Performance Fabrics: Performance Yarns or Chemical Treatments?

One of the most important properties of a performance fabric is that the fabric is cleanable. There are only two ways to achieve cleanability: start with a yarn that is inherently stain resistant or apply a stain repellent finish.

  Above:  Since Olefin contains no dye sites, even mustard and ketchup can't stain Revolution.

Above: Since Olefin contains no dye sites, even mustard and ketchup can't stain Revolution.

Solution dyed polypropylene, also called Olefin, is the only yarn for upholstery and couch fabric that is inherently stain resistant. Olefin cannot be dyed using traditional methods that use water because it has no “dye sites” and won’t stain. Olefin can’t be printed on or dyed in water like polyester, acrylic, nylon or natural fibers like cotton, rayon, hemp and bamboo. That’s why Revolution is one of very few fabrics that can stand up to permanent marker and mustard! To learn more about Olefin, click here

All Revolution fabrics are solution dyed, also known as “dope dying”. In this process, pigments are mixed in the liquid polymer and literally become part of the yarn. The other synthetic upholstery fibers like acrylic, polyester and nylon can also be solution dyed, but they are still stainable unless they are treated with stain repellent chemicals, most often Polyfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs). Cotton and acrylic are so easy to dye that you can literally dye them in your sink....the easier a fiber is to dye, the more stainable it is. Fibers like polyester and nylon require a lot of heat (energy) and pressure, but are still dyed in water.

Many companies suggest that their fabrics are cleanable because of solution dyed yarns. This is very misleading. Unless the fabric is Olefin, this claim is untrue, but the average person wouldn’t know that.

For example, a friend’s wife recently visited three furniture stores. At all three she was shown two very well known performance brands, Sunbrella™ and Crypton™. When she told the retail sales associates that she didn’t want those brands because they’re treated with PFC chemicals, all three sales associates said that wasn’t true and said the cleanability came from the yarn, not a treatment. This is totally false.

  Above:  Revolution Chenille yarns

Above: Revolution Chenille yarns

Sunbrella's website tells the consumer what to buy to “re-treat” the fabric when the original PFCs wear off. Crypton™ admits that they use a PFC C6 finish, but claim that their process makes it impossible to wear off. There’s no proof given as to why it won't wear off...I guess we’re supposed to take their word for it?

I’ve been in textiles for over 30 years, and spoken to several expert textile chemists....they all agree with me that textile finishes wear off over time and especially after cleaning. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) just released a report about PFC's that states, “hand to mouth transfer from surfaces treated with stain protectors, such as carpets, is thought to be the most significant source of exposure for infants and toddlers" (Green Science Policy Institute Newsletter, May 31, 2018). I don’t see why exposure to treated upholstery would be any different.

Other producers of PFC treated fabrics like Live Smart™ by Culp™, say that the chemicals completely permeate the fabric because they are applied to the yarn or the fabric is run through a “bath” and totally submerged. Both of these processes have been used for years and neither is new, innovative or going to stop the finish being released into the atmosphere through direct contact or breaking down over time into household dust.

As I noted in my last blog, "The Path of Least Resistance",  it was great to see several new PFC free fabrics introduced at the High Point Furniture Market in April. Milliken™ introduced Breathe, a “fluorine free, plant-based" product that makes natural fiber like cotton and linen and recycled polyester cleanable. The company insists this is not a treatment, but part of the yarn... huh!?

Any woman who has owned white jeans or anything linen, knows how prone these fibers are to staining. If it’s not a treatment, how’d it get there? Did they feed the chemicals to the cotton and flax plants? Is there some new GMO version of these plants? I seriously doubt it. Recycled polyester will also stain without treatment, so I have the same questions relative to that claim.

“Plant based” sounds like total greenwashing to me, because it really tells me nothing. Ethanol is plant based, but I don’t want it on my sofa. I also question what solvent is used since they DON’T claim the treatment (that isn’t a treatment) is water based; if it was, I feel certain they would tout it. There is no fluorine in the product, but have they simply made a “regrettable substitution” of other halogens like chlorine or bromine? I have no idea. Greenwashing like this is rampant in our industry, and I’m afraid it will be with us forever, just like PFCs.

