Textile Truths: click image for larger version and link to downloadable pdf
June 27, 2011 Jen Madsen of Stitch Simple
emailed me this statement: ". . . we need, you know that 'dirty dozen'
list for organic produce? How about a list of most environmentally friendly arts and crafts supplies or home décor items?"I thought she was absolutely right! But how
to rate, rank, educate and not overwhelm people is no easy task. Fabrics are so much more complex than fruits and vegetables. As the idea progressed, I contacted Leigh Anne of Oecotextiles
. She has one of the most comprehensive and thorough blogs about textiles and the chemicals in them. She is my go-to for the chemistry and statistics so I asked if she would be willing to help. Thankfully, she agreed!The three of us (Jen, Leigh Anne, and myself) knew that there was SOOOO much information that one infographic was not going to do. Our goal then became to put together a series and it was decided that we would start with BABY since that seems to be the most common entry point for people when it comes to organic fibers. I took a stab at the graphic, I redid it about 20 times. It stalled and stammered. My dear friend Suz enlisted her graphic design friend Alison who took a shot at revamping my sad attempt. It helped but also lost the entire fabric focus. We knew we lost our audience. Alison did the work pro bono and I thank her deeply for helping move the project forward in April of 2012 and highlighting where we went astray (focus!).It stalled for months. I was sick of looking at it and frankly didn't know what to do. In September of 2012 I was contacted by Linsi of Spark Collaborative. We had a mutual friend Rachel Hulan who connected the dots.
I bit the bullet and hired Spark Collaborative to take a shot at it. I sent them various versions, thoughts, and challenges. The name was changed from Worst Things/First Things to Textile Truths (duh!) and the layout started to pull together. I sought
help from Suz again (she is an editing wizard with decades of experience!), my friend Madge
(a marketing maven and hiking tour leader extraordinaire), and a select few others (you know who you are!!). Changes: color changes, text changes, font changes, layout changes, pattern changes, alignment changes and more changes were made. Then I sent it to GOTS
to make sure they would approve of the logo usage. Whew. It got their blessing and now . . . drum roll please . . .
IT IS OUT IN THE WORLD at last. Will it fill the need we aimed to address? Will anyone read it and care? Will it go viral and ignite different purchasing behavior? Launch a helpful series? Help all organic fabric companies to be better appreciated for what they are doing? Will it crawl under a rock never to be seen? I don't know. Time will tell. I can tell you that I am very grateful to have it no longer haunting my to-do list! I also want to acknowledge all of the kind, thoughtful people who helped in this journey. I LOVE YOU and COULDN'T HAVE FINISHED THIS WITHOUT YOU!
I VERY MUCH welcome your feedback (too late for changes to this version) and if all goes as hoped (and prayed for) we will be releasing other versions for: Home, Fashion, Pets, etc.Please feel free to share this with anyone you think would be interested.Buckets full of hugs and gratitude to each of you. It is my gift to the organic fiber community and the world. I hope you like it.
I am happy to introduce you to our latest experiment in organic cotton fabrics! The fiber is USA grown organic cotton, dyed at a GOTS-certified dye house in North Carolina. I met the owners of the dye house back in late 2011 when I was in the south for our GOTS inspection of our warehouse.
The owners were amazing! Thoughtful. Detail oriented. Caring. They gave me a tour of their facility and I was blown away. I have been to quite a few production facilities but none as clean and organized as this one.
I knew I wanted to work with them. Thankfully, that day has finally come. Our first collaboration is Torch Red - similar in color to our Scarlet sateen but slightly lighter and brighter. To quote Debbie at NearSea Naturals
"We received the Torch Red Sateen and we..... LOVE IT! We compared it to a swatch of the scarlet and Laura and I actually like the torch red color much better. It is a brighter, more vibrant color. The sateen also looks more sophisticated and drapes nicely. I think this is going to become a fast favorite among the sateen fabrics we carry. You never can find a red like this, especially in a sateen."
In addition to NearSea Naturals, this fabric will also be available through Organic Cotton Plus
, American Grown•Spun•Milled
, and to businesses only through Stitch Simple
. IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE: The only non-GOTS part of the entire process was the spinner. To the best of our knowledge there is no USA GOTS-certified spinner. (If you know of one, please contact me!) This means the fabric may still be labeled as organic but NOT GOTS certified. We look forward to doing more dye runs with them. Unfortunately the widest they can dye is 80" so for wide-width fabrics we will be sticking to our GOTS certified facility in India.
It is my pleasure to bring to you the next installment of our Meet the Team Series. HoneyBeGood
is a very unique company with a remarkable and poetic location. It's a family business. Karen, her daughter Melissa, and husband Edward run the company.
