News from you 7/28/2008

Uncharcteristic for a Monday, it’s another edition of News From You. If you’re new to these parts, News From You is an ongoing series best described as an eclection of news, the weird, the arcane and the downright useless of interest to F-I infovores. Send your submissions to News From You.

Note: I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for my trip to Medellin Colombia. I return on Saturday. As with anytime I go to a trade show, I can only check in sporadically. If your comment is held for moderation, my response will be slow. If you want your comment to publish immediately, omit your url (even my comments are held if I include a url).

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Amazon.com has purchased Fabric.com, an internet supplier of fabrics for enthusiasts.
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Fashion and Trade Show news:
Via CAN, San Diego will be having their first ever Fashion Week Sept 28-Oct.5, 2008. More info. The site designer is exceedingly fond of 4-6 point font, in all caps no less. ~sigh~. In other words, no one over thirty need bother.

Conversely, San Francisco will be sitting out their Fashion Week this go round. I can’t say I’m surprised. The show was never well managed and they created a lot of bad karma with key bloggers, rescinding their offer of free tickets -at the door.

There’s also pending changes for SPESA (Sewn Products & Equipment Suppliers of the Americas). Held every three years, the next event will be held in Atlanta in conjunction with two new textile related partners. I imagine the Atlanta venue will please all the grey hairs, yours truly included. Many of us still miss the camaraderie we knew from the now defunct Bobbin Show that’d been held in Atlanta annually.

Christian Audigier (Ed Hardy) won’t be showing at MAGIC or Project next go round. No no, he’s opening his own show at Caesars Palace starting this August. Anyone who saw his booth at Project can attest his booth -and purportedly, ego- is large enough to do it. For my part, I can look forward to not being annoyed by the display on future visits.

The Outdoor Retailer show is coming up fast, August 8-11.


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Privacy concerns are wobbly:

In one experiment, one group of students was given a strong assurance that none of the information they divulged on the survey would be revealed. That should make them more forthcoming, right? Actually, the opposite was true. When the issue of confidentiality was raised, participants clammed up. For example, 25 percent of the students who were given a strong assurance of confidentiality admitted to having copied someone else’s homework. Among those given no assurance of confidentiality, more than half admitted to it.

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Why you should beware cars with lots of bumper stickers

According to William Szlemko and colleagues this kind of vehicular adornment is a sign of territoriality – these drivers are sending out a powerful signal that this hunk of metal is theirs… Szlemko’s team wondered if the combination of a highly territorial driver (as betrayed by their penchant for car stickers) on a public road could be a recipe for what they call “boundary confusion” – muddle over what’s private and what’s public, thus leading to a greater likelihood of road rage.

Drivers with more stickers and other forms of personalisation tended to be more attached to their cars… Crucially, drivers with more personalised cars also admitted to driving more aggressively, including tailgating and ramming. Sticker lovers also admitted that they were less likely to respond constructively to frustration on the road, for example by trying to drive more safely. Perhaps surprisingly, the content of stickers made no difference to these associations.

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How the Wire Coat Hanger Got Invented
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With rising gas prices, there’s some conjecture on changing suburbia. I’m not sure I concur. Alternatively, rising prices could lead to revitalizing inner cities, providing opportunities for a healthy pattern language to emerge.
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DNR says the Olympics could delay fall shipments.

Rumors of road closures, forced factory shutdowns, maxed-out seaports and increased scrutiny at Customs before, during and after the Summer Olympics in Beijing has the logistics world buzzing and more than a few apparel vendors wondering whether they should take fall shipments early to ensure on-time delivery.

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Circuitously I found the Commercial Pattern Archive, a project based at Rhode Island University. They’ve cataloged thousands of pattern envelopes front and back dating from 1868-1968. They also sell the images on CD for $100 apiece. I suppose that’s a good value if you’re the type who has a trend budget but a little pricey for voyeurs like me. Happily, the project provides a free sample set. I have the impression the sample set of images varies. I’ll try to remember to check back next month to see if there’s a new set up.
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Scientists say watermelon may offer Viagra-like effects

A slice of cool, fresh watermelon is a juicy way to top off a Fourth of July cookout and one that researchers say has effects similar to Viagra – but don’t necessarily expect it to keep the fireworks all night long. Watermelons contain an ingredient called citrulline that can trigger production of a compound that helps relax the body’s blood vessels, similar to what happens when a man takes Viagra, said scientists in Texas, one of the nation’s top producers of the seedless variety.

