I made your Scarf! Well not all on my own, here’s the story and a few photos of the process – sharing my story as part of Fashion Revolution week.
My scarves are all digitally printed, if you aren’t familiar with this process, it’s kind of like a giant ink-jet printer that you have at home, so rather than screen printing where each colour is layered on with a different screen, all the colours are printed at once. This means you can have UNLIMITED colour in your designs, you can probably see now why I love it so much!
Apart from being able to go wild with colour, there is also an environmental benefit to digital print. For printing big runs of cloth it ends up being less wasteful on resources – only using the ink that is required, and the water needed is much less. Plus it means I can print the exact quantity of each scarf that I need with no minimum print runs, meaning I can react easily and order only what I require.
My only blind spot is the direct source of the fabric – the wool is produced in the UK at a mill in Yorkshire, but the silk will likely have travelled a little further! As the fabrics have to be pre-treated for digital print they pass through a few hands before they come to me. BUT my reason for choosing silk and wool (natural fibres) is also environmental. While during their life (and ours) they will feel beautiful to wear and if cared for will remain in beautiful condition, ultimately they will decompose unlike man made textiles which are made from plastics.
I always wanted to keep my production as close to home as I can – almost all my scarves are printed at the Centre for Advanced Textiles in Glasgow, apart from the ‘Diffusion’ range which is printed in England. Here you can see some images of the big beast of a printer, and the washing and finishing processes that go on there. I feel very proud to say that my scarves are made in Scotland. All though this is a very modern technique rather than the traditions of weaving and knitting more often associated with Scotland, I feel like I’m participating in the long lasting tradition of textile production in Scotland.
Once the fabric is printed, it gets sent to me on a roll to be finished. A lot of the finished edges I do myself in my studio, but as the business has grown I’ve had to outsource some of the hand hemming as it was all getting to much for me to do (I was also getting a claw hand!). I have a lady in London who hand stitches some for me – Tilda. The wool scarves I do myself, as they require a machine edge and then hand frayed finish, which are quicker to do. Finally labelling and swing tags go on – also all made in the UK.
WASTE – another hot topic, and one I consider very carefully. While there is not a huge amount of fabric waste in my production (I carefully plan the sizes and layout of the prints so as to maximise fabric usage) there is some, and I am working on different ways to use this. You may have seen some of my zero waste products – the sleep masks, notebooks and glasses cases – these utilise off cuts/remnants/mis-prints etc. I also have long strips of fabric that are cut off along the edges of the scarves, these are really too small to make anything with, and while they would decompose if I put them in the compost bin, I am at the moment storing them all until I can think of a plan – if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear from you!
My Sleep masks are printed on a strip of wool cloth that runs along the edge of the wool scarves, utilising this ‘waste’ cloth. The silk backing and inner wadding are also off-cuts and remnants – the wadding from my Mum’s quilting projects and the silk remnants from my other job as a dress-maker!
I feel like now more than ever we are looking for a connection to where the things we wear, consume or experience come from. I enjoy learning the story behind a brand, who is the face of the brand and how did they make the thing I’m buying, are they trying to make a personal connection with me as their customer? What is the story that goes in to each piece? Do you feel the same?
To learn more about Fashion Revolution Week head to their website