Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The price of cotton going up, up, up!

If you follow any of the sewing blogs you know by now that the current price of cotton is about to increase significantly. Even the fashion world is about to take a hit as cost of 'the fabric of our lives' heads upward. 

The price of cotton is increasing from many complex reasons, including:

1. Restrictions on cottons export by India, the second largest cotton growing country,

2. Stockpiling by China, the largest consumer of cotton,

3. Poor harvest in cotton growing countries such as Uzbekistan, which helped create the shortfall; and

4. Last year’s devastating flood in Pakistan, the fourth largest cotton supplier of the world.

In the last 6 months the price of cotton has increased 50-60% and in December cotton futures hit $1.1980 a pound, officially the highest price since records began back in 1870. That's shortly after the 'cotton famine' of the Civil War sent prices soaring. (I’ll have to admit that I’m a history buff and in the interest of keeping this short I’ll skip the history lesson).

What does this mean for you? Well, I’ve been trying to figure that out myself. I do know that this will affect everything from clothing, to yarns, to fabric and more. Just think about everything that is made with cotton; bath towels, robes, quilts, fabrics, clothing, and now think about paying more for those items.

Being a business owner who has a significant interest in keeping my prices low, I started this research to help me decide how this is going to affect my own business.  Some of my initial thoughts are that I may not carry such a wide variety of fabric lines, but I think instead I may focus on a few select designers and try to carry their whole line of fabrics… which some small businesses are already doing.  Up to this point I've had the fabric to help supplement or fill in the blanks for those lines.

Cotton is not the only fiber on the market, so I may concentrate more on bringing in bamboo, rayon or some other natural, sustainable fabrics.

I may also increase the number of classes I offer on up-cycling. In the past couple of years so many of us have learned creative ways to ‘make-do’ with what we already have that I think continuing with this trend will be easy. Sometimes all it takes is just a little bit of fabric to make a huge impact on our ‘ready to wear’ clothing items.

What does the future hold? I wish I knew! I do think cotton prices will continue to stay high for the time being. I also think (hope) that U.S. farmers will switch their field from corn to cotton now that there is some serious money in growing cotton. Then as it always done, supply and demand will work its magic and prices will start to decrease and/or plateau. Cotton prices have been so low for so long, that like a rubber band, they were bound to snap. I do think there is a ‘happy medium’ it will just be a matter of finding that sweet spot.

Till then I'll be building up my stash!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Classes… Home Ec Series in February

The February class schedule is out and we are totally excited! New this month, we’ve split our classes into groups of similar projects – we’re calling them ‘series’ to help new (and experienced) sewists decide which class to take next! Look for the Home Ec series (more below!), Sewing Clothes, Sewing for Fun (accessories and such), Quilts and the Home and Kids and Teens. Later this year watch for Sewing Green – a series of classes featuring upcycling projects, as well as organic and sustainable materials.

The Home Ec Series is a technique-oriented series of classes that includes our popular Sewing Essentials Class. Sewing Essentials is our intro class – learn your way around a sewing machine (if you’ve never used one) or if you’re returning to sewing after a long break and can’t remember how to wind a bobbin, this is the class for you! Students are welcome to bring along sewing machines from home and we’ll help you get the basics down on your machine. Or use one of ours! And, like, most of our classes, you go home at the end of the night with a finished project – a standard sized pillowcase in some of our funky fabrics!

We’re excited to bring two NEW offerings to the Home Ec series in February. On February 12th, we’ll hold The Pattern Reading Workshop. Come to the session with a pattern and fabric for your project and we’ll go over the basics of reading a pattern and get you started on your project (3 hours, $50.)

On February 23rd we’ll kick off a series of fitted-oriented classes with Full Bust Adjustment I. During this class, learn the basics of altering your pattern to get a great fitted shirt! Students will learn about how commercial patterns are drafted, choosing the correct size and making the changes to ensure a great fit. By the end of the class, we’ll have tissue fitted each pattern and students will be ready to head home and work on a muslin (a practice shirt!) In March we’ll offer Full Bust Adjustment II, which will pick up where FBA I leaves off and walk students through ‘reading their muslin’ – assessing the fit and transferring changes back to the paper pattern. (2 hours and initial consultation, $50.)

Hope to see you in the Home Ec Series! Later this week we’ll unveil new classes from our other class series!

To register for a class, stop by the shop or give us a call 612-827-9550.