It’s been how many days since my last post?… Wow, 3 weeks, too long… Today, was the first full day I’ve been off in at least three weeks, but, I’m thinking that in reality it’s more like 6 weeks. I can’t really remember. What have I been doing?… I can’t really remember that either, but, I’ll try.

Let’s see… oh yeah, 26 costumes for Red Riding Hood, 9 costumes for Fairly Odd Parents, one suit, with long coat for Jim Byrnes‘ character on Sanctuary, 2 jacket linings for my friend, 10 pairs of pants for Sanctuary, 6 T-Shirt for Stargate Universe, and a skirt for myself…I draft the patterns, cut them out and construct them, so it’s fairly time consuming. As you know, I’m also working on my Buggy Bag® business, which has, for the most part been phone calls, emails, filling out forms, approving samples, Trademarks, Patents, manufacturing, Stuffed Articles Act Registrations, Duty Judgements, PO’s, Proforma Invoices, working with designers on hang tag designs, trying to line up bridge financing….shelling out much, much money…. which leads us to the real reason that I haven’t taken any time off. I need to finance my business start-up costs and, support my daughter and myself, at the same time. The build up to this falls commercial airing and it’s outcome is absolutely exciting! I have put so much into this thing… especially the wheelchair lap blanket, that I just can’t wait to get it out to more people. The feed back on last falls batch was so positive, that I just know that this falls’ line is going to be met with even more enthusiasm….it’s even better than before! The Stroller and Jogger models are really looking fantastic too. The commercial is going to focus mainly on them, with a 10 second spot on the wheelchair. The idea is to get a demographic read on the market based on the purchases made, through 150, 1 minute spots… This is going to be really interesting.

Because I work as a contractor, for the film and TV work that I do, I feel compelled to take everything I can possibly manage to do, and sometimes it gets so busy that I don’t see any time to relax… this has been one of those periods. It’s great though, because it is one of the things that I simply love doing.

Ok… well, that’s not quite true… even if I haven’t had a day off, I’ve taken many evenings to enjoy live music, dancing, friends and playing my guitar…. it’s just sometimes hard to squeeze all this fun into one lifetime!

Before I go, I just have to say that last night I went to see a Cuban band by the name of Wil Campa…. an absolutely sexy band and music… fantastic…. Which leads me to my next question… Why don’t more men learn how to dance cuban salsa? It is sooo sexy and at most events there are usually about 4 women to every guy. Last night the place was full of women wanting to dance… here is a link to a fantastic Cuban dance instructor if any of you guys want to learn… Latidos!

July 10, 2010 at 7PM, I was just about to leave for a BBQ at a friends house, when I heard a very scary noise that was building in volume and intensity so quickly that I ran from my kitchen into the living room immediately to see what was going on. The whole episode took only about 3-10 seconds, it felt like about 30 seconds because, in that time, I saw from my top floor apartment, my neighbours running around and looking up, kids screaming and covering their ears, I felt my windows and floors vibrating horribly and then saw my cat jumping about two feet in the air before disappearing under my bed. During these seconds, I could only conclude that there was about to be a very bad accident, because there could be no other reason for such an incredibly foreign noise… In my mind I could imagine a plane crashing into my lovely neighbourhood. Then in the next second, I see the source of the noise heading away toward the mountains… It looks black, nasty and scary to me… maybe because it was the cause of my extremely elevated heart rate, or, maybe because, even though I didn’t know what type of aircraft it was, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t one that would be used to do anything but damage.

It took me about an hour today, to find anyone to talk to about it. I finally got a hold of a really helpful fellow from Transport Canada Civil Aviation Contingency Operations who looked into it and was assured by his West Coast Military contacts that “The only aircraft reported to be in the area at that altitude was thought to be an F-18 doing low pass for the BC Lions game opener.”

How nice… and I thought I was upset before… now I’m just plain angry…

This is not the 1950’s… “most” of us are not only unimpressed by this type of display, but, confused and/or even repulsed by it! Ahhh… why’s that you ask? Well, let me count the ways….

