Cañada College Fashion Department Educating students and others about the ever-changing world of fashion design and merchandising. Fri, 22 Mar 2019 18:15:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 135513584 Has Pantone’s Color of the Year Panned Out? Fri, 22 Mar 2019 18:15:27 +0000 CFD looks for shades of “Living Coral”

Pantone Color Institute has been selecting a featured Color of the Year (COY) for 20 years now. Designers of all sorts look to Pantone for guidance as to upcoming lines of clothing, accessories, home furnishings and more. Ultimately, however, it is retailers and shoppers who determine whether the officially declared color is adopted in the real world. Did this year’s COY make it into the retail stores and online channels? Here’s what we found.

This year’s COY is Living Coral (#16-1546), a somewhat darker version of the orangey-pink pastel we’re used to. Pantone describes it this way: “An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” Some say orange hues in general are energizing and associated with a social, outgoing spirit. If so, this spring will be abuzz with vitality and sparkling conversation!

Coral can be seen this spring at all price points. Here the mid-February edition of Woman’s World magazine features a whole spread about the color and where you can find it.
Target, a lower-price-point retailer, is carrying LOTS of coral this season. Here you can see how the color has been applied in a lighter and darker shade.
Little girls’ clothing is particularly saturated with coral this spring—a refreshing variation from the usual pink. [Photo:]
A basic tunic can be found in Living Coral (pretty much spot on!) at Macy’s, a mid-price-point retailer. [Photo:]
If you think your special guy can carry it off, this $900 number by Kiton is available at Neiman Marcus.
If you’ve outfitted your entire family in coral and still have more dough to throw, head over to Neiman Marcus for this faux coral necklace. (The real stuff can no longer be harvested legally. More info here.)
If you’ve got a closet full of coral and still feel the need to surround yourself with more, home goods can also satisfy your pinkish-orange craving. Here are just a few of the coral throw pillows currently being carried by Target. Or, better yet, make your own! [Photo:]

Have you seeing much coral out there lately? Have you bought anything in coral this season? Please tell us in the comments.

Cañada College does not endorse any particular brand or product. Items are featured here for educational purposes only.

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Student Combines Art & Fashion Fri, 15 Mar 2019 17:28:42 +0000

Artist and educator Charlotte Kruk has been a student in the Cañada fashion department for only a short time, but her enthusiasm and creativity are already being noticed. Charlotte’s background is as a fine artist. She studied sculpture, metalsmithing and jewelry-making at San Jose State University. No fashion or textiles classes were offered, as she recalls—only weaving, which didn’t interest her at the time. After graduation she continued making jewelry and doing her sculpture work. She also began teaching art to high school students, which she continues to do today.

“I kind of came to fashion through the back door,” Charlotte observes. She comes from a long line of seamstresses, including her mother and grandmother. “I always wore homemade things,” she remembers, “and I avoided [sewing] like the plague.” In junior high, she chose wood shop over sewing as her elective.

A necklace designed by Charlotte.

This all changed in 1994 with a package of Now and Later candies. Charlotte remembers that she and her sister were at a camp ground. There were no trash cans nearby, so she collected the wrappers in her hands. After a while she began to imagine sewing them into a sort of textile. “I realized I could make clothes that had social commentary and that it was a kind of recycling,” she recalls. In doing so, Charlotte would be taking sewing out of its usual domestic context and placing it squarely in the realm of art.

Charlotte imagined that her pieces would be shown in museums and galleries. However, people kept asking if she would present her work in fashion shows. At first she resisted but, she explains, “Eventually I realized I needed to go with the opportunities that came my way.”

One of these opportunities came when Charlotte was offered a spot in a photography class in Paris. She decided to bring one of her own sculptures on the trip and photograph it there. Prior to the trip, she researched French history and became very interested in Marie Antoinette. She built a period-appropriate gown out of the packaging for products you need when baking a cake. Besides the more obvious sugar and flour packages, Charlotte even nestled (faux) eggs into her wig!

