Posts Tagged 'fabric'

Moving On: The Sewing World in 2010 and My Hopes for 2011

One of my favorite-est sewing websites, Sew, Mama, Sew, is inviting readers to reflect on the sewing world in 2010 and to predict where it’s going in 2011. And because, of course, I love to state my opinion, I’m joining in. Read on and share your thoughts on your own blog if you’re an outspoken, opinionated sewist, too!

Looking back on the sewing scene of 2010, what trends stand out in your mind?
I believe that the biggest trend in sewing in 2010 wasn’t confined to sewing; it’s been sweeping every part of life in the United States. Throughout this past year, there’s been an incredible emphasis on and appreciation of things “handmade.” We are learning to cast aside consumerism and value that which is personal and sustainable. People who have never sewn before are picking up needle and thread and crafting items for themselves, for their family, and for their friends, and the result has been beautiful and heartwarming.

What were some of your favorite things? (Trends, fabric collections, patterns, blogs? Whatever you really loved.)
My favorite things have been, of course, “Sew, Mama, Sew” and using knits. Knits, knits knits. I’m obsessed. My favorite source for children’s knits is Chez Ami, especially the clearance section!. Two other sewing websites that I adore are Pattern Review and Burdastyle. And then there is, of course, my blogroll, which I know you’ll want to peruse at your convenience.

What was your very favorite fabric collection or print? (If not listed above.)
Oh, Tufted Tweets, of course! I adore this fabric collection. I want to wallpaper the backs of my eyes with it. I don’t know why, but I love the graphic nature of it, the colors, and the little bit of whimsy and humor in it. It’s fantastic!

What was the best thing you made in 2010? (Be sure to share a photo!)
Well, I don’t know about my best thing, but my favorite thing was my daughter’s birthday quilt. I gave it to her the day she turned one, and it’s made up of scraps of fabric from projects I worked on from when I became pregnant with her up to that day. Oh, and it’s all polka dots, of course. Here’s a picture of the top:

And here’s a link to the final product: Birthday Blankie Complete

Although the Birthday Quilt is my favorite thing I’ve made this year, the most popular items by far on my blog have been my Summer Necessity Swimsuit Tutorial and my post, Four Kids, Four Quilts, on the meaning of quilting and its uniqueness as an art form.

What is one of the best things you saw that was made by someone else?
Oh my goodness, there are so many. I love everything that has been featured on Burdastyle. For a bunch of inspiration, visit their Albums. Some specific pieces I adores are This, This, This, and can you believe These? There is really so much that I loved. I’m awed by the amount of amazing talent that is out there!

What do you think 2011 has in store? (Again, trends, fabric, patterns, etc.)
I think 2011 will continue the anti-consumerism trend. However, I think, as far as sewing goes, we might see a return to more complicated garments; we’ve been focused on linen and cotton and clean lines and simplicity that it’s time for a bounce back to a little bit of opulence. I think we’ll see more retro sewing; the 60’s are so very hot right now! Maybe we’ll even revisit the polyester of the past. I think we’ll see much more retro/modern fabric released; we sewists are tired of endless florals. We want graphics, we want bold, interesting designs! For patterns, I hope we’ll end the glut of bag patterns that are out there and that the designers that we love will take chances and come out with more clothes. That’s just my hope, though; bags are easy, and obviously they work. I would love to see more patterns for knits out there; I think the Big 4 pattern companies are realizing that finally, even though Burda has been publishing good knit patterns for ages.

Anything you’re ready for the sewing world to get over?
Whoops, I guess I already mentioned that. Please, Amy Butler and everyone else like you, will you stop coming out with more bags? You know we love them, but once you have one pattern you like, you really don’t need another one whose only difference is a few pleats. Also, end it with the florals! Give us straight lines and angles and eye-popping, soul-stirring beauty. And all you sewists out there — simple linen is beautiful, but let’s get a little fancy! We need some details, some sparkles and ruffles and grommets and buttons and contrasting thread. We’ve been holding it in too long, and it’s time to let our creativity run wild!

What’s on your sewing agenda for 2011? What are you excited about? What would you like to learn more about?
I received a dress form for Christmas, so I’ll be working hard to learn how to really fit a garment and hopefully, to create my own. I’d love to see more focus in the internet world on making clothes. Real, usable, everyday clothes that we love and our kids love and that bring out our beauty. Fewer crayon rolls, more t-shirts and pants and dresses. Oh, and let’s focus on FABRIC, people! I hope the blogging world will leave the cotton cage it’s in right now and teach people how to work with ALL kinds of fabric. I mean, right now, working with thin knits and leather and satin increases our “tension,” if you know what I mean (ba-dum-pshhhh!). We as sewists need to know how to tackle everything that’s out there; show us a project in leather and one in canvas, etc., etc., and watch us grow.

Thanks for reading everyone! Now bring on 2011 in the sewing world!


Why Buy Fabric When It’s Made Outside of the U.S., Too?

