Growing Leather…from Bacteria?

I was floored by this video of Suzzanne Lee’s efforts into creating textiles utilizing bacterial cellulose (formed by fermentation in kombucha tea).  Yup, “fabric” – well, more like leather – from BACTERIA.

What an amazing step forward in technology – I’m super-interested to see where this innovation will go once more R&D labs get ahold of it.

So this also begs the question: If they worked out the kinks in the fabric weight and texture…Would you wear clothing made by bacteria?

found via GirlieGirl Army

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New Faux Fur Pieces Added to my Etsy Shop!

Speaking of Etsy…

A few people have asked me about offering my faux fur tails in different colors, so I’ve spent the last several days making up new ones, in two BRAND NEW colors I just received in the mail.  One is a “fox”-like color: cream with orange-tipped fur.  The other is a “raccoon”-like color: tan with brown-tipped fur and stripes. (see above)

I also have a one-of-a-kind dip-dye pink-to-white tail (purely accidental, since I was trying to dye the tip black) that I posted for sale.

 I’ve also added a couple of “puffball” charms if you prefer something smaller and not so “tail”-like.
I’d love to hear your feedback!


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DIY in 5: Faux Fur-Lined Hood

Earlier this month I wore it in an outfit, today I’m going to show you how to DIY it.  It’s DIY in 5minutes, that is.  The easiest, quickest ways to take a piece from blah to fab and update it to current trends.

Fur trim is applicable for anything hooded: a sweater, hoodie, or jacket. (Or even on pocket edges, lapels, flaps…you get the idea!;-)   As the temperatures drop, the need to bundle up increases – and adding a layer of furry material adds a ton of warmth.  I always shop cheap when I can – but often affordable prices mean skimpy manufacturing techniques and minimal trim and details.  Add more value to your bargain pieces by adding a quick-and-easy line of faux fur trim to your favorites.

You Need:

*hooded piece to embellish
*faux fur trim long enough to go around the hood – mine was 5″ wide (or a strip cut from faux fur by the yard)


*measuring tape
*sewing machine and thread matching fur
*hand-sewing needle and thread matching your hooded piece
*skewer, knitting needle, or chopstick


1. Measure around your hood to find out how long your trim needs to be.  (Add about 3/4″ to each end so you have enough trim for the seam allowance.)  Cut trim according to measurement.

2. Fold the trim over on itself lengthwise and sew into a tube on your sewing machine, leaving about 2″ unsewn in the center of the seam.  Taper the ends.

3. Trim the excess at the ends.

4. Turn right-side-out using a skewer, knitting needle, or chopstick.

5. Use the skewer to pull any fur our of the seam if it was caught in there while sewing.

6. Use a hand-sewing needle to stitch the trim around the edge of the hood, stitching the opening in the trim tube closed as you go.

This is a super-easy way to add some wintery furriness to your favorite jacket or hoodie – and even if it takes more than 5 minutes to complete – it will most certainly take no longer than 15!

Happy DIY’ing!


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Softening Faux Leather: Question

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Have you ever worked with faux leather? If so do you know any ways to soften it up so its not so stiff? thank you! love your blog
Yes, I work with faux leather all the time!

There are of course a lot of different thicknesses and “weights” to faux leather and “softening it up” probably depends on how it is backed. Like does it have a fabric backing? A vinyl backing? Or is it non-backed – i.e., with an unfinished “wrong side”?

If it is backed in fabric or unbacked I think you *could* try to spray some water on the wrong side and hang it to see if this makes it more pliable. (Try on an area that won’t be visible first, as this could cause discoloration or even disintegration.) If the piece is vinyl-backed I would say you’re out of luck.:-( You could also try “conditioning” the leather on the right side using Vinyl Conditioner ( or Mink Oil , which may soften up the piece, at least on the outer side.

I’m not sure how much success you’ll have though since man-made leather is chemically-based and if “pliability” is not engineered into the molecular structure of the piece, I doubt there’s much you could do it, short of pouring more chemicals on it, to make its hand more soft. (I would NOT recommend pouring fabric softener, bleach, or Fiber Etch on it!!)

I think when it comes to working with faux leathers selection is critical – unlike real leather, it’s more limited in its applications depending on its structure, weight, and thickness, since it tends to be impervious to conditioning, stretching, softening, and skivving. Does anyone have any ideas to help this reader out?!

Sorry I can’t be of more help!

