Archive for October, 2012

Catalytic Clothing – Pollution Cleaning Denim Jeans?

Oct 22

Helen Storey

Imagine if the clothes you wore were not only eco-friendly but eco-cleaners? Above is Professor Helen Storey, a London-based fashion designer, with her eco-cleaning jeans that purify the air as you wear them. Yes, her jeans which she’s been testing for 2 years claim to clean the air of nitrogen dioxide, a harmful air pollutant.

Helen along with Tony Ryan, a professor of Physical Chemistry at Sheffield University interested in polymers and soft nanotechnology, developed a fabric treatment that can turn everyday clothing like denim jeans into air pollution cleaners!

The product is actually not just a denim jean but a laundry additive called Catclo that is made out of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. These nanoparticles of titanium dioxide are triggered by sunlight. When triggered, it causes the particles to react and this reaction absorbs NO2 in the process. It is simply added to laundry detergent, clothes are washed in said detergent, and voila! Your denim (or any article of clothing) will now be coated with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide.

Helen Storey and Tony Ryan with their Eco-Friendly Jeans
Helen Storey and Tony Ryan with their pollution cleaning jeans.
They will be at the Manchester Science Festival. This weekend Oct 27 – Nov 4 2012.

How does Catclo work?
“Catclo contains nanoparticles of titanium a thousand times thinner than a human hair. When clothes are washed with Catclo these particles are deposited on to the fibres of the fabric. When the catalysed clothes are worn, light shines on the titanium particles and it excites the electrons on the particle surface. The excited electrons try to react with something and the first thing that they see is oxygen because it’s in the air just above the surface of the particle.” — Tony Ryan

It’s not available yet but it’s in the works. Read more about Catclo, just how much air it cleans, and if there are any drawbacks. Check out their website, Catalytic Clothing for more about their project.

Oh the possibilities!
Just think. How much pollution in NY could be offset if just the crowds of people that jam up Times Square alone (Everyday during rush hour? During the holidays? On New Year’s Eve?) were all wearing eco-cleaning clothing? In Los Angeles? Tokyo? Shanghai? Delhi? Or any high population modern city where human traffic could actually be used for a practical purpose?

You don’t even have to be wearing it! Perhaps flags, curtains, patio furniture upholstery, any textile that sits outdoors can be turned into air pollution cleaners!

The simple act of line-drying your laundry in the sun could double as air pollution cleaners too. Anything from bed sheets to table cloths, towels, curtains whatever that can be machine-washed and line dried would work too. It could not only help offset any pollution caused directly or indirectly from machine-washing clothes but it also saves energy from not having to run the dryer.

On an industrial level, textile manufacturers could potentially offset their entire process if the fabrics they worked with were all treated with this product while working? Before being shipped? Who knows!

It’s a cool concept and hopefully will not only become a reality but open doors to new concepts and ideas for other eco-practical solutions. Read more about Sustainable Fabric and E-Textiles where technology meets textiles in some of my previous posts.

What is Nitrogen Dioxide?
Nitrogen Dioxide or NO2 is a toxic emission most commonly produced by cars, airplanes (or any engine that uses gas to run), power plants, gas heaters and stoves etc. It’s what most people are referring to when they say air pollution! It’s in general one of the largest man-made air pollutants in our eco system. It’s that haze you see over LA on an especially polluted day.


Your First Sewing Machine – For Under $200!

Oct 17

Usha Butterfly Sewing Machine by Usha, India
Usha Butterfly by Usha, India

What do you look for in a Sewing Machine?
Especially your very first adult sewing machine? Style? Cost? Features? I struggled with my first machine because I didn’t want to invest too much as a beginner. I just needed something to tinker with… Taking sewing classes to start is smart because you can learn and try out machines at the same time. But what about when you’re ready to buy?

I didn’t want to spend too much yet I still wanted the best machine I could find for my purpose. Basic yet versatile, so I could easily try whatever type of sewing struck my interest. Well-built so I could sew comfortably and for many projects to come. And lastly, something I wouldn’t outgrow too fast.

