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What's it Made Of?

I've loved textiles from childhood. My grandmother's faded aprons seemed beautiful to me - soft and faded in just the right way. The old fashioned net curtains in the windows - great for playing dress-up when no one was looking. And shopping trips to Hartford, CT's famous G. Fox luxury department store, where my mother would comment on fabrics and garment construction as though she were talking to an adult. "Cheap fabric - not real silk. Now here's a beautiful polished cotton - it holds it's shape. Oh look at that lovely dotted Swiss - so ladylike." "Those buttons are NOT mother of pearl. You can't find good buttons anymore - we'll change them when we get home." I listened to and agreed with every word in spite of the fact that I didn't really know what she was talking about.

Many years later, I started writing for an Industrial Textiles magazine. I'd do stories on emerging hi-tech fabrics that glowed or changed temperature in response to the body wearing them. Now, I'm enrolled in Parson/New School's Fashion Essentials program, and I'm considering fabrics in terms of garment production.

In response to a recent assignment, I shopped at my favorite fabric store, Mood, NYC, gathered some fabric samples for a tunic design, and created fabric cards to catalog their physical properties, availability and cost. They're all so beautiful and elegant, light weight linens - perfect for my theoretical clothing line "Individually Wrapped". However, I'm a bit shocked at how expensive they are. At 3.5 yards per tunic, the materials cost would be around $75 - then there is labor, shipping etc., and profit margin to consider. I can easily see how simple garments at places like Eileen Fisher are so expensive to buy. Sometimes I think - "are you kidding me?". But now I understand why. #parsonsxteenvogue

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