As I mentioned in my post See Jane Dye stuff last week, I am currently on the hunt for all things environmentally friendly when it comes to fabric. After having determined that I want to have all my fabrics dyed naturally, I realized that I still need to find the actual fabrics that I want dyed. (I sometimes work backwards. I find it keeps things interesting!) Anyway, I started my quest to find an organic cotton supplier in the United States with low minimums, fair prices, and beautiful qualities. Well, before long, I found just that: Organic Cotton Plus. For a small fee I received a fantastic little bundle of samples in the mail; greige wovens, knits, and trimmings separated by category and tediously labeled, as well as some facts and tidbits on organic cotton, and a very detailed info and pricing list. As I looked into the company even further I became yet more excited. I learned that they are not only 100% women-owned (I love to hear about women embracing entrepreneurship) but they also utilize local organic agriculture and support programs that better the lives of battered women and their children in their local area, which is Texas by the way. There is absolutely nothing that makes me feel as wonderful as patronizing businesses that care about the well being of others and use their position to help those in need. Organic Cotton Plus is one of the most exciting discoveries that I’ve made in the world of textiles and I’m really happy to be sharing it with you!
Lately I’ve been working on a new project. I am revamping my line of textile and accessory design to be, among other things, a friend of the environment. It’s a total overhaul and quite an exhausting process, to be completely honest. But I think it’s well worth the effort. Some of what I’m doing includes working with textile designers who use all natural fibers, buying organic cottons and recycled or naturally tanned leather, and having my fabrics dyed using natural dyestuff. This last point brings me to the reason that I am writing this blog post: Noon Design Studio, a small natural dye house in Chicago, run by Jane Palmer. I was so excited to come across this one woman show. Noon uses everything from walnuts to madder to pomegranate to create a beautiful array of colors on all sorts of natural fibers. Upon discovering this company, I received a gorgeous color card highlighting the long list of hues that are available and cannot wait to start working with Jane, as I believe I am going to be truly thrilled with the results! But don’t take my word for it. Check out this Project Page to See Jane Dye Stuff!
Lately, as I become more and more active in the world of social media, I’ve had the pleasure of coming across all sorts of fantastic blogs written by or about independent textile designers; weavers, knitters, printers, felters, spinners, you name it. I really enjoy visiting these online design diaries and even though we consider ourselves here at StartUp FASHION as a blog focused on being a resource for industry professionals, I love the idea of sharing something that highlights the beauty and creativity of this industry; something that is simply lovely to look at. Initially, my idea was to put together one post listing all of my favorite design blogs. However, upon further reflection, I realized that that idea was not one of my better ones. I want to give these blogs the attention they deserve so each week I will highlight one new blog that is well written, visually appealing, and, quite simply, one of my Favorites!
Ok, this week’s Favorite Fabric Blog is Meg Weaves !
I don’t know about you but when I look at an amazing piece of art, I sometimes (perhaps often) think about the raw materials that go into it; the stones in a piece of architecture, the rich hues of the oil paint in a portrait, the smooth marble that has been chiseled into a sculpture, and the beautiful textiles that make up a garment. I look at the creators of these raw materials as the designer’s designer or the artist’s artist. What would the object be without these materials? Nothing, of course. So this season, when I had the privilege of attending some of New York Fashion Week’s Fall 2010 shows, what struck me most was the fabric; the mood that can be created by layers of tulle, or lustrous metallic jacquards, or heavy cotton twill. So, rather than sharing with my readers yet another blog post on the amazing fashion that was shown at New York Fashion Week, I want to talk about the amazing fabrics that were shown. I decided to concentrate on one company, Blue Star Silk, which has been supplying quality goods to some pretty well known names in fashion for over 25 years. Why highlight this company? Honestly, because I’ve worked with them in the past and continue to work with them in the present and it’s always a great experience. Don’t let the name fool you, this company deals in anything from silk to cotton, from triacetate to rayon, with bamboo, Tencel and nylon to boot. The qualities come from countries like Korea, Japan, Switzerland, and Italy. When you walk in the showroom you are greeted with racks of samples and shelves of stocked fabrics. They will even work with you to create custom wovens, knits, and prints.
When creating a new line, a fashion designer has a vision, a statement they want to make and, without the help of companies like Blue Star, that vision cannot come into fruition. So the next time you’re admiring a garment don’t just think about the cut and style but also think about the hand, the print, the texture, the drape, and the luster and give some credit to the designer’s designer.
I am a self admitted magazine junkie. From National Geographic to Elle and everything in between. I can’t get enough. I love the glossy pages, the ease with which I can tote them around for easy access on the subway or when waiting in a long line, the beautiful photography, and tabbed corners of pages I want to revisit, I can’t stop. So when I stumbled across the publication Selvedge, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. What? A visually beautiful magazine geared towards true lovers of textiles and fiber arts? Sign me up! As stated on their web site, the mag covers the entire gamut: fine textiles in every context with illustrated features on fine art, fashion, interiors, ethnographic textiles, important collections, travel and shopping. It has the latest book reviews, exhibitions and comprehensive listings featured in every issue. It’s published once a month in the UK but don’t worry, there is a long list of stockists in the US where you can get your fix.
If you’re one of those folks who don’t need to have a physical copy in hand, you can subscribe to their online issue and have access at all the same information in an easy to view format. There’s even a free trial issue available!
As for me, upon discovering this little prize, I immediately became a Facebook Fan, followed on Twitter, and signed up for the Newsletter. Obsessed much? Perhaps, but I already told you, I can’t get enough!
Alpaca? Nah. Lamb? Uh uh. Cashmere? Whatever. Yak? Absolutely!
Always on a quest for new advances in textile technology, I was excited to come across Norla, a company from the Tibetan Plateau, making rustically lovely accessories using the hair of this not-so-commonly-worn bovine. You may ask “What’s the big deal?” Well, according the web site, Yak weaves into fabrics of extreme warmth and durability while still maintaining a buttery soft hand; something we east coasters would love to wrap ourselves up in this time of year! The wool is then sorted, spun, and woven with traditional methods into fabrics, shawls, scarves, and throws. With the softness of cashmere and the strength of camel, I’m wondering how long it will take before we see the Yak make its New York Fashion Week debut. My guess, not so long.
I’m always interested in design for a greater good; projects where people take their talent and creativity and apply it in a way that truly benefits others. So imagine how excited I was to stumble upon a company that uses hand woven textiles (one of my favorite forms of artistic expression!) to help make the world a better place. Creative Women is a company that prides itself on producing home and personal accessories that are classic yet contemporary while making a real difference in the lives of women. By purchasing fabric produced by female weavers from around the world at a fair price, the company is able to create beautifully executed products while supporting the economic independence of women. I’ve spent some time on the site and while there isn’t currently a way to purchase online, there is a long list of retail locations that carry the work. Plus, there’s a little blurb about emailing them if you can’t find a retail outlet near you. That’s pretty convenient. I plan on making a purchase once I decide between my two favorites, the Ethiopian Hand Spun Silk Scarves and the Organic Cotton Throw Pillows from Mali. Hmm. Maybe both?