finding the perfect fabric
Finding the fabric to make my napkins with has been a long road. Mostly because I have standards and won't settle for cheap, environmentally hazardous, chemically laden, made-under-terrible-conditions cloth. The problem is that I want to have integrity in every area of my creative process.
Just so you know, I didn't start out this way. With integrity, values and morals, that is. When I first decided to take my handmade items to market and sell them I was more concerned with how to turn a profit than what materials to use. My priority was financial, even if it meant sourcing from China and buying cheaper fabric.
Then I started printing and sewing with the cheaper fabric from China. It was thin, rough in my hands and it felt, well, cheap. So I packed up the chemically laden, scratchy, thin cotton that was probably made by children under terrible working conditions (check out the story if you want to feel badly about the T-shirt you're wearing), and left it by the dumpster behind my studio for someone else to use, or for it to be thrown away.
And as I walked back to my studio, I made a decision to never compromise my values for profit again. And that meant money was no longer the priority. Feeling good about what I make would be the new order.
By all logical and practical business sense this would be the end of making a living doing what I love. I had believed and told myself that making a profit was impossible if I didn't compromise. I mean, don't some corners have to be cut?
Maybe. This is an experiment that might blow up in my face and leave me applying for a job at Starbucks. But I don't think so. Because I believe that the people who buy my handmade items for their homes also care, and are willing to pay more for quality materials just like I am.
So I scoured the information superhighway of the internet as well as the concrete streets of New York to find the perfect fabric. After a gazillion stores, millions of fabric samples, aisle after aisle of yardage, I finally found it: perfect, beautiful, soft European linen. Not only amazing to work with, linen is also a renewable resource and biodegradable. It's eco-friendly and free of harmful toxins because it is easy to cultivate. And, as far as I know it is not produced by children.
Even so, I had to try it out in my own home under real-life circumstances. And I found that short of running it over with a tractor, it got even better with wear and tear. When washed and worn, linen starts looking both old-world rustic and urban-edgy all at the same time. It is truly the perfect fabric.
And most importantly, I feel good about it. Really, really good about it.