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Just-Style says (sub required, I don’t have one):

China’s beleaguered manufacturers have so far survived and absorbed energy costs, rising transport costs, high input and commodity costs, soaring freight costs, rising wage bills and new labour laws (not to mention tough Western companies looking for cheap, cheap prices). But they may not be able to overcome the actions of their country’s own visa issuing department.

Restrictions ahead of the Olympic Games mean apparel retailers and importers cannot get visas for their factory inspectors and quality assurance (QA) staff to enter China – and are consequently scrambling to find alternative capacity in Vietnam and Bangladesh. And once they’ve gone, there is a very real fear they won’t return.

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Carol Dweck says

Those who believe they were born with all the smarts and gifts they’re ever going to have approach life with what she calls a “fixed mind-set.” Those who believe that their own abilities can expand over time, however, live with a “growth mind-set.”

“Society is obsessed with the idea of talent and genius and people who are ‘naturals’ with innate ability,”…“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”

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Mr. Green soon designed a big flag of his own, made to come apart in 14 pieces for easy transport. Now, as the vice president of Sky’s the Limit Productions, he has two football-field-size flags. The other unfastens into four pieces, packed into separate trunks that, when filled, weigh 400 pounds each. Each of the 50 stars on those flags is about 5 feet across, according to Pete Van de Putte, the president of the Dixie Flag Manufacturing in San Antonio, which has made four football-field-sized flags.

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I’m obligated to follow up on articles and video clips visitors send me. It was with a sense of obligation I watched one that Melanie Scott sent me. I am often wrong. I’m glad I was with this one. Now I just want to know who the hell Matt is and how he had the money and in some cases, the pull, to do this. You’ll also enjoy it.
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Via a story on NPR (related), I hear of a radical new product that promises homeowners can generate 20-60% of their energy needs for the minimal price of $630. What is it? A turbine. We’re big fans of those around here. And not just any turbine; it’s a designer turbine designed by Philippe Starck. I didn’t find his rendition particularly attractive but it’s the function that matters most.
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It would seem SkillsUK is not the only entity upset at the dearth of well trained designers. VietNam is too.

Speaking at the Fashion Industry of HCM City last Friday, Dang Minh Hanh, director of the Fashion Design Institute (Fadin), said most local designers have not been trained thoroughly and have uncreative designs. Viet Tien, one of the top brand names in Viet Nam fashion, requested 50 professional designers from Fadin, which could only provide five. The Viet Tien Garment Company plans to sink VND100 billion into recruiting professional designers.

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Professor Baba Shiv claims women are better at making decisions than men, saying the difference lies in how emotions influence decision-making.
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New research suggests that people vastly underestimate how willing others are to help us.

“Our research should encourage people to ask for help and not assume that others are disinclined to comply,” says Frank Flynn, associate professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “People are more willing to help than you think, and that can be important to know when you’re trying to get the resources you need to get a job done, when you’re trying to solicit funds, or what have you.”

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List of 20 best productivity lists. In the same vein, this site provides DIY planner templates you can print out to replace the pages in your commercially purchased planners.

Speaking of getting things done, via zen habits I find a cool to-do list app on the web called Now Do This. More spare than Google, it’s a plain white page with one line. Get the job done, click done and you’re rewarded with “done”. Sounds too simple to be effective but there is some satisfaction to it. Hit the edit button to create your own list.
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Ludmila Corlateanu has a blog called Mila’s Fashion. Although from Romania, most of the text is in English. I like foreign blogs, don’t you? The links are always so fun. Mila recently celebrated her debut at Romanian Fashion Week this past May.
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WWD announces that N.Y. authorities raided a sweatshop in Queens (gated). FYI: the company has already renamed itself Garlee NY Inc. It was formerly known as Jin Shun Inc. In addition to the companies listed below, Urban Apparel paid $60,000 to have the “unlawfully manufactured” labels (tagged by the state) removed.

An investigation conducted by the New York State Department of Labor uncovered significant labor violations at two factories manufacturing garments for Macy’s, Gap, Banana Republic, Express, Victoria’s Secret, Limited and Coldwater Creek… Employees were …earning 22 cents a garment. For more complex garments, workers could earn 40 cents. All told, employees received an average of $250 a week, despite typically putting in 66-hour work weeks.

