Okay, I’m not going to do that Karate Kid ‘Wax on, wax off’ bit here, because I haven’t seen that movie. First of all, don’t panic. Right after this happens grab a stiff piece of paper or a credit card to scrape as much of the wax off the substrate as you can. Try to keep it contained in your scraping, you don’t want to make a bigger mess!
After you do that you’re still going to have some wax on the coat. What you need to do now, is grab an iron, and set it to the temperature corresponding to your substrate. If it’s a wool coat, use the wool setting. For cotton, use the hotter, cotton setting. Figure out the surface that you’re going to iron on, whether it’s an ironing board, or your kitchen table. Place a piece of paper, or a clean rag on the surface on which you’re ironing, then place the part of the coat with the wax stain on top of the paper. The idea in this trick, is that the wax will melt and be attached to the other surface, not your coat. Iron, slowly and evenly, all over the coat. The wax may take a few moments to melt and spread off your coat so take your time.
Have a question about wax on other fabrics? Ask it in the comments!
Flannel is a soft woven fabric, that once was made of wool, or yarn. Now, most flannel is made of cotton, wool, or synthetic fibres. Flannel is sometimes brushed- the technical term is combed, which gives it a nap or nappe, making the fabric doubly soft. Brushed or combed flannel can be single or double sided nap, which means one or both sides have been brushed with the fine metal brush used to create a nap.
Flannel was made as early at the 17th century, and historians believe the origin of the name is Welsh. It was made in several towns in Wales, which all have odd names, like Hay on Wye and Llanidloes. Pronunciation? Your guess is a good as mine. In the 19th century, the growth of wool mills assisted the fabric in becoming more popular. When there were multiple textile processing centres sheep farmers could bring the wool to be processed, the fabric was more accessible and cheaper. At this time, people could tell the origin of a flannel by the differences in the final product. In Llanidloes, the flannel was so soft that it was proclaimed to have, “a softness of texture arising from the quality of the wool which renders them exceedingly well adapted to be worn next to the skin of the most delicate invalid”.¹ In 1835, approximately 2,520 people lived in the town of Llanidloes, and there were 30 recorded flannel manufactures, all employing a number of weavers, carders, and drapers. Clearly, the economy of the town depended significantly on this industry.
At the beginning of the 20th century, regulation garments for sport events like polo and cricket were made from wool and this tradition continued until the 1970’s when everyone’s favorite fabric, polyester, became more popular and practical. Flannel with a plaid or tartan pattern also enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the 1990’s when it was embraced by grunge culture and bands like Nirvana. Lots of people associate it with flannel pyjamas, or sheets, where the nap of the fabric traps warmth and helps to keep you cozy. Bottom line? Flannel is a style of weaving and processing the fabric.
Tartan is a woven fabric consisting of a pattern of horizontal and vertical stripes. Tartan is most commonly associated with Scotland, and Scottish heritage, as the concept of associating a style of tartan with a family or clan originated in Scotland. In North America, the pattern of tartan is also called plaid. However when you’re speaking with a Scot, don’t get confused, because a swathe of tartan fabric draped over a shoulder like a sash is called a plaid. Tartan fabric was originally made of wool flannel; if you’ve ever visited Scotland or its rural Highlands, you know the climate is damp, cold and bleak. Scotland is a cold, wet, rainy country, and before central heating and other modern conveniences Scots lived in houses made of rock, or wattle and daub, or a combination of both. In this bone chillingly damp country, you need garments to keep you warm, like fabric from the sheep that you raise. Woven tartan fabric would be used for blankets, kilts, plaids, hats, horse blankets, among others.
The stripes of a tartan fabric are from wool that would have been pre-dyed, and then woven into the desired check. The warp of a fabric are the lengths of yarn that are first placed in the loom; they go “up and down” and a weaver would organize different colours in groups to establish the pattern. The weft is where the weaver would change their thread to make the stripes of the pattern. The woven pattern of a tartan is the most simple twill weave which creates stripes at right angles to one another. New colours and shades are created when various duos of the warp and weft meet and the repeating pattern is called a sett. Historic tartans would also be made of muted colours, like browns, blacks, dark red and green, since dyers would have only had access to natural dyes, sourced locally.
In 1746, a law called the Dress Act tried to control the warrior clans of Scotland by prohibiting their tartans, as well as other parts of Gaelic culture. The law was repealed in 1782, and what once was Highland dress became considered the symbolic national dress of Scotland. (Which a Scot would wear when invited to a black or white tie occasion) After the jump is a picture of a bagpiper in Scottish national dress, in case you were wondering. The piper wears a Barathea* jacket with a plaid sash in the McQueen tartan, with a belt, kilt, kiltpin. He’s also wearing a formal sporran, which is a kind of purse or money belt made from otter or badger skin; a day or less-formal sporran would not have the carved silver piece, and would be made of leather. He’s also wearing a sgian dubh, a formal knife, hose and flashes, which are flags for your socks.
This is a really big question, but I will do my best. (There’s some fashion vocab at the end, for those of you who are curious about pronunciation.)
In a nutshell, haute couture is like concept cars that are made for auto shows. They’re cool to look at, not useful for everyday, but will influence trends of cars (or clothes) that will be mass manufactured. Once upon a time, the fashion world was a relatively straightforward entity. There were spring shows and fall shows. Now there’s pre-fall, resort, couture- what is going on?
