Concepts: Travel Bags Featuring Faster ‘Running’ Print

A good use of virtual worlds to showcase 3D models featuring our textile designs, without exorbitant sample costs!

Concepts: Travel Bags Featuring Faster ‘Running’ Print.


Concepts: Clutch Bags With Our Open Stock Collections

Eating our own dog food, we use virtual worlds to create cost-saving 3D models of products showcasing our currently available textile collections. Any of our textiles can be purchased from our web site and used to create everything from handbags to saddle blankets.

Concepts: Clutch Bags With Our Open Stock Collections.

New Directions and Stuff – Musing on Couture

Spent the weekend working on what I now affectionately term the ‘shirt from hell’. It was definitely a learning experience; I learned that couture skills do not do well when left to moulder for a few years and picking them up again is not like riding a bicycle.

It seemed like such a simple idea: I’m have a new business, and I wanted to make myself a shirt to wear when I went to talk to people about it. After all, when people say ‘what do you do, it’s far better to be able to finger your sleeve and say ‘I design stuff like this’ then to hand-wave. One of the real take-away lessons I learned from developing digital content for virtual worlds is 99% of the world still doesn’t get it, the success of World of Warcraft not withstanding.

So with this in mind, I pulled some yardage of one of my favorite prints, Thoroughly Thoroughbreds in Cream from our new Faster collection and set out to make make myself a shirt. This may sound intimidating to some, but I spent thirty years doing couture and have a couple of degrees and certificates from FIT where they make you make tons of stuff in order to graduate. At the height of my couture practice, I could crank out a shirt in an afternoon and it would be done with a fully couture pattern that fit me perfectly. With this as my background, I perhaps had overly high expectations of myself starting my recent ‘make a shirt’ project.

I was too rushed to draft a pattern for myself. In hindsight, this was a callow decision. I have CAD pattern drafting software on my computer. I could easily have created a half-couture pattern that would have taken about the same flat adjustments as the commercial pattern I used. It would have fit far better at the end. But the commercial patterns were on sale, and yada yada. Armed with my commercial pattern I made my couple of simple pattern adjustments that worked in the past and proceeded with my fabulous textile print.

An aside here about the material itself – I bought the 100% basic cotton textile and once it was washed to remove the sizing and other chemicals it was a dream to work with. It has a wonderfully soft hand and I am really going to enjoy wearing this shirt.

Cutting out was no big deal. I adjusted on the fly as I went and while it took a little longer it wasn’t horrid. Even the pre-sewing stuff went pretty quickly.

But then it was time to sew, and even all of my time saving techniques (which I thankfully remembered) were not enough to save me from the fact that I had lost muscle memory. Somewhere in the past 7 years, my fingers had forgotten how to pat-press and gather to ease the fabric under the sewing machine foot, and I had lost the finer nuances of a good couteriere.

There are some things on this shirt that let’s just say I’m grateful that most people won’t understand if they see them. I made the decision to use a man-style closure (right over left instead of left over right) so that I could hide the less-than-perfect collar stand on the left side. And the thing that really offended me the most was that it took me 6 hours to make this shirt, including buttonholes and buttons. In the past, that would have been more like 2 1/2 hours. However, by the end, I was remembering some of my hard won muscle memory, so I have hopes I haven’t lost all of my couture skills.

I learned some good lessons here – I need to make more stuff so I don’t lose my exceptional body of skills. And I need to not have overly high expectations as I get back into the process of ‘making stuff’. Also, at the end of the day, I have a super cute, fitted shirt made from my very own textile design.

And that, dear reader, is priceless.

The shirt from hell, unpressed:

Taking Back My Domain…What a Concept!

For the past few years, I’ve associated my domain name,, with my company, Fashion Research Institute. The time has come though, to reclaim that landscape.

There’s quite a lot going on that I want to talk about – the development of new materials and techniques, new technologies, some of the projects FRI is working on, and dare I say it, even my own projects including my textile collections available to sell through Spoonflower.

