Friday, 28 August 2015

All You Need To Know About Ikat Weaving

Ikat Weave Offset Warehouse

Ikat fabrics have always been popular for their distinct style and unparalleled beauty. If you have ever used one, you will know how unique they are. We just introduced the most stunning Ikat woven fabrics into our shop, all the way from Thailand – I’m sure you’ll love every one of them! Even as we are obsessing over their finesse, I thought I should share with you what makes them special. So, join me and find out all you ever wanted to know about this gorgeous, hand-woven fabric.

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Ikat Weaving

The term “ikat” refers to the dyeing technique used to create the designs on the fabric. It is a resist dyeing process, where bundles of yarn are tightly wrapped together and then dyed as many times as is required to create the desired pattern. This dyeing process is different because the yarns are dyed before being woven into cloth. In most of the other resist-dyeing techniques, like batik for example, it is the final cloth and not the yarn, that’s dyed.

Once the yarns have been suitably dyed and dried, the weaver lines them up on the loom to form the pattern. The design takes form as the yarn is woven into cloth. This is an incredibly complicated process, as the weaver has to precisely dye the threads, and place them correctly so it forms the correct pattern when woven. Just to reiterate how hard this is… in order to replicate a pattern, the weaver would have to dye the thread in exactly the same place as before AND line it up on a loom in EXACTLY the same place AND then they’d have to weave it exactly the same way.

There are three different Ikat weaving techniques. These are warp ikat, weft ikat and double ikat. Let’s take a look at what each of them are.

Types of Ikat Weaving

The differences between warp ikat, weft ikat and double ikat depend on whether it is the warp or weft yarns that are dyed to create the chosen pattern. If you’re not sure what I mean by warp and weft, have a quick read of my previous article, understanding weaving.

Warp Ikat

In warp ikat, the weft yarns are all dyed a solid colour and only the warp yarns are ikat dyed. Here, the pattern is clearly visible when the threads are wound on the loom, and weaving in the weft threads solidifies the colour and completes the fabric formation.

Ikat Warp Lombok

Weft Ikat

In weft ikat, it is the weft threads that are ikat dyed. This type of weaving is more difficult than warp ikat, as the pattern will be formed only as the weaving progresses. This means that the weaver has to constantly centre and readjust the yarns to ensure the pattern is formed correctly.


Double Ikat

The most complicated of the three, double ikat, is where both the warp and weft threads are resist-dyed prior to weaving. This technique requires advanced skill, takes time and hence is the most expensive. The Pochampally Sari and Puttapaka saris are native to India, and feature exquisite double ikat motifs on silk.

Double Ikat

How Is Ikat Fabric Made?

These are the various steps involved in creating an Ikat fabric:

  1. The desired pattern is first drawn on the warp and weft yarns by hand.

  2. The weaver then ties these yarns to match the planned pattern. The threads are then dyed in the specific colours, so that the colours seep into the yarn at the appropriate positions.

  3. The ties on the yarn are untied, and the yarns are strung on the loom. In warp and double ikat, the pattern emerges on the loom at this stage.

  4. The fabric is then woven together, and the colourful pattern of motifs emerges on it.

For a pictorial description of each of these steps, I suggest you visit the HomeWorkshop website.

History of Ikat

Although Ikat weaving is a complex technique, it is surprising how the technique is believed to have simultaneously and independently developed in different parts of the world. Ikat was brought to Europe at almost the same time by Dutch traders from South East Asia as the Spanish from South America and explorers from the Silk Road.

Ikat fabric has been practiced in India, Indonesia, Japan and other South-East Asian countries for millennia. This form of textile production is also popular in Central and South American countries like Argentina, Bolivia and Mexico. The most coveted double ikat woven fabrics come from Guatemala, India, Japan and Indonesia. It is interesting to note that every Ikat Weaving group has its own distinct patterns, styles and choices of colour.


Endek is an economically successful version of Ikat from Indonesia, as it has been taken from its fabric form and developed into products. Originally considered a court-based sacred fabric in Bali, it is now Indonesia’s most commercialised resist-dyed fabric.

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Ikat In Fashion Today


Beautiful ikats featured in high fashion. Oscar de la Renta fall 2013 collection.

Fashion trends may come and go, but ikat fabrics have always stood the test of time. Many designers and high street brands replicate the look of ikat with printing or a jacquard woven fabric. An original ikat can be easily recognised from the faux printed ones, by either looking up close, or simply turning the fabric over! Since ikats are woven on looms, you can be certain that it is a genuine ikat if the same design is on the inside of the fabric as well. The designer Oscar de la Renta has used the ikat style many time in his design like the one above from his fall 2013 collection.


Ikat continues to be a designer favourite as it finds its way into dresses, shirts, fashion accessories and upholstery. Vinita Passary’s concept clothing label Translate is centred around traditional ikat motifs which she uses to create trendy summer outfits and interior products.

