Cañada College Fashion Department Educating students and others about the ever-changing world of fashion design and merchandising. Wed, 01 Aug 2018 22:43:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 135513584 Real-world Education Is Our Stock-in-Trade Wed, 01 Aug 2018 22:41:38 +0000 Department faculty Ronda Chaney, Peggy Perruccio and Kathleen Lorist attended the June show of the Fashion Market Northern California. This highly respected trade show happens right in our backyard—at the San Mateo Event Center—making it very convenient for Cañada faculty and students to check out. There you can get an insider’s view into the business of fashion—specifically how apparel and accessories make the transition from brand-to-boutique.

Kathleen checks out the fun socks on display at this colorful booth. Kathleen is dressed pretty colorfully herself!

This kind of understanding is a priority for the Cañada fashion program, which aims to teach students about the range of careers available to them after they graduate. The Introduction to the Fashion Industry course is specifically designed to go into depth on this subject by touring local design studios, manufacturers, contractors (so called “cut and sew shops”) and boutiques.

Even leather goods can be found at the FMNC show.

The FMNC trade show takes place five times per year and primarily serves buyers for retailers in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Exhibitors are typically fashion reps who show multiple brands, hoping to take wholesale orders on behalf of their clients from buyers attending the show. Typically the lines they are showing are for the upcoming season or even the one after that.

A quintessentially fall collection on display.

Ronda, Peggy and Kathleen got a sneak preview of what we’ll be seeing in local boutiques this fall. They also made new contacts with brand representatives who might be able to offer internships to our students or speak to our classes.

This exhibitor showed only scarves. It is not unusual for reps to focus exclusively on accessories or even on just one type.

Find information about future FMNC shows here.


Sarah Velichko: Calm, Cool & Reflective Thu, 12 Jul 2018 14:12:09 +0000 Cañada alum is having a blast on the crew of Hamilton

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” That well-known quote has been attributed to everyone from ancient Roman philosopher Seneca to professional auto racer Bobby Unser. While its origin is uncertain, it’s clear the saying applies to Sarah Velichko, a graduate of the Cañada College fashion department. Sarah is traveling with one of two U.S. tours of the Broadway musical mega-hit Hamilton and having the time of her life.

We talked with Sarah recently. She had just arrived in Des Moines after finishing a run of the show in Las Vegas.

CFD:  So, first of all, tell me what you do on Hamilton.

SV:   As the Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor, my job is to teach the local wardrobe crew their backstage ‘choreography’ and educate them on how the costumes work so we can give the audience the same show every single night aesthetically. I’m also in charge of the sewing, costume repairs and alterations of new costumes sent to us from New York.

CFD:  That’s one of those jobs that’s invisible to the audience but is extremely important, isn’t it?

SV:     Yes, I have to know the show backwards and forwards. I know where all my dressers should be for any change at any given point. We are dressing 20 actors for each show and have a total of 33 we need to maintain costumes for. I have to be extremely organized.

CFD:  I can imagine! Isn’t that stressful?

SV:     The most important part of the job is to remain calm, because crazy stuff happens. We have several extremely fast costume changes [in the show].

CFD:  What sort of help do you have to pull that off?

SV:   The local wardrobe crew is made up of about 13 people—eight dressers, one laundry person, three pressers and one stitcher. That does not include the traveling crew, which is the Wardrobe Supervisor (my boss) and me (Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor). So we’re looking at a team of 15 wardrobe crew members total in each city.

CFD:     Wow, that’s a lot of people! And that doesn’t include the costume design team, does it?

SV:     No, that’s a whole separate group. The design team is based in New York City.

CFD:  Going back for a minute, how did you end up doing this job?

SV:   I was working on [the show] Wicked as an Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Cover. When Hamilton started in San Francisco, I was hired as a dresser and stitcher. After working on it for six months, I knew the show and the costumes inside and out. That set me up to transition easily into a supervisor role when the second national tour opened in Seattle.

CFD:  It sounds like you moved up the ranks pretty fast!

SV:    I had the sewing and wardrobe supervisor skills. One of my favorite parts of this experience so far was when I was sent to New York to train for and set up the new tour. I got to meet Paul Tazewell, the costume designer, and spent countless hours with his design team so I would know how the costumes are supposed to look and work. I attended fittings for everything from ball gowns to boots.