Sliding back into my domain is like sliding into a favorite pair of jeans, and it’s a perfect time the changing of the seasons at the Autumn Equinox.

Fashion Research Institute Announces Science Sim Land Grant Program Awardees

New York, NY November 1, 2011 – Fashion Research Institute Announces Science Sim Land Grant Program Awardees

Fashion Research Institute has been collaborating with Intel Labs since 2009, helping to push the limits of content development, and overseeing the Science Sim Land Grant Program. The program consists of awards of campuses of four ‘supersized’ 3D volumes called regions, which can support 100,000 primitive units. These campuses are awarded for a six-month period to educators, scientists, and researchers who wish to explore using OpenSim for their work, and who need the power and control of their projects that a campus provides them.  The campuses are provided for nine months beginning September 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012.

We are pleased to share the 2011-2012 awardees, in alphabetical order.

The Abyss Observatory ( The Abyss Observatory is a museum of earth science, undersea technology and also Sense of Wonder for the mysteries of Earth & Life in 3D virtual world, established mainly by Japan and US volunteers, supported by SciLands, NOAA, JAMSTEC, Open University UK and Science Circle.

“Earth system science research fields are spread world-wide and far from human habitation.  To gain a better understanding of global issues, visualization in immersive virtual world is powerful tool.  Our students can develop observation methods of virtual environment phenomena or law of physics easily, cost-effectively and safely,”says Hajime Nishimura (JAMSTEC,

The Cyprus University of Technology Chrysanthos Voutounos is a doctoral student at the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts in Cyprus. His research work negotiates the design of serious virtual and multimedia applications that deal with the presentation and preservation of Byzantine heritage. The Byzantine heritage of Cyprus is globally known and many monuments on the island are included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, like the monastery and the museum of St. John Lampadistis which Chrysanthos aims to design in ScienceSim as part of his research.

My main research objective is to design and evaluate a virtual museum of Byzantine art applying methods that will enable a cross-cultural and cross-aesthetic mediation of Byzantine Aesthetics; providing a meaningful mediation of Byzantine artifacts and a spiritual experience to users.” Said Chrysanthos Voutounos.  “The opportunity given to implement this work on ScienceSim ensures the serious concept of a virtual heritage project; ScienceSim platform hosts a unique of its kind research on virtual worlds (1000 avatars on a region, security of digital content and other achievements). Many thanks to Intel Labs and the Fashion Research Institute for their support!

The EdLab Group Foundation ( ) Hypatia World is supporting and expanding the reach of the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) in a 3D virtual environment. Hypatia World provides a safe space for the 5.3 million girls in the NGCP network to access online activities and participate in collaborative projects. The NGCP is committed to informing and motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). NGCP currently supports 21 Collaboratives, serving 31 states to provide support and local resources to STEM practitioners. Hypatia World will host the first 3D virtual Collaborative, providing an online place for the girls and their mentors to interact and participate in STEM activities and events. Through collaborative relationships with partners such as NASA, quality content will assured.

Project Manager, Lindy Orwin, explained, “Hypatia World will provide opportunities for girls to access online mentors and 3D content expanding the opportunities for networking and support for girls interested in STEM and keeping them interested in STEM.”

The Honor Engine ( The Honor Engine has created a customizable set of tools built for quest based learning and game development into the virtual world.  The Honor Engine Toolset allows educators, content developers and game designers complete control over their content . The goals of The Honor Engine are to explore the potential uses of quest based learning in education for children and for the workforce. Already well established in SL as the HONOR Roleplay System, the Honor Engine is now expanding their toolset into OpenSim virtual worlds.

Our key focus in moving The Honor Engine into the ScienceSim is to provide a toolset for educators and other creators to scale their interactive content with simple interfaces, quick content creation and adaptation and easy to access metrics to help them define success.”   Bill Jobes, owner and creator of The Honor Engine.  “Quest-based learning that is teacher planned and driven is what the Honor Engine provides. Teachers will be completely free to set up learning scenarios to suit their students  needs. The students play to learn and learn as they play. Classrooms full of students can work together in the virtual world increasing their content knowledge, their literacy skills, and their 21st century skills, all of which will be vital to their success throughout the rest of their lives.