Now that you have learnt all about Ikat fabric, how about giving it a try. Our New Collection Of Ikat Fabrics hand-woven in Thailand with intricate designs like stripes, ebony diamonds and flecks at our online shop.  You are bound to love them all!

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Recycle Your Fabric Scraps with Awesome Rag Rugging!...

Recycle Your Fabric Scraps with Awesome Rag Rugging!
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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

You Need To Know About This Fantastic Vegetarian Silk Made From Cactus Plants

Cactus Silk Plant

I love learning about new fibres, so when someone recently told me about Vegetarian Silk from a Cactus, I needed to know more!  Cue lots of research on the subject, which I’m delighted to share with you. It is a fantastic vegetarian alternative to silk with superb lustre and super soft to the touch, I’m sure you already want to know more about it too…

What is Cactus Silk?

Cactus silk is (almost) exactly what it sounds like: silk made from a cactus! (More on this later.) Sometimes called Vegetable or Sabra Silk, it is a luxurious fabric made from the Saharan Aloe Vera Cactus (part of the Agave family). If you’ve ever been on holiday to Morocco you may already be familiar with it. The cactus is grown in the Saharan Desert and the fabric is hand-loomed in Morocco. Markets in Marrakech are often adorned with the beautiful metallic skeins and products.

There is also a Mexican fibre called Istle or Ixtle or tampico fibre that is a slightly harder plant fibre from a few different Mexican Agave and Yucca plants that is used to make fabrics, brushes and cords.

How is it made?

Aloe Vera Cactus

Cactus Silk is made from the natural vegetable fibres found in the long agave cactus. Confusingly, even though it is often called an “agave cactus” it is actually not a cactus, but rather just a plant that belongs to the subfamily Agavoideae. So Cactus silk may not be the most appropriate name after all! Another interesting fact: the plants only ever flower once before they die and this can take decades before it even happens!

The process for making Sabra Silk has been the same for centuries. Breaking open the cactus, the fibres can be accessed just like finding the fibres from flax to make linen. The spiky leaves are crushed and soaked in water to separate the fibres and filaments, then they are washed and dried and spun to make silk threads.

It is traditional to keep the fabric as natural as possible, so many producers will only ever dye cactus silk with natural vegetable dyes. This process can take a long time, but when it is completed the colours are incredibly vibrant and beautiful – and the dye has not damaged the vegetable fibres at all.

Cactus Silk Woven

When the fibres have been dyed and dried, they are then woven on looms. This is a highly specialised skill, and something that should really be done by hand if it is going to be done properly. You can always tell if a machine has woven the cactus silk together to make a fabric, because it feels uneven and strange. The weaver has to carefully weave depending on the different thicknesses and waves of the fibre.

Sometimes weavers incorporate camels wool in alternating stripes to add texture to the fabric, or it is woven with a contrasting colour of chenille or cotton yarn to enhance the natural sheen.

What are its properties?

After the cactus silk fabric has been made, you will see that it has a beautiful, natural metallic sheen.  This silky sheen is really gorgeous and dazzling, and many people often mistake it for silk. The long, hand-woven process to make it does often mean it can be quite expensive.

So how about sewing with this fabric?  Pleasingly, it is possible to wash cactus silk at 30 degrees and to iron it as long as you have the temperature quite low. Cactus silk has high elasticity so is naturally almost completely wrinkle free, so you may find that it doesn’t need ironing anyway!

Why is it eco friendly?

For a start, cactus silk is vegetarian and even vegan! Conventional silk comes from the cocoon of silk worms which some people like to avoid. Unlike some other materials that take a huge amount of resources to make, cactus silk only has one ingredient: and that is cacti! Cacti are very quick to grow, which means that they can be replaced very quickly, not harming the environment that they came from. Production is very small-scale at the moment. Furthermore, because most cactus silk is hand-woven, it does not have any carbon footprint.

What are its common uses?


The fabric is usually found in street markets either in small pieces, made into tassels and napkin holders or used to cover buttons. Many people use cactus silk for scarves because it is so shiny and soft. Others will use it for soft furnishings on cushions and for trimmings on things such as curtains.

For such an interesting fibre with a great heritage and sustainable properties, Cactus Silk seems to be a bit of an untapped resource! What would you use it for?

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Have you heard about #Vegetarian #Cactus #Silk made in #Morocco?
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The process for making #Sabra (#Cactus) #Silk has been the same for centuries.
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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Beautiful photo tweeted to us from Juste Eco Clothing! Organic...

Beautiful photo tweeted to us from Juste Eco Clothing! Organic natural white cotton dress for the eco baby, made from our white organic cotton sateen
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Friday, 21 August 2015

What Is Tencel Fabric? …only the most eco fabric around!


Working in the textile industry for as many years as I have, opens your eyes to a lot of the realities about the manufacture of fabric. By the time a fabric reaches the designer, its production has already made a huge environmental impact. This is why many of our customers at Offset Warehouse are looking for more sustainable materials, like Tencel fabric, also known as lyocell fabric.

