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Be a Student

Yep...how all students feel

It’s hard to give yourself permission to learn new things.  Especially once you’ve obtained that almighty degree, and have obtained the status of Graduate.  It’s slightly easier to be a student when it’s entirely for fun.  When I’m in dance class, I can be fully focused and in the moment.  I can concentrate on the lesson and what the take away is.  Not so easy when the only teacher is me, and I also happen to be the only student in the class.

Forcing focus when I know I need to be concentrating on learning all the things is probably the hardest adult thing I’ve had to do.  I get why so few people chose to trod the path of self-employment.  When you have to learn something new to move in to the next phase of your business, but all you want to do is watch re-runs of The Last Airbender and not adult today…it’s damn hard.

So I’ve been kind of slacking these last two weeks.  Oh, I can say I’ve been working.  I’ve been diligently making things to sell as “end cap” items at events I vend.  Not really the main attraction, but cute little items people will look at, smile, and buy, hopefully along with a couple of yards of silk or some silk thread.  And I had a brilliant break through for an idea my boyfriend had.  But as far as being a student and learning the things I need to learn for Damask Raven?  Yeah, I’m a total slacker.

But that’s ok, sometimes.  The slacking is coming to an end.  It sort of has to.  Not because I’ve never failed.  You can’t live life without experiencing some failure.  It has to end because I know what I’m capable of.  But I can’t do the things I know I can, when I slack for too long.  So it’s time to hit the books again.  Time to learn all the things.  Time to educate myself…to be a student.

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Costume College

Costume College

This is an annual event held in Southern California at the end of July.  I’ve been twice, once just to go, then last year I taught.  And the class was so wonderful and open, I decided to teach again.  So, here is what I am teaching at Costume College 2017.  All three classes are on Sunday, July 30.

9am to 10am What’s in a Weave.  This class is designed to talk about different weaving techniques, specifically silk weaves; however many techniques are universal (plain weave, satin weave, twill). And this class will teach you which weave is which.

11:30am to 1pm From Street to Stage: A History of Oriental Dance Costuming in Egypt.  Called by many the oldest dance, Raqs Sharqi has a long performance history. But what did they wear? While the standard costume is well known today, they didn’t always wear Bedlah when performing. Learn the differences between street wear and stage wear used in this lovely art form.

4pm to 5pm Care and Feeding of Silk.  This is the class I taught last year and in it, I answer all your questions about working with silk.  How delicate is silk? Can it be washed? Can you iron silk, and if so, how? Do you use starch? Bring your questions to Care and Feeding of Silk and I will answer them (if you can’t make it to Costume College, you can always contact me and I am happy to help by email).

So that’s it for what I am teaching.  However, on the flip side of teaching is studying.  And class schedules are set to mail out this week!  And then there are the parties!  Each night holds a different event.  So traditionally, Thursday night is the pool party.  This years theme is Happiest Place on Earth. Now, since the overarching theme is the ‘6o’s, this one is specifically meant for vintage Disney.  But wait!  There’s more!  You don’t have to dress on theme.  And this year, I’m going half theme.  I am going Disney…just not vintage.

Friday morning is Freshman Orientation, for those new to Costume College.  Now, I didn’t go to Freshman Orientation, even when I WAS in college, so I have yet to attend this event.  But it looks to be full of excellent information.

Friday night, is the ice cream social.  The theme this year is Casino Royale, and all spies are welcome.  I am again, interestingly enough, going with a Disney themed character.  Not from the Spy angle, more from the Casino angle.  Hey, I worked twelve years in a casino…I know a little bit about what customer service is like in that dark den of iniquity.

Saturday before entering the Gala party, you get to walk the red carpet in your finest dress.  This years Gala is Dinner at Tiffany’s, a nod to the fabulous Audrey Hepburn’s Little Black Dress.  And here is the crux of my problem. Not quite four months out, and I have no idea what Cinderella (me) is wearing to the ball.  I have ideas…but nothing set in stone.  I know sort of what I’d like to do, but not sure I have time to do it, with my other vending events between now and then.  And the day job.  So I’m working on it.  It may end up being vintage and vaguely couture.  Or it could be fully designed, draped and drafted to me.  It all depends on how well outside forces work with my schedule to make it all happen.  So fingers crossed, I get it all done.