The Oregon L5 Society( Oregon L5 Society ( ORL5) is using some of their 25 years of research into using planetary caves as centers of human activity on the other worlds of the Solar System as models in virtual worlds. These concepts can be explored in ScienceSim, where ORL5 is creating VW lunar lavatube cave bases and settlements, and similar asteroidal and Mars bases.

These are conceptual models of how such human activity can settle the Solar System in real life.

We use these virtual world projects to contact other researchers, educate the public about how human spaceflight can become more widely affordable, and model specific projects we can then promote to the Space Research community more effectively.” says Tom Billings (Oregon L5 Society Representative).

Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) ( is the first professional scientific organization based in virtual worlds.  The goals of MICA are to explore the potential uses of immersive VR as a scientific and scholarly platform.  Already well established in SL, MICA is now expanding their activities into OpenSim worlds.

Our key research goal is to develop novel techniques and applications for immersive, collaborative data visualization,” says the MICA Director George Djorgovski, a professor at Caltech.  “Scalability is important for massive data sets, and that is one of the main reasons we are in ScienceSim.”  He adds, “Effective visualization of complex, multi- dimensional data is emerging as one of the key challenges for the data- driven science in the 21st century.  As we continue to move our work and collaborations into cyberspace, immersive VR may become a fundamental platform for scientific research.

Preferred Family Healthcare ( Preferred Family Healthcare has been delivering counseling services in virtual worldspace for the past three years and it is on the forward edge of organizations using OpenSim and Jibe/Unity for these purposes. PFH will continue to explore the potential for delivering mental health and substance use disorder services to clients who experience accessibility challenges due to distance, time, travel, physical handicap, social phobias and other complications.

PFH intends to continue to be a leading innovator of technology utilization to make accessible behavioral health interventions available to all who need them,” notes Dick Dillon, Senior VP at Preferred Family Healthcare. “Challenges which have existed for decades are being resolved by the smart application of global connectivity tools. We believe in the potential of virtual world-based service delivery systems, and several pilot projects are already showing excellent results for client retention and participation, with treatment outcomes as good or better than traditional methods.”

Science Circle. The Science Circle is an alliance of Scientists from various disciplines dedicated to connect scientist and students worldwide. We use digital mediums like Second Life® to hold seminars and we are starting in 2011 with various courses for our student group.

“The Science Circle wants to offer our members the possibility to discover OpenSim. Like MICA we are convinced that 3d platforms based on OpenSim are a great tool to offer education. The Science Sim Land Grant program is a great initiative that enables us to do that,” says Agustin Martin on behalf of the Science Circle.

BIO-SE project (Biological Interactive Objects for Science Education)The goal of the BIO-SE Project is to create interactive learning modules targeted to the high school or college freshman biology curriculum. Its primary aim is to have its learning modules be instructive but also designed for first-time users of virtual worlds. Lesson planning and instructor resources will be created as well but do not necessarily require faculty to be conversant with using virtual worlds. The core lessons all come from biologists who have multiple years of experience teaching in Second Life and developing course content there.


About Fashion Research Institute, Inc.: FRI is at the forefront of developing innovative design & merchandising solutions for the apparel industry.  They research and develop products and systems for the fashion industry that sweepingly address wasteful business and production practices.

Science Sim is part of an evolution toward online 3D experiences that look, act and feel real. Sometimes dubbed the “3D internet,” Intel Labs refers to this technology trend as immersive connected experiences, or ICE. ScienceSim is differentiated from most virtual world environments by its open source architecture. ScienceSim leverages open source building blocks (installation utilities, management tools, client viewers, etc.) based on OpenSimulator (OpenSim) software.