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What Is Tencel Fabric, and What Is Lyocell?

what is tencel fabric

Tencel is the name brand for lyocell. Lyocell is the product of wood cellulose, or pulp harvested from trees, often eucalyptus. This versatile fabric is a great choice for designers. You can expect a soft finished product, and an added bonus of wrinkle resistance that customers absolutely love. While there are different manufacturers of lyocell, the main brand name is held by the Lenzing AG Company, who own the name “Tencel”. For a product to use the Tencel name, at least 30% of the Lenzing fibres must be used.

From Trees to Fabric

what is tencel fabric and lyocell fabric

Often fabrics are described as natural (such as cotton, silk and wool) or man-made (like polyester and nylon). Lyocell is a bit of both. It is sometimes called a regenerated fibre. As I mentioned earlier, the thread is made from trees. Once the pulp is harvested, it is doused amine oxide which is a non-toxic solution. After a bath in this solution, the raw cellulose is able to be separated. It is broken down chemically to a sludgy liquid then passed through a spinneret, a bit like a shower head, to create long strands.

The cellulose molecules in the fibres are aligned using a unique air blasting technique. This gives the lyocell fibre its characteristic high strength. The fibres are then immersed in a more diluted amine oxide, which sets the fibre strands. They are washed with de-mineralised water, then dried by evaporation. The dry fibres then go to a finishing area where soap or silicone are used as a lubricant. This untangles the fibres, so that they can then be carded and spun into yarn. It is then woven or knitted into fabric. The end result is a highly sustainable fibre that is not only comfortable, but environmentally friendly. Find out more on where I found the handy image above.

Beneficial Qualities and Attributes

Tencel Shirt

So far, you are probably loving what you’re hearing, but what about the properties of such a material? What many love about this eco-friendly fibre is its likeness to commonly used fibres such as cotton, linen and rayon – without the negatives of cotton in particular. It is also an amazingly versatile fabric, able to be machine washed or dry cleaned, and is known to be very soft, absorbent and strong.

It is great for sensitive skin, as it  keeps skin dry with its wicking abilities and is soft and supple to the touch.

Perhaps you need a variety of textures? This is easy to achieve as lyocell can be produced to mimic several other fibres, including suede leather and silk! This is due to its controllable fibrillation (the fine hairs on the outer fibres)… but we’re getting a bit technical here!

Almost all who come into contact with it, love the beautiful draping quality as well as its resistance to wrinkling. It is because of these attributes and properties that manufacturers and designers use this fabric for everything from shirts to dresses and even bed sheets.

An Environmentally Responsible Purchase

There are so many things to love about this product, but let’s discuss one more. Not only is fabric made from Tencel incredibly useful and beautiful, but it is arguably one of the most eco-friendly fibres on the market.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • The solvents used in the production process are non-toxic, and are able to be re-used again and again due to a technique called ‘closed loop’ spinning. This eliminates dumping of waste by 98%.
  • The eucalyptus trees that are harvested for the fibre are grown on sustainable farms. In addition, eucalyptus trees are fast growing, and require no toxic pesticides and little water to thrive.
  • The fibre itself is completely biodegradable, making it far safer to dispose of than most other common fabrics.
  • While the textile does use traditional dyes, its impressive absorbency allows companies to use less dye to achieve the desired effect. Meaning less waste and more cost efficient.
  • Last, but not least, there is no need to bleach this fibre before dying due to its pure white colour at production.

With more and more studies showing the impact that manufacturing is having on our world, it is great to see an exciting option become available. Designers choose their fabrics for a multitude of reasons, but one we should start considering is the sustainability of that fabric. Products such as Tencel, are an inspiring step into the future of a more environmentally conscious industry. This is why I am so thrilled to offer Tencel products to my customers in my own fabric shop.

Tencel Silver

Tencel Pink

Check out our the new Tencel and Wool Blends! We have Silver Marl & Dusky Pink. I’d be delighted if you’d please help to share my article using the tweet buttons throughout the article and below.

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Did you know #Tencel is actually a brand name? It is also known as #Lyocell!
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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sewing Tips: How To Copy Your Favourite Garments...

Sewing Tips: How To Copy Your Favourite Garments
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BACK IN STOCK Loads of gorgeous recycled polyester back in...

BACK IN STOCK Loads of gorgeous recycled polyester back in stock. We’ve just been sent photos from a designer of how she used her recycled poly fabric - she digitally printed on it and made up A-line, below the knee skirts - absolutely phenomenal! (Photos to follow!) If you love fabrics like we do, then sign up for monthly updates!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

How Silk Fabric Comes To Life: Meeting Our Silk Moths

How is silk made?

As you know, I explore hidden parts of the world to find and create textiles that are socially and environmentally beneficial (… officially the best job ever).  I’ve just come back from a visit to our weavers in Asia, and today I wanted to give you a little peek into how our silk fabric comes to life. How is silk fabric made??

How is #silk fabric made? #manufacturing #fabric #eco #silkworms
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Where does it start?