How much would that cost? What options were available? What’s a good value for the price? There’s lots of options, it’s hard to know where to begin. So here’s what I found during my research. Whatever your budget or purpose, hopefully this list will help you research and find just the right one. It’s a comprehensive list of home sewing machine manufacturers and the factors I used to narrow down options. You can get a decent well-built machine ranging from $70 – $160!

Sewing Machine Brands in Other Countries
Elna, Switzerland Website
Baby Lock, Juki, Japan Website
Consew, USA Website
Feiyue, China Website
John Lewis, UK Website
Kenmore, USA Website
Necchi, Italy Website
Usha, India Website
Yamata, China Website
Toyota, Japan Website
Merry Lock, Taiwan Website
Michley Tivax, USA Website

Sewing Machine Brands in North America
Singer, USA Website
Janome, Japan Website
Brother, Japan Website
Bernina, Switzerland Website
Husqvarna Viking, Sweden Website
Pfaff, Germany Website
Juki, Japan Website
Ikea, Sweden Website

IKEA SY Sewing Machine by Ikea, Sweden, $69.99
Ikea SY, $69.99
Singer Promise 1409, $91.99
Singer Promise 1409, $91.99

❤ Price/Cost
$200 or below. Entry-level beginner machines usually range from $100- $499. To be honest, I wanted to see if I could get away with a kids’ hobby sewing machine for $100 or less but I found a vintage machine for $25 and went with that to start instead.

Under $100 can get your kid a great first sewing machine or budding home sewer their very own machine to experiment on. Affordable enough to take the plunge, plus it’s cute! It can even get the savvy crafter a very functional sewing machine that will serve them well.

Under $200 is generous enough to cover crafties like myself who need a solid basic they can rely on and grow with who doesn’t want to invest in the holy grail of sewing machines yet until they find what kind of sewing they’d like to focus on most!

$499 can buy a machine that can handle the seriously savvy or creatively crafty mom who not only sews for their pleasure but can double as a tailor, halloween costume maker, throw pillow/curtain/tablecloth maker and casual accessories designer/etsy shop owner on the side.

It’s a strict budget but it’s realistic. It can buy a trusty sewing machine that can both perform all the essentials and grow with you at the same time. Great for the dabbler, great for the serious kid learner, crafty mom, or for an adult learner like me who wants to gradually try it all.

Vintage Singer Treadle 66, $25
Vintage Singer Treadle 66, $25
Singer Fashionmate 7256, $160
Singer Fashionmate 7256, $160

❤ Features & Options
Straight Stitch, Back Stitch, and Zig Zag Stitch are all I needed. They are also the 3 most basic and most essential stitches needed for all beginning to intermediate sewers. Every modern sewing machine comes standard with these stitches.

Removable Sewing Bed. Hemming pant legs or sewing cuffs? Working with sleeves or skirts? Anything tubular where you will have to sew around the edge of a ring is difficult without this feature. The base of the sewing machine will pop out revealing an arm-type base. You should be able to slip a sleeve or pant leg on there and sew it around. Not all modern sewing machines come with this feature.

Foot Pedal Operated. Every modern sewing machine comes standard with foot pedal operation. Vintage machines do not though. They can come with anything from a knee pedal to a hand crank.

Sewing Feet and Bobbin Winders. Like detachable feet for Zipper or Button-hole makers, and Bobbin Winders. Bobbin Winders and Zipper Feet usually come standard with modern machines.

Reliable Stitch Length/Tension Control. Adjustable Tension Control is also standard among all sewing machines. Being able to control how tight your stitches are is handy for basting and working with different textiles. A machine that can do this reliably and accurately is important and not all machines can promise this.

Durability. How long the machine will last, if the feed dogs can reliably feed different textiles through, and how accurate the stitches are are what make a sewing machine reliable and durable to me. Perhaps if it can sustain long periods of accurate sewing at its maximum speed is also a factor.


OMG! Heart goes to Maker Faire 2012

Oct 08

Maker Faire 2012

Above photo album can also be viewed at my Imgur Gallery.