A few commenters brought up some great points in response to my last post. Choosing to make clothes rather than buy those made outside of the United States is all well and good, and it’s definitely cheaper than buying American-made, but what about fabric that was made outside of the U.S.?

The main difference between supporting foreign fabric production and supporting foreign garment production lies in the methods used. First, fabric manufacture, unlike garment manufacture, is highly mechanized with specialized equipment, and very few workers can produce a huge amount of fabric. So, simply because it employs less people, a fabric production facility outside of the United States has less opportunity to exploit workers. Second, because they are required to use complex, computer-guided machines, employees in fabric-production facilities need to be familiar with the operation of the equipment, which usually requires on the job training. In short, workers must be better trained, which usually means that a) employees make a higher wage, even in third-world countries, and b) employers, who often provide training to their new hires, are motivated to protect that investment by retaining their workers. They spend time and money training their employees, then must keep them satisfied enough that the those workers don’t leave and force the employer to spend more time and more money training another new hire. In addition, workers who are already trained and make the decision to move to another facility are more in demand and can thus expect higher pay.

Contrast this system with garment production, which uses a large number of relatively unskilled laborers who are fairly easily replaced. Owners and managers in this industry have little or no motivation to care for their workers’ health or job satisfaction, and often (usually?) don’t. When a garment production company outside of the United States needs to increase profits and/or lessen costs, the workers are often the first to feel the effects.

Now, all that said, I am not saying that fabric production conducted outside of the United States does not exploit its workers ever or at all. Foreign textile producers are not subject to the same workers’ rights laws and safety regulations to which American producers must conform. Workers can still be underpaid, work longer hours, and be exposed to toxic chemicals. Also, machinery itself can be very dangerous. And because the process of fabric production is so automized, hiring fewer workers is possible, but hiring fewer workers means less jobs are available over all.

Some also maintain that when we boycott non-U.S-made garments and the companies that sell them, we are actually hurting the depressed economies that often breed sweatshops. Sure, workers are paid pennies per pair of jeans, but if you don’t buy those jeans, you are, after all, depriving workers of those pennies. And by buying only fabric, we are supporting an industry that seeks to eliminate as many jobs as possible in order to manage costs. And it’s true that not buying a pair of Old Navy jeans keeps a few cents out of the pockets of sweatshop employees. However, the amount it keeps out of Old Navy’s coffers is much, much higher. We’re telling Old Navy to change the way it does business and we’re supporting companies that do business in a way that doesn’t build profits on the backs of exploited workers.

In the end, we really need to ask ourselves what we hope to achieve by boycotting non-American-made clothing. On a surface level, we are avoiding contributing personally to immoral business practices. On a slightly deeper level, we are trying to force companies to limit production to the U.S. because this is the best way to ensure that workers aren’t exploited somewhere in the process. Ultimately, though, it would be wonderful if Walmart, etc. paid even their international manufacturers a fair price for their garments. Then workers outside of the U.S. could benefit from plenty of jobs and better pay. It would also allow U.S. manufacturers to compete in an international market. This kind of thing, though, would mean higher prices in both our department and discount stores, at least until everyone got on board. However, we are willing to pay a little more to ensure that men, women, and children outside of the United States are not suffering so that we can save a few dollars or own ten pairs of jeans. And that is the real strength of this movement; we need to prove to ourselves and to large corporations that we are willing to change our American, sale-oriented mindset. In short, we must be willing to pay more for U.S.-made products. And we need to be willing to make what we cannot find or simply cannot afford.

As far as buying fabric made outside of the United States, it’s no question that there is likely some exploitation inherent in foreign fabric production as well as foreign garment production. However, the fabric production industry’s transgressions are not nearly as egregious or as commonplace as that of the garment industry. By buying fabric, ideally domestic but often necessarily foreign, we still ensure that we don’t support sweatshop-made clothing and we do this in a way that is personally achievable. If you live in an area where domestic clothing is available or find a reputable company that sells domestic clothing over the internet, and you have the funds to pay for it, by all means, please buy it. Support those companies (but do a little googling first to make sure those companies aren’t exploiting immigrants to the United States). However, if you don’t have access to these kind of items or don’t have the cash to cover their cost, you shouldn’t feel guilty about grabbing some fabric and spending a few hours crafting. Foreign fabric production does have the potential to exploit its employees, but you can feel confident that, because of the way fabric is made, you are not contributing to the sweatshop and child labor inherent in the garment industry.

Chaos. Everyday.

Four kids. Two parents. Everyday life. Stop in often for new updates, crafts we've been working on, and a journal of life with four kids age five and under.

Photos of Our Everyday Chaos

Chaos by Topic:

Click here to receive email updates whenever there's a new post.

Join 23 other followers

Grab my Button!

Everyday Chaos Button

Copy and paste the following onto your page:

<a href="" target="_blank"" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Everyday Chaos Button" ></a>

Visit My Etsy Shop

Our Chaos Was . . .

oneprettything Photobucket

I participate in . . .

make it wear it
The Girl Creative