It all starts with these guys. Silk is an animal protein fibre produced by certain insects, like worms and spiders, to build their cocoons and webs. Ugly to some, these little silk worms are the very beginning of the incredible journey to making some of the most stunning fabrics out there – just check out the silk range on Offset Warehouse if you don’t believe me!

Silk Worms

The “silkworm” is technically not a worm but a moth pupa. They are always referred to as worms, however, and I’m happy to go with the majority on that one!  These particular worms are called Bombyx Mori, the mulberry silk moth, so-called because they feed on mulberry leaves. They are a breed of silk worm that relies on human intervention to survive – they are domesticated.

This practice of breeding the silkworm for the production of silk is known as sericulture. It’s unsure as to when sericulture first began, but it’s certainly been at least 5000 years, which is when it was taking place in China. From there, it spread to Korea and Japan, and later to India and the West. Over millennia, the silkworm was slowly domesticated from the wild silk moth, Bombyx Mandarina.

As I mentioned, many insects produce silk, but only the filament produced by this Bombyx mori and a few others in the same species is used by the commercial silk industry.

Eggs take about 14 days to hatch into larvae, which eat continuously – literally bushels and bushels of mulberry leaves! The worm droppings are black (why you’d want to know that, I’ve no idea, but I thought it was important). There are lots of phases of the larvae, as they hatch from tiny pin head size and grow into these big old worms (well, 30 day old worms to be precise). When the colour of their heads turns darker, you know that they are about to “moult“. After the first moult, the instar phase of the silkworm begins.

How Is Silk Made?

How does the worm turn into a cocoon?

After they have moulted four times, their bodies become slightly yellow and the skin becomes tighter. The silkworm attaches itself to a compartmented frame (above), twig, tree or shrub in a rearing house to spin a silk cocoon over a three to eight day period.  The larvae then prepare to enter the pupal phase of their life-cycle and enclose themselves in a cocoon made up of raw silk produced by the salivary glands. Steadily over four days, the silkworm rotates its body in a figure of eight movement approximately 300,000 times, constructing a cocoon. The final moult from larva to pupa takes place inside the cocoon, which provides a vital layer of protection during this phase.

How Is Silk Made?

These are the cocoons that the larvae produce – aren’t they incredible?  The cocoon is made of a single thread of raw silk which is usually between 300 and 900 metres long (that’s 1,000 to 3,000 feet). The fibres are very fine and lustrous, about 10 μm (0.0004 in) in diameter – if you don’t know about microns, check out this article. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons are required to make a pound or 400 grams of silk. Interesting bit of trivia – at least 70 million pounds of raw silk are produced each year, requiring nearly 10 billion pounds of cocoons!

But what exactly is this fibre made of?

Silkworms have salivary glands called sericteries, which are used for the production of fibroin – a clear, viscous, protein fluid that is forced through an opening in their heads called the spinneret. The diameter of the spinneret determines the thickness of the silk thread (or micron), which is produced as a long, continuous filament. A second pair of glands secretes a gummy binding fluid called sericin which binds the two filaments together. Why did I tell you all that?  Well, the sericin is tricky to get off and this forms part of the production process later on!

How Is Silk Made?

The cocoons are then put into a shallow, woven basket made of bamboo, like the one below. You may find a wood engraving of a cat on the basket – particularly in superstitious areas. This is because mice often climb to the shelves of silkworms for a tasty treat, and cats make excellent deterrents!  This is a bit like putting a fake herring next to our ponds in the UK… although I can’t imagine a picture of a cat does much deterring to a mouse. In any case, that’s why you might find that not only do the sericulturists continue to put pictures of cats in their baskets, but they also nearly always raise cats!

How Is Silk Made?

There are lots of superstitions surrounding sericulture – it’s quite fascinating!  In the past, when sericulture was a home business, there were many taboos surrounding the raising of silkworms. Women weren’t allowed to see their friends and men weren’t allowed to be shirtless around hatching silkworms. Any loud noises were completely forbidden – including shouting or crying children and knocking on doors or windows (how they managed the former, I’d like to know!). Liquor, vinegar and anything smelling of fish or mutton wasn’t allowed, and it you weren’t allowed to dig, cut grass, husk rice with a mortar and pestle or burn fur and hair around a sericulturist’s home. My favourite of the traditions, is when a couple got married in China, the girl’s parents would send the couple two young mulberry bushes, two round shallow baskets of silkworms, silk clothes and silk bedding as a dowry. This gesture was a symbol of the hope that the bride would bring much business! … a girl after my own heart.

How does the cocoon turn into a fibre?

How To Make Silk

At this point, I was so distracted by the process that I completely forgot to take a photo! But I did take a video, so please forgive the rather poor quality of the screen grabs. The cocoons are submerged into boiling water. The silk is then unreeled from the cocoon by softening the sericin and then delicately and carefully unwinding the filaments. You can see here that this skilled silk worker, Rose, is ‘reeling’ many many fibres – the norm is between four to eight cocoons at once.

