Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 61

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 60

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 59

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 58

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 57 - Back in Black

Dark colours for a bright day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 55 & 56 - shirt scarf

Today's accessory is a jersey trapeze-style top that I'm wearing as a scarf. (You can visit Day 23 to see it being worn as a top). Knowing that I can do this with practically any t-shirt or sleeveless top has just expanded my accessory possibilities tenfold! I am also wearing a newer, yet practically identical version of my earlier clog boots (which you may have seen posted on Day 36). The only difference really is that these ones are grey. And I did a nicer stapling job (which by the way, is an aesthetic that is growing on me). I carved the wooden soles out of a 2x4 with an angle-grinder with a wood carving attachment, and then stapled rubber to the bottom so that people don't hear me clomping and echoing down the hallways of the world. The uppers are made from vinyl and are stapled to the wooden soles.

Here is a picture of me in Victoria yesterday wearing socks that don't match with anything except Mallard ducks. I was in Victoria to see a dance performance called wowandflutter that is currently touring accross Canada. Choreographed by Kimberly Cooper of DJD, the score was written by Amon Tobin (Ninja Tune), the set was designed by visual artist David Hoffos and the costumes were designed by me. This show will still be travelling to Whitehorse, Vernon and St. Albert on the tour so if you live near one of these places check it out!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 54

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 53

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 52

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 51 - Super! Surprise! pick up day in Vancouver

Thanks again to everyone who signed up for the Super! Surprise! If you are a Vancouverite, today is the first pick up day at 8 E. Cordova St from noon till 6pm. All other packages have been mailed and should be arriving shortly (except those that are going over seas in which case your packages should arrive by November 2nd or so). I hope you will all love your surprises! The next Surprise round will start soon - I'll keep you posted.

Above are things that I made yesterday with one metre of fabric - one pair of leggings, two pairs of short socks, one pair of long socks and one pair of underwear.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 50 - Yesterday on CBC

Here's an interview I did yesterday with JJ Lee. It aired on CBC Radio One's Fashion Monday as a part of "On the Coast".

Check out JJ's blog at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 48 & 49

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 47

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day 46 - green shoes

I can't believe it - my shoes actually match something that I'm wearing! I'm not sure exactly why I made green shoes to wear everyday. I guess I just thought I would have time to make another pair right away. Next time I'll know better.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day 45 - Reminder

Today is the last chance to sign up for the Super! Surprise! first edition. Thank you to everyone who has signed up already!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 44 - Self Saboteur

Some of you may remember this skirt from my Greatest Hits album, "I'll never sew in another zipper", from (circa) 2002. The sweater is another old favourite from my more recent (2006?) release "I still avoid zippers at all costs". On the other hand, even though I only made these shoes in September, they're really starting to feel old after wearing them everyday for a month. I really need to get going with the shoe thing. It's incredible how quickly things are being added to my list of "things that I need right away" in comparison to how slowly they are getting crossed off. And I would like to stop depending on clothes that I made in the past but this is proving to be a difficult task. I continue to dig deeper into my dark sewing past only to find increasingly embarrassing garments and - I often can't believe this - wear them! Such is the life of the self-saboteur.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 43 - Conspicuous Coveralls

My fall uniform saves me yet again. So far it has worked in many situations since it is black (generic) and it is in the form of coveralls (suggesting that I'm working. Or just finishing work. Or just about to start working). The one place that I did feel conspicuous in this suit was at the Toronto airport. I wore it thinking it would be easy and comfortable but as soon as I was in the security check line-up I started to feel like what I was wearing was somehow inappropriate. I just started to feel uneasy. People were staring and and luckily I had my giant leather bag as carry on to sort of bring my outfit back into the realm of fashion. Then security asked me to take my shoes off and put them through the x-ray which made me even more uncomfortable since they are handmade and have hand-cut aluminum shanks inside the soles that probably look a little suspicious. My fears were for naught, thankfully, but I continue to consider what kinds of signifiers were being identified by the people around me. The most obvious, in retrospect, was the worker signal. Why would anyone wear a work uniform to the airport unless they were working at the airport? Otherwise, the combined oddness of my outfit, (handmade, black coveralls being worn by a female who isn't working and is carrying a giant leather bag) is what really must have triggered the what is up with her? look that I wasn't imagining. I now understand that it was just a weird outfit and that's the real reason people were staring. So is the lesson here that not standing out is the key to comfortable travel? If that's the case, what kind of signifier set makes up the idea of normal? Is it even possible to identify this set? Or is it on such a subconscious level that we only recognize it as a hunch. More on this later...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Days 41 and 42

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 40 - A Quintessential Canadian Afternoon

Gosh it is nice to get out of the city every once in a while. Especially when you can go for a short walk and see some idyllic Canadian scene at every turn, to the tune of birds chirping and chestnuts falling from trees. I actually find it almost funny that I witnessed all of the following scenes this afternoon.