CFD:  What a fantastic experience! Is there a downside to this dream job?

SV:     My home is on the road right now. I’ve gotten really good at cooking in a hotel room with just a microwave and a fridge. You need to have a certain temperament to live on the road. I’m super flexible and adaptable, so it works for me.

Oh, and we usually work in the basement, where there are no windows. But I really can’t complain. I’m playing dress-up for a living! I mean, come on!

CFD:  Take us back even further. When were you at Cañada and what did you study?

SV:     I was there between 2010-2012, but I didn’t start out in the fashion department. I started in occupational therapy. That changed very quickly. I realized, ‘I need to follow my heart.’ Luckily, my parents were very supportive.

CFD:  That is lucky! Did you earn a certificate?

SV:     I earned an Associates Degree in Theater Costuming and whatever other classes I could fit in. I loved the [fashion] department. I tell everybody about it.

CFD:  What classes turned out to be most valuable to you?

SV:     Pattern-making for sure! The costumes [in Hamilton] are made to look like 1700-1800s clothes but are built to stand up to intense dance movement. I know why they’re built like they are [because of the Flat Pattern class]. Also Tailoring. The coats in the show are beautifully tailored. I have the skills to be able to take them apart and put them back together again if needed.

CFD:  So all those hours in the lab were worth it?

SV:     Definitely. The foundations they teach [at Cañada] are amazing. And they allow you to be creative and make mistakes, try new things. I loved that. The creative thinking that inspired is invaluable now. I go in to work every day, and it never goes the way I think it’s going to go.

CFD:  You continued with your studies after you finished your certificate at Cañada, didn’t you?

SV:     Yes, I studied costume design at SF State for two more years.

CFD:  That’s terrific. What an accomplishment! And now you’re adding even more experience to your resume.

SV:     I’m extremely grateful for the skills I learned [in the Cañada fashion department]. I put them to use every day. Sometimes I think, ‘Ronda would be proud of me!’

CFD:  No doubt about that, Sarah! We all are!

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5 Stars for 4R Fashion Fri, 06 Jul 2018 14:30:48 +0000 On Saturday June 30, nearly 40 people gathered in the fashion department classroom to take part in the 4R Fashion workshop. In attendance were textile artists, professionals from the fashion industry and sustainability specialists. Several students interested in sustainable fashion also participated.

The morning’s activities were broken into three parts: a presentation by our own Shana McCracken, a hands-on activity and a group discussion. Shana’s presentation covered the waste reduction principles known as the 4Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost), as they relate to textiles.

Shana talked about the reasons our society needs to stop throwing away clothing—among them, even natural fibers don’t biodegrade in a modern landfill. Better to donate or repair a garment rather than toss it in the trash.
Participants worked with salvaged materials to create new designs or repaired garments they brought with them.
Thrifted t-shirts were available for making reusable shopping totes—a fun project even for non-sewists.
Animated conversations ensued when participants broke out into groups to work on their projects.
Featured speaker Angela Chou, founder of kids’ fashion brand Utterly, talked about how she uses screen printing to customize discarded fabrics from local clothing manufacturers.
Tracey Harper, Integrated Waste Management Specialist for CalRecycle, provided a statewide perspective on the challenges of reducing textile waste. Among other alarming facts, Tracey shared that textiles from residential sources climbed 45% between 2008 and 2014.
Though they only had an hour, these participants each completed a 4R Fashion project during the workshop: two reusable bags and a skirt made from a salvaged table cloth.

After the workshop we asked participants to respond to an anonymous online survey. The responses were very positive, including 100% rating the workshop “Excellent” or “Very Good.” More than one respondent said the most valuable part of the workshop for them was meeting and networking with other like-minded people. One person commented ” I hope you continue to do more of these workshop[s] … ,” and several said they would like another opportunity to continue the conversation.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Learn more about Utterly here.
Check out CalRecycle’s brand new textiles web page here.

Capri or not Capri … Thu, 21 Jun 2018 22:53:24 +0000 … there’s just no question.

Ronda takes in the sights and some fresh sea air on the island of Capri. Looking good, Ronda!