Check out the organic yogurt section of your grocery store next time you’re there. Look at the bottom of a container. Every one will have the triangle with “5” inside it and PP. The material used to make the yogurt container is exactly what we use to make Revolution, because polypropylene is considered one of the safest types of plastics

I encourage people to fact check everything from independent sources. If you do, I believe you’ll at least think twice about buying treated fabrics and other products that claim to be “green,” but don’t give you any real information about what’s in them.

- Sean Gibbons, CEO of Revolution Performance Fabrics

*To learn more about how Revolution performance fabrics are made and the steps we take to lessen our impact on the environment, please watch the video below.

It's Showtime! Summer 2018

STI and it's affiliate companies Brentwood Textiles, JBS Leather and Magnolia Home had an awesome week at Showtime in High Point, North Carolina! The design teams work hard for months and months to bring their new patterns to life and at Showtime, they finally get to "show" it off. In addition to showing our customers the new line, we had a lot of exciting news to share...

  • This season, we debuted Revolution Chenille! The chenille collection has the luxurious and soft hand that chenilles are known for, but with the stain resistance and cleanability of Revolution.

Below: A selection of our new Revolution Chenilles!

Revolution Outdoor Logo.jpg
  • Revolution Outdoor is coming to a patio near you! We are so excited to offer our customers a PFC chemical free, easy to clean outdoor fabric. Revolution Outdoor has 1500 hours of light fastness, making it the perfect choice for porches, pool chairs and more. Revolution Outdoor also has a water repellent finish (without PFCs) to ensure the fabric will not mold after getting wet from rain or dew. Revolution Outdoor will hit the marketplace and be available for purchase in late Summer 2018.

Below: Revolution Outdoor making an appearance at the lobby of the Home Furnishings Center! Pictured is Revolution Outdoor fabric, Rhumba.

  • Inspired by the success of our online cut yardage store, revolutionfabricbytheyard.com, we are launching the Revolution Design Center to our manufacturer and retail customers! The Revolution Design Center offers Revolution fabrics by the yard with no minimums and fast lead times (less than a week!). There are close to 400 SKU's available in the program, including many of our top sellers. The larger and labeled samples, as well as the organization of the rack allows a customer to easily shop Revolution even in a busy retail environment. *If you are interested in this program, please email Revolution@STIKP.com

Below: The Revolution Design Center!

Revolution Design Center.jpg

 

STI

STI, the makers of Revolution Performance Fabrics, presented the new Revolution, Revolution Plus and STI fabrics to their valued customers at June 2018 Showtime. To learn more about STI and Revolution at www.revolutionfabrics.com.

Brentwood Textiles

Brentwood Textiles also has a showroom at the Home Furnishings Center in High Point. Kathy Dotterer, the Director of Design, always makes their showroom feel fun, welcoming and of course... beautiful! To learn more about Brentwood Textiles, visit www.BrentwoodTextiles.com

Magnolia Home

STI has recently formed a partnership with Magnolia Home, a Georgia based fine fabrics company that sells beautiful indoor and outdoor prints. Magnolia's beautiful prints are the perfect complement to STI's classic basecloths. Magnolia also offers their fabric by the yard. To learn more about Magnolia Home, visit www.MagnoliaHome.com.

JBS Leather

JBS is one of the world's largest leather companies with tanneries in Italy, Brazil, Vietnam, USA and Uruguay. STI represents JBS's sales within North America. JBS showcases all their gorgeous leathers in their own space in High Point. As you can see, they have a great selection of soft leathers in a variety of colors! To learn more about JBS, visit https://jbssa.com/our-business/leather/

Every Showtime, Glen Read and Kathy Dotterer design Revolution tote bags for our customers! This season, Glen used pattern Whiskey River and Kathy used pattern Eclipse for their bags. Check out these cool bags!

Now it's time to start getting ready for December 2018 Showtime!