As you can probably see, a single thread filament is too thin to use on its own, so many fibres are combined to produce a thicker, usable fibre. This is done by hand-reeling the threads onto a wooden spindle to produce a uniform strand of raw silk. As the fibres are being drawn through the small hole of the wooden panel above the pot, Rose periodically stirs the pot, which twists the fibres together – more on why we want twisted fibres here!

The twisted fibres, now a thread, then feeds over the round barrel above this plank of wood, and then onto the spindle that is constantly being turned by hand. It takes Rose nearly 40 hours to produce a half kilogram of silk.

As the sericin protects the silk fibre during processing, this is often left on the fibres until the yarn or even woven fabric stage. Raw silk is silk that still contains sericin. Once this is washed out (in soap and boiling water), the fabric is left soft, lustrous, and up to 30% lighter.

Making Silk Fabric

What happens to the moth inside the cocoon?

If the moth is allowed to survive once it’s spun its cocoon, it will eventually emerge as an adult moth. To emerge, it releases proteolytic enzymes to make a hole in the cocoon. These enzymes are destructive to the silk and can cause the silk fibers to break, reducing a fibre over a mile in length to segments of random length. This seriously reduces the value of the silk threads, unless the cocoons can be used as “stuffing”, as they are in China and elsewhere for doonas and jackets, and so on. To prevent this, silkworms are usually not allowed to hatch from their cocoons, and so are boiled or sun dried. The heat kills the silkworms and the water makes the cocoons easier to unravel.

That means that silk is not a vegetarian fabric!?

Yes. And no.

In this instance, yes, the silkworm has been boiled. The difference here, however, is that the silkworm itself is eaten and so the silk is a by-product. Just as you might eat beef, lamb or pork and use the hide to make leather.

There are also vegetarian silks, sometimes called Peace or Ahimsa silks – you can read a little more on peace silks here. You can also find a great selection of Peace Silks on our website.

And when the moths emerge?

Unlike its predecessor, the wild Bombyx mandarina, as the moths have been bred for domesticity for thousands of years, they never fly and the wings are essentially vestigial. The males will buzz their wings sometimes and stomp around, but none of them can manage even just a short flight. The females are so big with eggs, they can barely walk. You can actually see yellow eggs through the skin of the female between the furred stripes. Silk moths have a wingspan of three to five centimetres and a white, hairy body. Females are about two to three times bulkier than males, but are similarly colored. Adult Bombycidae have reduced mouth parts and do not feed, though a human caretaker can feed them.

How is silk made?

The rather unattractive brown stains around the moths is meconium. It’s the fluid that moths use to inflate their limp wings after they emerge; once the wings have hardened, the fluid is secreted as waste.

As soon as the female moths emerge they almost immediately secret a pheromone, a scent. This drives the males crazy and they flap and waddle around to find them. Usually, moths will wait until dark to do this – but not these moths! Once he finally finds her, the male grasps her by the abdomen, flap their wings in short bursts for a while, and then stop. They remain paired like this for twelve to twenty-four hours. They can be safely separated after three hours, because the male will have inseminated the female. You can manually separate them, but you must be careful not to damage the female’s ovipositor and cause her trouble laying eggs. A single male can be reused for an additional one to two matings.

Once they’ve done their thing, the female will begin to lay her eggs. Most females lay between 150 and 300 eggs over  two to three days. Some moths can lay as many as a thousand! The eggs start out lemon yellow, and over a day or two will fade through tan to dark gray or black. You can see that they are still lemon yellow in the photo above. If they don’t change colour, the eggs are most likely infertile.

After they change to dark gray, they can be placed into cold storage, which will keep them safe until needed.  If the eggs are not refrigerated, sometimes they will hatch, and the process starts over again!

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll show you the next steps on how these amazing fibres get woven by hand into the fabric that we sell!

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The #silkworm is technically not a #worm but a #moth #pupa. #silkproduction #silk #ethical
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The #cocoon is made of a single thread raw silk which is usually between 300 and 900 metres long….
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It takes nearly 40 hours to produce a half kilogram of #silk. #silkproduction #eco
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Monday, 17 August 2015

How Is Recycled Rubber A Sustainable Material?

Is rubber a sustainable material

We all want to make a difference in the world with our art, especially in an industry where self-expression is everything – but what about sustainability? In a world where climate change threatens our very existence, we must find new ways of making our businesses more sustainable (which is what we’re all about at Offset Warehouse!).

One approach is to get on board with ethical textiles and materials in your work. Another is to recycle or upcycle materials. In this article I wanted to explore the intriguing use of upcycling and reusing rubber from old tyres – could you get on board with old tyres?

#Recycled #Rubber #Responsible, #Sustainable, #Reusable
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A Brief History of Tyres

…and it’s more interesting than it sounds!


This may be hard to believe but the very first tyres were not made of rubber at all, they were simply metal, bent to fit around a wooden frame. As the automobile industry changed, so did the tyres. After the metal wheel, came the use of rubber, but different from the rubber tyres we know today, as these tyres were totally solid.