Our adventurous department head Ronda Chaney recently took a well-deserved jaunt over to the island of Capri, after teaching the Italian fashion course (see video here) in Florence for two weeks. And it got us thinking about the many connections between Capri and fashion. If these connections aren’t immediately leaping to mind, hop on board the ferry from Naples to Capri, and we’ll show you!

The Capri Pant
For a lot of us, this close-fitting, cropped pant has become a wardrobe staple. But where did the ubiquitous Capri pant originate? According to Fashion Trends Daily the pant is, indeed, named after the island of Capri, located just off the southwest coast of Italy near Naples. Sonja de Lennart is credited with coming up with the design in 1948. However the term “Capri pant” wasn’t used until 1952, according to Merriam-Webster.

Grace Kelly was one of the first celebrities to wear Capri pants.
Audrey Hepburn was also photographed many times in Capris. The popularity of the style took off and has continued to this day.
We just have one question: Do you think it’s a coincidence that the island of Capris is found just above the “ankle” of the boot of Italy?

Pucci Prints
The illustrious designer Emilio Pucci opened his first boutique not in Italy’s well-known fashion centers—Milan, Florence or even Rome—but on the island of Capri. He was tremendously inspired by the natural beauty of the island, and brought it’s casual lifestyle and vibrant colors into his work. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his unmistakable textiles. The colors found on Capri are intoxicating, as are Pucci’s nearly psychedelic prints.

Capri Fashion Today
These days the fashion vibe on the island of Capri is still casual but stylish and perhaps more varied than in the past.

You’re as likely to see a flowy skirt, like this one worn by Karlie Kloss, when strolling the streets of Capri as you are a cropped pant. [Photo credit not available.]
European brand Capritouch* is known mostly for their sandals but they also carry, you guessed it, several Capri pant designs!

A modern take on the Capri pant.

*The Cañada College Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising does not endorse this or any other brand. Photos and links are provided for educational purposes only.

What do you think? Was the Capri pant named in part because the island is located just above the “ankle” of Italy’s whimsical boot shape? Vote yes or no in the comments.

Top 5 Reasons to Sew Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:23:29 +0000 Those of us who sew probably do it because we enjoy it. It turns out sewing has a lot of physical and mental health benefits as well, including:

1. Reducing blood pressure, making us feel more relaxed
2. Increasing dopamine, which makes us feel happier
3. Increasing hand-eye coordination
4. Keeping our brains active and decreasing our chances of developing dementia
5. Increasing confidence and self-esteem

So whatever your reason, keep sewing! Your brain and body will thank you!


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La Dolce Moda Wed, 06 Jun 2018 20:44:37 +0000 When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Armani!

There’s just something about Italian style. A group of Cañada students are learning what’s behind that certain something right now as they study fashion first-hand in Florence. For those of us not lucky enough to be with them this week, here we provide a few windows into the magical world that is Italian style.

Italian Girl Street Style

In Italy you don’t have to attend a runway show to see a range of stunning looks on display. Just go out for a stroll and look around! Here a number of women with incredible style, seen on the streets of Italy’s major cities.

This Italian woman somehow makes a motorcycle helmet look like the chicest of accessories.

Tailoring, the Neapolitan Way

This engaging short film gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the long tradition of fine Italian suit making. In Italian with English subtitles.

Sophia Loren

Read more about the ultimate Italian style goddess and see pics of her many looks over the years here.

Many have tried but none have matched Sophia’s beauty and style.
Resort Season Means Business! Thu, 31 May 2018 20:05:25 +0000 Fashion Week in Milan is drawing to a close, after dozens of runway shows featuring Resort 2019 collections. But what is the Resort season anyway?

According to Leandra Medine of Man Repeller, Resort collections are also sometimes called Cruise, Holiday or Pre-Spring, but they all take place “after fall clothes have gone on sale but before spring clothes have been delivered to stores.” Resort merchandise typically ships in mid-November and continues to be seen at retailers at least through the winter holidays. Often the collections stay on the floor well into spring. This prevents a gap between fall and spring collections and means a long selling season. The best part for retailers? Resort pieces rarely go on sale.

Typically resort clothing is made of lighter-weight fabrics in brighter colors and is clearly intended for lounging on the beach, not going to the office. The target customer is someone who travels to warmer climes during the winter months. Those who live in warmer parts of the world, however, can sometimes wear Resort pieces year-round.

