and seem to be very colorfast as well (meaning they don’t fade in sunlight or in washing).

The only drawback to this technology is it is currently only available for 100% polyester fabrics.   Polyester is the primary fabrication used in sportswear and this is why we are seeing sportswear companies like Nike and Adidas sign on to use this technology.

Research is currently being done to see if there is a way to extend this type of dyeing to cotton fiber, since cotton is in about 40% of the world’s textiles and ranks only second to polyester in use.

BlueSign Technologies

BlueSign Technologies is a Swiss company founded in 2000 with the intention of acting as a solution provider for the textile industry.   They act as an independent auditor to ensure that every step of the textile creation is done in a safe and environmentally friendly way. They follow the process of textile creation and zippers, buttons and many other types of trims.

They follow five major pieces of textile creation:

1- resource productivity

2- consumer safety

3- water emission

4- air emission

5-occupational health & safety

You can find BlueSign verified products at many popular brands in the United States, including (but not limited to) Patagonia, REI, the North Face, Lululemon, Columbia, Nike, Prana,  Asics, Lands End, Puma, Eileen Fisher, Arcteryx and many more.

Keep in mind that not every product a company who works with BlueSign Technologies will be BlueSign verified.   If a product is BlueSign verified, you should see it notated with the item description.

Why isn't it more universal? Well, being BlueSign certified is expensive! It takes a lot of work to make sure that every part of the dyeing process is done in an eco friendly and ethical way.  So, when you're wondering, why is this BlueSign shirt so much more than a regular shirt, well, you are paying for that assurance and quality. 

Foam Dyeing

A recent development in dyeing technology, foam dyeing looks to be an exciting new way to dye our denim.

A few different fabric manufacturers have been doing the R&D on this process, notable to the American denim market was an event held a few months ago in November of 2017, where Texas Tech and Indigo Mill Designs teamed up to debut what they dubbed “Indigo Zero”.

Denim brands Wrangler & Lee, in addition to super-chain Walmart were early investors of this technology and are looking to incorporate this new technology into the manufacturing of their denim products.

So, what is foam dyeing?  The most basic way to explain it is instead of using regular water as the conveyor of the dye, foam is used.  What makes this technology even more interesting, is that for indigo dye to work, the process must be oxygen free- it cannot be exposed to air.   Of course, when using a traditional method to dye fabric with indigo, water seals off the fabric from exposure during the dye process. But the whole idea of foam is inserting tiny bubbles of air into the dye- this obviously wouldn’t work with indigo dye.

So, the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute of Texas Tech University figured out how to make foam without using oxygen.

Because this technology has just been unveiled, it might be a little bit of time before we see it applied on denim we can purchase at a store, but it is exciting technology that hopefully can be applied to other fabric types as well.

And on that hopeful note, I’ll leave you for this week.  I hope this gives you a good background on the textile industry today and the ability to understand the fine print when you are shopping for clothing and other textile based goods.

Next time I’ll talk more about natural dyeing, get into the history of some popular colors and hopefully give you some good background information if you’d like to do some natural dyeing of your own at home.

If you have any questions, you can find me at curiousaboutclothes@gmail.com.

If you’re enjoying this podcast, you can help me out by leaving me a review at iTunes.  This helps my podcast show up in search results when someone searches for “fashion” or the apparel industry.

**********

Sources:

https://www.intechopen.com/books/eco-friendly-textile-dyeing-and-finishing/textile-dyes-dyeing-process-and-environmental-impact

http://www.teonline.com/knowledge-centre/dyeing-fiber-to-apparel.html

http://www.keycolour.net/blog/advantages-disadvantages-natural-dyes/

https://www.patagonia.com/blog/2017/06/experimenting-with-naturally-dyed-clothing/

https://blog.stepchange-innovations.com/2016/07/dyeing-supercritical-co2-finally-success-story/

http://wwd.com/business-news/technology/tejidos-royo-sustainable-indigo-dye-1202657483/

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171114006021/en/Foam-Dyeing-Technology-Poised-Transform-Denim-Manufacturing

I'm Dyeing to Tell You About Dyes!

Finally, an episode about DYES! 

When was the last time you looked down at your shirt and thought, "huh, I wonder how it became bright orange?"

For most of us, the answer is probably, "never!" because colorful clothes are something modern science has allowed us to take for granted. 150 years ago, colorful clothing was restricted to only the wealthy and individual colors had storied histories. 

I'm going spend a few podcast episodes talking about dyes, because there's simply too much to jam into one episode. 

This week I'll give you a broad overview of the history of dyeing.  In the following weeks I will be telling you about specific colors, their histories and how they are obtained. 

Finally, we'll conclude this dramatic dye series with the state of textile dyeing today.  Textile dyeing is the source of much of the water pollution in the world- so let's talk about why that is and if that's something you're personally concerned about, I'll give you some recommendations for how to shop for clothing that's dyed in an eco-friendly way. 