Is rubber a sustainable material

Finally, in 1888 the pneumatic tyre was born. Pneumatic is a term used for the type of tyre we all use today, like the ones above.  The tyre is a doughnut-shaped body of cords and wires encased in rubber, then filled with compressed air to form an inflatable cushion. This advanced tyre offers more durability and shock protection on almost any terrain, and are used in all types of vehicles.

Today, there are approximately 1 billion tyres produced every year, and around 400 factories that produce them.

There are 1 billion tyres produced every year!! Where do they all go? #upcycling
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Environmental Concerns

While the invention of the modern tyre has improved the performance of both bicycles and automobiles, they can pose a problem at the end of their use. Tyres contain a number of chemicals that are deemed unsafe when placed in the ground as they threaten water supplies. The volume of space they take up also makes them highly undesirable in landfills. It is estimated that 250 million tyres will be scrapped in the US annually – around half will be burned for their fuel value.

A shocking 250 million tyres are scrapped in the US annually. What else could we use them for?
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In the 1970’s large numbers of used tyres were placed in oceans around the world Florida, New York, California, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. The hope was that they would create artificial reefs and would encourage new life to grow on them – sounds like a great reuse idea – but unfortunately it didn’t work and the unstable nature of the tires caused even more damage to existing reefs. Now there is a lot of action to try to remove the tyres. Off the coast of Florida 1 – 2 million tyres were dropped in the ocean! They are hoping to retrieve 700,000 of these and limit any more damage being done. It just goes to show how much thought needs to go into the mass disposal of such widely used products.

It’s not all bad though. These days a large number of tyres are recycled. Some are broken down into mulch or chippings and used to create that ‘bouncy’ floor effect you often get on athletic tracks and playgrounds. They can also be used as building materials and are often used on eco homes – check out Earthships if you’re interested in sustainable architecture. Some are also re-made into new tyres.

Designing A Sustainable Solution

Most excitingly for us, there is a large movement of creative individuals using tyres for the creation of new usable products. Everything from furniture, to flower pots.

In the fashion world, we are seeing more designers think outside the box and use recycled rubber from car and bike tyres. Designers are taking advantage of the unique look of rubber, but its durability and versatility as well. Some products being made include: purses, bags, belts, wallets, makeup bags, hats, soles of shoes, and now even apparel. Here are the most fashion forward and innovative brands we love at Offset Warehouse.

Katcha Bilek

Upcycling rubber

Having discovered her gorgeous wares at a sustainable festival in London some years ago, we’re longtime fans of Katcha Bilek!  Katcha began her incredible upcycling business back in 2008.  Inspired by her travels across Europe in a fire engine, Katcha Bilek started her now global business right from the back of that very fire engine.  We’re coveting her beautiful Ade Backpack – sustainable, fashion forward and long lasting – could this be the perfect bag?!

Segra Segra

damsky kabat_predek detail

Companies like the innovative Segra Segra (or ‘sister, sister’ in Czech), are pioneering ways of using recycled inner tubes in their clothing designs. Windbreakers, shirts, trousers and more, all with accents of reflective material. Their motto is “Fashion For The Urban Cyclist.” A clever way of appealing to their target market through the use of materials, offering urban cyclists visibility, sustainability and fashion sensibility all at once.


Alchemy Goods

Recycled Rubber Products
The story behind Alchemy Goods is a rather heartwarming one. On their website founder and keen cyclist Eli tells the story of how his perfect messenger bag was sadly stolen. He searched high and low to buy a new one but couldn’t find what he was looking for. He then had the ingenious idea to make his own – using a material he had in abundance in his apartment  – broken inner tubes! The bag was a success and he started to get orders from his friends for more. It grew and grew and now Alchemy Goods is hugely successful company producing a vast range of accessories from inner tubes in Seattle, sourcing them from local bike shops and further afield!

Aria Handmade


Aria Handmade, designer Nestor Pineda, has taken the aesthetic in a different way, appealing to a broader target market. They have created everyday accessories like belts, wallets, handbags, and jewellery but all with a rubbery twist – you wouldn’t even realise most of them were recycled tyres! We absolutely love the Urban Fossil Collection mixing rubber and reclaimed leather to create unique designs.


One World Projects


If you haven’t already checked them out, you should! One World Projects is a fantastic organisation. Calling themselves a “Global Marketplace for Socially and Environmentally Responsible Gifts”, they source products from all over the world providing local artisans with economic opportunities to support themselves and their families by selling their wares on a global platform. Their work supports over 11,000 artisans!  The stylish rubber tyre hand bags are created by Uca Ruffatti, an artisan group based in El Salvador with over 20 years of experience creating hand bags and accessories.

Why It Matters

Besides being a greater friend to the environment as a whole, finding a way for your company to utilize this, or other recyclable products like it will actually help your company. Firstly, it is a cheap and (virtually) endless supply of a material that you can use in a myriad of ways. In some cases, you can get hold of it for free! Which will have a direct impact on your bottom line.