Charlotte recalls that she wore the special undergarments she had constructed for the ensemble on the Paris subway. Dressed in a pink corset, paniers and bloomers, she gave out Life Savers to fellow riders.

Charlotte in front of the Opera House in Paris, dressed as Marie Antoinette. “Everyone wanted to take photos with me,” she remembers. “I felt like a Disney princess for a moment.”
Everything one would need to bake a cake for the masses—then let them eat it—is contained in this ensemble.

Another interesting event along Charlotte’s timeline occurred in 2001. That year she received a “cease and desist” order from Mars, Inc. about her use of M&Ms packaging. Charlotte recalls that the intimidating communication “had 120 lawyers listed on the letterhead.” As a result, she stopped using the branding … for a while. After talking to other artists and a few attorneys, she began to feel more comfortable using the packaging again. However, the exposure prompted Charlotte to up her game. “I started to feel like if I were to show up in a court of law, [my pieces] had to be so much above and beyond as works of art,” she explains.

This matador costume, made from M&Ms packages, took Charlotte five years to build. She hand-embroidered and beaded each package before assembling them all together. Oh, and she made the beads herself!

As Charlotte’s designs became more involved, she realized she needed to acquire more skills. Charlotte explains: “I came to Cañada because when I try to do something complex and can’t find a pattern that comes close to what I want to do, I think ‘Jeez, there’s got to be some tricks to what I’m trying to do.’” Charlotte teaches during the day, so Cañada’s evening classes work well for her.

“I decided to take Beginning and Advanced Flat Pattern simultaneously. It’s a lot of work,” she notes, “but I’m learning a ton. It’s been really great.”

As to what’s next, Charlotte wants to take more classes in the fashion department. She reflects “It seems like a fun and safe place to explore,” and “It’s nice to be in a community of [sewists].”

“I have collections that I continue adding to. I create at least one new piece per year to show,” she explains.

We can’t wait to see them!

For more information about Charlotte and her work go to

Current & Coming Up:
Display at Simply Smashing in downtown Campbell
April 27th at the New Museum of Los Gatos

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Student’s Life Takes Dramatic Turn … Fri, 08 Mar 2019 18:54:48 +0000 … and she’s loving it!

We sat down with student Nika Cassaro this week to hear about her work on Pocket Opera’s production of Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donizetti.

Cañada Fashion Department (CFD):    Tell me about Elixir of Love.

NC:      The plot’s very simple. Nemorino is in love with Adina. He is poor and uneducated; he has no chance with her. A soldier named Belcore comes to town and starts to court Adina. She’s not interested in him either, but it makes Nemorino nervous. He takes a love potion but it’s actually wine. Hijinks ensue. I don’t want to give too much away, but everyone ends up happily ever after. It’s really very funny.

[See clips from recent performance here.]

CFD:      How has it been working on the show?

NC:      It’s gone really well. The actors were all super nice. [One challenge is the productions are done on] very small stages. We also have the Pocket Philharmonic, a tiny orchestra that plays behind the actors. There is minimal set dressing—just a couple of benches and a few props the actors can interact with. So the music, the performers and the costumes have to carry the whole thing.

The bare-bones sets of Pocket Opera’s shows make the costumes that much more important.

CFD:    How did you get involved with the Pocket Opera?

NC:      A lot of the people who work for Lamplighters [Music Theater] work for Pocket Opera. The Artistic Director of Elixir was also the stage director of Pirates of Penzance. I worked on [Pirates of Penzance] as a summer intern.

CFD:    What are you doing for this show?

NC:      This was my first show as the costumer, by myself. [The artistic director] gave me a lot of flexibility, but he had a very small budget. I’m the only person doing costumes for the whole project. I find costumes, do alterations, backstage wardrobe … everything.

CFD:    What research did you do to guide your costuming choices for the show?

