Thursday, October 31, 2013

Eco Halloween Costumes

I thought I would take this opportunity to get into the Halloween spirit and share some of my costumes from recent years.  Being that I have a studio full of fabric, vintage clothes and sewing equipment at my disposal, putting together a last minute costume is never an issue.  And being the frugal and eco conscious fashion lover that I am, my favourite materials to use are fabric scraps.  I've got boxes and boxes of them that I keep neatly sorted by colour and fabric type.


As you probably know, my very favourite fabric to work with is reclaimed wool sweaters.  And what could be more appropriate for staying warm and dry for a cold, wet, Canadian Halloween?



Last year I raided the scrap bins to put together my very own reclaimed pigeon costume.  I pieced together larger light grey sweater scraps for the cape like wings and decorated them with an assortment of feathers made from grey pinstripes, tweeds and herringbones left over from some deconstructed men's wool pants.


And the previous year found me staying warm in my moth cape.  Made from a beautiful patchwork of beige, taupe and cream coloured sweaters, I accented the wings with coasted sized doilies.


So next Halloween, think about getting crafty before you head out to buy a costume.  Visit your local Goodwill or thriftstore, attend a clothing swap, or if you're in the GTA, shoot me a message, I just might have some extra fabric scraps that are looking for a good home!



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stylish in Stella

At Paper People, we know that for Canadian eco fashion lovers, staying warm while still looking sexy can be a challenge.  If boxy coats and frumpy sweaters aren't your style, then slip into a Stella Dress.  Made from a beautiful collage of knit fabrics, each dress is slightly different and totally unique.  We use high wool content upcycled sweaters sourced here in Toronto, Canada and combine them with a beautiful, soft Italian wool knit made from recycled wool fibres.  For those of you who are sensitive to wool, fear not.  We've lined this beauty with organic cotton jersey just for you!


Designer, Jenn chooses the Stella Dress in cranberry.  Since she rides her bike around town until the snow falls, she needs a lot of warm layers even when she's going out to a bar on the weekend.  She loves this dress because it's warm but still sexy.  Jenn pairs her dress with black leggings, vintage cowboy boots and a drawstring tote she picked up at a recent clothing swap.


Jessie, designer of Sugar Rush Jewellery chooses the Stella Dress in purple. She styles her dress with some fun black polka dot tights, black patent boots and tops it all off with a brass oak leaf necklace from her own line.  


Liz Parker of LIZPR and The Style Initiative chooses the Stella Dress in classic charcoal grey.  She pairs her dress with a distinctive, statement collar necklace, bracelet and purple boots.  This November 9th, Liz will be co-hosting Bling It On! a showcase of local jewellery featuring Jessie's jewellery line Sugar Rush and her new nail polish line Renegade Fawn.


Meaghan chooses the Stella Dress in green and styles it with an earth tone jacket and scarf.  Very fall, very 90s.  Her boots are made by Ark, a subsidiary of the sustainable shoe brand El Naturalista.  For more tips on how to be stylishly sustainable check out Meaghan's blog, Adam & Eve Consume: Buy your way back to Eden.

The Stella Dress is available at independent retailers across Canada & the US:
Awear (Collingwood, ON) 
be Solely Canadian Clothing (Courtenay, BC) 
Cat's Cradle Boutique (Toronto, ON)
Eco Diva Clothing (Arlington Heights, IL)
Eleven : Eleven Boutique (Calgary, AB)
Fresh Collective (Toronto ON) 
Gaia (Thornbury, ON)
The Loop (Thunder Bay, ON)
P'Lovers (Kingston, ON)
Sew Dandee (Winnipeg, MB)
Something Else (Port Colborne, ON)
Taiga Yoga & Therapy Centre (Yellowknife, NT)
Workshop Boutique (Ottawa, ON)

as well as at:

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Wash, Wear & Care for your Wool Sweaters

Here at Paper People, wool is a precious commodity.  Through years of working with upcycled or reclaimed materials, we've learned many tips and tricks for restoring sweaters that have seen better days and keeping them looking fresh.  Unlike cheaper materials that age quickly, with a little tender loving care, quality wool garments can stick around in your wardrobe for years rather than just one season.  Now if that's not eco, I don't know what is.