Secondly, inventing a way to incorporate this material in your work sets you apart form other boring designers. Not only will the image of your designs improve with the responsible change, but your designs in clothes or accessories will take on an exciting edge. Be different!

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Are You Getting A Bad Reputation Working With Manufacturers?


“To work in fashion has become a mega trend. This leads to a huge mass of people working in this industry and so it is hard to stand out, or even survive.”

These are the words of London based menswear designer, Lisa Pek, in a Not Just A Label article. A fashion designer trying to break into the industry would mostly agree with this comment. Starting out in this fast-paced, competitive industry is itself very difficult, and it’s not made easier by the bad rep new designers often get with manufacturers just for being new to the game.

Why do #new #designers have such a #bad #reputation?
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Then again, these misgivings don’t appear out of thin air – there’s no smoke without fire as they say. We have to admit there have been, and will always be a few bad apples that spoil it for everyone else. Often, people jump into business without a clear-cut plan of how to take things forward, and their enthusiasm wanes as the going gets tough. When they fail to deliver on time, change their minds or design sub-standard products, they disappoint their manufacturing partners.

It just takes a few similar experiences and these manufacturers conclude that it isn’t worthwhile investing in fresh talent in the future. But, no fear! Stick with us and we’ll guide you through getting past this misconception and not falling into the newbie trap.

Common Issues Manufacturers Associate With New Designers

New Designers Working With Manufacturers

Shannon Whitehead of Factory 45, works with aspiring fashion entrepreneurs, and knows how the fashion industry operates. In her blog post, “The Reason New Designers Get A Bad Rep” she mentions that most suppliers, sew shops and factories don’t want to work with new designers. According to her, here are the common mistakes new designers make:

  • Wasting time on legitimising creative ideas, without knowing whether there is a market for it.

    If you haven’t done your market research, then it’s 99% certain that your product won’t sell. When it comes to manufacturing, the general practice is that your manufacturing partner will put together one sample. Then you go away with the sample and use it to get together a healthy number of orders and come back to do your full scale manufacturing. If you haven’t done your research, then you have no idea if your product is priced correctly, who the product is suitable for, the brands your competing against… the list goes on. If you were a manufacturer, would you want to invest your time in creating a sample product that was unlikely to generate you the second, wholesale order? I didn’t think so.

  • Using vague terms like ‘innovative’ and ‘new’ in proposals.

    Suppliers are very wary of designers who are inexperienced and likely to make mistakes. Using terms like “innovative” and “new” is an immediate flag that you have no idea what you’re doing. You don’t have a clear plan of what you’re creating. This could lead to their production being delayed, or even worse, being scrapped. So it’s in their business’ best interest to steer away from red flag proposals. Sending a vague enquiry shows your inexperience. Instead, send razor sharp, specific information like the type of garment, fabric, number of units you’re looking to produce and production timelines.

  • Expecting the production partner to suggest a course of action, based on the designer’s outline.

    Now some companies, like Offset Warehouse, embrace smaller designers and are more than happy to work with startups to guide them on the best course of action. Many businesses, however, do not see the value in this, as there is simply no money in it! Just think, if you’re giving your time to a business, the expectation is that you will come back and place a big order. The reality for startups, however, is that you simply have no money to give. Manufacturing units aren’t consultancies after all, so don’t expect them to be.

  • Getting hung up on the small stuff.

    New designers often worry about getting patents and NDA’s (non disclosure agreements) signed before they even identify the scope for their idea! There are many ways you can get around talking to manufacturers about your ideas without giving away the game – but for goodness sakes, don’t waste their time when you haven’t even got your idea onto paper yet. Manufacturers are too busy to educate designers on why this should be the least of their worries.

What Can You Do About It?

UK based designer, Nadine Peters, says that people who have never been through the stages of developing a product have a lack of understanding about the process and the time it takes to create it. It is this lack of appreciation and understanding that means that many people believe that fashion is an easy job. This may be so, but in my opinion, you have to start somewhere! You have to learn at some point – right?! And don’t you ever let a grouchy manufacturing unit get in the way of reaching your goals and getting your dreams. But you need to be smart.

A successful entrepreneur is self-driven, understands the challenges and always has a plan. You must have a plan of action, research it thoroughly and come up with a systematic step-by-step approach. If you’re not sure – then get networking and ask someone with experience! A production house doesn’t want to educate or assist you, just because you are new. As bad as this customer service may be, they expect you to handle your part yourself, rather than ask them for suggestions on what to do. If you can’t do this, don’t expect to hear from them.

As a new designer who wants to nail it, you should have everything ready before you approach a potential partner. Let’s look at what you will need.

How To Equip Yourself Before You Approach A Manufacturer 

New Designers Working With Manufacturers

Find Your Niche

The first step is to find your niche. You need your own style. Develop a strong sketchbook and portfolio that demonstrates your skills in this area. Your style should be original and instantly recognisable to anyone who looks at your portfolio or collection.


Next, you need an innovative concept. There are waaaay too many competing brands out there for you not to stand out. What is your unique selling point?