NC:    Belcore’s uniform is really important. I had to figure out what kind he was going to wear. I looked at what wars were fought in those years and went with what was within that time period, which was the Spanish-American War. That meant 1898-1902 was the target I was going for.

The actor playing Belcore is 6’2” … I didn’t find any uniforms to rent [in his size]. I ended up purchasing most of his costume pieces from What Price Glory. [WPG] does military replicas. I found one that was close enough and modified it.

Belcore in his period-appropriate uniform.

I also rented costumes from Lamplighters and [American Conservatory Theater] ACT. I had to go to a lot of different places. I ended up going to ACT five or six times!

CFD:    Do you have to undo the alterations you make to the rented pieces?

NC:      Alterations are par for the course, but you have to do them in a non-destructive way. For example, if you’re taking up a hem, you can’t cut the fabric. This time I used decorative tucks on the outside of a skirt to make it shorter. In another case, I added a strip of fabric at the bottom of a skirt to lengthen it.

CFD:    Is it different working for singers than for non-singing actors?

NC:      Usually they would tell me, like if they didn’t want anything tight around their neck. The lead actor had a shirt that fit fine, but there’s a scene where the girls are tugging on him. [He explained,] “I can’t sing when they’re tugging on my shirt.” A couple of [the actors] wanted me to measure them with their chest expanded.

Nemorino fending off the young women of the village after taking the “love potion.”

CFD:    When did you start taking fashion classes at Cañada?

NC:      In the summer of 2017. I did stuff a little bit backwards. I graduated in 2012 with a BFA from Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota Florida with a major in Illustration. I struggled to find work out here and finally decided to volunteer somewhere. I cold-called a bunch of theaters in the area. TheaterWorks got back to me first and were right where I live, so I was super lucky. They were between shows and not very busy. They put me on doing repairs. I worked 11-5, Monday through Friday. Finally they were like, “You’re here every day; do you want to be an intern?”

CFD:    How did you end up taking classes at Cañada?

NC:      I asked [the team at TheaterWorks], “If I want to do this for a living, what do I need to get better at?” They said “more experience with sewing.” Cañada was inexpensive and right nearby. I took two classes in Fall of 2017: Beginning Flat Pattern and Pants Drafting. I’ve been going ever since.

Nika presents her final project in Tailoring last December. “The process of fitting ourselves … was really good practice,” she notes.

CFD:    Do you use your art degree much these days?

NC:      I do actually. Color theory, pattern, contrast, balance are all directly applicable to theater. As far as illustration goes, part of my internship at TheaterWorks was working in the rentals department. I got to do a project where we designed a theoretical show based on a show that TheaterWorks had already done, placed in another time period. I used my drawing skills; they thought that was cool.

What really matters for directors is to give them something visual to communicate what you’re going for: “This is what this character is going to wear for this scene,” including shoes and accessories.

CFD:    Which Cañada classes are helping you with your work now and how?

NC:      I’ve used my pattern-making skills a whole lot. I made patterns for The Pirates of Penzance

Also the general practice of making clothes for classes at Cañada, I’ve used those sewing skills a lot. I’ve gotten a lot faster and better at sewing in general. Theoretically I could do it on my own using a book, but being forced to practice is a much more reliable way.

CFD:    Any advice for other students interested in theater costuming?

NC:      I would recommend doing an internship. If you have a place that’s local to you but they don’t have an internship, I would still encourage you to contact them and potentially volunteer to get on-the-job experience. When I got the internship for Lamplighters with [CFD faculty member] Judy [Jackson], I just went up to her and asked.

The last performance of Elixir of Love is this Sunday, March 10 at 5:00 p.m. at Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. Purchase tickets here.

Student Brings a Touch of Milano Style to Redwood City! Thu, 28 Feb 2019 15:45:23 +0000 Federica Belli takes an unexpected journey from product design to fashion

Federica in her first Intermediate Construction project:
a pajama top. “I like colorful stuff,” she declares.