Following are a few highlights from the recent Resort 2019 shows:

A striking caftan with ribbon trim shown by Pucci. What other fashion house makes prints like that?
Another easy, breezy piece that could be thrown over a swimsuit, then worn out to dinner! This look by Oscar de la Renta.
Sometimes a Resort collection is indistinguishable from Spring, as is the case with this Temperley London collection. But isn’t it lovely?!
If you saw this woman walking down the street, you wouldn’t soon forget her! This hot pink leather ensemble could only come from Coach.
How do I love this look by Valentino? Let me count the ways …
Interwoven Topics: A Conversation about Sustainable Textiles Fri, 25 May 2018 20:44:09 +0000 Cañada fashion department student and staffer Shana McCracken attended the Planet Textiles conference in Vancouver, B.C. earlier this week. We sat down with her to find out what she learned.

CFD: So, you just got back from Planet Textiles. What was it all about?

SM: It was pretty incredible. There were attendees from all over the world—as far away as Germany, India and Australia. The overall theme was recent innovations in textiles and how we can scale them up so they have a greater positive impact.

Kate Heiny, Head of Global Sustainability for European fashion brand C&A spoke about what her company is doing to become ever-more environmentally friendly. Among other initiatives, 33% of the cotton they use is now organic, making them the largest buyer of this commodity.

CFD: How cool. What are some of those innovations?

SM: Gosh, there are so many. One really interesting group of innovations has to do with finding new, more sustainable sources of cellulose that we can make rayon from. According to presenter Valerie Langer from and CanopyStyle, the textile industry uses 120 million trees every year to make all the rayon that fashion demands. Some of these trees are sustainably harvested but many aren’t. Projects like CanopyStyle aim to make sure no wood from endangered forests is used to make fabrics.

Photo by Grewal, courtesy of CanopyStyle

Meanwhile there are companies producing rayon and similar fibers from things like leftover wheat straw and even microbes.

CFD: You mean bacteria?!

SM: Yep.

CFD: Wow, that’s amazing. What else were people talking about at the conference?

SM: A lot of the program dealt with so-called “microfiber” pollution. In this case, people mean tiny fragments of fibers, not filament fibers that are really small in diameter. These tiny fibers are finding their way from our washing machines into the ocean. Zooplankton eat them, and they make their way up the food chain—from salmon to Orcas and Grizzly Bears. Since we’re at the top of the food chain too, we humans are probably eating little bits of our clothing without realizing it!

CFD: That’s pretty scary. So what is being done about this problem?

Microfibers photographed under a microscope. A fleece pullover can release over one million fibers in just one washing, according to researcher and conference speaker Dr. Peter Ross.

SM: A number of different scientists, including Dr. Peter Ross, a toxicologist at OceanWise, presented the work they’re doing on microfiber pollution. They are trying to figure out where the fibers are coming from, what types they are (like polyester or cotton) and how they degrade in different kinds of environments. Cotton, Inc. a non-governmental organization (NGO) in North Carolina, is conducting tests on cotton, rayon and polyester and comparing the results. They are investigating what happens to these fibers when samples are placed at wastewater treatment plants as well as in fresh and salt water environments. They also look at what effects factors like temperature and detergents have on the shedding and break-down of these fibers.

The textile industry wants to figure all that out before they try to come up with solutions. They say they don’t want to inadvertently make things worse or trade one problem for another.

Different types of textiles are being tested at wastewater treatment plants like this one, where the water from our washing machines goes. Scientists want to see what happens to them under typical conditions.

CFD: Fascinating. What was your favorite part of the conference?

SM: As with just about any conference, the best part was the conversations I had with other attendees. I got to meet Kaya Dorey, the founder of Novel Supply Co., who recently received a grant from the United Nations to grown her sustainable fashion business. I also met somebody who works for a company called Asia Inspection that does sustainability audits at apparel factories in Asia and Latin America. Their clients are fashion brands that want to track what’s going on with their supply chains. They need a knowledgeable third party to make sure their contractors are doing what they promised when it comes to how they treat the environment and their workers.

