New blog location

This blog has now moved to: http://www.emmamcginn.com/blog/

I look forward to seeing you there!

Emma

 

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Colourful sari scarves from my photoshoot last week

scarves

A note to my wordpress followers….

Hi All,

I am currently in the process of re-launching this blog. I have for some time been using my website blog (www.emmamcginn.com), which is supposed to feed into this one, but clearly it hasn’t been.

I have made the decision to move to an ecommerce site so that I can open up a shop, and at the same time make this blog into my main one. The good news is that this will mean more regular and (hopefully) inspiring content. The bad news is that to get it up to date I need to transfer all my old blog posts to this blog, otherwise they will be lost forever when I move hosting.

Please bear with me and if you receive loads of emails please ignore/delete them, I will try to get it finished in the next couple of days. There is supposed to be a ‘maintenance mode’ but this does not actually allow me to edit content so I am stuck doing it in live. I hope it isn’t too annoying!

Thanks for following and keep in touch!

Emma x

 

Join the March this Fair Trade Fortnight!

march

It’s fair trade fortnight and this year sees a big push by Fair Trade Foundation to get the public involved. The United Kingdom will be hosting the G8 summit this summer creating huge opportunity for David Cameron to set the agenda and champion small scale farmers. According to Fair Trade Foundation half of the worlds hungry are small scale farmers who are unable to earn a living from the crops they grow. How can that be possible?

We should be doing everything in our power to help the people who are growing our food. So here is our chance to have our say and make a different to the livelihoods of millions of small scale farmers around the world (while also seeing what we look like in mini me form!). It only takes 2 minutes to sign the petition and create your very own mini marcher. Visit Fair Trade Foundation for more information and to sign up. See you at Parliament Square!

Keep an eye out for me (below)!

emma

Come see me in Dorchester this Women’s Day!

It’s WOMEN’S DAY this Saturday! I will be participating in the WAND event in Dorchester, selling my beautiful Indian sari scarves and spreading the story of the wonderful rural Indian women who make them. It would be great to see you there!

Reading List – To Die For : Lucy Siegle

I finally bought Lucy Siegle’s new book today, called ‘To Die For – Is fashion wearing out the world’.  I’ve had my eye on this book since it was released. I took part in a discussion on ethical fashion a few years ago with Lucy Seigle as one of the main speakers, she was truly inspirational and really understood the issues surrounding how best to engage with consumers.

I look forward to reading it and will report back soon! Feel free to share your views on the book, or any other recommended reading, in the comments below. I will be posting a few book reviews in the coming months of books that have influenced me in my work and my approach to design/fashion.

About the book:

An expose on the fashion industry written by the Observer’s ‘Ethical Living’ columnist, examining the inhumane and environmentally devastating story behind the clothes we so casually buy and wear.

Coming at a time when the global financial crisis and contracting of consumer spending is ushering in a new epoch for the fashion industry, To Die For offers a very plausible vision of how green could really be the new black.

Taking particular issue with our current mania for both big-name labels and cheap fashion, To Die For sets an agenda for the urgent changes that can and need to be made by both the industry and the consumer. Far from outlining a future of drab, ethical clothing, Lucy Siegle believes that it is indeed possible to be an ‘ethical fashionista’, simply by being aware of how and where (and by whom) clothing is manufactured.

The global banking crisis has put the consumer at a crossroads: when money is tight should we embrace cheap fast fashion to prop up an already engorged wardrobe, or should we reject this as the ultimate false economy and advocate a return to real fashion, bolstered by the principles of individualism and style pedigree?

In this impassioned book, Siegle analyses the global epidemic of unsustainable fashion, taking stock of our economic health and moral accountabilities to expose the pitfalls of fast fashion. Refocusing the debate squarely back on the importance of basic consumer rights, Siegle reveals the truth behind cut price, bulk fashion and the importance of your purchasing decisions, advocating the case for a new sustainable design era where we are assured of value for money: ethically, morally and in real terms.

Return to Blighty and the ‘coldest winter for 100 years’!

It has been a while since I wrote anything for the blog, been a tad busy ya’ see! The transition from India to England is finally complete, and ran as smoothly as could be expected. Needless to say, the weather has been a shock to the system and my body has gone into hibernation mode. There has also been a lot of DIY to do, which stopped me from opening cases and unpacking my design work for the first couple of weeks.Despite all the commotion I now have a working studio and have started unpacking my delights from India. It has been a great boost to the system to reunite with some of the beautiful textiles I purchased on my travels, each one with its own memory and story. Some of them have been earmarked for different projects while others, like my Lucknow rugs, are happily scattered around the house. I have some beautiful pure silk saris from Kanchipuram which I am planning to make into patchwork quilts at some point. I also have the Kanchi cotton scarves, made by the wonderful women at RIDE, as part of our new venture. I have a huge variety of colours which will be available for sale very soon on my website www.emmamcginn.com – they are wonderfully lightweight and soft making the perfect accessory springtime!Even the exotic smells of India have travelled back with me in the form of hundreds of joss sticks and, most importantly, in the two huge bags of Sambar mix (spice mix) made by the wonderful Britto from RIDE and given to me on my last day in India. I have already made three meals using the magic mix and they have all been delicious! So even if I don’t get back to India this year, I know that I will have to go again at some point to stock up on Brittos super spice! Woo hoo!I have a busy time ahead, in the coming weeks I am planning to spend some time on my website (in between DIY of course!) with an aim to get ecommerce up and running. I will also be doing some product shots of the Kanchi scarves so that I can get them online asap and share them with the world! My indigo project is still going on, but I have to very patiently wait for a parcel from India. It is therefore on the back burner at the moment and part of my ability to be patient is the blatant fact that there is nothing I can do to hurry it along. I also have an article to write for Ethical Fashion Forum on Indigo dyeing, it is well overdue but should be a good one once I get it finished. I am arguing the case for using natural indigo in the denim industry – which seems the obvious choice when you understand the harmful chemicals used to produce synthetic indigo.