Student Federica Belli arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010 when her husband began a business degree at U.C. Berkeley. Although the couple originally expected to stay for only two years, they’re still here! Last fall Federica began taking classes in the Cañada fashion department. After hearing about the program from a friend, she spoke with Ronda, and the next thing you know, she was signed up for Beginning Construction. (Don’t worry, Federica, Ronda has that effect on all of us!)

Federica is originally from Milan, Italy and—not surprisingly—has a strong design sensibility. However, her predilection for aesthetics drew her toward product design rather than fashion. Federica earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Product Design at the Politecnico di Milano—with one year abroad in Montreal—but she did little sewing during her studies. “I did make two, pear-shaped, white bean bag chairs,” she qualifies. Afterwards she thought, “I could do the same with garments!”

The Politecnico di Milano, where Federica went to school before coming to Cañada.

Federica has two small children—a five-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. As a result, she only has time for one class at Cañada per semester. Nevertheless she has made quick progress, advancing to Intermediate Construction this semester. She recently completed her pajama top project and took it to another level by making a matching dress for her daughter.

“I like to sew for her more than for me,” Federica explains. “I also really want to make a shirt for my son,” she adds. “It’s on the to-do list.”

Eventually Federica would like to take Flat Pattern and Tailoring “for sure.” Beyond that, she doesn’t know if she’ll be going for a fashion certificate. If so, it will take some time, she notes. Meanwhile she’s having a lot of fun. “It’s really a pleasure to come to class,” Federica declares enthusiastically. “The community’s great, Ronda’s terrific, and the people are unique characters,” she says affectionately.

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Farewell, Karl Lagerfeld Thu, 21 Feb 2019 19:29:42 +0000 A pictorial tribute to his career and impact

By now you’ve heard about the passing of fashion mega-designer Karl Lagerfeld, and many have already honored him in the press. Here is our favorite piece about Lagerfeld’s career, along with our own homage (below) to the fearless designer. These “before and after” images demonstrate the immense impact he had on some of the biggest fashion houses in the world.

Lagerfeld designed for Chloé from 1963-1992. Here you can see how his bold choices and hipper sensibility influenced the brand.

Lagerfeld joined the House of Chanel in 1982. The Chanel brand had a stodgy and outmoded image at the time of his arrival. Today Chanel is more relevant than ever.

Lagerfeld’s time at Fendi began in 1967 and ended this year upon his passing. He brought his signature “intellectual sexiness” to the high-end brand.

We’ll miss you, Karl. As the old song goes, “There will never be another you.”

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Alumnae Start Pattern Company Fri, 15 Feb 2019 16:38:56 +0000 A Q&A with Fig & Needle Founders, Ping Mathre and Sandra Helsley

Ping Mathre and Sandra Helsley

Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): How did you two meet?

PM: We met at Cañada in Ronda’s Beginning Flat Pattern class.

SH: We always sat at the table in the front and did homework together after class.

CFD: Had either of you made patterns before?

SH: I had played with making patterns in the past, but not really garments, just bags.

PM: (I didn’t know you made bags!) I had done sewing for a long-time but from ready-made patterns or folded pieces of paper that I kind of cobbled together. They were not the best. It was something I always wanted to learn. When I took Ronda’s class, every week was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!’

CFD: You have very different backgrounds, don’t you?

SH: I used to be in Tech. My background is in Computer Science and Information Science. I used to do user experience research. I got into Parsons in 2013 but turned it down. An academic suggested fashion technology. An example would be a purse that changes color according to somebody else’s umbrella they were standing next to. That wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I kind of always regretted [choosing not to go].

PM: And my background is in psychology.

CFD: What made you each decide to do pattern-making professionally?

PM: At some point I just had the realization, ‘Hey, I could actually legitimately do this!’ … Something just clicked.

SH: For me it happened over time … The thing I love about making patterns is the technical side of it. Coming up with a schematic of what you have in your head.

