Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Research Point - Diversity of Style & Design in Textiles

Nursery Fabric
As my daughter has recently had a baby, we have been looking at nursery fabric.  Given the vast array of choice available to the consumer in the current market, it can be difficult to know where to start.  The colour scheme for the nursery had been decided by a crochet blanket that I had made for the cot.

This consisted of coloured circles - in teals, red, greens, yellows - in squares of grey.  With this in mind we went to John Lewis fabric department and had a look at what fabric was available.  There were a lot of collection books to look at, but we narrowed it down to:

Zagazoo - the illustrations of Quentin Blake have been turned into a range of fabric and wallpaper for Osbourne & Little.  This fabric is 100% cotton and 140cms wide.

What a Hoot 3230 Jolly Jurassic is a lovely dinosaur design from Harlequin.  This again is 100% cotton and 137cms wide.

Our favourite though was Elephant & Castle from Designers Guild - also 100% cotton.

The photographs don't really show a true likeness for the actual colours, but it is interesting to note that they all have elements of the Pantone 2013 Colour of the Year - Emerald.

Nursery Bedding
When it comes to choosing sheets for the cot, we all know the benefits of eating organic food or driving a hybrid car, but are perhaps not as aware of the importance of choosing organic bedding or clothes.  We can spend up to a quarter of our lives in our beds, and the rest of the time in our clothes - and babies can spend up to 70% of their first year sleeping.

In the nursery - to choose organic bedding - which the baby will be in skin contact with for a considerable amount of time - seems to make a lot of sense.

  • Soft
  • Wicking - absorbs moisture
  • Thermal Regulating - warm in winter; cool in summer - helps to keep the babies temperature regular
  • Dries quickly
  • Free from pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and formaldehyde (a fabric treatment to lessen creasing)
  • Dyed without bleach or chlorine and coloured without the use of toxic dyes
  • Organic wool is naturally fire retardant
Because cotton is not a foodstuff there are less rules governing the use of pesticides and chemicals used in its production.

  • Cost - at least double the cost of non-organic products
  • Choice - not a great deal of patterned or coloured options available
Considering how organic cotton is produced, the cost can be understood.  The cotton is collected by hand - making the finished product much softer.

We are bombarded on a daily basis with pollutants - noise, electronic, chemicals, GM products to name but a few - to make one more choice to lessen this must be advantageous.

Cost & Availability
In the current economic climate, the choice is more likely to be financial and  with organic products usually being at least double or triple the cost - this can be a large influencing factor.  However, the ready-made market is also full of choice - to suit any budget.

Ikea sell this cot set blanket/pillowcase/sheet/quilt cover - 100% cotton - £10.  They say that their cotton is grown in a more sustainable way with considerably reduced usage of water, fertilizers and pesticides compared to conventional cotton.

The range available in John Lewis is from their value 100% cotton sheets at £15 for three, to 100% organic cotton at £12 each, up to luxury 100% cotton sheets at £40 for 2.

There seems to be a dearth of colour available for fitted cot sheets - pink, pale blue, lemon, pale green, cream or white seem to dominate the high-street market.  A few companies - Babies R Us; sell coloured sheets but only in bedding bundles and Mothercare sell some brighter colours, but there is a very limited choice in strong colours and patterns; so these beautiful designs from funkynursery.co.uk are a real find.  They are 100% organic cotton fitted cot sheets and have a high thread count to give a smooth and soft finish.  At £23 each they are not cheap, but they are lovely.

In the past I would probably have been driven by colour and possibly budget, but after doing the research for this article I would now be more inclined to choose organic, ethical products.

In the news currently - the Bangladesh textile factory collapse - has brought to the forefront of public awareness the conditions of the workers supplying a lot of cheap high street consumables that are so popular at the moment.  In order to buy a cheap £3 T-shirt production costs must be kept to a minimum - but someone has to pay the price.

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