The Path of Least Resistance

When STI introduced Revolution Performance Fabrics three years ago, by far the easiest path would have been to apply a PFC (Poly Fluorinated Chemical) finish. The combination of the inherent cleanability of polypropylene combined with a finish that “beads” water and other liquids would have been the simplest way to go. People associate liquids beading with performance fabric and it definitely creates a WOW factor when you see a demonstration. Frankly, in the beginning it was an uphill battle to sell a performance fabric that didn't repel liquids.

Another reason applying a PFC finish would have been the path of least resistance, is that very few people in general or even in the fabric business, have any idea that there are serious issues with PFCs. Why point out a problem that so few people know about?

  Above:  Example of water beading on a fabric likely coated in PFC  Chemicals for the purpose of stain resistance.

Above: Example of water beading on a fabric likely coated in PFC  Chemicals for the purpose of stain resistance.

The companies selling PFC treated products make claims like “absolutely zero risk”, “100% safe” and one even said the chemicals are as “safe as the fluoride in your toothpaste”! These are reputable people and companies making these claims so most people assume that they're telling the truth. 

That brings up another reason that treating our fabrics with PFCs would have been much easier. The people and companies selling treated fabrics aren't happy with me for spreading the message that PFCs warrant serious concern and are being investigated by scientists around the world for safety. I’ve been accused of “making stuff up” and a few choice words have even been thrown my way.

I am not a scientist, much less a chemist, and have never claimed to be. I’ve never made statements that are my opinion, I've only stated the facts. All I have done is point people to the research that has already been done and is ongoing by independent scientists all over the world.

Apparently, one of the things I “made up” is the Madrid Statement that was signed by several hundred of the worlds top scientists in 2015 (click here to read the list of signatories) calling for a number of actions related to all PFCs. Please note who signed the document and where they work; why in the world would we listen to the chemical companies who misled us for decades about the dangers of C8 and disregard the work of independent scientists? The answer is simple: there are no replacements that work as well as PFCs for stain resistance. The industry has spent decades trying to develop replacements that basically use silicone, wax, oil or some combination of the three, but I’m not aware of any that work as well as PFC; hence the extreme reluctance to stop using it.

So why did we decide to take an approach that is clearly more difficult? Quite simply, it is the right thing to do.

EPA.jpg

In 2000 we applied PFCs to our fabric when a customer requested it. When 3M pulled Scotchgard from the market in 2000 under pressure from the US Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA - read full story here), and all the US based producers of C8 agreed to phase out US production by 2015, the management team at STI decided we didn’t want to expose our workers, community and customers to these chemicals. Instead, we viewed the “short chain” replacements that were rushed to market after 2000 has basically the same chemistry, bonding Fluorine and Carbon. Scientists call replacing one toxin with a very similar chemical “regrettable substitution”. Contrary to industry claims, these were not thoroughly tested because the EPA doesn’t require them to be and there wasn’t enough time. Besides, the chemical companies are not even required to tell the EPA the names or formulas of these new chemicals under the shield of Confidential Business Information (CBI).

In 2012, two EPA scientists Mark Strynar and Andrew Lindstrom, went to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina looking for C8 near a Chemours plant. The scientists did not know what Chemours, a DuPont spinoff, had used to replace C8 and whether these new chemicals were entering the river, which is a source of drinking water for much of Southeast North Carolina. The scientists found 12 new PFCs in the river and had no idea what they were. It took a team of 10 scientists from 5 different institutions using a mass spectrometer more than a year to identify the chemicals. Stynar and Lindstrom wrote in response to Susan Lerner at The Intercept that “a new generation of replacement compounds is now out in the environment. These chemicals likely had the same chemical performance properties of the older generation of PFCs, like C8. This would also suggest that their toxicity and environmental persistence are likely to be similar as well." (source: Susan Lerner, The Intercept March 3, 2016 “A Chemical Shell Game”)

At the most recent High Point Market I saw several new performance brands that either use non-fluoridated treatments or use polypropylene like Revolution. I welcome these new brands and especially the growing awareness that there are serious concerns with the entire class of PFCs.

In the end, I am so glad that we chose the right path even though it has been more difficult. The short chain replacements are already spreading throughout the biosphere just like the legacy C8 pollution and they’ll be with us FOREVER!