Hello, Maker Week NYC 2012!
The 3rd Annual Maker Faire just blew through town. It also happened to mark the 1st Annual “Maker Week” here in NYC! As declared by Mayor Bloomberg, September 24-30 is officially Maker Week and is an entire week dedicated to DIY science and crafts! Yay yay yay!

Finger Crochet Necklaces at Maker Faire 2012Thanks to, I got the chance to go to Maker Faire this year to check what new fangled gadgets and crafts were on the menu.

We saw a cool Cupcake Man Car which was a guy driving around in a cupcake shaped car he built. Saw some butterfly bikes, the Katy Perry Unicorn complete with flaming unicorn horn, ate some gyros and shish kebab on a stick, and checked out some craft booths and stalls.

It poured buckets of tornado rain when we got there but we holed up at the Kollabora booth to wait it out. We ended up meeting some of the lovely Kollabora Team and Finger Crocheting some necklaces!

Last year at The Faire there were so many knitting, sewing, and textile booths and demos like Free Motion Quilting, Fabric Dying, Singer Co. etc. More of the fun attractions/events/booths like Craftzine machine knitting cosby sweaters, the solar sewing guy who powered his sewing machine with his bicycle, steampunky bike contraptions, super mario radio-controlled car races, and oddball independent artists were not there this year either.

Mochimochi Land Amigurumis
Needlepoint Kits by Jenny Henry Designs

This year they had less than half the textiles and crafts featured as last year. It was mainly overrun with arduino and 3D printing booths. Also, much larger name companies like ASUS were there with a Speed Build Competition and 3D graphics video games complete with special glasses. Crif Dogs was there!

And… it was about 3 times more crowded! It was jam packed and food lines were atrocious. Blecch the Rat! It felt a lot less organized in general. Perhaps it was because I went at the tail end (2pm ish) of the last day (Sunday) and missed an entirely different schedule on Saturday? On top of Maker Faire not expecting such a huge turnout? Oh well.

Top Right: Micro Amigurumi Garden Gnomes by Mochimochi Land. Each are sold in kits with everything you need to create your own.

Right: Boombox Bag and Cassette Tape Pouch in Needlepoint by Jenny Henry. Each are sold in handy Needlepoint Kits.

Bottom Right: Toasty Time Hoodies w. Mitten Pockets. Yup, they’re knitted!

Toasty Time HoodiesNotable Crafties @ The Faire, Mochimochi Land – Micro Amigurumi Knitting Kits, Mondays Project – Handmade Pottery, Billy Wolf – Fine K-9 Coatery, Roman Hills Yarn by Lisa Roman, Loop of the Loom Saori Weaving, Kollabora – Online DIY Community for Makers, In The Seam – Dog and Cat Pillows, Jenny Henry Designs – Needlepoint Kits, Life with Tigers – Handmade Toys and Gifts, 100 Acts of Sewing by Sonya Philipp, Ultra Lite Spindles – Yarn spun with cat hair! Eep!, Spry Sprout – Geeky Kid Clothing w. comic-printed fabrics, Toasty Time – Hoodies w. Mitten Shaped Pockets, Dear Sweet Darlings Handmade Rabbits

Kollabora Team at Maker Faire 2012What is Kollabora?
Kollabora is a new online crafting community that’s just joined the “block” party! =^..^= It’s a cross between PS I Made This, I Spy DIY, and Craftsy. It has a fresher focus IMHO featuring projects that pair classic crafts like Knitting or Sewing with edgier materials and fabrics and modern takes on those same classics with projects like Big Stitch Knitting! Where Craftsy has a more Martha Stewart feel, Kollabora might appeal more to urban hipster or fashion industry creatives. Find out all about them in my post.

Above: Lindsey, on the far right, is wearing the Bushwick Cape, a featured project on their site. It’s a classic Simplicity Sewing Pattern you can sew yourself! It’s simply matched up with a more contemporary fabric (red/black flannel check) to give it a fresher look. If you got to check out their booth, it was filled with yarn and Berninas, and mobbed by tween girls!

Read more about Maker Faire and my trip last year here:

Cupcake Guy Car!
Cupcake Guy Car @ Maker Faire