1a) The noise was WAY out of line… imagine lying on railway tracks while a train passes over, the rumbling and noise would be comparable…

1b) The F-18 is the same plane that has broken the sound barrier…

2) The F-18 is a military bomber…. that is it’s sole purpose… doesn’t anyone else find that disconcerting?

3a) This was the choice of our military to send this over as a “salute” to the BC Lions. Now a good old salute from, say… the Coca-Cola Corporation’s pocket book would have been just fine, but, this salute came out of our pocketbooks. Yes, your’s too, if you’re Canadian that is…

3b) If our government/military… yes, there is a reason I’m lumping them together… is as concerned about trimming our emissions as most of the taxpayers are, then, why send this hugely obnoxious, pompous and downright terrifyingly expensive comment, on how they see things. Yup, message received, but, not the one they intended to send.

4) Did I mention… this is a bomber… that has broken the sound barrier? I don’t want this thing anywhere near my neighbourhood and my heart just about breaks thinking about how many lives that same aircraft has changed forever, in other parts of the world…

It's a 'multi-use' aircraft!

If that’s the only time in my life I ever have to hear that sound, I will consider myself very, very lucky. Actually, I already do.

Since BC Place is getting a new roof, the games have been moved out to Empire Stadium which is just at the bottom of the hill that I reside on top of. When the game lights are on… I don’t need to use any lights, which would be a good thing if the light weren’t quite so ghastly! No romance here during a BC Lions game that’s for sure….

I spent all day yesterday out in Richmond at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in a master class with designer Julian Roberts. He was doing the class on Subtraction Cutting, something that he invented and has spent his life perfecting. He is very abstract in his thinking and as a result, I think everyone came away feeling inspired.

Subtraction Cutting forces you to look at the garment from a different perspective… the inner, or negative space, as opposed to the front and back view only. You start with the full cloth and take away parts. Instead of deciding what to keep, you decide what to get rid of. It’s quite a leap for someone who has always been dependant on rulers and calculations!

All we used was a sleeveless bodice block and a paper circle…. and two 3 yrd lengths of fabric. The two fabrics are sewn together to resemble an extremely long pillow case… one end open.

Julian demonstrates one idea with paper

Bodice block is positioned where Julian wanted it.

Julian demonstrates, using black fabric on one side and white on the other.  This makes it easy to see what he’s doing.

Negative space is removed

Julian joined the front SS to the back SS with a line that he eyeballed, then cut the negative space away. The piece that is removed is called the “Subtraction Pattern”. Just in case you like the final outcome so much that you would like to duplicate it. Otherwise, these creations are very much “one of a kind”.

Now he just pulls the two shoulder seams together and joins them at the machine. Then, starting at the armhole, he joined each SS. Then he let the rest of the fabric just fall.  Because of the way he laid his bodice on the fabric, the white portion of the “tube” ends up curving around to the front in a natural swirl.

Now the fun begins… Julian starts to decide where to incorporate the negative spaces where the body will pass through. Each space that is created is joined to a second space to form a hole on the inside of the garment, while the outside begins to transform in a truly organic way…. billows, folds, pleats, twists…. each one different and determined by the designers choices of fabrics and placement of the holes.This is the dress that Julian created in about an hour by removing 7 holes in total.These are the two fabrics that I chose… (what I had in my closet that didn’t clash too much)  It’s a cotton spandex, so it’s pretty heavy compared to what some of the others chose to use. I started by putting curved corners on my “pillow case”, and placing my bodice so that it wrapped around to the other side, and so it would have that curve across the front. I think I used  7 holes for mine as well….That’s me lurching forward in the centre of this shot. Probably a good thing, that way you can’t really see that I’m squeezed into a dress that’s 2 sizes too small!

Leslie and Julian

Here I am with Julian, and below is the dress I made on the proper size form.

A Tight Squeeze

Ok… so, you can see me squeezed into it after all….

The possibilities for this technique are virtually endless from what I can see. I’m looking forward to finding new ways to use this new knowledge! Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with some new avant-garde Buggy Bag®!