Eco Properties

Like all natural fibres that come from the Earth, wool is a completely renewable resource.  Sheep, goats, llamas and rabbits are raised and sheered for their coats.  Vegetarians should know that some animals are raised for sheering only and allowed to roam in pastures unlike the caged animals in factory farms.  Others are raised for their milk and meat and the wool is a by product of this industry, insuring nothing goes to waste.  At the end of its life, pure wool is completely biodegradable, releasing nutrients back into the soil.



Wearing

Wool is kind of a wonder fibre.  It's warm and insulative yet breathable, unlike synthetics that make you sweat.  It is naturally water resistant which makes it ideal for cold, wet weather.  Merino wool, one of the softest, smoothest wools is now being used in sportswear for high performance base layer clothing because of its ability to wick moisture away from the body.  It is resistant to mould and mildew and staying fresh rather than collecting a build up of body odour.

Washing

Wool is naturally stain resistant.  Rather than absorbing, residue remains on the surface, and the fabric is not prone to water marks which makes for easy spot cleaning if you're in a pinch.

Now, I know it's all too common to see a fine wool garment ruined in the wash.  Wool fibres are covered in a shingle like structure.  When heat and agitation is applied, the shingles lift up and lock together, causing the fabric to shrink up and become stiff.

I find Soak Wash is the best way to care for knit garments.  Add a teaspoon full to a sink full of cool water, let your garment sit for 15 minutes, then gently squeeze the water out and let dry.  No need to rub, agitate or even rinse.  I chose the scentless version as it's free of artificial fragrances and easy on the skin.  I picked mine up at Fresh Collective.


Wringing out can cause some knits to become warped or misshapen, so I find the best way to remove excess water is to lay it flat on a towel, roll it up and then step on it.



Mending

Sadly, many goods have become disposable to our consumer driven society.  Clothes come cheap these days and the sight of a little hole or stain is enough to send an otherwise perfectly good garment to the curbside.  I know it's an archaic concept in this day and age, but we CAN mend our own clothes.  It's simple, it's easy and it can add a few years onto the life of some of your favourite pieces.

Pilling

Pilling occurs when loose fibres find their way to the surface.  When abrasion occurs, the fibres clump into balls or "pills" which stay fixed to the surface by loose fibres that have not yet broken.  Hence pilling occurs in areas of increased abrasion like collars, cuffs, thighs and underarms.  Wool, polyester, nylon and acrylic have the most tendency to pill, however, wool pilling wears away over time as the pills have a tendency to break away.


If you're finding your sweater has developed pills and you'd like to give it a little love, I recommend the Sweater Stone.  The Sweater Stone is a pumice like block made from post consumer recycled materials.  When you rub the stone against the fabric, its abrasive surface collects pilling and loose fibres, leaving the surface looking clean and new again.



Pulls

Looser knits are most prone to pulls but many knits can become caught, resulting in yarns pulling out from the fabric.  As a non knitter (believe it or not) I find pulling these stray yarns to the back side of the fabric is the easiest fix I find.  I usually take a standard flat head pin, stick it through the fabric a few millimetres away from the pull, letting the head of the pin surface at the base of the pull.  I then wrap the loose yarn around the pin and pull it to the under side of the sweater.

Holes

Usually when your favourite garment develops a hole, it's time for conspicuous patch work or the donation bin.  One of the many upsides to wool knits is they are super easy to mend and can look good as new with a few simple stitches.  Fluffier, bulkier knits are easier to mend than fine, thin knits like merino, but this concept can be applied to any sweater with varying results.  And my advice is don't let these go for too long.  Smaller holes are much easier to mend with more pleasing results.


Start out by choosing thread that is a few shades darker than the actual fabric.  Light colours come forward and dark colours recede, so the dark thread colour will be less noticeable if it shows on the surface.

Anchor your thread on the back of the fabric.  Now pull the thread to the front of the fabric.  For long, skinny holes I like to weave side to side across the hole, making sure the thread is hidden between the bulk of the yarn.  Pulling too tightly may cause puckering, but not pulling tightly enough may cause the thread to show, so it's important to apply just the right amount of tension.


For larger, rounder holes I will sometimes repeat this going up and down, again, making sure to be gentle while keeping the thread concealed.


Tie a knot on the back side.  And to finish it off, press the area with a hot, steamy iron.  Wool is easily moulded and shaped with a little heat and steam, so this last step should create a nice clean finish.  With a little practice in this technique, no one will know there was ever a hole to begin with!