Also keep in mind that manufacturers are particularly keen to see products that solve problems or are able to fix a process. For a little inspiration, look beyond products. Like Smashing Magazine website suggests, try looking to successful people for inspiration. Not only might their products or businesses spark an innovative idea, but studying the paths of successful people can provide valuable insight into developing your own successful business.

Business Plan

Once you have your concept and sketches, you need a solid proposal, like a business plan. This involves all the market research you need to ensure your business is a viable one!

Samples & Specs

A good entrepreneur has a thorough idea of the production details for their design. Your spec sheet should be as detailed as possible so the concept is clearly communicated. As Ambra Medda, founder of beautiful design store of L’ArcoBaleno notes in this article, “every small detail is critical”. The designer should work through practical and logistical details to get the product into production. Working out all the possibilities (and things that might go wrong) ahead of time, conveys that you mean serious business.

Finding Your Manufacturing Partner

Now that you have prepared the groundwork, it is time to find a potential partner. It helps to make a personal connection first, before sending your inquiry. Design fairs are great venues to form such connections. There are several events like ICFF Studio, focusing on new designers, so make sure you check out these opportunities to locate and build relationships with people who can take on your ideas.

Express Yourself

Last but not least, your communication skills have a crucial role in helping to establish yourself. Everything from your website, to your proposal and email correspondence should clearly communicate your vision and professionalism. If you come across as an interesting, adventurous and motivated person, manufacturers will see that you have potential and will be willing to give you a try – and you won’t seem like an inexperienced newbie!

I’d be delighted if you’d please help to share my article using the tweet buttons throughout the article and below!

To keep up with more Offset Warehouse news, sign up to our monthly newsletter where we round up our latest articles.

Have a Clear #Plan-of-Action #New #Designer #Reputation
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As a #newdesigner who wants to nail it, you should have everything ready before you approach a…
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You need to be #interesting, #adventurous and #motivated. #newdesignersgetabadrep
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Stunning new ‘Vasanta’ print fair trade fabric in...

Stunning new ‘Vasanta’ print fair trade fabric in stock. Obsessed!! Muslin and cambric weights available: If you love fabrics like we do, then sign up for monthly updates!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Anna’s Easy Patchwork Baby Mat If...

Anna’s Easy Patchwork Baby Mat
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Anna's Easy Patchwork Baby Mat

Anna’s Easy Patchwork Baby Mat

The sweetest images of a patchwork baby mat dropped into our Offset Warehouse inbox last week and we just had to share them with all of you!

Anna from A Alicia contacted us with her latest sewing project, a patchwork baby mat and adorable new baby to show it off. The secret is – it’s not really patchwork at all! Anna cleverly used the block print repeat in our Scarlet Hand Block Print fabric and…

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Saturday, 8 August 2015

You’re Invited To Our Eco Fabric Party!


Party with Offset Warehouse & Fabrications!

Meet Us.
Feel our beautiful fabrics.
See their beautiful new home.

3 SEP ‘ 15

7 Broadway Market,
Hackney, London, E8 4PH


What’s The Party For?

Whilst we don’t need too much of an excuse to throw a party, this one has a very good reason! We’re finally going to have our gorgeous, ethical fabrics stocked in a real life shop. So we thought we would invite you all to see our fabrics in their new home and enjoy a few glasses of bubbly to celebrate our new venture.

You’ll be able to touch and feel and peruse a range of your favourite Offset Warehouse fabrics to your heart’s content – including an exclusive look at our brand new range of beautiful hand-woven textiles from the weavers of the Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand. We also LOVE any opportunity to meet and chat to all our fantastic customers.

Blue & Harvest Gold Slub Stripe blue Ebony Diamond Handwoven Ikat

Where is it?

We’ve been an online only shop for a few years now and we know many of you have been itching to get a closer look at our fabrics before you buy. We’ve been on the hunt for a shop to stock our fabrics and we wanted somewhere that shared our eco ethos and dedication to sustainability – in step Fabrications!

Fabrications on Broadway Market in Hackney is an independent gallery, shop and studio dedicated to contemporary textile practice and design, with a particular interest in upcycling and eco design. The founder, Barley Massey, is an eco extraordinaire and she’s been running amazing sewing workshops and events for 15 years!  We simply can’t wait to see where this collaboration takes us.



How Can You Attend?

All you need to do is follow this link to RSVP and bring your fabric loving self down on the 3rd September.

Of course if you can’t make on the night you can go and visit our fabrics in their new home in Fabrications anytime after the launch! Opening Times:

Tuesday – Friday: 12 – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 5.30pm
Sunday: 12 – 5pm.

If you are already coming use this twitter link to share with all your followers so they can click and attend too!

I’m coming to your party @BarleyMassey & @OffsetWarehouse!
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If you like want to keep up to date with more Offset Warehouse news, then please do sign up to our monthly newsletter.  You can tweet the article using the tweet buttons throughout the article and below.

@OffsetWarehouse & #Fabrications #Collaboration #Launch #Party
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