CFD: What prompted you to go into business together?

PM: We both had this general plan that at some point we would start a pattern company, but separately.

SH: Ping was doing an internship … I interned with [the same company] in the fall after her. Our internships overlapped, and there were one or two things we both worked on. I knew we could work together really well.

PM: I would come in on Monday morning and find post-its Sandra had left for me on Friday afternoon.

SH: Eventually I asked Ping, ‘Is this something you would ever consider doing together?’ It took me like a week to get up the nerve.

PM: (Really?!) We had a 2-hour conversation about what our goals were. We wanted to make sure everything was compatible.

CFD: What exactly did you do for the company where you interned?

PM: Pattern-making and grading. You would sketch out garments you wanted to sew and make patterns. They gave their interns a lot of autonomy.

SH: I also helped with their booth at street fairs [and other events]. I helped people try things on. I noticed the size range that they had was just not inclusive … Their things were so cute, but people would try them on and be disappointed. [Their clothes] only went up to a size 12.

CFD: That’s one of the things that makes your company Fig + Needle different, isn’t it? It’s more inclusive?

SH: Yes, we have two size ranges. The smaller range is 0-12 with a D cup, and the larger range is 12-26 with a DD.

PM: Yes, a lot of people are talking about size ranges in the indie pattern world. Very few companies are in line with today’s figures.

CFD: How do you divide the roles between you?

SH: Because I’m very technical, I’m in charge of all the business licensing and tax stuff. I’m also the webmaster.

PM: I come up with the ideas, but I discuss all of them with Sandra. Sandra discusses all the business stuff with me, and I’m usually like, ‘Sounds good!’

SH: Ping also does the social media. I don’t really want to do that stuff.

PM: That’s how I feel about the business stuff! [Both laugh.]

CFD: You just officially launched with two original patterns, correct? What are they like?

PM: Yes, one is the Faron jumper dress with princess seams and a zipper down the front. The other one is the Elwynn blouse with a keyhole opening in the back. They can be worn together.

CFD: Any advice for current students?

SH: Do internships. It’s great experience.

PM: Definitely keep your class binders! I am constantly pulling mine out.

CFD: We miss you. When are you coming for a visit?

SH: Ping is going to the Kenneth King talk next week.

CFD: Great! We’ll see you there!

Find out more about Fig + Needle and purchase patterns here.

Linings: The Interior Design of Tailoring Fri, 08 Feb 2019 15:14:54 +0000 Saying a person is beautiful inside and out is the highest compliment you can give. Turns out the same goes for a tailored jacket or coat.

Tailoring professor and department coordinator Ronda Chaney knows just how important—and fun—linings can be.Even though no one sees the lining most of the time, I encourage my students to choose a fun print or bright color for the lining,” Ronda declares. And another piece of advice for your next tailoring project: “A rayon fabric can work well, but you will thank yourself for years to come if you invest in silk.

This past semester our Tailoring students put dozens of hours into their final projects, and much of this time was spent working on their linings. The results were impressive! Here are just a few:

We are so proud of our students and their incredible work!

King of Crafty Couture Comes to Cañada Fri, 01 Feb 2019 15:29:48 +0000 Fashion designer Kenneth King has made his mark by being 100% original and by bringing both drama and craftsmanship to his work. King has made a living plying his craft since college and shows no signs of letting up on that sewing machine pedal anytime soon.

One of King’s distinctive couture techniques, composed of “sandwiching” cutwork between two other layers of fabric and then free-hand quilting it with metallic thread.

“[My] pieces have a stylistic unity because of the craft,” King illuminates. He has invented a number of techniques himself and brought others back to the fore that had nearly been forgotten. King uses a technique he calls “leafing” in which he layers smaller pieces of fabric (sometimes in the shape of leaves, hence the name) to create a continuous textile. Leafing allows him to make pieces with no seams or darts! As a result of unusual and painstaking techniques like this, King has noticed his work is very difficult to “knock off.”