Years ago, fashion shows or ‘ fashion weeks’ were held in the fashion capitals of the world, Paris, Milan, and later, London and New York. Paris, France (not Ontario) has always been the fashion capital of the world, designers and couturiers were dictating trends from there since the 13th century. Now, many large cities have fashion weeks, to showcase their designers, cities like Montreal, Toronto, Portland, Beijing, Sydney. Any large city will have one.
Nevertheless, the brands that have the most clout in the industry are all situated in large cities. The larger the brand, the more ‘lines’ it will have, like Chanel, which has Haute Couture, Fall, Spring, Resort, and a Fall and Spring Menswear. Smaller brands may have two shows a year, Fall and Spring, or just one, if it’s a tiny label. Here’s a breakdown of the different shows, and ‘levels’ of fashion:
(Haute) Couture: These are high fashion, high concept shows, about theatrics, drama, and dynamism. These shows are not about everyday clothing, unless you’re Lady Gaga. A couture show will usually contain dresses, coats, elaborate garments- evening or formal wear and they usually end with a wedding dress or two. Haute Couture is consists of carefully crafted garments, usually made entirely by hand. Garments can have yards of expensive silk, hand beading, handmade lace, flowers or other adornment. They’re expertly cut, and then hand tailored to your measurements. An haute couture dress could cost more than $20,000 and been worked on by more than twenty people. They’re what’s considered price-upon-request, and might not even be made more than once. These fashion shows tell a story, and involve thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of work, and dozens of people from stylists, makeup artists, models, lighting designers, sound engineers, graphic designers, and interns. About 13 designers did an Haute Couture collection in 2013. Chanel, Givenchy, and Jean Paul Gauthier are three of the main ones. These collections are all displayed in Paris.
Resort/Cruise: This a newer concept to the fashion industry, and has significantly grown over the last few years, but the resort fashion shows display clothing that one would wear, at a resort or on a cruise, obvi. Places like St Barths, Ibiza, the South of France, Palm Beach etc. once were locales where people went to escape the winter, and they needed a whole other wardrobe for those places. This was started with designers like Lilly Pulitzer, and Banana Republic who only made collections for these uses, and other designers followed suit. Now, about 40 designers do a resort collection, along with their regularly scheduled programming.
Menswear: This has been discussed for 2013 here. My advice? Talk to your father about his tweed suit, and buy an orange t-shirt now. There’s no couture for Menswear among most brands, see bespoke (below). The weirder labels do have odder things, like Viktor and Rolf, etc, but most Menswear is a Ready to Wear.
Bespoke: This isn’t a fashion show or collection, but the equivalent of couture for men. A bespoke suit is a custom made suit, made to measure for the customer. They’re available from brands like Harry Rosen, in Canada, and a tailor on Savile Row in the UK, and will similarly cost $20,000, but you could get one for $5,000 or so.
Ready to Wear: also called Pret à Porter, which literally means ‘ready to wear’ these shows are the ‘regular’ clothing from lines, it’s suits, jackets, skirts, pants, tops, day dresses, and might finish with a formal dress or two. This is what’s called ‘off the rack’, where a garment isn’t tailored or altered to your exact specifications. Pants might be hemmed for you, but they’re not going to reset the zipper, or take in the seams. These garments are available at the flagship stores of a brand, or department stores like Holt Renfrew, Ogilvy, or The Room at The Bay, and Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom if you’re in the States. There are usually 40 to 70 looks in a ready to wear show; this depends on the size of the house.
Pre-Fall: This is a new trend, due to the constant desire for something ‘new’ from fashion consumers. A Pre-Fall collection happens between December and January, before the Fall shows of spring, and the clothes arrive in stores between May and July. There are usually 20-30 garments in a Pre-Fall collection.
Fall/Spring: This speaks more to the time of the show, oddly Fall shows happen in the spring, and Spring shows happen in the fall. So, a Fall Ready to Wear show would happen between January and March, and a Spring show would happen between September and October. Super weird, I know. The reason why Fall and Spring fashion shows are scheduled this way, is to allow for stores and buyers to put in their orders for the clothing, and have it made before the actual fall or spring season happens.
Sportswear: Like others, this concept is misleading. Sportswear is the same as Pret à Porter or Ready to Wear. It’s regular, everyday clothing, no exercise or sport clothing- that’s athletic wear. It’s used more in the American fashion industry.
A fashion brand could to up to 7 or eight shows per year. In 2012, Valentino did a Resort, Spring Menswear, Spring Ready to Wear, Pre-Fall, Fall Menswear, Spring Couture, and a Fall Ready to Wear. That’s seven fashion shows, and hundreds of garments!
After the jump is an image of looks from Mulberry’s Ready to Wear, Chanel Couture and Givenchy Couture, showing different ways designers interpret the looks. You can see that the Mulberry look is an ensemble acceptable for everyday, while the Chanel dress is more elabourate. Finally, the Givenchy dress, for formal occasions, it looks like something Lady Guinevere would wear.
Cross stitch is an embroidery technique, where the motif you use to make pictures or text are little crosses or X’s. The substrate you use in cross stitching is a woven fabric with small or large holes in a grid shape, called aida cloth, where it’s easy to make the tiny X’s of your pattern.
Have a question about fabric, textiles or embroidery? Ask it in the comments!
Brocade is a type of weave, a heavy, ornate shuttle fabric. The word brocade comes from the Italian broccato which means, ‘embossed cloth’. The way the way the fabric is woven creates a stiff, heavier fabric which may have a element of relief to the pattern.