29 October 2013

Meet the makers

I met this dynamo sister team about 3 years ago when I was living near their shop and going to the Fabric market nearby regularly to source fabrics for a company I worked for. We started off together making skirts - the Sunday skirt and Picnic skirt-  I would bring in my patterns, samples, spec sheets and my rolls of haggled for fabrics. We had a lot to learn about each other. Both Hien and Hoai have classical tailoring training - that means they don't use patterns, or cutting machines, or run production in a way that I had ever come across.

Hoai, Hien and Oahn.

We now work with each other full time. The learning curve for all of us has been great - the main challenge be the cultural differences that come up about what is normal. It is great to see through this experience another way at looking at work, and life and values overall. I am so in awe of these women's sewing skills. Everytime I attempt a new neckline or a tailored design line, I hand over my sample (the one I sewed) and sheepishly say.. like this, but... much nicer!... they smile and sure enough a week later I have my vision in hand but perfected.
The 'Batik Picnic' dress in production. Hue (middle picture) holds up a finished piece. She is a pocket sized rocket sewer!

Now that I am back in Australia I look forward to setting up a studio again here, manufacturing parts of the collection here too, however I hope to always work with this team on the special Kindling dresses, skirts and tops that they are so good at. I am planning a trip in late November to finalise the Winter collection.... anyone want to come with me?

01 October 2013

The story of a dress - 'Saturday Morning'

 The day I found this fabric I had already bought a few rolls of fabric. I loved the print and the fabric is a really great 'lahn' super soft with great drape, so I bought the roll, loaded up the motorbike and set off home. Half way there a tropical storm came up that I knew would hit before I got home. Unprepared and a bit freaked out I drove on racing against the sky. I had to cross a really long bridge over the Red River and the wind was so strong it blew fabric off the bike and then when I stopped to go back and get it, the motorbike blew over too. Now I was pretty scared. I just wasn't worried about the fabric getting wet, more that I wouldn't get across the bridge safely in the storm! Luckily a kind lady picked up some of my fabric and carried it across the bridge for me. I then drove really slowly in pouring rain all the way home and had a stiff drink. The fabric did get wet but I was able to save it from water damage, only losing one meter!

Oooo nice print
Destined for the dress on the very left...
Ha sews the samples

I test the sample with a little 'Eternal flame' Karaoke style.

And there is a new dress for the summer collection - its called 'Saturday morning.' The fabric will also be used for a soft waistband skirt with deep deep pockets.

27 September 2013

Hello Melbourne!

Made it. Packed up, moved countries and landed in Melbourne.

I arrive with my bags - just the ones I could sneak on the plane!
Melbourne wintery skys
 The house hunt is well on. Study has begun. The summer range production is running along smoothly. I am loving the character of this city. I love that house hunting is taking me into the vintage rich worlds of old couples and their homes. I am studying a Masters degree in Fashion and textiles and I love the feeling of my brain expanding again.
House hunting - I want this one for the olive tree and the front door...

 I have been sending around our samples for the summer range. After a month in a box it was so nice to pull it all out and see it all hung. I love the details, the buttons and the fabrics in the collection. Can't wait for the warmer weather to come in so we can show it to you all!
Some fave details in the upcoming collection

19 September 2013

Life changes... Moving countries.

Earlier this year it started to become glaringly obvious that our experience in Hanoi needed to shift. For me I felt a stagnation of inspiration- not that Hanoi or Vietnam stopped being amazing, but that I really wanted to learn new technical skills and I was failing to find those opportunities when I looked for them. Plus for my partner and son other places just seemed to hold more potential for their learning and growth too.
We talked, life mapped (dorks!) researched and dreamed about the next step. Opportunities came up in new amazing places, however, at the end of it all it was beautiful Australia, specifically Melbourne that has become our new home.
Leaving Hanoi was hard. I found it difficult to pull out of a place and experience that had been so transformative and supportive of me to discover just how very awesome I am. I found my heart, my groove as a designer and firmly established my style as an artist.
All this sounds incredibly wanky! Yep! Yet the truth is this is a blog about Kindling and the journey within the processes of making clothes, and even though it is wanky, that process has been the catalyst for great change for which I am so great full.

Here are some pictures of my favourite moments over those 3 awesome years. Xxx
Bun Rieu - I had this for breakfast nearly every morning. I never got sick of it. My greatest food love.

Mr Juki in my studio in town. The best machine I have owned (now I have sewing machines on 3 continents)
The dike road and the longest mosaic wall in the world. A daily commute. Long Bien bridge in the background.
Halong Bay and all the beautiful place I visited. So affordable so beautiful, so lucky to live in Asia!

Spring! After the long greyest coldest winter of my life...a weekend in Mai Chau blew my green love to another level.

30 May 2013

A beautiful flight

My flight from Melbourne to Sydney was delayed due to heavy fog. When we finally flew I was lucky enough to watch the following clouds scapes unfold until flying over beautiful beautiful Sydney.
Can you see the harbour bridge?
We will be at the Finders Keepers this weekend.

29 May 2013

On the road

This week I have been to Sydney, to Melbourne and now I am waiting for my flight back to Sydney. Everyday I have been afforded the most beautiful skys and Kindling has atended some great events and meetings. I love Australia!

We sent off our Christmas card campaign. I love Australian stamps!

09 May 2013

My desk is not big enough

I like to have everything in front of me so I can balance and see connections, see my options, see my progress. Today, yesterday, everyday my desk is covered and I dare not clean it for fear of losing the thread... It feels good to feel so inspired. Can wait to show you some samples! There is a seahorse dress- just saying :)

26 April 2013

On the floor- a new space

For the past two months I have been looking at some beautiful studio spaces around Hanoi. The most awesome being this old derelict chemical factory turning art hub hanoi style.
The spaces were so inspiring and I would have loved to set up there. Especially to share with this special lady and this special man. Alas the conditions on the nonexistent contract made me too tentative relax.

Wide balconies and big shuttered windows

Beautiful original tiles

Finally I have embraced what I already have going spare in my house, a well sunlit room with (uuuuuugly tiles,) two big windows overlooking greenery (very rare in Hanoi,)  and I have decided to work here for now.
k  i  n  d  l  i  n  g 
Clothes hangers by Greenhanger  made from recycled cardboard... I brought a whole bunch with me here as they pack flat and are light.  

25 April 2013

Quality control, pinning and folding

Today like many days, I spent doing QC - quality checking through newly made pieces packing an order for Made590.

I first double check the make - the sewing and the sizes and then I test the details like buttons, care labels, and then I pin and tag with the Kindling swing tag.

When checking some Ellen's Watermelon skirts I found some size 12s marked 10's... and so after an hour spent rechecking each waist measurement, labelling and returning them to production I was done.

Oh o! These 10's and 12's are the same size!

These buttons don't fall off :)

It is the fashion industry standard to individually bag each garment in a plastic sleeve. Back before I started Kindling when I was studying, I went to a pop up sale in Brisbane. It was massive. What struck me were the huge boxes everywhere full of plastic sleeves - all ready for the bin after only one use. I thought about all the stores on every street in every city and imagined all the waste generated by this one simple practice. As consumers we don't see this side of things as our retailers would unpack the clothes and hang them before we get to the store. Being a plastic bag hater I knew I could never follow this standard, and so Kindling has always sent our orders in one big, big bag. No one has ever complained!

16 April 2013

Back to the beginning

And with one range in store and out the door I return to finishing another one. Lots of planning in Flow, lots of drawing and research and securing blots and finally sampling. Will show you some of those samples next time!

Hello Good morning! - Instore now.