Jumpin into Jade

The crazy thing about nail polish is that it can make you feel hip and happening or boring and irrelevant, the moment it dries on your finger nails.  This is the difference between wearing something called Jade Jump and Poppy Red.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the colour of fire engine trucks as much as the next girl.   But there’s something about the colour green, especially Jade,  that makes my heart sing.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Watch any episode of Say Yes to the Dress on TLC and you’re going to see Jade nail polish pop up all over the place.  The fact is, Jade is a now colour, a symbol of being present and taking risks. That’s right — wearing Jade doesn’t necessarily pull the whole outfit together.  But it will make a statement that says, I’m here, I don’t match and I don’t care. Liberating, isn’t it?

The fashion industry could learn a thing or two from the world of nail polish.

Somewhere along the evolution of fashion, exhilarating colour palettes took a back seat to affordable, lackluster apparel.  I really miss vintage floral patterns. And vintage style draping. And vintage style colour blocking. Basically, anything vintage.  Like my favourite shade of Jade, I feel that the prints and styles from yesteryear made you feel classy and original.  The 50s in particular were all about that. How I wish I could just wear something with a collar as big as a boa constrictor and saunter out the door to pick up a can of beans. Instead, my tops are 50 shades of putrid, my collars look tired and twisty and everyone in the mall is wearing the same old, mass-produced piece of clothing.  The originality has fizzled out like an old bottle of ginger ale. We need to bring beautiful colours and originality back to the Canadian shopping experience!

This entire tirade about the importance of colour is something I will need to think about carefully as I create my first textile design.  There are reams of data out there that talks specifically about how colour can change your mood or make you lose weight (Read Pink: The Secret Wall Colour for Dropping Pounds and Losing Weight – hey, if Kendall Jenner subscribes to this theory, then it must be true!)  If I had to choose a new colour to paint my walls, then you know I’m going to pick Jade.  This is the colour of healing, and according to JadeMeaning.com  – the colour of wisdom, balance and peace. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by that?

Spring is here, the flowers in bloom and I’m sure I will find plenty of colourful combinations outside. This is the wonderful thing about design and inspiration. Whether it’s from nail polish or a Magnolia tree, you don’t have to go far to be inspired and get the creative juices flowing.

flowers 2




Why We Can’t Stop Being Creative

Am I just being paranoid, or does being “eco-friendly” run the risk of eliminating our quest for being original, creative designers? If this is the case, then I will quit the movement right here and now.

It’s one thing to say, let’s recycle our clothes, but totally unsettling to hear, let’s only have a couple of pieces in our wardrobe! I don’t know why this rattles my brain, but it does. No, I do not have loads of clothes or a walk-in closet the size of Taj Mahal.  I actually hold onto my clothes for as long as I can, unless they start to lose shape, unravel at the seams or smell a bit funky (sometimes, no matter how hard you try – it just doesn’t go away!) I still have a top I bought with the first pay cheque I ever earned. It’s lavender, has a lace décolletage and until recently (as in, 15 years or so ago) wore it proudly under a black blazer to the office. Now it’s hanging quietly in a corner of my closet, waiting to make another appearance before I turn it into a halter top.

Yes, I know, we do buy WAY more clothes than we need. Ever since I saw the documentary, True Cost and learned about fast fashion, I stopped buying clothes “on sale” and stick to high quality, domestically made garments whenever I can.  But this is getting harder and harder to do in Canada.  Fast fashion, and ugly fast fashion at that, is a way of life here. It’s the main reason why I started to sew again.

Cheap clothes are everywhere. And they seem to come in bundles.  Why get 1 crop top when you can get 3 of them for an extra 5 bucks?  You don’t need 3 crop tops but if you get them in 3 different colours, then it’s probably okay (it’s not.) You, my friend, are now contributing to the global epidemic of Fast Fashion Proliferation and Over-Consumption of Cheaply Made Goods. This, in turn, contributes to vast amounts of waste filling our landfills which takes hundreds of years to decompose.  And before you know it, people who do Yoga and practice Feng Shui are preaching about less is more, and let’s stop buying clothes.

Whoa, let’s stop right there. First of all, Yoga is not for everyone and does Feng Shui really work? And if we stop buying clothes, where is my motivation to make new clothes? Sure, I can probably use left-over material from my sewing projects that I have yet to wear in public.  But as soon as I start following instructions in the order that they’re given, I’ll learn how to sew properly and will no longer have these fabric stashes at my disposal.

The need to create is an innate part of the human existence and must be protected at all costs.  If we stop creating, we are regressing and reverting back to our cave-man ways. Some people are there already and it’s too late for them. But for the rest of us, there’s hope. We can continue to create, make new things and live minimally at the same time.  Although it may sound like an oxymoron, Creative Minimalism is what I’m all about. For a great article about creativity and minimalism working together, read 4 Reasons Why Minimalism and Creativity Go Hand in Hand (Even if you Don’t Come by It Naturally) . Proof that it can be done, if you’re willing to give it a shot.

If you need help or ideas on how to re-use clothing, the team at Fashion Takes Action are heroes in this regard.

Somebody came up with the saying “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Whether it was Einstein, Walt Disney or Cyndi Lauper, I think these words resonate beyond existence. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we should ever give up having fun. The stakes are too high.

Fabric Sample Pack Received? Check!

It’s here and in plain view, resting on my dining room table.  My Spoonflower Fabric Sample pack, with 50 assorted tiny squares of heaven stapled together in side-by-side sections of ingenuity.

It also came with a few wallpaper samples, but unfortunately for them, they’re going to have to sit in their little sample side pocket until I get motivated enough to flip through them and start dreaming wallpaper designs. Not going to happen.  At least not now.

What is inspiring to me, at first glance, is the way each sample is credited to a specific person, the designer, of that fabric. I love that! To have your imagination stamped on the sample as a way to claim ownership and potentially, sell your design is very clever. This is an incentive I wasn’t counting on but is now part of my bucket list of creative pursuits. In fact, I can actually see the words “Design by Susan Mattine” on my own swatch of butterflies, cockatoos or crazy swirls.  It’s exhilarating and I absolutely cannot wait to get started.

As is customary whenever I want to start a new creative project, I am deluged by a series of questions and concerns that run the risk of sabotaging the entire process. The first one — am I really going to do this? – followed by — what if it looks stupid?  – preceded by – it’ll be fine – just don’t give them your real name – immediately fog my brain.  But just one glance at my little swatches of fabric fantasies and I am lost in the dream of Design Diva happiness.

I do need to come clean about something, though.  I’m a Fashion Design drop-out. That’s right – I actually went to school to become a Fashion Designer but dropped out after 2 months. Designing clothes for “real women” was the goal but it lacked conviction.  And terms like “eco-friendly” and “sustainability” were as foreign as “netflix binging” and “free video streaming” – honestly, who knew? I was young, idealistic and wanted to change the world.  Once I came up with the realization  “why am I changing pleats to darts when people are starving in Africa?” I knew I had to quit. Well, fast forward a couple of decades and guess what? People are still starving in Africa! Absolutely nothing I did after I quit Fashion Design came even remotely close to changing their situation. But now I have a crazy dream that involves creating beautiful designs in a way that is both sustainable and offsets our carbon footprint.  A similar journey, yes, but with a slightly different destination in mind.

The next step?  Create a design of my own. I’m not sure if I’m going to take a photo or sketch something out (oh, who am I kidding, of course it’s going to be a photo!)  It will be unique and fabulous and once I make sure I haven’t broken any copyright laws, I will download it on the Spoonflower website and then order a fabric swatch with my very own design on it!

No time to waste.

The eco-friendly fashion world awaits.