The factory owners are alleged to have played an active role in circumventing labor laws. They instructed workers to fill out two time cards — one for Monday through Wednesday and a second card for the remainder of the week — ensuring that no more than 40 hours of work would show on any card, investigators said. According to the one set of time cards the factory owners would present to labor investigators, workers were completing an entire item of clothing in less than a minute. Investigators even found a question-and-answer sheet meant to coach workers on how to respond to labor investigators without raising suspicions… If asked if they were happy with their work environment, workers were told to respond with: “I am happy here. We get along with our boss. He is very nice to us and treats us well.”

Speaking of WWD, they have redesigned their site, rebranding it WWD Beta. I’m not sure I like the navigation.The inner pages look kind of familiar and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized they look somewhat like this one just not as black.
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Any guess as to what xerophthalmia means? That qualifies as one of the stranger words I’ve gotten in my daily mailing from the Visual Thesaurus.
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From Lean Blog, a snapshot of Tesco’s spartan headquarters:

It’s not exactly how you would expect to find the boss of the world’s third biggest retailer. After 20 minutes’ train journey into the indeterminate hinterland just outside London you walk a few hundred yards to a rather seedy industrial estate. It announces itself with a garage offering MOT testing and repairs. Barely a hundred yards beyond the car bashers looms a low-slung concrete block. This is the global headquarters of Tesco: annual sales £51.8bn, yes, billion. The single receptionist sits beneath a sign reading: “Every Little Helps”. Two minutes later Sir Terry Leahy is in the reception to take me upstairs to a fittingly unpretentious office.

Keep that in mind the next time you visit a sewing contractor who’s only signage consists of a scrappy weather beaten cardboard sign hand written in magic marker.
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Apparel‘s most recent newsletter included a link to recent research conducted by Akami on consumer reactions to poor online shopping experiences. Free but registration is required. You should be subscribing anyway (free). Several of our members have been featured in the magazine and another will be in the next issue. Mums the word until it hits the stands.

Also from Apparel, Avery Dennison wins their lawsuit over patent infringement of their Plastic Staple® ST9000TM Apparel Tag Attacher.
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A press release from Textiles Intelligence says China has lost its competitive edge in clothing.

In the first quarter of 2008 alone, US apparel imports from China declined by nearly 10% compared with the corresponding period of 2007, reaching US$4.43 billion. In terms of China’s currency, the renminbi, the fall was an even greater 17%.

China’s drop in competitiveness stems from mounting costs on several fronts. Apart from higher costs of energy and raw materials — which manufacturers face all over the world — Chinese textile mills face greater costs in having to comply with growing environmental legislation. At the same time, Chinese apparel factories are having to cope with new regulations on working conditions.

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Andrea Baker is hosting a trunk show in conjunction with another business in Eureka CA. You are invited to participate and have your goods included. The event will be held September 12th from 6pm to 10pm. Contact Andrea for more information.
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eBay has really become annoying lately. First they changed the feedback mechanism; vendors can’t leave feedback on bad buyers. I hadn’t tested it personally until recently when I decided to unload some of the thousands of 4″ bone hair pipe “beads” I keep tripping over on the way to the back bathroom in my office. My buyers have been good but the culture’s gotten ugly. Another vendor -who’s business I probably seriously undercut- had some of my listings yanked because I was using a word in my listing that didn’t describe my product. My sin? Saying my bones weren’t plastic but real bone. The other vendor had been selling 5 plastic 4″ hairpipes for $3. I’ve been selling 100 unit lots for less than $20. I tell you, it’s getting uglier out there all the time. If you’re curious how these are used, here’s pictures of past products I’ve made for clients. I still have plenty left if you’re interested in buying some.

Before I got sidetracked on that mini rant, eBay’s been in the news lately. Ioanna sends a piece mentioning that eBay predominated in the trademark infringement lawsuit instigated by Tiffany’s. I guess eBay can chalk that up as a minor consolation prize for losing the lawsuit against Louis Vuitton. In that case, eBay’s been ordered to pay restitution of 64 million dollars to the luxury goods maker.
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Danielle sends a link to a story in Time called Manufacturing: The Burden of Good Intentions.

For corporations and consumers alike, it brought home the realization that globalized production comes at a price: the cheap labor that lured multinationals to developing countries often goes hand in hand with less appealing hallmarks of developing nations — harsh working conditions and unenforced labor laws. Governments in most developing nations weren’t monitoring conditions, so Western firms found themselves “held responsible for problems they didn’t really know existed,” says Daniel Viederman, executive director of Verité, a U.S.-based NGO that investigates workplace conditions globally.