A family of deer enjoying some herbage.

A large tree that had been felled and abandoned by a beaver.

Some wormy apples growing wild and providing treats for the deer at large.

A few Canada geese floating along the lake shore.

A bird's nest safely resing in the branches of a Maple tree. It's almost too much, isn't it?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 39 - new jumpsuit

I'm not completely convinced by the design of this new jumpsuit. I think it could use a bit more tweeking. But for now, as the weather gets progressively colder, it'll do.

Thanks to Sunny for reminding me about stockings and garters! After my lengthy tights-tirade the other day, my friend Sarah (Sunny) happily suggested stockings as an alternative. Oh right! I even have a waist-garter pattern that I made a couple of years ago and forgot about. The tights were an interesting challenge but I'm over it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 38

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 37 - tights

Tights have been evolving for a long time and have been nearly mastered to the point of perfection. So why on earth would I want to make my own? I remember my mom once telling me about a time in her youth in Japan when she would repair her silk stockings by hand with a needle and silk thread. Though this is a romantic notion of handiwork, let's be honest - tights are not necessarily something that can be improved upon by making them by hand. The design could be improved, certainly. There is the dreaded downward crotch-drag and the uncomfortable toe-seam issue that has yet to be solved after decades of dedicated research. But the material itself, tightly machine-knit to stretchy perfection - nothing I make by hand will ever compete with that. After making my first pair of tights yesterday, they have proven to be one of the clothing items that makes me question why I am doing this project at all. Having said that though, everyday I do discover simple things that I have taken for granted up until now. So I guess that's a partial answer to my own question.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 36 - Super! Surprise! program

I just realized that many of you are probably not signed up for the monthly newsletter where I introduced the Super! Surprise! Program. (See sign up button on side panel to start receiving the newsletter.)

Since so many people have expressed interest in purchasing the clothing that I've been wearing and posting on the blog, I thought I would present this idea to you:

It's called the Super! Surprise!Program. It's a fun way to get your very own makeshift accessory and support the makeshift project at the same time!

Here's how it works: Every two months I will make a limited edition run of a mystery wearable. There will be a specific time frame during which time you can place an order, and then two to three weeks after the closing date, you will receive your surprise in the mail! (Or you can pick it up earlier if you live in Vancouver). The first Super! Surprise! wearable is going for $45 and the closing date for orders is October 15th, 2009. The only things you will know about the surprise in advance is that it will be something wearable, something super, and something you won't find at the mall.

Click here to sign up for the first edition! (There are only 9 days left.)
(*Sorry, this link has been temporarily disabled until the next Super! Surprise! is launched)

Here is a close up of my new 'clog boots'. Don't worry, the Super! Surprise! will not be stapled together.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 34 & 35 and Pics from White Hot "Flea Market"

Making stuffed squishies at "flea market"
First squishy request - a skull

Customized apron-bag

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 33 - WHITE HOT

Things are going to get a lot brighter around here. Just finished setting up for our apron-bag and super-squishy sale here at the TPW gallery.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 32 - So Cold in Toronto

Good thing I brought a wool coat. I'm wearing half of the clothes that I brought along with me, including pants under my skirt and wool wrap top under my wool coat. Now heading out to prepare for tomorrow's Super Sample Sale at TPW where I will be making these white 'apron-bags' with made-to-order pockets. So if you're in Toronto and in the neighbourhood, please stop in. The 'Sample Sale' and all white 'Flea Market' will be open from noon until 9pm so it's a good stop to make if you're heading out for Nuit Blanche. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day 31 (A New Month!) and 2 Interviews with Vancouver Shoe Makers

I am off to Toronto today for a weekend of Nuit Blanche. I will be participating in Kelly Lycan's show, WHITE HOT at TPW. Find out more tomorrow!

In the meantime,

I thought it would be fun to ask two different Vancouver designers (who went to the same Shoe-making school in England) some questions about shoes.

Elizabeth Davey currently works as a clothing designer for Obakki though she received most of her design education in footwear.

Erin Templeton work's with new and recycled leather makes mostly bags and belts, and sandals in the summer. She has a studio/storefront in Vancouver's Chinatown, where she makes her bags, belts, sandals etc. in the back, and sells vintage shoes, clothes and silk scarves in the front.

Elizabeth Davey Interview

Where did you study shoe-making?

I Studied at a College in London, England, called Cordwainers College. It is no longer around as a self-sufficient college. It has since been taken over by London College of Fashion. At the time it was solely dedicated to saddlery (horses), footwear and accessories.