By the way, production of C8 didn’t stop in 2015, it just moved to places like China and India. It is also NOT ILLEGAL to sell C8 on products in the United States currently. I find this very concerning, and we will continue to sound the alarm even if it makes us very unpopular with segments of the textile and chemical industries.

Greenguard logo 2.jpg

Susan Lerner’s series in The Intercept can be found online here. It is thoroughly researched and well documented. I highly recommend reading it if your interested in PFCs. She also has a recent op-ed in the New York Times about short chain replacements that you can read here.

The Green Science Policy Institute is a great source of information on PFCs and 5 other classes of chemicals of concern. I highly recommend reading “Fluorinated Chemicals: Myths vs. Facts” and watching their video on fluorinated chemicals. These are only two sources of information, but there are MANY more.

The fluorochemical industry has their version of reality online as well. I’ve read a lot of it, but frankly have a hard time trusting an industry that has done so much damage for decades with C8 in places like West Virginia ($671 million fine for DuPont, for more info read here and here) and Minnesota ($850 million fine for 3M, for more info read here and here). These chemicals have literally spread all over the world after only 70 years of production. Every person reading this blog has C8 in your blood, it will be there for years and you were never given a choice.

Lightfastness

Spring has finally sprung in North Carolina! The warm temperatures and sunshine make us all want to spend more time outdoors, but what affect does the sun have on your indoor furniture? and do you know how much sunlight your fabric can withstand before it starts to fade? 

The technical term for fading is photo-degradation. In this sense, photo doesn’t mean photography, but rather photo means light from the Greek word, phōt (meaning light). Therefore, photo-degradation means the the degradation of materials through exposure to light.

Light will gradually weaken or destroy the chemical bonds called chromophores that make up the color of every piece of fabric. These chromophores determine the amount of light a fabric absorbs and the vibrancy of the color. Light will break down those chemical bonds and cause fading, distorting, or bleaching the fabric.

When shopping for a fabric, you may see a lightfastness rating or a number of light hours listed in the fabric's specifications. The minimum lightfastness requirement for a residential fabric is 40 hours.  Revolution fabrics have a lightfastness of 500 hours! As you can see in the photos below, Revolution is the perfect choice for your sunroom, shady porch spot or in front of your favorite window.

  Above:  Revolution Plus pattern  Slipcover Twill  (in color bottle)

Above: Revolution Plus pattern Slipcover Twill (in color bottle)

  Above:  Revolution pattern,  Malian

Above: Revolution pattern, Malian

  Above:  Zoe catching some zzz's on Revolution pattern,  Hailey

Above: Zoe catching some zzz's on Revolution pattern, Hailey

  Above:  Reese Gibbons sporting Revolution Plus pattern,  Whiskey River

Above: Reese Gibbons sporting Revolution Plus pattern, Whiskey River

High Point Furniture Market Spring 2018

 Revolution/STI Design Team seeing all their designs come to life in High Point!

Revolution/STI Design Team seeing all their designs come to life in High Point!

This Spring's 2018 Furniture Market was a great success for Revolution fabrics! All of our customers showcased some beautiful pieces of furniture. It's always exciting to see our fabrics applied and hear the positive reactions that come from our customers' customers!

Some of the new trends we saw at this season's market included:

- Faux fur (plush white, fleece look)

- Bold greens 

- Color stories of orange and red (ranging from bold, pumpkin oranges to deep reds)

- Novelty (pillows, accent chairs and ottomans with cats, dogs, birds and even llamas!)

- Bright colored pillows on a beige or white sofa

- Global 

*Check out the photos below of a small selection of all the amazing Revolution we saw at High Point!

Revolution Partners With Savvy Giving by Design

Savvy logo.png

Savvy Giving by Design was founded in 2014 by Susan Wintersteen, owner and principal designer of Savvy Interiors located in San Diego, California. The idea for Savvy Giving began when a young girl in Susan’s community was diagnosed with cancer. Since her interior design skills were far more impressive than her cooking skills, Susan offered to do a room makeover. Knowing that this young girl was about to endure months of grueling treatments, Susan thought a new bedroom would be a nice retreat for her and a means to a fresh start. In only a few short days, the community pulled together the funds to makeover the space and Susan worked with multiple subcontractors to complete the install.