It’s a very good article which describes the deplorable state of compliance monitoring. In spite of your every caution and expense, it’s hard to mind vendors. If it’s hard at arm’s length, why would it be any easier at a distance?
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Mallory sent an email expressing outrage that an indie designer was knocked off by one of her wholesale customers -another indie level operation. Believe me, I’m sympathetic but it happens. The fact remains, you’re more likely to be ripped off by someone on your same level than you are to be copied by a big player so it’s a bit annoying that indies always tend to fear or infer the opposite. Most big players don’t habituate the places your stuff is likely to be sold. Secondly, too many DEs make themselves a target (pt.2). You can lead a horse to water …And not to suggest it was deserved by any means but I note the knocked off DE was naming all of her styles…
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Esther sent a link to something too hard for me to wrap my head around -a sewing DNA. This is more Vesta’s speed.
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Susan Kostelecky says she’s coordinating a seminar in Houston this October which will feature a presentation by Colette Wolff, author of The Art of Manipulating Fabric. If you’re not familiar with her book, I don’t think I’m the only one who considers it to be the most complete reference on fabric manipulation techniques there is. More on the event is here.
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Speaking of seminars, have you heard that Julian Roberts is coming to the US this October? East and west coast events are tentatively planned. Julian emailed me a while back but I haven’t gotten any specific dates and times yet. I’ll keep you posted.
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Stephanie Niedospial sends word of a call for entries in the Chicago area for a show featuring eco designers this October 2-5. Deadline for entries is September 1. More information is said to be here but I couldn’t find it. No search box either. If you strike out, try emailing her
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Joanna sent this funny piece from the Wall Street Journal (video included). It would appear that retailer GAP has permeated households across the country with their folding standards.

On those rare occasions her husband, Brad, folds the laundry, Joanne Ross-MacLeod can’t keep herself from refolding it. She recently undid a pair of leggings he had bunched up into a small square. She folded one leg onto the other, brought the bottom up past the knees, then the knees up to the waist, in the manner she had learned 20 years ago folding jeans at the Gap… She isn’t the only one. The ranks of obsessive folders have swelled in recent years as a generation of Americans has done stints as clothing-store clerks… Gap Inc. says it has trained “hundreds of thousands” of Gap store employees in the art of folding since the late 1980s.

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Christy Burton mentions that some people, lacking better things to do, test the post office by mailing weird unwrapped objects. Christy insists she has no need of one shoe but I think we should all send her one in honor of her wedding on Saturday. Sans packaging of course. Some past mailing experiments were conducted by Improbable Research (a favorite site). They mailed a one dollar bill and a twenty dollar bill in separate plastic baggies with postage affixed. The one dollar bill arrived in six days. The twenty, in four days. A tooth (molar) was mailed in clear plastic and arrived in 14 days. In transit, it had been repackaged in a padded mailer by persons unknown and arrived with a note attached reading “Please be advised that human remains may not be transported through the mail, but we assumed this to be of sentimental value, and made an exception in your case.”
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Jeannine Shinoda writes:

I’ve attached these images just for fun. I got a hold on one of those Japanese Pattern Books and made the shirt on the cover. Though the actual pattern isn’t exactly printed in the book, I was able to recreate the pattern from the photograph of the pieces shown on a page. I made a slight change in the pattern and I lengthened the torso (for a taller friend) and also extended the shoulders as well.

Pretty cool eh? Not that anyone suggests these will be great sellers but these things are useful to practice and test your skills. I still haven’t done anything with mine except for one that didn’t look anything like the picture so I didn’t post it. Plus it was tiny tiny and barely fit my form with the same level of ease. It was only later I realized the pattern of the one I liked wasn’t included,only it’s earlier rendition.
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Coral may be too popular for own good. It’s going the way of ivory, making for another not-PC fashion item.
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Penny Ellis sends a link to a video of designer Babette Pinskys pleated garment operation in Oakland, CA. I had a few moments of grief with incompatible file format. Your mileage may vary.
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An interesting email from Hana Běťáková regarding our earlier fascination with the pivot sleeve:

I’m writing because I was intrigued by the half-resolved pivot sleeve mystery you mentioned in October 2006. While browsing through another wonderful source of information, the scanned issues of The Cutter’s Practical Guide to Cutting at Costumer’s Manifesto, I noticed another version of the pivot sleeve. Interestingly, this one is almost the same as regular sleeve, only extending down to the waist.