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Portland Fashion Week: Eco Names to Know (Our Official FT Write-up)


Papier Couture; dlr Designs; makeup & message tees at Sameunderneath; StudioSKB; MEWV Sustainables by Sarabeth Chambers

Although it is already five years old and known primarily for it’s eco-chic focus, it’s only been since 2007 that Portland Fashion Week has made the entire event earth-friendly and sustainable. From construction of the actual runway with eco-friendly materials like 100% recycled rubber balls (!), using eco-safe styling products on models, and sustainable-certified hotels for our guests, whenever possible, the city is leading by example. And unlike the $150,000 minimum to participate in New York Fashion Week, Portland keeps it low key and locally-focused, charging a much more down-to-earth $1500. As a result, up-and-coming designers can actually afford to show, infusing the usual commercial bent of most Fashion Weeks with an interesting indie element – such as eco-champion Lizzie Parker, and Project Runway winner Leanne Marshall of Leanimal, who is known for her support of sustainability and eco friendliness.
Overall, the look for Spring/Summer 2009 was about drapey tops over tailored shorts and pants, dominated by black, cream, and hot pink, accented with brightly printed breezy organic cotton dresses reminiscent of nature. Here are some of the highlights:


Sameunderneath; Saffrona; Revivall; TOP: Lucia; Sofada; BOTTOM: Lizzie Parker; Idom

Standouts from this year’s collections included the breezily casual printed tees, structured shorts, and surprisingly intricate crocheted tops of Sameunderneath. Opening with a vignette starring two models (including Cloudy October, pictured at top), the line was inspired by the Cuban Revolution, and gave off a distinctly travel-themed look. Shades of cream, olive, and hot pink dominated, and at the end, founder Ryan Joseph Davis Christensen walked the runway, proudly displaying his “VOTE HOPE” t-shirt. (
Saffrona Classics was an entire collection fashioned from a revolutionary new blended fabric developed in Germany made from wood-pulp fibers and seaweed. Vitamin- and mineral-rich, Seacell also has a microscopic silver content, rendering it antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial – none of which diminish even after repeated trips through the washing machine. This fabric not only “breathes”, but is lightweight and soft, which translated into flowing gowns and dresses. Since Seacell is only manufactured in black and white, to create other colors designer Sarabeth Chambers used everything from beets to Kool-Aid to impart her clothes with a bright pop of color. (
Like a mishmash of vintage and Dior, Rivivall Clothing mixed ecletic prints, lacework, plaid, Victorian flowers, and corsetry. The models dripped with pheasant feathers and draped gold chains, set off by the dusky denim blues and golden lace palette of the clothes. Paired with Western-style cowboy boots, the whole look lived up to its self-described “burlesque hilly-billy.” By piecing together secondhand fabrics, designer Laura Lee Laroux produced less waste in fashioning distinctive one-of-a-kind pieces. (
Lucia showcased fun prints and chic workwear, while Sofada by Alice Dobson featured tailored suits, funky swimwear, and printed dresses. Seattle-based Lizzie Parker showed her line of drapey dresses and fluid bamboo jersey tops, and Idom showed cute dresses made of silk and handmade cotton lace imported from the designer’s native Thailand.

A re-imagining of the Little Black Dress by the Art Institute of Portland produced an array of insightful and interesting student work; though not necessarily commercially viable, the pieces were nonetheless thought-provoking and chic. The particularly Balenciaga-esque silhouette (far left) was created from a puffy ski parka fabric (!), but somehow completely worked.
And finally, these Papier Couture dresses were fabulous, made completely out of paper – folded, cut, glued, sewn, molded – and insanely gorgeous, with touches like origami cranes decorating the hem. The dresses were shown on Day 1 of the shows, and then placed on display in the entrance foyer for the rest of the week. Read more about the line and designer Lia Griffith at

An interesting constraint on the designers was that the same models were being used in each show, so with no time for a full makeup redo between shows, the look had to coordinate with all the various collections. Lead Makeup Artist Sunny Fire chose to channel the 60s, with a black cat-eye, matte satin skin, and
a reddish-tinted lip
from Fire’s eponymous line, Alima Pure, and M.A.C. (in particular, their Nourishing Lipbalm in Cranberry, and Viva Glam 1 lipstick). For one particular model who only walked in the Sameunderneath show on Day 3, Fire added a peacock feather eye to coordinate with the boho theme. All three makeup lines use recyclable containers, and Alima Pure is made from 100% certified natural minerals.

In keeping with the makeup, the hair similarly channeled the sexy 60’s. To vary the look from night to night, Lead Hairstylist Eric Alan Nelson, founder of Portland-based Sidlab, relied on Sidlab’s Pacifica Salt Water Spray for natural, beachy texture and a work-in spray called Chic which delivers flexible hold that can easily (and quickly) be restyled – all the while retaining “monster” body. The final day of the shows had a more L.A. rocker vibe, which Nelson matched with Ultra, a piecing paste which adds both shine and texture. Not only are all of Sidlanb’s products paraben- and SLS-free, but they are recyclably packagd, and manufactured using sustainable practices. (Available at Edward Wadsworth)


(runway photography:; Art Institute of Portland runway – Pete Kim)

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