May as well dispense with formality and open with my conclusion, I'm designating Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book as a must buy for fashion oriented entrepreneurs who aren't textile experts (most of them).
Maybe I should start by explaining what this book isn't. It isn't a comprehensive A to Z recitation of dry textile science, stuff we had to learn in school. I think that is the biggest problem for entrepreneurs; they want to know more but most books fall in one of two camps: enthusiast and engineering. Enthusiast books are typically well researched but there's a gap between intended application and the jargon typically used in the trade. Textile textbooks on the other hand, are written by probable near geniuses who assume readers will pore over every word, memorize it and amuse genteel companions at cocktail parties with witty quotations from it. Okay, maybe not but you know what I mean. Point is, most entrepreneurs are too busy to read enough of a textile textbook to get much (if anything) out of it. Most pages seem to consist of a dense wall of text with black and white grainy photos taken in the 1970's. Business owners want a cheat sheet -the closest thing to a bullet point list they can get. If that describes you, you're going to love this one.
Courtesy of FabricLink comes word of their annual pick of top textile innovations for 2013-2014. Sure, we've all heard of textile prototypes in a lab but all too frequently, the fabrics never get out of beta. All of these have and are ready for sale. Here are the ones that I've been keeping an eye on:
From dirt to shirt, CRAiLAR® is a linen fabric that requires less water and chemicals in at least two ways. First it uses less pesticides and fertilizers in growing, and second, the fibers are processed into thread with a proprietary enzymatic process. Moreover, it is virtually indistinguishable from cotton (yay, less ironing!). "The fiber is strong, dries quickly, wicks moisture and is shrink resistant."
The EQ-Top Seismic Wallpaper caught my eye because I wondered, idly, if it could be used to make corsets. That's me, always wanting to repurpose materials however possible. Seriously, it's a fiber product designed to stabilize walls during earthquakes -see what I mean about industrial grade shapewear? Okay, I don't expect this material will have much appeal for this crowd but isn't it cool?
Please note that this applies to fabric for production. I realize that not everyone has the option to buy full bolts wholesale when they're first starting out or even know how to buy wholesale fabric . This post is intended to help you understand that the fabric store is not a long term strategy. For many, it's not even a short term option. Read on to see where you fit in.
You have no guarantee that fabric you buy at the store (or from a jobber) will be available if you need to reorder. If you want to guarantee supply, you'll be forced to tie up money to buy fabric for a product that may not sell through. Experienced practitioners design based on sample fabrics and then order for production if sales interest is sufficient (the process is explained in my book). It's hard enough to make a go of this without tying up your capital in aging fabric inventory. Seen eBay lately? That's where everyone who went broke are offloading their inventory.
Today we have a guest entry written by textile artist Kelly Cobb, who is an assistant professor in the fashion department at the University of Delaware. Written to include the sometimes competing priorities of various readers, Kelly includes a resource list at close to further your exploration. My sincerest thanks to Kelly for this thoughtful review.
Digital Textile Design
Second Edition, $40. 192 pp
by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Issac
The universe of textile design is becoming more and more inclusive with the onset of technological innovations that allow anyone interested access to high-end printing capabilities. The potential to create custom prints is appealing and very accessible with operations like Spoonflower or Fabric on Demand. Digital Textile Design focuses on the evolving world of digital print technologies, offering tutorials and case studies geared towards “practitioners” of textile design. There are many facets of practitioner! Below, I review Digital Textile Design from three perspectives.
Behind the scenes, I've been trying to learn screen capture video (again) which will be so helpful to explain things. For example, below is a short video on how to adjust shrinkage or stretch properties (it is the same thing) for a pattern. I used StyleCAD but any industrial CAD program provides the same function.
The matter of knowing what percentages to use to attain a given grade -say 2"- is but a bit of math or even, iteration. When I'm not so pressed for time, I'll do a video on that too and post a link accordingly. In any event, the video is useful because you can see that if a service provider needs to adjust your pattern for shrinkage, it is fairly straightforward.
[It's not true that nobody knows this quality check but few do and this title sounds more dramatic and thus clickable!]