The Savvy team works together to create a vision for each room. Depending on the needs of the room, this may involve selecting paint, flooring, furniture, bedding and fabric. Revolution Performance Fabrics learned about Savvy Giving after working with Savvy Interiors through their online fabric store, revolutionfabricsbytheyard.com, which provides cut yardage options to the trade. After hearing about the life changing work they were doing, they had to be involved! “At Revolution Fabrics we have always done our charitable giving locally in North Carolina, but we have been interested in teaming up with a national charity that aligns with our company values. Savvy Giving allows us to help people that need environmentally safe and sustainable textiles. What Susan and her affiliates are doing is truly amazing and we are so honored to be a part it,” says Sean Gibbons, CEO of Revolution Performance Fabrics. Revolution is proud to donate PFC chemical free fabrics to all Savvy Giving projects.

In a little over three years, Savvy Giving has transformed 36 spaces and counting. In 2018, six additional Savvy Giving chapters will be established to help children across the country. Each chapter is independent to their region and all donations stay local. Savvy Giving hopes to add more chapters every year by building a coalition of designers and raising awareness of their organization. To learn more about Savvy Giving or to donate, visit www.savvygivingbydesign.com.

Below: Watch the "Savvy Giving by Design: A Room to Heal" video to learn more!

Below: Last week, Revolution was a part of their very first Savvy Giving project! Sarah received a beautiful bedroom makeover that included a headboard upholstered in Revolution pattern, Romero.

 Sarah with her family and Susan Wintersteen, owner of Savvy Interiors & Savvy Giving

Sarah with her family and Susan Wintersteen, owner of Savvy Interiors & Savvy Giving

 Sarah loves her new bed!

Sarah loves her new bed!

 Revolution pattern, Romero

Revolution pattern, Romero

Scandinavian Country

This collection started with one original idea and piece of art. This artwork appealed to us because of the emerging trend of Scandinavian country. The artwork is also paying homage to the hot trend of use of decorative tile. We pulled out small patterns from the collage to be allovers:

 Scandinavian Artwork

Scandinavian Artwork

- allover flower

- wedding ring pattern

And did some classics to round it out:

- check

- toss paisley

Lifestyle, relaxed casual, farmhouse, country are other buzz words to describe this collection. Today we are naming the patterns... that sounds easy but it can be difficult. It can’t be a name already used.

This collection can work as a bedding group or furniture collection.

 Scandinavian Country inspired design in Revolution Plus!

Scandinavian Country inspired design in Revolution Plus!

2018 Design Bloggers Conference

When Revolution was created in February 2015 by STI (Specialty Textiles, Inc.), it was only available for sale to furniture manufacturers. That all changed in January 2017 when Revolution launched it's online store, revolutionfabricbytheyard.com. Revolution was so well received in the furniture retail market, that customers began asking for furniture only covered in Revolution! Now, anyone who wants a PFC chemical free, easy to clean fabric that is made in the United States, can purchase Revolution whenever they want.

DBC-FB-16.jpg

Another huge component of Revolution's online store is their trade program. Interior designers who join Revolution's trade program receive trade pricing and receive a complimentary Revolution designer swatch box set. Revolution is great for all designers, because "life happens" in every home, but it is really great for designers whose main clientele is families or like many of us, people who are redecorating on a budget!

Revolution Performance Fabrics attended and was a sponsor at this year's Designer Blog Conference in Los Angeles, California. The conference has taken place for over five years and now has close to 400 attendees! The conference is specifically focused on the interests of interior designers, design bloggers and anyone who is using the web and blogger networks to grow their brand. There are seminars and break out sessions over the course of three days that discuss best practices and innovations in social media, blogging, e-commerce, digital branding, book publishing and more.

