Valley Vogue Collections Art Blog
As handweavers, my business partner and I have to compete in a world with a plethora of manufactured and imported goods. Obviously, we cannot offer goods that are less expensive or carry mass quantities. We struggle to make clothing that bests what the market offers in areas of quality, workmanship and design. We use the finest and most unusual fibers, dye them using creative and unusual color schemes and craft them using our own patterns. To do this, we spend months perfecting each line item. This is only the beginning as our final product is field tested for longevity, comfortability and timeliness. That is why we cringe when our final price tag has to reflect the cost of materials and labor. We are not our target market. We can make clothing for an upscale market but certainly cannot count ourselves in this bracket.
For those that are in our target market, we hope that this article helps you appreciate the garment you can purchase. For those that are not in our target market, we hope that this article is interesting. Handweaving is an art form that goes back to ancient Egypt and beyond. As modern day weavers, we try our best to stay true to our historic roots yet reach for new trends in our art. We hope to be learned, current, adventuresome and novel.
This year we found ourselves with a full stock and a shrinking and timid market. At the same time, we purchased an older loom that takes us to a new learning curve. We gave ourselves permission to take the year off from weaving to sell and concentrated on designing the perfect jacket.
Weeks pouring over catalogs and visiting mill outlets resulted in a final choice of fibers for our jacket. Merino wool and silk for their warmth and compatibility with our dyes of choice, wool boucle for its texture and interest and bamboo for its softness and most envious absence of color - black. Simultaneously, we designed a pattern to mock up in muslin.
Next, we researched future colors in fashion and developed our palette for dyeing. Playing with our dyes, we managed to replicate our color pencil samples. Once we were happy with the dyes, we dyed our fiber for sampling on the loom. The samples provided us with information on threading, spacing, washing, shrinkage and structure. Meanwhile our jacket of muslin dictated the amount of fabric in width and length for each jacket as well as its suitability for our design.
Our next tasks are the mechanics - weaving and sewing our garment. Stay tuned for news of the final product.