In my book, I mention that you should always get the pattern pieces left over from the marker cutting. This is for two reasons. The most important one is the first step to ensuring quality which I'll tell you about today using an all-my-fault example. The second reason is if you're paranoid and worrying about the contractor using your patterns; see the note at close for more on this. By the way, I should remind you that quality means adherence to specification -that's it.
Preamble dispensed with, in yesterday's post I mentioned I was making a jacket for Mr.Fashion-Incubator. It is a repeat of the one I made for him in 2004 when he was still my boyfriend. It is a basic lettermen's jacket with a wool melton body, collar, contrasting sleeves, zip close and ribbed cuffs and waistband. Anyway, I made the marker, Martha cut it out and started fusing it -and that's where the trouble began. The melton was shrinking very obviously which puts the brakes on the whole affair as far as sewing it together. Our guess is that this wool wasn't the kind we've always used (in fact, it started pilling terribly and I've never seen that) so to get an idea of how egregious the shrinkage was, we compared it to the leftovers from the marker. Which we save, always, and you should too. As terrible as the project was going, I thought it would be good to show you.
In the photo below, the left pane shows the front pattern piece left over from the marker. In the right pane is the cut fabric piece laid on top of the pattern (that's how you check these things). Red boxes highlight the troublesome areas.
Continuing on with my saga (pt.1 and pt.2) I pick up again in Medellin where we went for the Colombiatex trade show. If I'm not mistaken, it is the largest trade show in Latin America, spread over several pavilions. If you coordinate your stay with the show's management, there is organized transport to and from from the show so it is very convenient to get there and back from your hotel. The image at right is one of the show decorations, a planter made of a spool of cording. I thought it was a neat idea (I imagine that will go up on Pinterest soon).
The show itself is very high energy, not as loud as Project but just as vibrant. It wasn't what I expected but it was good anyway. I had expected to find more contract services and equipment but it was mostly a fabric show. Designers come from all over Latin America to source their lines. If I had any constructive criticisms to suggest to show management it would be to have more contractors exhibiting -I only found one dedicated contractor. There were some exhibitors who also did contracting (the bra fabric and cup suppliers mostly) but contracting bra manufacturing was an adjunct to their core business. For those of you producing bras, I think Colombia is the closest resource you're going to find. Colombian bra and mold suppliers are keen on innovation and technology -see the photo of this unusual bra cup supplier below:
Lisa B1 -we have three Lisa B's so they're numbered- mentions a new-to-me site that may interest you (HT), that belonging to International Pleating. Fully embracing today's demands for connectivity and transparency, they also have a blog and a FaceBook page.
In business since the 1930's, International Pleating provides contract pleating services delivered to your specifications. They offer two types of pleating, hand (pattern pleating) and mechanical. Machine pleating ranges from knife, box, distressed and Fortuny pleating. Hand pleating types are sunburst (accordion), large box pleats and herringbone. You can see samples of each type here.
Okay! Following up with part one, we had several good responses. The first closest answer was from Stu (no surprise there) who said "everybody is right -kinda". Okay he didn't really say that but he sorta did. Summarized, Stu says that the correlation between fiber content and weight is too small to expect controlling for fiber content to be sufficient to control fabric weight. Here is Stu's quote with all the math stuff (yay math!):
Another Karen (not the same as yesterday) writes:
My company supplies an item with an agreed spec of 90% poly/10% cotton. A random test showed the item weighed significantly less which caused a huge problem. I realize there are a lot of variables that go into the weight of a fabric, but I am the only person at my company who believes fiber content has something to do with the fluctuation. Am I wrong? It seems very logical to me that a decrease in cotton is what caused the test to fail and substituting a new fabric at 82/18 will weigh more because there is 8% more cotton. Controlling the weight means controlling the fiber content. Am I wrong? Why does everyone keep telling me material breakdown and weight have no correlation?
I think you know what to do. Leave your responses as to whether fiber content affects fabric weight and why or why not in comments. We'll be giving away a prize to the first most complete answer; a copy of Patternmaking in Practice donated by Lisa Bloodgood. Good luck everyone!