Anyone who lives in a large-ish city probably has a version of what we, here in Vancouver call the “Science Ball”, otherwise known as “Science World” or even the “Giant Golf Ball”.  It’s real name is the “Telus World of Science“… whatever the name, the knicknames are for obvious reasons.

Science Ball

All adults who have gone to visit a science centre with or without the kids, know the torture of really wanting to try the cool things out, but, feeling that they should let the kids go first… usually it’s all experienced through watching the kids.

Friday night I went with 3 friends to “Science World After Dark“, an evening set up for adults only. They had comedians and even served beer and wine. It was such a fun evening that I will for sure make a point of going next time.

Leslie the "Zen Master"

Here I am pairing off against one of my friends… whoever can push the ball toward the other person, is the more relaxed of the two.  Evidently, I’m the most stressed out of the 4 of us… or just not able to shut off the stuff that’s bouncing around in my brain, because the ball came to my end every time!  The groovy headwear makes this one worth it all though…

This was cool…. it works with two different weighted pendulums that you move with your feet… let them continue to swing with their own momentum, to create the drawing..

Leslie Flying

I know this isn’t the best shot, but, at least it clearly proves that I can fly…

Here, Rina demonstrates her superb powers of attraction….

Apple Hologram

Here I am showing the difficulties involved with Hologram Fruit… it’s impossible to grasp…

seeing double

I also crashed on a virtual slalom ski course at least 6 times and raced in wheelchairs with my friend…(I lost)

I’ve been so busy with costume work lately, but, not able to really talk about it too much. I’m making a leather coat at the moment, and as I was starting the sewing, I realized that, because it’s already been seen on TV, I can safely talk about what it is and what show it’s for.  It’s to replace one of the existing coats that was burned by the SPFX guys (thanks Darren!) in one of the episodes. The leather is proving to be a little more difficult than usual, in that I can’t seem to get the seams to flatten out. Usually I glue the seams down with transfer tape, but this particular leather is treated with something that is making it resist the glue. It’s also making my eyes burn something fierce! Quite strange I usually like to work with leather, but this one is not at all like most…. indeed it’s down right disagreeable!

Cutting out anything is always a challenge when the young Toopi feels that she should be involved. Usually, she’s diving under the patterns or fabric… this time she’s just acting as an extra weight.

Toopi "helps"

Here is a shot of the double jetted flap pocket during construction. The close up shows how spongey this particular leather is.

constructing the double-jetted flap pocket

topstitching underneath lower jet

you can see how thick it gets to sew through when there are many layers

The shoulder pad gives support and structure to this coat that has no canvas or fusing in it, while the lambswool in the crown of the sleeve helps to soften the head of the sleeve.

This is the collar and lapel and also shows the inner welt pocket and lining.

I just gave this back to the Assistant Designer, who will now take it to someone to do some really great heavy duty Keyhole Button Holes…  This coat weighs at least 15lbs….just a guess, based on how hard it was to wrestle it around the sewing machine! Luckily, the actor that wears it is a strapping tall fellow!

The show is Sanctuary, and the character is John Druitt, played by Christopher Heyerdahl.  The costume designer on the show is the very talented Christina McQuarrie, who has a long history in Vancouver-based Episodic TV.

Also, just wanted to add that all of the pics on this post were taken with my iPhone!

Last Saturday night, 3 of my girlfriends, my brother and I, went to the 2010 Spring Frolic. It’s a fundraiser for the InterFit Integrated Fitness Society in North Vancouver. If you’ve ever come to visit  Vancouver, or you are lucky enough to live in this amazing place, you know, that there is nothing that takes you closer to the wonder of this planet than a walk in our great forests. That is what the Integrated Fitness society is all about.