Shown here a halter King created using his inventive leafing technique.

He’s learned other important lessons along the way as well. “I learned to focus on the customer,” King reflects. Every piece is tailored for a specific client. “That’s really what couture is.”

This stunner employs a unique combination of smocking, braiding and chainstitch.
“No effort or expense is spared to make an exquisite garment,” explains King.

Though King lives in New York City, you have the opportunity to hear him speak live at Cañada on Friday, February 22 at 7PM. See you in the Main Theater in Building 3! A $10 donation, benefitting our students through the scholarship program, is requested at the door.

Fashion design is truly a science as well as an art. Here King breaks down some of the technical aspects for students.

NOTE: Kenneth King will be teaching a pant drafting workshop through the Sewing Lessons in Redwood City sewing school the same weekend. Register here, or call (650) 229-8739 for more information.

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What Is It about the Sapporo Coat?! Fri, 25 Jan 2019 21:38:09 +0000 A funny thing happened a few weeks ago: At least a third of our Tailoring students showed the Sapporo Coat by Papercut Patterns as their final project. What is it about this coat?

Our Fall 2018 Tailoring students (and Ronda!) in their Sapporo coats. Despite being made from the same pattern, each coat is so different from the others!

The Sapporo’s cocoon silhouette with diagonal seaming flatters any figure, and it can be made for cold or warm seasons, depending on the fabric used. It’s dramatic yet cozy, and people love the in-seam pockets.

Here a Sapporo coat made in a simple, mono-chromatic fabric really shows off the unusual seaming. [Photo: Papercut Patterns]

You can find tutorials on Papercut’s website (above) for different parts of the coat, including the pockets, sleeves and neckfacing. Find reviews and tips from people who have made the coat here. Bay area sewist and blogger Chuleenan (aka CSews) has an in-depth review and tutorial here.

We filled a whole staircase in Building 3 with our Sapporo coat makers/models!

What’s one of your all-time favorite patterns? What do you like about it and how many have you made? Let us know in the comments.

Cañada College is an educational institution and, as such, does not endorse any particular company or product.

Hope for NY’s Garment District? Fri, 18 Jan 2019 21:20:01 +0000 If you could travel back 80 or even 50 years, nearly everything you’d be wearing would have come from New York’s Garment District. At that time hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of workers were jammed into just a few square blocks of Manhattan, pumping steam out the windows from the heavy-duty pressing machinery.

In its heyday, steam poured out of the windows in the Garment District.
Garment workers, 1937
[Photo: Andrew Herman-Federal Art Project/Museum of the City of New York]

Decline of the Garment District
According to non-profit Save the Garment Center, the District at one time had 7.7 million square space preserved for apparel manufacturing and housed 105,000 manufacturing jobs. Over the past 50 years, clothing production in New York has declined steadily. Today the center contains only 1.1 million square feet of garment manufacturing space and employs 7,100 factory workers.

Efforts to Revive the District
By the early 1980s, garment manufacturing had largely moved overseas, and the District’s future was seriously in question. The City of New York launched its first efforts to preserve the Garment District in 1987.

In 2018 the City annnounced new tax incentives to clothing manufacturers that located in the Garment District. They will also help ensure affordable, long-term commercial leases for these companies. The plan also includes a cap on hotel development in the area.

Last summer a member of our Advisory Board, Barbara Kelly, and one of our staff, Shana McCracken, toured the Garment District as part of a program of the Textile Arts Council.

Here are a few pictures from their trip:

Members of the Textile Arts Council toured the Garment District last summer. Board member Barbara Kelly is seen 2nd from the left and Shana McCracken is pictured 3rd from left. Center back is a bronze statue of a garment worker from the District’s glory days.
A giant button and sewing needle mark the center of the District.
The Walk of Fame, highlighting some of the many famous designers who have been located in the Garment District over the years, is worth slowing down for.

Find more information about New York’s Garment District here.

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