Why We Should All Use Organic Cottons

Posted by admin | Filed under Notions, Shops & Resources, Support Your Shops | Jan 16, 2010 | Comments Off

Organic cotton is more expensive then regular cotton fabric, but what price are you going to put on your health?

The statistics on pesticides in conventional cotton are almost unbelievable. The USDAs Agricultural Chemical Usage report from 2008, states that there are 10.2 million acres of cotton in 11 major cotton-producing states, and these acres received 52.25 million pounds of pesticides.

Organic CottonLet’s say that again:  52.25 MILLION POUNDS of PESTICIDES, on 10.2 million acres of cotton.

Cotton uses more pesticides than any other crop; more than 16% of the worlds pesticides.

Many of these chemicals are considered carcinogens. Think about that for a second – we’re sewing clothing from fabric that can cause cancer.

Organic cotton avoids conventional pesticides, and that means we also help prevent the included water, land, air, and worker exposure problems.

And the conventional cotton industry relies on a high level of forced child labor – not necessarily applicable in the US, but in other countries.

Organic cotton is cotton that is grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides from plants which are not genetically modified. As of 2007, 265,517 bales of organic cotton were produced in 24 countries and worldwide production was growing at a rate of more than 50% per year. Naturally colored cotton has also been grown successfully with organic methods.

Organic cotton production in Africa takes place in at least 8-countries. The earliest producer (1990) was the SEKEM organization in Egypt; the farmers involved later convinced the Egyptian government to convert 400,000 hectares of conventional cotton production to integrated methods, achieving a 90% reduction in the use of synthetic pesticides in Egypt and a 30% increase in yields.

Those are amazing numbers!  90% less pesticides, 30% increase in usable cotton, and it’s safer. So why isn’t everyone doing this? Oh yeah, it costs more in the beginning.. silly Annie – money is more important then our lives.

Here – in no particular order, are places you can buy organic cotton online. Or course you’ll find other goodies on these sites too…

Mother Earth says thank you.

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My Favorite Pattern Drafting Software

Posted by admin | Filed under Fitting and Alterations, Sewing Savvy, Shops & Resources, Software | Mar 24, 2009 | Comments Off

Apple - The Best Computer in the Whole Wide WorldLet me state first that I use a Mac. Whoo Hooo! For about 17-years I used Dos/Windows based computers, then in 1998 I switched to Mac’s. Life is good.

Initially creative-artsy software was designed for the Mac and more business-style software for the Windows systems. Over time the two have merged and there is relatively little difference in available software; most companies provide version for both OS’s – and Linux also.

Unfortunately this split is still obvious in some fields – pattern drafting software is one of the casualties. There are a number of programs out there that you can run on your Mac using Virtual PC, Parallels, Boot Camp etc., but you cannot run it as a real Mac program. Why don’t these companies design versions for both, especially considering the Mac is still a major choice for the creative field, I wish I knew!

Final Pattern Ready to Print using Cochenille Pattern Drafting SoftwareI did try a few of these programs over the years, and still on occasion try a demo version just to see what they’re like.

Let me put it this way, if I wanted to run a windows based piece of software I’d use a true PC. I’m sure there are a great many folks very happy with their PC, and that’s perfectly okay… I simply don’t like them.

Now, where was I before going off on that Mac vs PC tangent?  Oh yeah, the best pattern drafting software I’ve ever used: Cochenelle. They have versions for both Mac (built from the ground up for the Mac OS) and Windows. The company has just celebrated its 20th year!

I’ve been using their software since far before Apple/Mac moved to the OS X operating system (it’s been a long time), and from the start I was blown away. The improvements and upgrades have been stunning. A lot of the newer Windows software is now implementing the same features we’ve been using for a number of years now. Here’s a PDF flyer you can download talking about all the features.

Susan Lazear, Cochenille’s Creative ForceThe innovator behind this is Susan Lazear: Professor of Fashion at Mesa College, oversees the Fashion Computer Lab (designs the courses too), author of several books – an amazing woman!

I started using the Garment Styler software and moved to the Garment Designer program; both are extremely affordable. The also have add-on modules, Stitch Painter software, books, design aides, videos… classes, support groups.

What have I done with it? Well it was used to help create, size, and draft out Coloring Blocks, Celtic Dreams, and Keshy. I’ve done a lot with it, but those other garments were just for me, after all, I’m worth a few custom outfits.

Below are some screenshots (reduced in size to fit, but still give you a pretty good idea of what the interface and working area is like.)

This is where you enter very personalized measurements to help you get the correct sizing and fit.

Custom Fitting Measurements Entry for Garment Designer Software

Point Controls - Curves, Angles, Lines - all Controllable with Garment DesignerThis shows you how much control you have over all the curves, angles, lines and shape of your garment in the interface; it’s a true CAD style interface.

Control such as this is a key factor in truly being able to customize and modify your design(s).

Without features such as this, you are extremely limited in what you can and cannot accomplish.

Here’s a screenshot of a working sloper in the Mac interface.

Basic Sloper with a Simple Garment in the Mac Interface

And this is an example of a working screen: front, back and sleeve of the garment, darts, measurements, all numbers diagrammed, points, seam allowances, facings – and above the pattern pieces themselves, you can see some of the built in drop-down menu options.

Working Screen: Front, Back and Sleeve of a Garment being Designed in Garment Designer Software from CochenilleThis is a thumbnail view – click on it to see the larger image, though still reduced a bit in size for online viewing. Click your browser back-button after viewing to get back to this page.

The image towards the beginning of this post, is of a ready-to-go completed top design as you’d see on your screen – without all the diagramming numbers.

Here are some of the high-points of the Garment Designer software:

  • Fit Control: Standard sizes – misses, women, petite, junior, men, children, toddles, infants and dolls.
  • Simple and Refined Fit: up to 36 custom measurements
  • Adjustments: dart width, angle, length
  • Armhole: built-in armhole and sleeve cap intelligent adjustments (it does the work for you)
  • CAD: pattern points, curves, line adjustments – click-and-drag control
  • Finishing: personalized seam allowance width, hems, extensions, facings, bands
  • Symmetry: built-in symmetry function to ensure all changes are made to all necessary pieces
  • 1000 of pattern combination’s! Body, neckline, shoulder, armhole, sleeve, skirt, and pants
  • Control: over what pieces you see, how you see them, what dimensions you use (decimal, fraction, metric)
  • Storage: save and store all your customs sizing, designs, etc.
  • Styles include: tops – contoured, a-line, straight; skirts – a-line, gored, wrap, slits; pants – straight, tapered, bell bottom; and an incredible amount more!

Again, this is just a few of the high points to entice you to learn more about Cochenille.

These are good people – a very small, dedicated group of people that care; they are not owned or a division of any of the big companies out there.

Yes, I’m completely enamored with this software and love the people behind it. As a disclaimer let me state that I do not work for or with Cochenille, never have.

Take 15 minutes and check them out, you won’t be sorry you did.

Annie

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