We got all dressed up and headed out to the Delbrook rec Centre. I didn’t know what to expect, because I had never been to one of their events before. The event used two large rooms, one of which was decorated in a magical way with twinkle lights and tables of 6 or 10, each with white linens and the most lovely floral arrangements. The floral arrangements were mostly indigenous flowers, placed into a wide bamboo tube… really beautiful. Surrounding two sides of the dining room were about 10 gambling centres… if that’s what you would call them… there were Black Jack tables and Roulette and Craps and a few other games…. by now, you probably have guessed exactly how many times I’ve gambled… well, I did win 10 cents when I was in Vegas at a slot machine!  Anyway, it turned out that I had some kind of magic touch with the dice that night and ended up winning $500! When we arrived at the event, we were given $300 worth of “funny money” to gamble with. It was so fun! There is something really great about gambling with pretend money…. I just loved it.

One end of the room had a stage where Adam Woodall entertained. I really enjoyed him. I had never heard him before and am pleased to say that he was really great… and, as a one man band, he had people up and dancing. Nice work.

The other room harboured the food, and the silent auction items. I had put a few Buggy Bag Lap Blankets in, so I was hoping they would get some action.  Both of them sold and I got to meet both of the people that bought them, so that was really cool. It’s always exciting to get to talk to and meet the people that use the product.

There was also a live auction with a very good auctioneer. What makes a very good auctioneer you ask? Well, to me, if I can understand what they are saying… they’re good!  MC Denny Williams also had my girlfriends and I chuckling numerous times…. oh, yes, and, did I mention the bar tenders? There’s something about a man in a Tux…. 🙂

My only regret about the evening, is the fact that I got so wrapped up in the fun, friends and food, that I forgot to take pics for my blog… I did put a plea out to people, for some shots, and, if any come, I will insert them later… sorry! Pics are always the best part, especially when you are weeding through the banter of my brain….

… come  to the next event… I’ll be the one blowing on dice at the craps table!

ableism |ˈābəˌlizəm| (also ablism)

noun

discrimination in favour of able-bodied people.

I found out today, that yesterday was Blogging Against Ableism Day. I missed it… in fact, today was the first time I’d heard of it.  I looked into it and found that most people blogging are using Ableism and Disableism (Ablism & Disablism) interchangeably. In reality though, they are polar opposites, because if ableism is “discrimination in favour of able-bodied people… wouldn’t disablism be discrimination in favour of persons with disability?  Yes, it would be… and indeed there is no such word as disablism….. Why, you ask?  Well maybe because there isn’t any discrimination in favour of people with disablity, at least that’s my guess. And that is why we need to help raise awareness of ableism.

How can we look at someone else with empathy? Who do you feel unconditional nonjudgemental love for? What makes you feel that way about that person?

I have worked at answering these questions for myself. What I found out, was… that by remembering the answers to those questions whenever I’m challenged by someone being rude, or just my own impatience, it really helps me to open my heart and mind toward the person. All of a sudden I feel love for the person, and in turn, I feel good, and hopefully even make the other person feel good too.

I used to work with someone who was very well-liked and respected by not just few, but, by everyone she came in contact with. She didn’t even seem to realize how much she was loved and admired by the people that worked for/with her. One day I asked her how she managed to always stay calm and kind in the most unimaginably stressful situations. She answered by saying, “I just treat people the way I’d like to be treated”.

What does this have to do with people with disabilities?… Nothing really, I just think there would be a whole lot less of this thing called Ableism, if more people would open their hearts and just let others be themselves, without judgement.

If you’d like to read other blogs on this topic there are many listed here.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2010

Last year a friend asked if I wanted to volunteer for a Vancouver event that helps deserving secondary grads that can’t quite swing the “costuming” aspect of the event. It’s called the Cinderella Project, and yesterday was my second year volunteering as what I like to call a “bird”… although I’m probably the only one that thinks of us that way. You remember in the Cinderella cartoon, where all the little birds flit around her and sew her dress and fix her hair, etc….

I worked with a team of seasoned costume/fashion construction experts. There were about 8 or 9 of us there in the alterations department. The girls would come up one at a time, Deb would do the fitting of the dress and make notes. The dress would then be altered and hung up on a rack where the girl and her fairy godmother would pick it up.

