Get a handle on it!

When was the last time you were in a bricks and mortar clothing store?

What was the first thing you did there? Did you reach out and touch the fabric – run it between your fingers?

The texture of fabrics provides sensory stimulation and evokes a response. We have words for these. We say a fabric is smooth and silky, or velvety, or rough.

The online marketplace does not allow us this pleasure and I would like to explore the inherent dangers in this.

These silk samples have been dyed with plant material collected from around my studio - Russian Marigold, bamboo and pittosporum leaves. I can tell these samples are silk by their touch and if I use my pic by how the yarns look under magnification but I could also do a fibre test to make sure.

These silk samples have been dyed with plant material collected from around my studio - Russian Marigold, bamboo and pittosporum leaves. I can tell these samples are silk by their touch and if I use my pic by how the yarns look under magnification but I could also do a fibre test to make sure.

Touching a fabric reveals its properties. In the business of fashion and textiles this is called ‘handle’. Satin has a soft handle organza’s handle is described as crisp. We are naturally drawn to stroke the smooth shiny surface of satin, and run our fingers along the deep pile of velvet, feeling the fabric. We can’t do this when we shop online and we rely on written descriptions and the expertise and honesty of the seller. Sometimes these descriptions can be woefully inadequate.  Satin – yes. Satin describes the weave but can be made from many different fibres. We need to ask Is it polyester satin or a natural fibre? Fabric type is often confused with fibre. When I use a descriptor such as silk I’m talking about the fibre content – the origin of the fibre that becomes yarn that is used to make the fabric. So silk satin, silk duchess satin, silk organza – informs the fibre and the type of fabric it is. Different fabrics have different handle, some are sculptural and supporting, some are used for their drape and softness. Each have their own qualities and this is hard to communicate via an image.

While online shopping has brought the world to our doorsteps and has made it possible for businesses to expand their marketplace it has also meant a rise in the fast fashion cycle where garments are produced with little care in the making or the quality of the fabric. Descriptions can be made without any reference to the fibre and it is very hard to tell looking at an image online what quality the fabric is. I suspect that many of the garment returns that are taking place all over the world (think of the environmental impact of all that posting) are due to poor fabric quality. Fabric quality is so important to us - we choose to work in silk for many reasons environmental and aesthetic.

Samples are important to us. When you request an info pack we will send you out your very own samples of the fabrics we use in Pearl Button dresses. You can feel for yourself the beauty and quality of the silk that we use.

Silk doesn’t mean shiny - this is an example of a satin backed silk crepe. It still has a silk lustre but its overall finish is described as matt.

Silk doesn’t mean shiny - this is an example of a satin backed silk crepe. It still has a silk lustre but its overall finish is described as matt.

Silk is my fibre of choice - I love its lustre, its inherent beauty, history and environmental credentials.

Silk is my fibre of choice - I love its lustre, its inherent beauty, history and environmental credentials.