As an exhibiting sponsor, Revolution had a booth where interior designers and all conference attendees could come by to learn more about the product and of course, see the fabric for themselves! Cheryl Luckett, owner of Dwell by Cheryl and Design Ambassador for Revolution, attended the conference, as well as Jill Harrill (Marketing Strategist) and Emily Harry (Brand Ambassador). The Revolution team had the chance to meet some great people from the design community and learned a lot too. Revolution looks forward to participating in next year's Design Bloggers Conference!

To learn more about the Design Blogger's Conference, visit https://design-bloggers-conference.com/

 2018 Design Bloggers Conference

2018 Design Bloggers Conference

 The Revolution Performance Fabrics exhibit booth! Designers were able to see, feel and test the cleaning ability of the fabric for themselves! 

The Revolution Performance Fabrics exhibit booth! Designers were able to see, feel and test the cleaning ability of the fabric for themselves! 

 Universal Furniture, a valued Revolution customer, also sponsored at the DBC and used a Revolution sofa in their seating area!

Universal Furniture, a valued Revolution customer, also sponsored at the DBC and used a Revolution sofa in their seating area!

 Revolution design ambassador, Cheryl Luckett, ready to share her experiences and knowledge of Revolution! To learn more about Cheryl, visit https://www.revolutionfabricsbytheyard.com/pages/design-ambassador   

Revolution design ambassador, Cheryl Luckett, ready to share her experiences and knowledge of Revolution! To learn more about Cheryl, visit https://www.revolutionfabricsbytheyard.com/pages/design-ambassador

 

 The Revolution team with the Savvy Giving team! Revolution is a proud new supporter of Savvy Giving.  Savvy Giving by Design™ is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide comfort, support, and healing to families with a child facing a medical crisis by transforming the interior spaces of their homes at no cost to them. Revolution looks forward to providing the fabric for the Savvy Giving children's rooms! To learn more about Savvy Giving, visit:   https://savvygivingbydesign.org/

The Revolution team with the Savvy Giving team! Revolution is a proud new supporter of Savvy Giving. Savvy Giving by Design™ is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide comfort, support, and healing to families with a child facing a medical crisis by transforming the interior spaces of their homes at no cost to them. Revolution looks forward to providing the fabric for the Savvy Giving children's rooms! To learn more about Savvy Giving, visit: https://savvygivingbydesign.org/

Plain and Simple

We weave a lot of plains and textures... I’m not sure how simple it is. It can be more difficult at times to come up with an awesome base cloth. 

First, it starts with the yarn. There are multiple yarn options:

- straight yarns... fine and coarse. The smaller yarns require more picks per inch.

- boucle yarns, fancy yarns... again be small or larger.

- chenille yarns... cut pile yarns in different sizes

IMG_9900.jpeg

You can use these yarns solid, pick and pick or mixed.

Second, you have to decide what warp you’re going to make it on. Like most mills we have certain set ups to choose from:

- number of ends

- dobby or jacquard loom

- size and color of yarn

Third, you have to design the weave. For the dobby loom, we have 12 harnesses so the weave in the horizontal direction repeats in twelve ends or less. There are no limitations with a jacquard since you control each end.

Lastly, you put it all together into a ticket that has all the specifications on how to weave it.

- which warp

- which weave or pattern

- which filling yarns

- which colors for all

- how many picks

- what finish

I haven’t even talked about price point, testing, width, drape ability, hand look... it goes on.

And, with all this I’m still over simplifying... so, as I said in the beginning not so plain and simple!

IMG_0762.jpeg
IMG_0781.jpeg
IMG_0784.jpeg
IMG_0776.jpeg

It Takes Two

 Photo: Brentwood Textiles on Precedent Furniture

Photo: Brentwood Textiles on Precedent Furniture

We love our partners! We got news yesterday that one of our partners was having better than expected success with one of our fabrics... they needed more FAST!

It is always exciting to see how our customers can take our fabric and turn it into a beautiful piece of furniture.

We are heading to Pre-Market next week in High Point, North Carolina to get a sneak peek at what our partners are working on.

We truly love what we do and our partners!

 Photo: MAYO FURNITURE

Photo: MAYO FURNITURE

 Photo: MAYO FURNITURE

Photo: MAYO FURNITURE