I've always been passionate about ethically made fabric (and clothing). That's part of my motivation for sewing, not supporting fast fashion and unethical manufacturing practices. I also don't like buying fabric of suspect or unknown origins...it's just fast fashion by the metre! I always try to seek out fabrics made in countries with fair work practices or fabric which is handmade and purchased from the weavers.
Two years ago, when I was in Bali, I saw a woman sitting & weaving fabric at loom. It was mesmerizing! Naturally, I bought a few metres of fabric! On that same trip I met the owners/patrons of Threads of Life Bali, a shop and organization which supports traditional textile manufacture. An art which is diminishing rapidly as young women don't want to learn the art of weaving as they can earn a better living in more modern occupations. Traditionally men do the farming, growing the cotton and dye plants and the women weave. Textile production sustains and provides work for all members of the family and is being lost. That stayed very close to my heart for the past 2 years and I found myself wondering if I could do something to help support the handwoven textile industry in Bali.
Last month I traveled back to Bali with my little family. With the assistance of a friend who lives in Bali I was able to find handwoven fabrics which were suitable for sewing with. These beautiful handwoven 100% cotton Ikat and plain fabrics are just amazing. AMAZING! The detail and repeats in the Ikat look like they must have been done by machine, but no. They are expertly woven by kind & shy women who have worked at the looms for most of their lives. Each day they gather and chat while they weave with the clicking of the looms a constant rhythm in the background.
With the assistance of my friend as translator I purchased some beautiful Ikat and plain fabrics. To call them "plain" doesn't do them justice! Most have different coloured warp and weft threads which gives the cottons almost a shot silk appearance. As the fabrics are handwoven they are a slightly looser weave than machine made fabrics, which makes them so soft with a slight drape. The best part is that they get even softer with washing! Of course, handwoven fabric has to be carefully cared for (cold delicate wash, and I wouldn't put it in the dryer).
To be making something with my hands which has been handmade by someone else is just so appealing to me. It feels even more special!
It felt really good to know that by purchasing this handwoven fabric I was helping these weavers provide for their families. I was honouring their craftsmanship with my purchase. Which got me thinking...
Maybe I could help?
So I went back and bought more fabric! My thought was that if I am so in love with these fabrics, maybe some of my wonderful sewing community would be too.
This fabric is unique and unlike anything else I've seen for sale. I've only ever seen Ikats with 2 colours for sale online, these are much more complex with 4 or more colours.
To start, I've opened an etsy shop (search for HonourHandmadeFabric) and will list the fabrics I have for sale (I will ship worldwide). Let me tell you, the struggle is real to part with them as I love them all!!!
My hope for Honour Handmade Fabric is that I will be able to grow it into something meaningful. Ideally, I would love to work with the weavers in Bali on a large scale, not only providing income but being able to assist with social support for the women which is often lacking (education, healthcare, childcare). I would love to make the art of handweaving fabric sustainable for these women and encourage younger women to learn so the skills are not lost with the passing of the older generations. I want to be able to support my family (as many of you know, my Hubs underwent his 2nd surgery this year to remove another brain tumour) and the families of the weavers.
Of course, these are lofty goals. A lot of people, whose advice I value, say you have to have a big vision for your business!
But from little things, big things grow! I sincerely believe that the small seeds of passion that are planted in our hearts are there for a reason, if we choose to act on them.
I hope you love these fabrics as much as I do!