What made you want to learn how to make and design shoes?

I think my outrageous need and desire to constantly consume shoes coupled with my coming of age need to find a career path/educational path...who really knows how I came up with such a silly idea...

What's the hardest part about making shoes?

the design, no the tools, no the fitting....well its all pretty complicated- unlike clothing you can't just pull off the shoe and nip it in a little here and let it out a little there and salvage that particular one while seeing the results immediately. It is quite a process, I find, and an intimidating one at that.

When you are looking for shoes, what's the most important aspect that you seek out?

the pair that wont let me leave the store without them- the ones calling my name in my dreams- I am totally emotionally driven with shoes and not at all logical- like "I need a pair of black flat sandals to replace that pair....". That statement has tried to work its way out of my mouth but I just can't do it. I cannot buy something unless I love it. Then, at that point, I look at fit. It has to fit me properly. My greatest pet peeve about a shoe is when it doesn't fit- either too big or too small. Again, the comparison to clothing, you cannot just make it work like you can an oversize shirt or sloppy sweater, especially when its open toe!!!

Describe your favourite pair of shoes. What makes them your favourite?

It is ever changing- But right now, its a pair of grey suede high wedge buckle sandals by Surface to Air. I Looooooove them- I tried them on, on a whim, and then realized how great they looked, I couldn't not buy them.

Have you ever thought, "I can't find the shoes I want, I'll just make them!"?
If yes, did you follow through with this?

yes many times...and have since learned that I will never finish a pair. I started many a pair and then put it aside until I could further idealize my perfect most necessary shoe and it would never happen- and I am not big on copying so I wouldn't really opt for that- seeing a pair I love and then trying to make, alas, I have all these scraps of leather pinned on and draped across random lasts packed away in boxes. Some I even went so far as to mould my never be removed from the last....

When is the last time you made a pair of shoes?

Officially finished and done and wearable? I am embarrassed to say but, 2 years ago.

What is something that most people don't know about shoemaking?

hmmmm...I try to not underestimate people...I don't know a lot about shoemaking, especially seeing as I don't do it enough. I don't think I am expert enough to offer that advise.

For me, as an unschooled shoemaker, what piece of advice can you suggest for me while I'm doing this project?

The only one thing that I think is really good to know is how to "skive"- thinning the edge of the leather in order to make it really smooth around seams. There are machines that do this but it's really great to know how to do it by hand. I never learned how to do this by hand, well, but if I could take the time on a skill it would be that and handsewing the entire shoe...its pretty awesome learning how to make a shoe completely by hand, very empowering to be able to do something without the machines.

Erin Templeton Interview

Where did you study shoe-making?

cordwainers college in london, my friend was thinking about some evening classes there, and i couldn't believe the famous cordwainers college of london, was basically a run down vocational school in hackney that has night classes for about 100 pound. so i just went the next day, paid the fees, failed to mention i was canadian, and made some shoes!

What made you want to learn how to make and design shoes?

i think everyone seems to want to know more about shoes and making, and since its so hard o find a place to do, i think that makes it even more intriging (spelling) i don't knw, i didn't think i would get the chance to be honest, so i just jumped at it. thats the thing about living in london, its so expensive, you have to keep yourself busy. it probably saved me money having homework, and something to do and making things on the side with the scraps i found. i don't think i answered that question at all!

What’s the hardest part about making shoes?

holding the shoe when you have small girl hands, its true. i wouldn't admit that in school, but the teachers were right, i don't make shoes other than sandals for resale, so i guess, just when everything is done, and you are fiishing it on the big sander (finisher) and the sandpaper the whole side of it, that is hard to swallow.

When you are looking for shoes, what’s the most important aspect that you seek out?

i am a jerk, i only where vintage, so i have to wear birkenstocks all of the time at work, because my shoes are not comfortable most of the time.

Style? yes!!!
Comfort? 50/50
Quality? i have worn shoes with holes in the sole for a whole winter.

Describe your favourite pair of shoes. What makes them your favourite?

which ever is the last pair i found i guess, i have a vintage store so i am always looking, i have a soft spot of charles jourdan, but they never seem to fit me, i guess they are really more like my trophies, so i don't mind.

Have you ever thought, “I can’t find the shoes I want, I’ll just make them!”?
If yes, did you follow through with this?

i knew better!

When is the last time you made a pair of shoes?

other than my sandals i produce in the spring, i haven't made a pair of shoes in quite a while, its sad.

What is something that most people don’t know about shoemaking?

it is a lot of math and structure, and practice,

For me, as an unschooled shoemaker, what piece of advice can you suggest for me while I’m doing this project?

keep it simple!