I think Hana is right. JC and I think it may have influenced Mallory’s jacket. The time period is right. Good eye Hana.
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Anne Casey (aka /anne) sends an interesting link to an article describing fashion consumption and the toll it exacts on landfills. Fast fashion isn’t so lean, perhaps we’ll see a resurgence in investment wardrobes?

Speaking of garbage, Marguerite sends a link to a power point presentation on the dangers of plastic bags. It’s just heartbreaking. Please make pains to bring your own bags.
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Top ten Perfectly Pure Gadgets, the best inventions of all time. Naturally, scissors are seventh on the list. You probably own at least one of each. I have all gadgets but the mousetrap. I have five of those with four legs apiece. It’d be cheaper to feed the mice.
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Hypocrisy: Deep down, we can’t fool even ourselves.
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For another view of Wal-Mart’s vendor squeezing, read why cereal boxes are only two-thirds full. Another link from Lean Blog is a National Geographic show describing how fire trucks are made. It takes 45 days to build a fire truck. Imagine that.
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More on the disappearance of bees and why we need to do something about it.
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This is something that’s bugged me forever, milk jug design. Other nations, many supposedly far less “developed” than the US, have had more progressive design resulting in lower energy costs and less waste for at least twenty years that I know of. In other places, it comes in liter bags. You stack them in the fridge. You put the bag in a smaller reusable jug, snip the corner off and pour. According to the article, Americans aren’t pleased with development.
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Lisa Blank sends a link to a video on how to recycle a tee shirt into a sexy bikini.
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Joseph Stewart sends a link to a video of Martin Greenfield, owner of a suit factory. Broadcast quality video.
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JC sends a link to C.T. Chappell’s Custom Boot Making School.
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Lisa sends a couple of links of interest. One is to examples of size specifications for jeans. Another is chapter ten of a textbook online that discusses spreading, marking and cutting.
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Oh my, the controversy of button setting on men’s shirts. Unfortunately, I think “stand” as been transmogrified to “stance”. I blame Seinfeld. That show never got apparel terminology right. I was really annoyed by that “gabardine” episode. The show was based in NY! You’d think they could have found a consultant before writing filming it.
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Well, that’s all I have time for today. I welcome noncommercial submissions from anyone be they useful, quirky, weird and offbeat. I credit all sources, include your web address for link love. Be kind, save me some time and include your url with your message. If it’s not obvious from the content that you want to remain anonymous, you’ll have to tell me.

Commercial notices are encouraged from community members. I will print your commercial news posted such as openings, launches, new websites, news and press pieces if you’re one of my designers or allied member of the community; we’re thrilled to see your progress. Non-members with commercial notices should review the submission guidelines. I regret the limitation but if I didn’t, then NFY would be dominated by PR fluff, jewelery and handbag designers with no ties to the community looking for free advertising.

Send your submissions to News From You.

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6 comments

  1. Danielle says:

    Hm, I always keep my milk bags, I have more milk bags than I ever might need for sandwich bags or freezer bags.

    I guess they’re ok compared to cartons, but I always wondered why we couldn’t have reusable jugs.

  2. Karen C says:

    Sometime in the near future I hope to utilize the services of the pleating place in Oakland; I’ll report back and let everyone know how it went.

    I hopefully will be attending the Julian Roberts lecture/demo in October. Just a warning–tixs will be somewhat pricey, from what the woman told me who is bringing him stateside. But I’m sure worth it–he’s very cutting edge.

    Have fun in Columbia. Ole’

  3. Robin says:

    I saw the Apparel Mag article on the plus-sized active wear. (i forgot the name) I remember reading a few of her posts and thought it was a great idea. I am so proud of her!
    Way to go !!!

  4. /anne... says:

    It’s often the little things that we take for granted that can be so different in other countries. One comment in the milk carton article surprised me – “the new refrigerators with the shelf in the door”. We’ve (Australia) had shelves in the door of fridges since at least the early 70s. While milk cartons are now mostly square waxed cardboard or rectangular thin plastic, in the early 70s when I travelled around Australia, we found all sorts of shapes in different places. We still had glass bottles in Melbourne. Plastic bags were used in some of the remote places because transport was easier. And in Darwin, it was 50% cow’s milk, 50% buffalo milk. Horrible stuff :-(.

  5. Renae H. says:

    Thanks Robin! bodyworks apparel is honored to be mentioned in August Apparel Magazine
    article and thrilled to be moved to the front page of the online version. I am anxious to see the hard copy arrive complete with photos!

    Thanks to Kathleen for providing the resources to help our dreams come true!

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