apparel

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I’m a huge fan of polka dots, so this fall’s flood of big and small, flashy and subtle polka dots makes me happy. These simple dots can be anything from bright and fun to subtle and sophisticated depending on scale, fabric choice, application and color. Did you know that spotted prints were christened “polka dots” in the 1840s as polka music captivated the world?

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Fashionology

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I’ve come across the story of yet another inspiring and pioneering female motorcyclist – Anke-Eve Goldmann, a six foot tall German motorcycle racer. Slim and striking, she felt comfortable with both cameras and eyes focused on her as she proved her mettle on two wheels.

It appears that from the 1950’s onward she competed in Endurance and Speed competitions, but was barred from competing at higher level Club or GP racing because she was a woman.

I find it especially interesting that Goldmann designed her own motorcycle racing leathers. Apparently she worked with German leather riding gear manufacturer Harro in designing her custom riding gear. I’m presuming there wasn’t much in the way of motorcycling gear available for women in the 50’s so she helped create her own.

The custom summer one-piece riding suit she designed had a distinctive diagonal zipper starting at the neck and angling across her upper torso. A look that is certainly current today in women’s fashion. Harro went on to manufacture her designs for public consumption.

In winter her jacket featured a wide multi-buckled belt, too large to be merely a kidney belt. Perhaps it helped keep her warm in cold temperatures. Her winter riding suit was significantly bulkier and larger than her svelte summer cat-suit, and clearly accommodated woolen under layers.

After her closest friend died in a riding accident, Anke-Eve Goldmann seems to have given up motorcycles altogether, and began to travel with a backpack to remote Asian locations. Traveling alone, she trekked through Burma, the Sunda Islands, Vietnam, and Cambodia, not many years after the conflicts there had ended. More of her story at The Vintagent.

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You might also like to read about globe-circling motorcyclist Elspeth Beard

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Most of the projects I work on take about 18 months to come to market and for me to be able to show them in my portfolio. By the time the products are for sale in stores I have often “forgotten” about them!

This was not the case with the women’s cycling kits I designed for a fundraiser for Stowe Unfunded Sports. Project coordinator Pascale Savard and I started working on the jersey and short concepts in late May and they were delivered at the beginning of August. That’s super fast in my world!

The design direction demanded that the kit be feminine, sporty and somewhat retro – but NOT “girly”. Pascale is in love with Pantone 293, so that is the blue color we chose for the main body. I used a lot of white, making the kit both visible and feminine. 70’s cycling jerseys inspired the striping and makes for a clean look. The big Stowe logo adds an identifiable and retro touch. My biggest challenge was balancing the placement and colors of the sponsor’s logos on the jersey side panels, sleeves and back pockets.

Proceeds from the sales will go to help fund cross-country running, Nordic skiing, golf and the alpine ski teams in the Stowe schools. Kits are available while they last at H.E. Shaw’s General Store in Stowe, Vermont.

Stowe Kit

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To become an interactive part of Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.

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I’m very fortunate that I love my work designing apparel to be used for outdoor activities. One of the best things about what I do is “testing” garments. I had plenty of time to consider the characteristics of various pieces of outdoor winter clothing during my recent trip to Iceland.

Two straight weeks of alpine ski touring provided ample time try different fabrics and garments and dream of ways to make them better. I was with a bunch of fashionista gear junkies who were always willing to talk about their likes and dislikes and wishes for the ultimate piece of apparel. Playing with others can spark great new ideas.

The fabric in one jacket I tested was super breathable while climbing, but once the wind kicked up I found it wasn’t as windproof as it claimed to be and I nearly froze until I put my down sweater on. Clearly I won’t be recommending this fabric for use in a winter alpine environment.

Venting zips on pants are always a hot topic – full side zips or partial, or inner thigh? Each has their merit. When Mother Nature knocks I prefer full side zips with a drop seat. Vents that operate easily on jackets are another topic completely.

There’s nothing worse than a hood that is difficult to adjust in a raging freezing wind when you’re being pummeled by tiny ice pellets. You just don’t want to be futzing around with your gloves off in conditions like that.