Here I am... looks like I'm just standing around watching Mel work... I'm sure that wasn't what I was doing....

Maybe this was taken just after I melted a hole in that red dress hem with the incredibly hot iron…… I do look rather worried! That was last year. I didn’t burn any dresses this year!

This is a huge event and these kids literally get outfitted from head to toe…. hair cuts/styles, make-up, undergarments, dresses, tuxes, shoes, and accessories.

Then they get a professional picture taken. I don’t get to see many of the guys, because I’m doing the dress alterations, but, the girls are so happy, they glow.

It’s a really rewarding event for everyone that get’s involved. I will be doing it again next year.

I hate to bring this up again, but….. when I was at the Dragon’s Den Auditions……

First thing I want to do is congratulate my friend, Owner/Creative Director of PumpEase™ Hands Free Pumping Supports, Wendy Armbruster Bell. She got the call yesterday to confirm that she had been selected as one of the businesses that would get a chance to make their pitch to the Dragon’s on the Dragon’s Den CBC. Awesome. I knew she would get chosen.

I met a fellow by the name of Jamie Marriott, at the Den Auditions, and he was telling me about his idea for his business. I really got excited about the whole thing because it deals with a few of my favourite things; art, clothes, team effort and charity.

His business, put simply, involves artists submitting their T-shirt Art Work, then visitors/customers vote on their favourite design submissions. The top 5 men’s and top 5 women’s styles then get made into limited edition runs on beautifully fitted Bamboo T’s, which are available for purchase. The artist/designer will receive a percentage of the sale and the purchaser will be able to choose a charity of choice for another percentage of the sale to be donated to.

Very cool concept because everyone gets to be involved on some level.

Here is a picture of Jamie at the Dragon’s Den Audition. S2S Nation… Something to Say…. express yourself…

Jamie with S2S cotton bag

The S2S Nation site launched just a couple of days ago, and is just in the early phases of gathering the art submissions. So this is your chance to get “whatever it is you’d like to say” out on a really nice Bamboo T-shirt. You can download the T-Templates on the site. Here’s what they look like.

I touched these T-shirts when I was chatting with Jamie, and they are a really soft, very high quality Bamboo, with nice fit. They are really sleek fitting T’s. Good luck Jamie, all the best with this, I’ll be keeping my eyes on your site, so I can vote, when the submissions are all in! And, I have many very talented artist friends who I think will be interested in submitting.

Today, I took my laptop, 100 flyers and business cards and some Buggy Bag® Lap Blankets downtown to the Roundhouse Community Centre. I had a table a the Disability Foundation Expo. What a great afternoon it was. I met so many interesting people. Everyone was friendly and I think most people stopped by to see what I had on the table regardless of whether or not they could personally use it. There is such a sense of community in the way that everyone seems to be on the lookout to help someone else. I love that… it feels great to be involved with a group of people that are so selfless and caring.

There was live music, videos, and many presentations on the stage. The whole perimeter of the huge, high ceiling room was lined with tables with people that were showing products or services that could benefit or make a persons life easier. It was a nice atmosphere, and I came away from it feeling elated. I bought a CD, Straight Goods, put out by Vancouver Adapted Music Society.

One of the exhibitors I met is an artist by the name of A. J. Brown. I was looking at her work on her site and came across a piece by the name of “Puck“. I’m not sure why, but it really struck me in a strong way.

I met another really interesting person, who specializes in adaptive clothing. Her name was Amberin Bonnett and her business is A Dressing Needs/Disabled Services Clothing. I’m sure we have much in common, both working out fitting issues for a living.

All in all it was a really great day and a great Expo. I came home with no business cards and only 3 flyers left, many new friends and memories, and I sold 4 Lap blankets.

This is the outside of the Flyer

Flyer designed by Rina Liddle

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Buggy Bag® Mobility Products is dedicated to helping loved ones stay warm and dry while on the go. Buggy Bag® Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair blankets protect against the cold and wet, while offering visibility in low light conditions.

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