Believe it or not this organic cotton fabric company is operated out of the old Cotton Warehouse at the renovated Porterdale Mill in Georgia! Here's a brief history of the Mill and the fairly recent undertaking by Walter Davis to restore this vast set of structures:
Opening in 1899, the Porterdale Mill prospered into the 1960s becoming the world’s largest producer of cotton twine. Low priced global competition forced its closing in the early 1970s causing the small town of Porterdale to decline. In 2006 the Porterdale Mill has been transformed into the Porterdale Mill Lofts, with residential, retail, and live/work spaces in a community designed for young families and singles, professionals and artists, small and independent retailers and business owners and anyone seeking a genuinely unique contemporary lifestyle.
Karen was involved in the Mill restoration during 2005-2007. When she got the inspiration to start her own organic cotton fabric store in the spring of 2012, the location just seemed like the perfect fit.
Although primarily an online store, according to Karen, "If folks are in the area, they're welcome to stop by (calling first is appreciated: 888.419.1563). If they're game and weather permits, we'll be happy to take them kayaking on the river!" Beam me there. That sounds amazing. I love the idea of the history and future colliding at HoneyBeGood. What fun to have Harmony Art fabrics
play a growing roll.
Besides the unique location, what sets this Team apart from our others is their laser like focus on quilting. Karen has been quilting for over 20 years! The only cotton they carry is organic and this is intentional. They have designed their selection to be presented in a way that speaks to the quilter. To this end, they offer fabrics in full widths but also in coordinated fat quarter bundles. According to Karen, these fat quarter bundles are quite popular!
Karen and I share some similar feelings about the quilting fabric treadmill.
To quote Karen, "I've become acutely aware of the pressure for designers and quilt makers to quickly churn out new patterns and product samples. The quality of the designs suffers, along with the idea that these creations are inspired and unique. That's not to say there aren't many fabulous designs in the market place - there are! by many talented designers. Often times I find myself in envy that the designer isn't working in organic cotton. But when I embarked on this retail venture I knew for certain that I could not be one to peddle conventional cotton. To me, organic cotton is more than environmentally- and socially-responsible; it's one solution for a textile industry that needs to slow down to be sustainable. In a slower, higher-quality mode, we can all take a breather and stop to truly appreciate the fabulous medium we're so blessed to work with.
"I think part of the reason I feel this way is that I quilt by hand - often bed quilts. This takes a lot of time during which I become intimately familiar with the fabric I've chosen for my quilt. I spend a lot of time under it. Not just any fabric will do and I think there are others out there who feel the same way (I sure hope so!). My goal is to provide a rich variety of organic and responsibly-sourced fabric for quilters and sewists who don't want conventional cotton. We've added hemp blends to our collection in beautiful solid colors in linen and muslin weaves and plan to add other alternatives to cotton as we become familiar with them.
"Some of my inspiration comes from The Slow-Fashioned Movement and all the wonderful and talented designers (like you!) who are dedicated to healthier fabric."
HoneyBeGood proves once again that the journey is indeed the prize. Meeting, supporting, learning from, and having the honor of working with like-minded, thoughtful people really makes my heart sing and all of the work feel like a gift. I am truly blessed. Thank you Karen, Melissa and Edward. Keep up the good and important work!
Karen, her father, Melissa and Edward
Since December 1999, we (husband and I) have been marking every new year with a gratitude list. Our challenge is to create a list of things we are grateful for that equals the year we are entering. The list must be completed by midnight on Dec. 31st. So, this year we came up with 2,013 things we are thankful for.
Over the years, the challenge has morphed and changed. It went from a one night marathon event to a list we begin on Thanksgiving each year. Also, my dear friend Mary Sue has become a VERY important contributor to the list and we electronically pass the list back and forth until we collectively meet our goal. This year we were so in to it we ended the year with more - over 2,200 items!
If you have been following my blog closely, you may have seen that for the last six years I have offered a FREE ROLL of fabric to the first person to send me a gratitude list equaling the current year. I have not imposed a due date but have offered it simply to the first person to complete and share their list with me. In six years, I have had two winners. On November 16, 2010
, Tania completed her list of 2,010 things she was grateful for and selected as her FREE ROLL our Solstice printed interlock
. In March 5, 2012, Tania did it again
! We decided that instead of ending the giveaway, she would pass it forward. So the new rule was created - You are only eligible to receive a FREE ROLL of fabric once but you are welcome to participate in the gratitude list every year. On March 7, 2012 a new winner completed the list. Terri D. completed her list of 2,012 to be grateful for an earned 50 yards of limited release fabric.
I am offering the Gratitude Challenge again this year! Be the first person to send me a list of 2,013 thoughtful things you are thankful for and win a FREE roll of organic cotton fabric. The fine print: the free roll must be chosen from my "limited release"
fabrics (scroll down for list) and although the entire roll (approx. 50 yards) is FREE, the recipient is responsible for the shipping (UPS ground) charges. You are only eligible to win this giveaway one time.