So there you have it ladies and gents, your complete guide to sweater wear and care along with a little background information.  Now the question is, are you brave enough to try this at home?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mad about Maria

At Paper People, we're very serious about reducing our ecological footprint.  Many of our designs are made from upcycled clothing and we recognize that while this is a great way to reduce waste, another dilemma is the scraps or "off cuts" left over after garments have been cut.  So we created our accessories line as an answer to this problem.

The Maria Arm Warmers are one of our most popular accessories for the winter season.  They're the perfect solution to many hands on activities AND the perfect fashion accessory.  So read on to learn about their many functions!


Meaghan of the Deadly Nightshades Midnight Bike Gang, an all girls arts organization and cycling collective loves the Maria Arm Warmers for those chilly fall bike missions across town.  Meg chooses a punchy pink/red pair to match with her pink Gwen Hat.  Don't these bright colours pop against her grey Modrobes jacket?  And by the way, these jackets are made from recycled pop bottles.  When can we get our hands on this fabric?


Jessie, the designer of Renegade Fawn, a local nail polish line, loves the Maria Arm Warmers because she can show off her manicure while staying warm.  Jessie's polishes are "3-free" meaning they are free of toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, making them gentler on the environment.   Come out to Bling It On! for her fall product launch Nov 9th!


Tanya loves the Maria Arm Warmers because they're the perfect accessory for any outfit.  She chooses the Marias in a grey and black damask print.  Don't they look great with her lace top and black shorts?


In a rare out of character moment, Jenn dons office attire to demonstrate how the Maria Arm Warmers are even suitable for the workplace.  


For those of you who complain of an overly frigid workplace, the Maria Arm Warmers will help you to keep on typing!



The Maria Arm Warmers are available at independent retailers across Canada:
be Solely Canadian Clothing (Courtenay, BC) 
Ecoexistence (Toronto, ON)
Ecotopia Naturals (Sidney, BC)
Eleven : Eleven Boutique (Calgary, AB)
Flock Boutique (Ottawa, ON)
Fresh Collective (Toronto ON) 
Hemp & Company (Victoria, BC)
Boutique Lily Ka (Montreal, QC) 
Luvly in Lunenburg Nova Scotia
P'Lovers (Kingston, ON)
Rub of the Green (Midland, ON)
Still Eagle (Nelson, BC)
Studio Intent (Calgary, AB)
Tapestry (Calgary, AB)
Workshop Boutique (Ottawa, ON)

as well as at:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dare to Wear the Denise

One of the biggest challenges for an eco fashion designer is sourcing the right materials for their designs.  Whether it's made from eco fabrics like organic cotton, hemp or linen, fabric sourcing can be a challenge for small producers who cannot meet high minimums.   At Paper People, one of the ways we get around this challenge is by using reclaimed vintage fabrics.  We avoid the need to purchase large quantities of fabric while still being able to use original, high quality materials like wool.  

But the Denise Sweater was no small feat.  Made from 4 or 5 reclaimed sweaters - all in matching colours, we had to save up a lot of sweaters to be able to create this piece!  One of our most popular new styles, this sweater is great for those ladies hourglass ladies who want to accentuate their waist and comes in a variety of fun fall colours.  Each piece is truly one of a kind.

Jenn goes for the Denise Sweater in brown and throws on a pair of Nordic print lettings and boots.  This sweater is cut long, so you shorter gals out there can get away with wearing this one as a tunic!

Jessie is looking glamorous in her purple Denise Sweater.  She pairs her sweater with a black, satin skirt, lace tights and black pumps.  She tops of her look with a studded belt and vintage brooch.

Meaghan is looking casual and trendy in her turquoise Denise Sweater.  And like a true environmentalist, she's decked out in the trendiest eco fashion accoutrements: oversized vintage deadstock frames from the Drake General Store, dark denim by Nudie Jeans and shoes made from recycled plastic bags by Unstitched United available on Ethical Ocean.  For more great eco fashion brands, follow Meg on Twitter.

 Tanya pairs her red Denise Sweater with a black mini skirt, sheer black panty hose and ankle boots.  She's all ready for a night on the town!  
The Denise is available at independent retailers across Canada & the US:
Awear (Collingwood, ON) 
Eco Diva Clothing (Arlington Heights, IL)
Ecoexistence (Toronto, ON)
Ecotopia Naturals (Sidney, BC)
Eleven : Eleven Boutique (Calgary, AB)
Flock Boutique (Ottawa, ON)
Fresh Collective (Toronto ON) 
Gaia (Thornbury, ON)
Luvly in Lunenburg Nova Scotia
Persephone's Wardrobe (Guelph, ON)
Radway Studio (Cowichan Bay, BC)
Something Else (Port Colborne, ON)
Still Eagle (Nelson, BC)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pick of the Season: The Jacqueline Dress

Here at Paper People, we strive to create the most unique eco fashion pieces.  All of our sustainable clothing is made in Canada with lots of love, care and attention to detail.