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What’s in a Weave?

Amethyst Glass Silk Satin

In a blog post earlier this year, I asked the question What’s that Fiber?  I provided a brief list of different fibers, then a slightly more thorough detailing of the three different weaving techniques most commonly used.  I’m going to write a (long) series of posts describing what specifically each weave is.  The three weaves are Plain, Twill, Satin.  But there is TREMENDOUS variety within those three categories.  So what’s in a weave?

Just in a silk fiber, plain weaving is used to create Batiste de Soie, Broadcloth, Chiffon, China Silk, Cloque, Crepe, Crepe de Chine, Dupioni, Four Ply, Georgette, Habotai, Matka, Noil, Organza, Peau de Soie, Pongee, Shantung, Taffeta, and Shot Silk.  Seriously!  All of those DIFFERENT fabrics utilize a plain weave to create different drape, different hand, different look.  Which says remarkable things about the ingenuity of Man.  And none of that includes weaves that are specific to cotton, wool, or linen!

Utilizing a Twill weaving technique creates Gabardine, Surah, and Tweed.  Satin is it’s own weave, but you use satin techniques to create brocade, charmeuse, damask, and matelasse.  And silk can be knitted!

Plain weave, as defined by The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles 8th Edition, is as follows:

Simplest and most important of the three basic weaves, used in about 80% of all woven fabric…is executed by passing each filling yarn successively over and under each warp yarn, alternating each row (p. 463).

plain weave
Like this. This is a blown up, close example, of what a plain weave is.

EIGHTY PERCENT OF ALL WOVEN FABRICS!  That’s a pretty big number!  Also means the variety found in plain weaving is a result of thread spin, and treatment.

Twill’s, according to Fairchild, are “A basic weave characterized by a diagonal rib, or twill line, generally running upward from left to right…Each end floats over or under at least two consecutive picks (p. 643).

Twill weave
Basic twill weave

The third most common weave is Satin. From Fairchild, “A smooth, generally lustrous fabric, with a thick, close texture made of silk…Generally, there is a higher number of yarns on the face than the back (p. 531).  With Satin, the face of the fabric is very smooth and lustrous, while the back is dull with no shine.  A blown up line drawing of a warp faced satin would look like this:

Warp faced Satin
Warp faced Satin

So that’s a little better explanation of what’s in a weave.  Future posts will go in to each particular weave and explain the differences between china silk and batiste de soie, chiffon and organza.

Until next time…

Welcome to Damask Raven…where we do History in Style

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What’s that fiber?

Rose Scrolls Silk Twill

Let’s talk fiber. Fabric is composed of fibers, twisted in to threads, which are then woven in to fabric. So the fibers are Silk, cotton, wool, linen, acrylic, polyester, rayon, nylon…I’m sure there are others, but you get the drift. Everything else is weaving technique. So when you walk in to the fabric store and buy satin, you are usually buying polyester satin. Taffeta is usually polyester. Broadcloth is usually cotton. Twill is usually wool. Because these are the common weaves for these fibers in retail outlets, fiber is almost never specifically delineated on signage.  However, fiber content should always be listed on the bolt end. But, any fiber can be woven in to any weave. The three common weaving techniques are:

  1. Plain weave. This is also known as basket weave. Broadcloth is a plain weave. Habotai or China Silk are plain weaves. Organza, Dupioni, and taffeta are all plain weaves. What creates the different textures is how the thread is spun or treated during the weaving process. This is a very stable weave, not particularly prone to snagging.
  2. Satin weave. This is created by floating the weft thread over three or more warp threads, which causes a lustrous front and a dull fabric back. Damask weave is created by weaving designs in a combination of plain and satin weave. The satin is the lustrous design, the plain is the background. True damask is 100% reversible, so you can pick if you want the design to be plain weave or satin weave showing.
  3. Twill weave. Twill is sometimes called double basket, as it is created by weaving two weft threads over two warp threads. This is called 2/2 twill.  Twill can also be created by weaving three weft over 1 weft (3/1 twill). The end result is a diagonal weave pattern. This is a VERY stable weave, commonly found in Denim.

You have your fibers. Everything else is technique.