I am grateful for the people who read this blog and for any entries I may receive.
I am happy to share with you our latest limited release organic cotton jersey prints that were printed right here in the USA in New Jersey! Please NOTE: The USA printer is not GOTS
certified. We are hoping that we can send them enough business to prove to them that GOTS certification is worth their time and money but until then please keep this in mind. All of the fabrics we source from India are GOTS certified.
and Ohio Purple
coordinate with our solid white jersey
and also work with our Lime Green Interlock
. Do you remember the original Ohio Interlock
? What do you think of the new purple colorway?
These fabrics were available to our wholesale customers at a discounted rate by pre-ordering in advance. In fact, Ohio Purple is completely sold out of full rolls. Fret not, you can still get individual yardage from Stitch Simple
(USA) and Pure Fabricz
(EU). We do have one roll of Monk available. . . contact me
if you are interested.
Also, you may be happy to hear when we printed these designs on white jersey we also teamed up with NearSea Naturals
to print a limited amount of the designs on their substrates (flannel, white interlock and natural jersey). If you love the designs but were hoping for flannel or interlock visit NearSea Naturals.
Pure Fabricz and NearSea Naturals just received the yardage this week so if you don't yet see the fabrics be patient or contact them directly to inquire.
Also, we recently did another small run of Sweet Jane Sateen
on our 60" natural sateen with the printer in New Jersey. This was done at the request of one of our wholesale customers who missed this fabric desperately. . . so we did a special print run for them. We have one 50 yard roll left. If you are interested, contact me
. We are here to help YOU get the organic fabric you need so feel free to keep the feedback and requests coming.
Meet Monique - the force behind our European distributor Pure Fabricz
! Pure Fabricz is based in The Netherlands and has been handling our EU distribution since 2009. As luck (synchronicity) would have it, Monique was looking for colorful, appealing organic cotton bedding. She was frustrated when all she could find was beautiful shades of oatmeal and granola. Undaunted she decided she could make her own bedding. Her search for wide-width organic cotton fabric lead her to Harmony Art
.It was at this exact same time our European distributor was relocating to the Ukraine and was closing her shop. Instead of simply making a set of bed sheets Monique jumped into the fabric business!
(She is someone who is not afraid of a good challenge from time to time.) Monique
studied at fashion school, so she knew her way around a sewing machine. Prior to this career move she had several jobs, from shop manager to executive secretary. In addition, she is a volunteer at a local animal shelter where she is the editor of their quarterly magazine and the cat photographer!
Since their start in 2009 they have grown into a webshop (Pure Coverz
) and wholesaler. They recently moved their business to a new premises with enough space to grow further. Pure Coverz sells all different organic cotton items for the home; bedding, home, bath and kitchen textiles.
The fabrics are now to be found throughout Europe
in shops and webshops. Pure Fabricz has helped numerous small designers create the most beautiful garments with it.
It is a pleasure and joy to work with Monique. She is thoughtful, compassionate, detail oriented and a total sweetheart. I truly am the luckiest girl in the world. We wish Pure Fabricz
a wonderful new chapter in their expanded (and organized!) location. If you have any friends in Europe looking for organic fabric, please refer them to Monique
[NOTE: Pure Fabricz has THE largest selection of Harmony Art organic fabrics!]
A couple of months ago we did a printing experiment with a USA printer. We used existing screens (Sweet Jane
& Let it Grow
) and printed them in new colorways. We printed on organic white jersey
, natural sateen, natural flannel and natural denim. I posted the colorways on our facebook page
and got feedback from from our fans to determine which colors we printed. We offered special wholesale pricing to our existing customers if they pre-ordered a roll before production. By knowing the demand before printing we were able to do some exciting and custom production runs. (Example: One new company wanted denim so we put a special roll of denim in for them.)
So, was the experiment a success? Yes. There are still kinks to get worked out and we learned several things along the way (like don't trust the printers estimate of the pallet's weight - they under estimated it by half!) but all in all I think it was a positive experience.
HUGE thanks goes out to all the pre-orderers! YOU made it possible. I welcome any and all feedback you may have from your perspective. Would you pre-order again? Did you like the quality of the printing? I'd like to hear from YOU!
If we do another, I am leaning towards: Sweet Jane
(original pink), Ohio
(maybe in new colors) or Uncomplicated
(maybe in new colors). Uncomplicated is a large scale floral.
To give you and idea of scale of Uncomplicated, you can see it in use as our studio curtain. It was originally printed on twill but I am thinking maybe sateen this time around.
NOTE: This USA printer is NOT GOTS certified. Which is not ideal but if we decide the relationship is working, and we bring them enough business, then we can then start putting some real pressure on them to make the GOTS commitment.