So a busy time ahead, and I am finally feeling up to the challenge now that spring is round the corner and life is feeling a bit less hectic.

indian-delights

Pictures from Christmas at RIDE

In a hurry to catch a flight now, but wanted to get the pictures up beforehand so you can all see them. We ended up giving gifts and dresses/shorts to approx 250 children, all associated with RIDE, many of whom live on hand-me-downs so to receive their own dress was a very special occasion! We also added a few little extras; balloons, tea, cake, and a little toy car or bangles. Mad and hectic day but oh so rewarding!

Enjoy the pictures!  Emma x

Weighing up our Christmas loot!

Thanks to the generosity of the Sew Scrumptious ‘Dress a Girl’ campaign, along with donations from family and friends, we are proud to say we have a huge amount of clothes to distribute to the children at RIDE‘s 2nd Christmas bash (you can read about RIDE’s 1st Christmas Here)!

The parcel of clothes arrived last week. All the hand made dresses and shorts (made by people in the UK) are just so cute I couldn’t help but start photographing them. I was on my own, looking through the suitcases, and just had to share the excitement! I couldn’t photograph all of them, there’s about 150 dresses and 70 shorts, but they really are all beautiful, even more so because they are made with love.

As with last year, we will be gathering children selected by RIDE organisation, they will include children from RIDE’s Love to Learn project and those who are living at the orphanage. We are looking at up to 150 children, that’s more than last year eeekkkk!

The afternoon will start with some fun and games (I’d like to say organised but not sure it will be), followed by tea and cake. We will distribute the wonderful clothes and take as many pictures as we can so we can share the day with those who made it possible.

The remainder of the clothes will be distributed by RIDE in the coming weeks, during their regular visits to smaller, local charities, and amongst targeted groups and villages.

Meeting my master batik printer

A 400 mile road trip later and I am overjoyed to have witnessed the batik printing of my first batch of scarves! They are still only samples at this stage but it was an amazing opportunity to meet the master craftsman who will be responsible for printing my collection. To see his studio, watch him work and be able to explain (with the help of a translator of course, I haven’t learnt tamil as yet!) some of my layout requirements to him.

His set up is far from high tech, the wax used for the batik is melted in a metal tray over a gas burner, held up on bricks. The lighting is very poor in his workshop, and I noticed that when he prints he is actually working in his own shadow (!) but he seems to manage anyway. When they have current he hooks up a light which improves conditions. A table of damp sand is used as a base for the fabric, and is smoothed over with a wooden rod before laying the fabric.

One of my scarf prints took a bit of explaining, with geometric ends, and a giant feather in a slightly slanted half drop repeat across the body of the fabric. This took a few samples to get him to understand what I wanted, but I love the fact that each sample is now one of a kind, so didn’t mind really. None off them actually look wrong, just different, and for production I want to aim for consistency, even if this is not what I end up with.

Getting to understand the needs and limitations of the artisan is a crucial element to getting the best out of the relationship and ensure you don’t end up frustrated. This trip has helped me determine what I can and can’t ask of him (like do not suggest that he moves his set up to reap the benefits of natural light), and what can be done by me to make his work easier.

Block printing is a process which is done entirely by eye and hand. The printer identifies a visual guide to show where the next block should be placed, irregularity of repeat is what makes it unique and genuine, however it is the mark of a true master when the irregularities are only slight. Things like layout, the number of points to be matched for each repeat, and also the rigidness of the fabric (whether the fabric moves during printing), are all elements which will affect production. For my designs I have a complicated repeat, lots of points to match, plus silk fabric so the difficulty level is pretty high!

For the aforementioned feather print scarf I have agreed to make a template which will be used to mark dots on the fabric as a guide for the repeat; this will speed up production time and ensure the the angle of the block is consistent.

It was very encouraging to see the next generation of batik printers present; the masters son was there as apprentice ready to lend a hand, all the time observing and learning.

Thanks to The Colours of Nature for inviting me to join them on this inspiring road trip – where I also got to witness denim production at a small powerloom factory, and the mind blowing process of industrial scale washing! One machine can wash 30,000 metres of fabric IN ONE DAY!!!!! I will share some pics at a later date, the machines are like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!