Sure lectures and expert panels are great, but conversations had over lunch can be the best sources of information and inspiration.
Kaya Dorey is the founder and owner of Novel Supply Co. in Vancouver, B.C. Besides having all of her tees made from organic cotton, she also uses local talent to design and sew her garments.

CFD: It sounds like you really got a lot out of Planet Textiles!

SM: I sure did. And I have to give credit to the Cañada fashion department and Kathleen McCarney in particular. If I hadn’t taken professor McCarney’s Textiles class before going to this conference, I wouldn’t have been able to make heads of tails of a lot of it. I was able to keep up with most of the technical information that was presented because of what I learned in her class.

CFD: That’s great to hear!

To our readers: We highly recommend our Textiles course for anyone interested in fashion design and merchandising. Now is the time to sign up for fall!

Sewing Tips from Our Resident Expert Tue, 15 May 2018 14:00:13 +0000 Our fearless leader Ronda Chaney is unmatched in the field of fashion education, particularly when it comes to impeccable construction. She is co-author of the book Make It Your Own and has written for such publications as Sewing UpdateSerger UpdateSew NewsF.I.T. Review and Singer Sewing Books. She has also appeared on the nationally syndicated television program America Sews. Here she shares 10 tips for how to eliminate frustration by avoiding common mistakes.

#1—Choose the correct fabric for each design. Should the fabric be soft or crisp? How much drape do you want?
#2—Sewing machine maintenance is essential. Clean and oil your machine regularly.
#3—Change the needle on your machine when necessary. A good rule of thumb is to install a new needle after every 6-8 hours of sewing.
#4—Read through all of the pattern instructions several times before beginning a garment.
#5—Mark the wrong side of your fabric when laying out your pattern pieces. This is especially important with fabrics that have less obvious right and wrong sides.
#6—Use directional stitching, especially on necklines.
#7—Prevent wavy button holes by making a “sandwich” with stabilizer on both sides. Solvy brand or another tear-away product works best.
#8—Prevent hemlines from stretching by first attaching with a fusible web, then top stitching.
#9—When you’re feeling tired, take a break, and save the most challenging part of a sewing project for when you’re most rested.
#10—Plan to make mistakes and understand that doing so is the best way to learn. Sewing is an acquired skill that is improved with practice. Lots of practice.
Annual Spring Celebration! Tue, 08 May 2018 14:00:16 +0000 Last Friday faculty, staff, family members and friends of the department all gathered to celebrate our students’ achievements. And what achievements they were—from degrees and certificates, to scholarships and contest prizes!

The Cocktail Dress Challenge winners were finally revealed, after entries were carefully scrutinized by a panel of 32 judges. The judging panel consisted of Cañada professors from both inside and outside the department, as well as our Advisory Board members. Criteria for judging included creativity of design, quality of construction, use of fabrics from the mystery packages, and adherence to the contest theme.

Here are just a few highlights of many from the celebration:

Our five Cocktail Dress Challenge finalists! From Left to Right: Billy Lash (2nd Place), Ping Mathre (1st Place), Neta Levi (2nd Place, not pictured), Johanna Jay (2nd Place) and Linda Imlay (3rd Place). That’s right—three of our contestants tied for 2nd!
Ashley Weiss only just started learning sewing and fashion, but look what she was able to create!
Meghana Manjunath sewed all the black sequins onto her asymmetrical bodice by hand! She described the process, saying that it took her about two and a half full days to complete this one design feature.
Sally-Ann Rudd decided to make the most of the sequined fabric that came in her mystery bundle rather than hide it. We think she did a splendid job!
It was standing—and sitting—room only as students listened with interest to the contestants’ presentations.
Audience members at the tea didn’t need drum rolls to eagerly anticipate each and every announcement.
Student Talia Findley wasn’t present when her certificate in Fashion Design Technical, Apparel Industry was announced, so her dad accepted it for her. What a heart-warming moment!
Molly Dagnelie accepted her Theater Costuming and Fashion Design Technical Apparel Industry certificates (that’s right, two of them!) to exuberant cheers and a raucous round of applause.
Billy’s mom couldn’t be prouder of her son’s achievements. And the two of them couldn’t be any cuter! Am I right?!
Mother and daughter Leslie and Emily Abrams are both Cañada fashionistas. Here they proudly display mom’s contest creation with a removable overskirt!