Pocket placement is also key if you’re wearing a pack with a hip belt and sternum strap. You need easy access to your pockets when buckled into your pack. I especially like my camera to be quickly accessible.

While a lot of my time is spent at my drawing board, a lot of it is spent in the mountains trying to develop better ways to build technical garments. Are any of you as thankful as I am that what you love to do, and what you work at, are so intertwined?

To become an interactive part of Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.

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©PennieRand2011

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PajamaGram recently launched a small collection of specialty pajamas designed to help people who have difficulty sleeping get a good night’s rest. They selected Poppy Gall Design Studio to design the new 8-straight Performance Sleepwear collection for women. We started the design process over a year ago so it’s nice to see everything finalized now and available to consumers.

Having never designed pajamas, I found the similarities between designing technical layering pieces for active users and pajamas was an easy transition. Selecting a weightless breathable and wicking fabric to help control temperature fluctuations was essential. Well placed flat seaming was critical to avoid any pressure points or irritation while in sleep positions. Precise styling was needed to avoid “princess and the pea” conditions caused by twisted or binding fabric. The pajamas also had to be pretty.

We added some nice finishing touches. A small pocket holds an aromatherapy packet to enhance relaxation. Smooth heat transfer labels are inside the neckline instead of  scratchy ones. A calming watery print in a soft blue was used.

A note from a satisfied customer makes me feel as though we accomplished what we set out to do

“I’m going through hot flashes at night and these pj’s absolutely relieved some of the frustrations with that. It really does wick moisture away from my skin and is much more comfortable than my 100% cotton pj’s. Also I have Fibromyalgia and the softness of the fabric along with the soft seams and lack of tags made a real difference for me. I love this!”

I’d like to thank my Poppy Gall Design facebook followers for ideas and testing fabric during the design process.

For more 8-straight Sleepwear click here.

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Click to see more work from Poppy Gall Design Studio

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I spent New Year’s weekend exploring the winding and cobbled streets of Quebec City on foot (when I wasn’t skiing that is). My Snow Queen Coat, which I designed for Isis, was the perfect choice for the city’s climate – damp cold and sometimes windy.

It was refreshing to be in a city where fashion conscious women know how to dress for the weather. For once I felt like I fit right in! The majority of women were wearing some type of long down coat with a hood – from ankle length to above the knee. Most were from major outdoor and ski brands, predominantly The North Face. Not surprisingly black was the prevalent color.

The practical and stylish boots I saw parading through the slush also impressed me. Knee high boots with good tread and insulation, from brands such as Merrell, outnumbered boots with narrow heels and thin soles.

It appears that Quebec women are not afraid of hat hair. I have never seen such an assortment of headwear outside a ski area – from stylish cable beanies to earflap hats with animal faces and ears (I’ve observed their popularity in the Big Apple too) and everything in between.

My Snow Queen kept me toasty walking from the old port along the St. Lawrence to the New Year’s eve street party up on the Grande Allee where we rang in the New Year with 50,000 other revelers. My camera and wallet were secure in easily accessible pockets. I opted to snap on the removable faux fur ruff that’s around the hood so it could catch snowflakes and keep them out of my eyes.

Here’s to keeping warm and stylish in 2011!

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To see more of Poppy Gall Design Studio portfolio click here.

“Like” my Poppy Gall Design facebook page to see what sorts of projects we’re working on and to become an interactive part of the studio. Thank you!

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Finding the new Title Nine holiday 2010 catalog in my snow-laden mailbox was a real treat. I had a direct hand in creating many of the jackets, knits and hats in it. The gals at Title Nine are real pros at laying out products, coordinating colors and showing off the best of embroidery, trim and print details. Their catalog copy is always entertaining to boot.

It takes a long time to bring a collection to market and I started this one for Isis at the end of 2008. My team of talented Product Developers, designers and fit model spent endless hours making the product just right. They are also thrilled to see their hard work in print! Happily a number of those members are now part of my Poppy Gall Design Studio.

Here’s a peek at some of my work…

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To see more of Poppy Gall Design Studio work, click here.

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