Laws of NatureJun 04, 2009

With the search for more sustainable and eco-friendly textiles there's a renewed popularity in natural fibres like Linen, organic Cotton, Hemp and Bamboo. Many of these plant-based fibres use less water, energy and petro-chemicals to produce than synthetic fibres, with fewer waste products. All good news for a concerned designer and consumer. However I believe a re-adjustment needs to be made in the minds of designers and consumers when specifying and living with these natural fibres. Basically there are unrealistic expectations when it comes to the 'performance' of them.


Natural, untreated fibres are just that - NATURAL! There are no protective coatings, there are no chemical processes which standardise the yarn colours and texture, or stablise the weave. As a result they fade, they stretch and contract, and most importantly they differ in colour and texture from roll to roll. It's impossible to standardise yarn colours when every crop of flax is different, ie grown in different soils and climatic conditions. Because of these factors special care must be made when ordering these raw textiles: No two rolls are alike so STOCK-CUTTINGS ARE A MUST, along with a HOLD/RESERVE placed on that roll. Bear in mind that sample hangers are only a guide to the weave and colour of a design, exact colour matching is highly unlikely. We will do our best but again every roll is different.


Clients should be made aware of such inconsistencies and the changeable nature of these natural textiles. As an example I love the look of Linen Roman blinds and loose covers, I have some in my own home, however they will fade along the exposed edges, they will soften and wear. I happen to like this imperfect, natural look. Like leather I believe linen improves with age and use. This is obviously not everyone's cuppa and I would hate to think that clients are expecting flawless, immutable fabric when using linen, or any natural fabrics, in their home.


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