100% Organic Cotton Fabrics
For home sewers, businesses, retailers, and anyone who gives a scrap!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Suzan Friedland's retrospective show titled Hard-Earned Uncertainty at Bay Quilts in Richmond, CA. I have always been inspired by Suzan's artistic attitude, philosophy, vision, and execution. To see 30 decades of evolution in one location was spectacular.
It was my honor to bring her design to life on continuous yardage on organic sateen. Congrats Sue! Cheers to the next 30 years. I look forward to seeing what you bring to life. Oh... and if you are interested in this limited release fabric - Bay Quilts is where you can purchase it. NOTE: It is not available on their web site... I think you will need to go in person or call to place an order.
I look forward to bringing you more co-creating projects.
When I was considering the idea of creating an organic cotton fabric line, the first place I contacted was Organic Cotton Plus. That was back in 2004! I can vividly remember speaking with Barbara Bush (not the first lady) about the concept and asking her if I created a line, would they sell the fabric for me. Her response was so enthusiastic that it played a critical part in building the confidence I needed to take the leap of faith. Now, well over a decade later, Organic Cotton Plus continues to sell and support the Harmony Art line of organic cotton fabrics. Both of our companies have changed and morphed over time but I am happy to say the relationship is still one of admiration and gratitude.
This month in honor of our longevity with each other, Organic Cotton Plus is having a sale on Harmony Art organic fabrics. Sew Happy!
Additionally, Organic Cotton Plus also has an interview with me posted on their blog.
I'm happy to say Whispering Grass is back and in a new colorway. This time it's orchid and comes with a coordinating solid Orchid color. Of course I love all of my fabrics but this one is nearer and dearer to me than any other. Why? Well, it is one of the first organic cotton fabrics we ever printed. Back in 2005, our first print run was done in South Carolina and we printed 3 designs: Whispering Grass (aqua), Sweet Jane (pink) and Eyes of the World.
My husband and I flew to South Carolina to oversee and take some film footage of the printing. I remember it was SUPER hot and humid at the plant. I was young and naive. My husband still had long hair and so did I.
I remember being stunned by the size of the machinery. Pictured above is just ONE part of the process. I remember the colorist was a gem. The plant manager. . . a good ole boy. I'm sad to report this plant and the second USA printer we used have closed down. This print run pre-dated GOTS. When we did this printing we were truly the first company to bring color and design to organic fabrics and offer it to home sewers and small businesses. Now, I can't keep track of all the new organic fabric lines there are so many. Now, we have GOTS which keeps the standards high and consistent. Now, we have an Orchid colorway of THE original Harmony Art design. I hope you enjoy it. It's been some journey. . . and so it continues. . .
Uncomplicated Twill was one of our first organic prints. It was released for the first time back in 2007. The design was inspired by this flower. I do not know what kind of flower it is but I vividly remember taking this picture at the Thompson Heather Gardens in Manchester after we hiked on Manchester State Beach. As you can see I took liberty with the scale and the colors. Earlier this year we decided to reprint the design this time on organic cotton (USA) percale and in a pink colorway.
Big thanks to everyone who chimed in on facebook and voiced their opinion on which colorway we should release. I really love the co-creating process and now look forward to seeing how you bring the fabric to life. Sew Happy!!
I am often asked, "How do you come up with your designs?" Almost all of them start with a hike. I find nature to be an unlimited source of design inspiration. When I hike with the Thursday Ramblers I almost always have my camera with me and snap away at anything that grabs my attention. My most recently released fabric is called Stornetta after the land the flowers were found on. It's a magical place with fields, bluffs, cows, ocean views, a waterfall into the ocean, huckleberries, a spooky Halloween tree and much more.
Sometimes it's a plant, a texture on a stump, a flower -- really the design can start with most anything. In this particular case, the flowers on the hike beckoned to be put into a designs and I listened. . .
I have about 100 designs created and yet to be printed. How do I pick which is next? Sometimes I turn to my friends -- the ones who actually know what Harmony Art is and does -- that care and understand and maybe even sew.
In the case of Stornetta, Mary Sue and Bob picked it out. Their confidence and support of Harmony Art has been a constant source of strength and encouragement. So when they requested Stornetta in blue -- well, so be it! For the second colorway I turned to my facebook fans for suggestions and votes. They spoke too and I listened. I really love have having so many people involved. The journey is indeed the prize. Now the fun and patience begins as I wait to see what YOU create with it.
My dad had this poster back in the 70's. I have to admit as a young person it sort of grossed me out that the lemonade was pouring out of the guys nose. Frankly, I didn't get this at all.
Now, as an adult I get the sentiment (I still think the visual is gross).
Last week I had the unpleasure/pleasure of "making lemonade". We live in the woods. You can not see a neighbor in any direction. We love the remoteness but it means sometimes sharing our space with not-so-welcome friends.
In this case, the intruders were mice. They let themselves in and snacked on my pot holders. My first reaction was...
My second reaction was. . .
Now I have a perfect reason to invest in some new organic pot holders and oven mitts.
So I did just that. I ordered 2 sets from A Greener Kitchen. Aren't they lovely? What an improvement. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" Indeed.
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!
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.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.