Back in late 2004 the idea of Harmony Art organic design
was just beginning to percolate. Kate Scott of Birdland Ranch
told me she bought her organic fabric from a company called Organic Cotton Plus
based in Texas. She also told me there was very little in the way of colorful and printed organic fabrics available for small businesses or home sewers. All that was available at that time was left overs from Patagonia production runs. I called Organic Cotton Plus (OCP) a few days after speaking with Kate and asked them this hypothetical question, "If I were to create a line of colorful, printed organic fabrics, would they sell them for me?" Their answer was a resounding, "Yes!". It was this very conversation and their enthusiasm for my vision that gave me the courage I needed to press on. Having a distribution system willing to take on my fabrics made the idea seem doable. They agreed without knowing me and without even seeing my designs. Talk about trust! As our first distributor, Harmony Art's history and OCP's are definitely woven together. OCP use to be connected to the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative. OCP is now under new ownership but I am happy to report that the care and commitment to organic fabrics has not wavered. Linda Hayes is the new "woman in charge". She has had several careers in various government, historic, and event planning arenas. Linda is a crafter and sewer so she came to OCP with an understanding of fabrics. Working behind the scenes she has gained even more knowledge about textiles. One of Linda's personal passions is reenactments. She has been involved in many and
for the past 2 years she's participated as a Pirate Reenactor at the Norwalk Seaport Oyster Festival
Pirate Encampment and hopes to be expanding the pirate reenacting to the Norwalk Seaport Pirate Island event in July 2012.
When you place an order with OCP you are interfacing directly with Linda. She enjoys getting to know individual customers and helping them fulfill their fabric needs. She prides herself in her customer care and service.
The main things that sets OCP apart from our other fabulous conscientious retailers is the fact that they are GOTS certified! Don't know what GOTS is? Click the logo and find out.
Stumps Speak Denim being printed
Also, if you are looking for some of the more difficult-to-find Harmony Art organic fabrics
like Stumps Speak Denim
, OCP is your go-to place! Oh and don't forget they offer FREE shipping within the USA
! Have you ordered through OCP?
So, how many of you have heard of Stitch Simple
? Jen Madsen, the founder of this small but powerful company, liked to quilt but didn't like to prep the fabric. She found the washing, cutting and pressing tedious. She figured she couldn't be alone in this opinion. Upon further research she found no one offering ready-to-sew kits. Oh, there were kits to be purchased but none of them had prepared the fabric for you. Stitch Simple was born to fill this need.
What I personally love about Stitch Simple is that Jen is not afraid to try new things and she definitely listens to her customers. She believes (and I agree) that what sets companies like Stitch Simple apart from large fabric stores is the care and attention each customer receives. When you purchase a quilt kit from Stitch Simple, it not only includes all the pre-washed, pre-cut, pressed fabric you will need but it also includes a practice pack of pre-washed, pre-cut fabric pieces to get you warmed up. In addition the assembly instructions for some kits are for six different sized quilts and you get UNLIMITED assistance from the Stitch Simple Quilt Kit Support Line with every kit. I'd call that amazing!
In addition to their pre-washed, pre-cut and pressed quilt kits, Stitch Simple also offers a variety of prepared fabrics like fat quarters, full yards and even by the inch(!) fabric pieces all ready to sew with. They even offer custom hand rotary-cut orders - pinked edges, triangles, anything, really! If you don't see what you are looking for, ask. The flexibility and options they offer are truly mind blowing.
When it comes to being a retailer of the Harmony Art organic line, Stitch Simple offers the most comprehensive swatch sets of both our woven
fabrics. Stitch Simple also offers (to businesses only) our fabrics re-bolted
onto those cute cardboard cores you are used to seeing in fabric stores. If you are a small business and want to carry our line but can't commit to a full 50-yard roll, Stitch Simple's reseller program
might just be the answer for you.
Like what you just read? How about going to their facebook page
and "liking" Stitch Simple?
photo credit: Hot Mama Gowns
is now in stock and available from NearSea Naturals
, Stitch Simple Organic Cotton Plus
and Pure Fabricz
. I look forward to your feedback on this new muslin organic fabric and colorway. What do you think?
Have you ever wondered how designs are selected and how come a particular colorway comes to be? Well, in this particular case, you can all thank Hot Mama Gowns
! The founder and designer, Deidrea, contacted me and wanted a new black and white design for her beautiful nursing gowns. She looked through our password protected library of designs and selected Graceland and asked that I color it in black and white.
By splitting the production run with me, it allowed Deidrea to get the fabric she was wanting at a lower production commitment than is normally required. It also allowed me to offer this fabric to you.
By doing more what I call "custom runs" we hope to support the needs of the businesses we serve as well as bring more color and variety to the organic cotton world as a whole. If you have a business and want to work together to bring something special to life, feel free to contact me