If you're anxious to learn more, I recommend checking out this book by Jenny Dean, Wild Color. 

Below are a list of other sources I read for today's episode.  

Hope you enjoy!

Rachel

Websites I read for information about the history of dyeing: 

https://www.britannica.com/technology/dye

https://www.britannica.com/technology/alizarin

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/beauty/lichens/whatare.shtml

https://www.penn.museum/documents/publications/expedition/PDFs/32-1/Rubinson.pdf

https://www.tampere.fi/ekstrat/taidemuseo/arkisto/peru/800/paracas_en.htm

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pliny-the-Elder

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/history-science-technology-and-medicine/history-science/the-birth-synthetic-dyeing

https://blog.patra.com/2016/09/07/to-dye-for-a-history-of-natural-and-synthetic-dyes/

If You Want to Destroy My Sweatshirt

Similar to my t-shirt problem, I also have a sweatshirt problem.  I HAVE SO MANY SWEATSHIRTS I NEVER WEAR. 

It's so sad.  I look at them lovingly, remembering the days I used to spend in them. 

My tastes have change.  I no longer like having to squish my face through that little neck-hole and hood.  I also don't love feeling like a bubble with legs. 

lyrics quiz GIF-downsized_large.gif

 

So, today I took gulp and took a breath and went ahead and cut that sweatshirt. 

That poor, unfortunate sweatshirt!

 

The fun thing about altering things like sweatshirts and t-shirts is that they are KNIT!   Quick refresher here- knits are fabrics that are knit (almost like a tiny sweater) rather than woven.  It's what gives those fabrics a natural stretch.   

Knits have this cool property- they don't unravel like a woven fabric would.  So you can cut them up all you want and they'll remain just like that.  Even better, when you wash them, you'll see the raw form a natural curl, it looks really cool and cozy. 

Okay, okay, enough talking, I'll let the photos take it from here:

Cotton, the Fabric of Our Lives Part Two!

Alright! Second part of cotton mini-series is done!  

I read everything I could about cotton and the varying positions people have about organic vs. conventional.  At the bottom of this post, I’ll leave a list of links to articles I read in case you’d ‘like to read them too.

I have so much more information about cotton that I can't wait to share... but I'll give it a week because even though I adore cotton, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. 

If you’re feeling really pumped about this show, considering writing a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts! This really, really helps because it means my podcast will come up higher in the list of podcasts when someone searches for a podcast.

Additionally, if you'd like to share this podcast with your friends and relatives, I would really appreciate it! 

OK, ‘tis all for today. Don’t forget to send me your feedback and questions!

Thanks for listening!!

Rachel

List ‘O Sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/06/18/137249264/organic-pesticides-not-an-oxymoron

www.madehow.com/Volume-6/Cotton.html

www.cottonsjourney.com/storyofcotton/page2.asp

www.cotton.org www.barnhardtcotton.net/blog/the-story-of-cotton-how-cotton-is-grown-processed-and-used/

https://www.cottonacres.com/cotton-plant/

https://www.nytimes.com/1864/06/26/archives/egyptian-cotton-its-modern-origin-and-the-importance-of-the-supply.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/cotton-fibre-and-plant

https://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/story/

https://thefabricofourlives.com/learn-about-cotton/types-of-cotton

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-dietz/organic-cotton-sustainable-fashion_b_3562788.html

http://www.cottonsjourney.com/storyofcotton/page4.asp

https://www.toyota-industries.com/products/textile/process/

https://www.britannica.com/plant/marsh-mallow

http://www.cicr.org.in/pdf/wild_species%20.pdf

http://www.cicr.org.in/pdf/cotton_varieties_hybrids.pdf

http://www.athomenaturally.com/shop/pdf/AHNOrganicCotton.pdf

https://organicmattersblog.com/2013/06/26/the-what-how-and-why-on-gmos/

http://aboutorganiccotton.org/stats/

http://textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/TE-Organic-Cotton-Market-Report-Oct2016.pdf

https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/when-did-we-start-using-pesticides

https://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/11/magazine/what-the-world-needs-now-is-ddt.html

https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/ddt-brief-history-and-status

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/green-friendly-bluesign-clothing/

https://www.upphandlingsmyndigheten.se/globalassets/upphandling/goda-exempel/the-deadly-chemicals-in-cotton.pdf

http://www.cottonedon.org/FAQS

Cotton, the Fabric of Our Lives Part One

It's alive! The latest episode of Curious About Clothes! 

This week we are swimming in a bale of COTTON! Actually that would be pretty hard to swim in, but I think you could rest on top of it pretty nicely.... and that's what I'll be doing now that I spent a marathon week reading and reading and reading about COTTON! 

In case you'd like to do some reading of your own, I'm going to paste the online articles I read at the bottom of this text. 

My favorite article of the week was by Sven Beckhart for the Atlantic (you can find the article here) 

This article was adapted from his book, The Empire of Cotton: A Global History, which, I will be adding to my stack of books to-be-read as soon as I get up from my desk (please buy it at your favorite local book store!). 

Below are some of the other articles I read to create today's podcast:

https://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/story/

http://www.historyofclothing.com/textile-history/history-of-cotton/

https://www.organiccotton.org/oc/Cotton-general/World-market/History-of-cotton.php

http://cottonaustralia.com.au/uploads/factsheets/INNOVATION__TECH_FACT_SHEET_TEMPLATE_OL_World_cotton_history.pdf

https://www.scribd.com/book/67818172/Cotton-and-Race-in-the-Making-of-America-The-Human-Costs-of-Economic-Power

 

Thank you!!

Rachel

 

Saving My Favorite Sports Bra

I love this sports bra. It's been with me through many workouts. It's a cotton blend, super soft and the perfect combo of supportive but not uncomfortable.  

 

But, alas, a white sports bra has a tough life, and it has seen its better days. 

 

Rather than chucking it, I decided to try some OxiClean White Revive on it. I let it soak for 48 hours in hot water with a small scoop of OxiClean, and it had great results! 

The color is a bit yellow still, so next I'll try some bluing to bring it back to a bright white. 

 

Before: 

FullSizeRender.jpg

 ...And after:

IMG_9845.JPG

And here's what I did to get there: 

 

 

Hope this inspires you! Comment if you have any questions!  

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Hi Friends!

For my fourth episode I discussed how to keep little critters away from your precious cashmere...

Golum

Here are a few things that will help you keep Golum away!

A brush from the Laundress to brush your winter pea coat with (make sure you get the seams and under the collar where the eggs are often hidden) 

Cedar blocks- for tossing into storage bins with your winter items. 

Lavender Sachets from Nordstrom (they make a great gift!)

Or make your own lavender sachets with Martha Stewart (they are SUPER easy to make, really)

And a few articles I read to enhance my knowledge about keeping these icky insects away:

When Moths Make a Home in Yours- How to Free Your Wardrobe From Moths by Arianne Cohen,

Martha Stewart- The Basics Of Mothproofing

LiveScience- Why Do Moths Eat Clothes by Remy Melina, 5/6/2011

Insects That Eat Holes in Clothes

Please leave me any questions in the comments section or send me an email!

Thanks!

Rachel

 

A Woolly Mammoth of an Episode

Wow, what an episode! For me at least.  I thought wool would be a concise topic to get into, but not surprisingly, wool is more than it seems. 

 Wool-part-one is out today and I want to make sure I follow up with you all to give you links to products I mentioned and some sources of information if you'd like to do some more digging. 

In no particular order, here they are:

Sweater Comb by Dritz.  Available at many, many locations, this is a link to where it's sold at Joanne Fabrics. 

My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag...and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha by Jolie Kerr. This is a link to the book at Goodreads.  Please go get it at your favorite, independent bookstore. 

Ask a Clean Person- Jolie Kerr's website and advice column. 

The Laundress- a great website for learning all about how to care for your clothes at home.  Here is a link to her article about how to wash your wool sweater at home (this is where I initially got my wool washing information from when I first began my washing journey).  She also sells her own laundry products for delicate and wool garments.

Some articles I read to get additional facts about wool from:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/wool

https://quatr.us/west-asia/wool-history-wool-clothing.htm

Last, but not least, you can find my podcast on itunes HERE!

Ok, I think that's all for today!  Please let me know if there's anything I've missed. 

Thanks!

Rachel

 

Father Mackenzie, Darner of Socks

Do you know what "darning" means? 

For years, I had no idea what it was Father Mackenzie was doing in the night while no one was there.  And then a few years ago I finally looked it up and learned what he was doing-  fixing holes in his sweater knits! 

This seems surprising that he would attempt this at night, since darning for me requires an attentive eye and patient hand.  He might have had a patient hand, but an attentive eye is difficult in low lighting.  So,  he must have been very experienced. 

Good news is YOU don't have to be very experienced to fix YOUR sweater holes!

Sweater holes are natural and not to worry about.  Yes, there are moths, and that's a problem (this is why you should wash your sweaters!).  But sometimes fibers just break a small hole occurs.  

To fix it you need just three things:

1) needle

2) matching thread

3) sharp scissors (preferably the kind you only use for sewing)

 

Take that hole, and very gently criss-cross through it with your needle and thread to "weave" it closed.  make sure you hook onto all those little loose loops from the sweater so it doesn't unravel any more. 

Don't pull too tight or your'll leave a little "dimple" where you've closed the hole.  The idea is to fill the hole with your thread and make sure all the loops are secured. 

See below...