Brrrrr its COLD!

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Model Rachael Boyd

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Summer in February?

Stormy Rangel, Rachael Boyd (two models from Tuolumne County) and I, met up with photographer Edewaa Foster (II Pix Photography) at his studio in Sonora last weekend for a winter fashion photo shoot. We had originally proposed to do this outdoors in the snow, but the logistics of changing (and staying warm), deterred me from this plan. So we agreed to do this in his studio instead. But when we got there last Saturday, it was 70 degrees outside!  We all agreed it would have been a challenge in this unusually warm February to have found snow, even at the nearby ski resorts.


So, grateful for the surprising and welcome warmth of this fantastic Saturday, in the middle of winter in Tuolumne County, we pulled out the sun glasses and went for a taste of summer instead!  Posing in front of garden windows, Stormy modeled her favorite item in my collection (we shot 12 ensembles in 3 hours), this navy leather vest, fashioned from the remnants of another project. 


One of the goals of Slow Fashion is to support 'ZERO WASTE' in the creation of garments.  This vest was designed from the remnants of a custom designed belt for an architect, who wanted an attractive, professional utility belt, that would hold all of her design tools.  The belt was a success, and, as we can see, so is the vest designed out of the remnants!  Kudos to Stormy for bringing this to life in this fabulous photo, turning seeing into believing.






Moving Faster Toward Slow Fashion

Fast Fashion is broken, and needs to be mended. As the second biggest polluting industry in the world today after oil, it is morally unconscionable to dress our bodies in attire that ends up defiling the natural beauty of our environment. Mankind is the only creature on this earth that has and does prioritize self over the integrity of our ecosystem, and this behavior has got to change. It is up to each and everyone of us to play a part in helping to influence this behavior to protect the earth that we depend on.
There are many ways to mend Fast Fashion, but the fastest and most direct is to stop buying from retailers who are supporting this supply chain. If there is no demand, the supply will only dry up. Those critical of this solution will argue that this industry is bringing many third world countries out of poverty. My rebuttal is that this is a false economy, as the cost for cleaning up these environments has not been factored in. Plus, the workers producing our clothes do not make living wages, and consequently are simply another form of slavery that our country and many European countries are supporting. Enslaving whole populations is not ‘offering’ them an alternative to poverty.
As illustrated in this article, mending is an excellent skill to facilitate the longevity of individual items of clothing. But the alternatives to Fast Fashion are numerous, and often much more stylish. This article does a great job of helping us understand that fashion and style are not packaged in main stream retail!

Morgan Levay

This woman, Morgan Levay (and my daughter), makes fabulous hand knit winter hats.  She lives in Truckee, where the winters are harsh (in terms of most California communities), and where she relishes the opportunity to bring creative solutions of warmth to her community. 


Each hat is unique in its color combination, as well as the embellishments she adds to every creation.  They all feature long fringe and ear flaps lined with fur, and are adorned with crystals and/or semi precious stones, specifically designed to enhance the artistic intrigue of each work of art.  They are lightweight and roomy, so comfortable to wear without adding weight to your hairstyle underneath.


Morgan has an inventory of styles and colors you can pick from.  I like the fact that she does custom work, as I am always looking for very specific color combinations to go with specific fashion pieces or ensembles!


Angora is the New Cashmere


Color Your Winter Wonderland Fashion White

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Upcycle Sweaters into Fashionable Winter Hats

Sweaters make a great holiday gift (or gifts), but seem to be vanishing from the shelves of most ready-to-wear department stores and boutiques the rest of the year.  There are many theories for this; mine is that they are largely too warm or bulky to wear comfortably under most winter jackets, and that fabric technology has advanced enough so that today's jackets are efficient enough to do the job this garment was originally designed for.  Also, unless you live on the east coast where you need sweaters for most air conditioned events in the summer time, they take up a lot of drawer space for a garment that is not used very often.


A good solution?  Up cycle them into hats and scarves.  Other accessories such as boot socks and/or arm warmers are easily harvested from sleeves.  The point is that your entire sweater can be used and enjoyed again.


Winter Wear; Goddess Hats!

Mantra Handmade Treasures helped me stand out from the crowd at the Pivot Fashion Show at the Anne and Mark Art Party's closing night bash.  The event featured fashion designer, artists, and performers, so so I needed a little help from my friends , like a cookie can use some chocolate chips, or ice cream hot fudge.  So my daughter Morgan Levay stepped up to the plate and offered to make some of her hand knit hats for the event.


These outfits would have paled without them, but I also could have slapped blue jeans on these girls and there presence would have been just as stunning.  So if you are reading this blog, and have any winter sports activities planned for the upcoming winter season, visit her web site at and pick out a hat to make your winter appearance unforgettable!




The Brain Child Behind Eco Fashion Sewing

If you want to learn more about how to transform existing garments into new designs, Eco Fashion Sewing (, provides tutorials, and highlights designers who are pioneering in the Eco Fashion Industry.  Founder Mariana Kirova is reaching out to her local constituency through workshops and speaking opportunities.  And to further illustrate the importance of this category of design, she is presenting one of her collections at Australia's Eco Fashion Week in November of this year (see


Mariana is also the author of the E-Guide titled "Create Your Own Designer Clothing  from Vintage and Unloved Garments", available on her website.  “Women have lots of clothing that they do not wear in their wardrobes, many of which could use a simple technique or embellishment to completely transform them"  Mariana observes.  "Fast Fashion has become so disposable, it would be a lot gentler on the environment if people learned a few up cycling tricks to re-purpose rather than discard their clothing."


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Fish Leather Belts

Fish leather is available in many colors and finishes, and makes a great leather substitute for making belts. Colors are unlimited, as every 'tanner' can use any dye available in the marketplace.  Finishes typically include satin, silk, and suede; I prefer the silk and suede for a softer finish and richer look. As you can see from the belt in this photo, the fish scales are clearly visible  on the surface texture of the pelt, which adds an exotic finish to the belt.


The best pelts come from Salmon, Perch and Carp, although Wolf fish and Tilapia skins are also used.  Rays and Sharks are also harvested, but its important to make sure to be selective about the skins you use.  Rays are used exclusively for their skins, so are not farmed responsibly.  The same is true for Sharks, who are often farmed for part of their bodies and thrown back into the ocean to die.  Salmon, Perch and Carp are, in most fishing industries, farmed responsibly, meaning they are subject to fishing regulations and restrictions, so they are sustainable according to current market conditions.  This could change, so its important to stay on top of current events.


Up until fish skins were harvested into leather pelts, this part of the fish was always discarded, so by using fish leather, you are supporting a recycling process, which is part of participating in sustainable fashion.  However, the fish skin does need to be soaked in a brine solution, which depending on the volume of product being processed, can create a disposable waste issue.   So just stay on top of your environmental issues at all times, and try as best as possible to balance production with the environment, so we can all breathe deeper!