The Jacqueline Dress is one of our favourite pieces for Fall Winter 2013!  The classic and super flattering fit and flare shape is transformed with new and exciting fabrics. Made from high quality Italian fabrics and fully lined, this is truly a quality piece.  The bodice is crafted from two contrasting lightweight knits made from beautiful, airy, breathable cotton and recycled cotton fibres and lined with organic cotton jersey for truly wearable comfort.  The skirt is made from a flowy recycled wool blend knit and lined with a lightweight poly so it won't cling to winter tights or leggings.

Designer, Jenn chooses the Jacqueline in the cranberry/burgundy colourway.  She layers up with richly textured vintage scarves, cable knit leggings and lace up boots.

Jessie is looking sultry in her purple Jacqueline.  She pairs hers with sexy black lace tights and red heels to match her lipstick in the same hue.

Meaghan is looking beautiful and bookish in the green Jacqueline.  And speaking of green, our eco queen has layered up with a cropped black blazer by Oom Ethikwear and black lace up shoes by Ark, both available at Chartreuse Style in Toronto's Parkdale Village.

Tanya goes for an edgy trendy look.  She layers a black faux leather vest and vintage key pendant over her charcoal grey Jacqueline and completes the look with black ankle boots.



The Jacqueline Dress is available at independent retailers across Canada:
Awear (Collingwood, ON) 
Cat's Cradle Boutique (Toronto, ON)
Eleven : Eleven Boutique (Calgary, AB)
Flock Boutique (Ottawa, ON)
Fresh Collective (Toronto ON) 
Gaia (Thornbury, ON)
The Loop (Thunder Bay, ON)
Luvly in Lunenburg Nova Scotia
Parade (Toronto, ON)
Something Else (Port Colborne, ON)
Studio Intent (Calgary, AB)
Taiga Yoga & Therapy Centre (Yellowknife, NT)

as well as at:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Many possiblities with Maude

In the world of eco fashion, we strive to stand out by offering one of a kind pieces and small production runs.  All of our sustainable clothing is made in Canada by our small team with the help of a few other small, local businesses.

Here at Paper People, the Maude Blazer has quickly become a staple favourite of our line.  Made from cozy reclaimed sweaters with classic blazer detailing, this versatile piece can go from the office to a walk in the woods all in one day.  This season, in addition to the classic solids, we've created some fun outdoors prints for a more casual feel.
Designer, Jenn picks the Maude in a rich burgundy colour and layers it over her navy & burgundy paisley print dress.  She throws on some brown cable knit leggings and tops it off with her knee high riding boots for the full fall look.
Intern, Tanya goes for the rugged, Canadian look.  She pairs her printed Maude with some well worn and ripped jeans, completing her look with a pair of suede moccasins. 


Meaghan is ready for the office.  She chose a Maude in classic navy, pairing with a crisp, white dress shirt and grey slacks.  But her footwear choice is eco diva all the way - funky blue moccasins by Simple Shoes available at Chartreuse Style.
Jessie is casual with a funky twist.  Always colourful, she chooses the Maude Blazer in grey with a purple print.  Playing off the print she throws on her funkiest chunky heels and rolls up her jeans to show off those legs!


The Maude Blazer is available at independent retailers across Canada & the US:
Awear (Collingwood, ON) 
Eco Diva Clothing (Arlington Heights, IL)
Ecoexistence (Toronto, ON)
Ecotopia Naturals (Sidney, BC)
Eleven : Eleven Boutique (Calgary, AB)
Flock Boutique (Ottawa, ON)
Fresh Collective (Toronto ON) 
The Loop (Thunder Bay, ON)
Parade (Toronto, ON)
P'Lovers (Kingston, ON)
Rub of the Green (Midland, ON)
Something Else (Port Colborne, ON)
Studio Intent (Calgary, AB)
Taiga Yoga & Therapy Centre (Yellowknife, NT)
Tapestry (Calgary, AB)
Workshop Boutique (Ottawa, ON)

as well as at: