The Humble Caftan

8th Century Caftan

So here is a garment that is as old as time.  With origins going back to Mesopotmia, this simple garment constructed entirely of squares was originally cotton.  When silk found it’s way to the middle east,  it quickly became a favorite textile for the Caftan.  So how did this humble, ancient garment, survive from antiquity to present?  By being eminently practical. Originally, the Caftan was the outermost garment worn by men throughout the middle east; however, in Morocco it is traditionally a woman’s garment, and even today enjoys a special place in couture of Morocco.  While worn throughout North Africa and

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Four-Ply Silk

Four-ply silk begins with the threads

One ply, two ply, three ply…Technically ply only becomes impractical when the yarns get two thick to weave.  Ply has several meanings, depending on the context, i.e. plywood, or as a verb, to work diligently.  Within the textile industry, a ply is “the number of single yarns twisted together to form a ply yarn or cord.” (Fairchild, p. 466). Now with silk, as the yarns are filaments, they don’t technically need more than one ply before being woven.  But, additional ply to the filament (meaning more than one spun together before weaving) adds considerable strength to the fabric.  It’s by

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Silk in Warfare

The Great Kahn used Silk in Warfare

One of the many myths I am consistently confronted with is that silk is fragile and requires special care.  Part of the history of silk is the history of mankind…which means its a blood soaked history of brutal warfare.  Not just because the Chinese Emperors made the smuggling of silk worms and mulberry trees a crime punishable by death.  But literal warfare.  The Romans were first introduced to silk through warfare when they saw the silk banners of the Parthians in 53 BC.  And to this day, silk painting is a beautiful art form, with silk being a wonderful medium

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Rare Commodity

Rare Commodity--the Gorgeous Queen Latifah

I’m talking time.  Time is a rare commodity.  I always think I have all the time in the world, until suddenly, I don’t.  So with Hot Raqs approaching and Miss Fisher Con hot on it’s heels, I have to use my time wisely.  I have to pick which projects to move forward, and which to back burner until after these events. Now, a subtle part of my marketing is wearing clothes made out of the silks I sell.  Sort of a “This is what I made, what are you going to make?”  To that end, I am set for SCA

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On Success

On Success

You’ve done it!  You’ve fed the muses and kept them happy.  They in turn are feeding you inspiration.  And all that hard work is starting to pay off.  Maybe it starts with a bang, you launch your business, and it’s an overnight success story.  Or maybe it’s a slower burn.  A post like here, a sale there…it’s more gradual, but ever upward.  It’s slow, but you know you’re on the right path. As wonderful as success is, it also comes with a side dish of bitterness.  See, success will show you who’s really in your corner.  You’re true friends will

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On Inspiration

Inspiration

Yesterday, it was all about the muses.  Feed the muses and they will feed you inspiration.  But what do you do when inspiration is in short supply?  How do you get out of the rut if you’ve ignored the muses and they seem to have abandoned you? Well, it ain’t glamorous.  Hollywood would throw up a montage and when it’s all over, inspiration is restored, the big idea has hit you, and you’re off to make millions…or art…or kick some guys ass…whatever you were wishing for when the montage began, suddenly it’s there.  But the point of the montage is to

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Feed the Muses

feed the muses

I am a fly by the seat of your pants, roll with the punches sort of gal.  Living in the moment helps me to adapt on the fly when things don’t go according to plan.  Mostly, this works for me.  But having a plan and, more importantly, sticking with it, is ALSO a good skill set to have. Among the many things I have learned are that those slutty muses WILL give away your ideas if you don’t act on them.  Now, don’t panic.  Just because you have an idea does not mean you MUST act on it RIGHT THIS

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Doupioni–friend or foe?

Doupioni

Doupioni.  Dupioni, Douppioni, Douppione, Doppione.  All the variations of spelling mean the same thing–Double.  Doupioni Silk threads are spun from silk cocoons that were spun too close together.  This filament is usually from cultivated silk due to overcrowding.  In the wild, silk worms have lots of room to spread out, so double cocoons rarely happen.  When the filaments are un-spun from the cocoons, there are thicker slubs where the cocoons crossed over.  That’s the technical portion of the filaments.  On to the technical portion of the fabric. The slubs are structurally weaker than the other silk filaments.  For this reason,

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Crepe de Chine

crepe de chine

We already discussed Crepe, but how is Crepe de Chine difference from Crepe?  Obviously there is a difference, words matter, and they each carry a unique name.  Surprisingly, Julie Parker was not as helpful as usual, listing the major difference between the two as Crepe de Chine is French for Crepe from China.  But good old Fairchild was supremely helpful (p. 157): “A fine, lightweight, plain weave silk fabric woven with a silk warp and a crepe-twist silk filling alternating 2s-2z…more ends than picks per inch.” Translation:  There are more warp threads, which hold the tension on the loom, than there

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To Make a Pattern

to make a pattern

Ok, this is not as horribly bad as I thought it would be.  I mean, it’s not easy.  Or maybe it would be if I had majored in fashion design.  I’m basically using my 30 years sewing experience in sewing to make a pattern. And then I have to expand that pattern in to multiple sizes.  Again, something one would not think was difficult.  But judging by several pattern companies I have tried to work with before, where in the patterns did NOT size up well, this is the part that scares me.  Not to the point I’m unwilling to

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