Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What I Learned About Bamboo

What I learned about bamboo.
I have recently been writing some articles for an internet site that, on occasion, requires me to do research. The one on bamboo sheets was an eye-opener.  Here is some of what I learned:
Bamboo is a renewable resource; it can grow 4 or 5 feet per day. Bamboo has a natural antimicrobial quality; no pesticides are needed while it grows. This microbial quality carries over to bamboo fabric; studies performed by the China Industrial Testing Center (CTITC) and the Japan Textile Inspection Association (JTIA) have shown bamboo sheets will kill bacteria and destroy odors. Bamboo wicks moisture away from a perspiring body while retaining warming properties. The fibers produce a non-shrinking, non-pilling silky thread that can be woven into a 1000-thread count fabric.
Bamboo is used for garments as well: Fifty test subjects, all sufferers of athlete’s  foot, were given 100 percent bamboos socks to wear. ALL fifty subjects reported the disappearance of the burning and itching of athlete's foot within 1-2 days of wearing the socks. (Reference below).
After learning these things, I asked around. Two of my friends say that their favorite garments of all time are bamboo knits. They are warm, and cool, wash like a dream, don’t stain and wear forever. The sewer in the bunch said the knit bamboo was a charm to deal with.  The sheet connoisseur said the bamboo sheets beat the high quality cotton on all fronts. Not scientific research exactly, but it’s always good to hear what the common folk say.  So, then I went looking for the negatives about bamboo. I had to look awhile. This is all I could find:
The majority of the bamboo used in bed-sheet fabric production is grown in Southeast Asia. The transportation costs of sending the fibers to mills in other countries have negatively affected the price of the products. Because of the astounding advantages of bamboo, it has become a highly sought-after sheet fabric, which has also increased the price.
Interesting, no??
Source: Treehugger, A Discovery Company;“Bamboo Sheets Keep Germs Out of Bed”; Lloyd Alter; 2007

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tables and Rugs

Tables and Rugs
I have been asked several times recently about rugs and tables -  both coffee and dining - and how the shapes should relate to each other. So, here is your lesson on rugs and tables. 
The Shape of the Space
The shape of the area rug should mimic the shape of the space it is to occupy. Measure the width and length of the area where the rug will lie. If the width and length are the same, the shape is a square; if two sides of the area are longer than the other two, the shape is a rectangle.
Square Space
In a square space, the area rug should be a square or circular shape. Square rugs suggest a casual decor. A square rug is often seen in modern decor such as in great rooms where the sofa arrangement surrounds an over-sized coffee table. Circular rugs suggest a more formal style and are often seen in traditional or classical rooms as deeply carved floral carpets with heavy edge fringe.
Rectangular Space
In a rectangular space, the area rug should be rectangular or oval. The design guideline suggests that rectangular shapes are more suited to a casual decor, but because most area rugs are designed and printed in this shape, the guideline is frequently bent or ignored. An oval rug suits a rectangular space and suggests a more formal or classic style, the exception being the classic braided oval rug, which is not a formal style.
Exposed Rug
When the chairs of a dining room table are out, they should remain on the rug. This is for both aesthetics and safety. For these reasons, if the shape of the table mimics the shape of the rug, function will not clash with the form and balance of the room.
Tables and Rugs Together
The shape of the table should mimic the shape of the rug. If the rug is rectangular, the table should be rectangular or oval. If the rug is square, the table should be square or round.
And on a very sad note, Gaye Delorme passed away on June 23 in Calgary. There is a B-flat stranded 14th out there somewhere taking him home.

The Patio Cushions Season

The Patio Cushions
Summer is almost here; well, that’s what I’ve been told, anyway. I’m not sure I really believe it, but if the number of patio cushions I have in my workroom is any indication, it’s just around the corner. 
We ask so much of the patio cushions. When being really truthful, most clients admit that they put the cushions out in the spring and leave them there until late fall. The cushions get rained on, the sun attacks the fabric, the dogs and cats sleep on them and the kids spill ice-cream on them. And we expect them to stay looking good for at least a few years.
Here is how to help make that happen: 
Use out door fabric. 
The better-quality outdoor fabrics are solution dyed, meaning the fiber is permeated with color, it won’t fade or dissipate. The lesser-quality fabrics have been treated with UV protectant to reduce damage from the sun. I did some cushions for a gal a few years ago, red and yellow outdoor fabric from Fabricland, and they are still bright, no fading at all. Mildew will grow on dirt, so keep the cushions clean and you won’t have a problem with mildew or mold. The fabric is washable, hang to dry only, please, and the higher-end fabrics, like Sunbrella, can be solution bleached (instructions available on the Sunbrella website) for really stubborn stains. Outdoor fabrics are water resistant but some water will soak through to the filler. 
Use outdoor foam.
We all know how well foam will soak up water, and keep it soaked up. This is not what we want in our cushions.  Outdoor foam looks more like very coarse quilt batting; water runs right through it. So, no mildew, no mold. It is more expensive than top-grade foam but it will last indefinitely.  Pre-cut cushions are available at Fabricland, their brand is Fiber Form-Ext; I’ve used it and it works very well. I have a new one called Dri-Fast in sheet sizes and can cut any size needed.
And a few other things.
Don’t use cotton filler for piping, it will shrink and disintegrate over time, I use a polyester filler that is soft like cotton but with none of the disadvantages. Use outdoor, marine, or polyester thread and use plastic zippers - no rust problems