History of Textiles: Spotlight on Earl Scruggs

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Ever wonder if any famous people began their careers in textiles? One such individual stands out in Cleveland County (home of STI and Revolution Performance Fabrics). The county, founded in 1841, was largely agricultural, dominated by cotton farming, and became the home of many mills making cotton cloth, yarns, and thread beginning with the re-industrialization of the South after the Civil War. By the 1940’s there were 20 spinning mills in the Shelby area, dominated by the yarn and thread company, Lily Mills, where a young Earl Scruggs worked.

On December 1, 1945 at the age of 21, Earl Scruggs took the stage at the Grand Ole Opry with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys and history was made, as bluegrass music made its debut. Descriptions of how the audience reacted vary, but one thing is almost certain—no one had ever seen his style of “three finger” picking on the banjo, and no one had ever heard so many notes flowing from a banjo before. Scruggs joined the Blue Grass Boys shortly after leaving his job at the Lily Mill. Prior to this, Scruggs had played in numerous local “front porch pickings” around the region, including frequent trips to Rutherford County where he is reported to have learned this famous picking style from a fellow picker, Rex Brooks. 

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According to Wikipedia, “Despite considerable success with Monroe, performing on the Grand Ole Opry and recording classic hits like "Blue Moon of Kentucky", Scruggs resigned from the group in 1946 due to their exhausting touring schedule. Band member Lester Flatt resigned as well, and he and Scruggs later paired up in a new group called "Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys". Scruggs' banjo instrumental called "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", released in 1949, became an enduring hit, and had a rebirth of popularity to a younger generation when it was featured in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde. The song won two Grammy Awards and in 2005 was selected for the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry of works of unusual merit. Flatt and Scruggs brought bluegrass music into mainstream popularity in the early 1960’s with their country hit, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" — the theme music for the successful network television sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies — the first bluegrass recording to reach number one on the Billboard charts. Over their 20-year association, Flatt and Scruggs recorded over 50 albums and 75 singles."

Earl Scruggs passed away March 8, 2012.  On January 11, 2014, the Earl Scruggs Center opened in the renovated county courthouse in Shelby, NC. Here, one can tour a museum which celebrates his life as well as the unique and engaging stories of the history and cultural traditions of the region.

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Click the video below to listen to Earl Scrugg’s country hit The Ballad of Jed Clampett

Halloween Stain Horrors

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Dear Revolution Fabrics,

I am having my annual Halloween party with a few special friends. At my party last year, The Count traveled all the way from Transylvania to attend. To my surprise, there were blood stains on my sofa when he left. In the dining room, Frank N. Stein, a notorious doctor and scientist, ruined my dining room chairs; it looked like he had performed science experiments in the dining room. The dear professor from Britain who teaches at the world renowned school of magic spilled his potion when the moon came from behind the clouds; he became a party animal! He shed everywhere! After the party, I had to replace my furniture. I bought new living room furniture and dining room chairs upholstered in Revolution Fabrics. If my guests are careless again this year, how do I clean blood stains and potions such as red wine from my Revolution fabric? I also need recommendations on how to remove animal hair.

Sincerely,

Halloween Horror

Dear Halloween Horror,

Thank you for purchasing furniture upholstered with Revolution Fabrics! If your guests become unruly again this year, don’t worry! Just follow these simple steps to clean blood, red wine, or other stains from your Revolution Fabrics:

  • Remove any loose debris and blot the stain

  • Make a solution of one ounce bleach to 30 ounces of water in a clean spray bottle (if possible, place a clean towel between the fabric and foam to absorb any excess moisture)

  • Thoroughly rinse the fabric with water until clean

  • Let fabric dry

  • Do not use any solvents which can damage the fabric.

For removing the animal hair, you may vacuum the fabric, but do not use any vacuum power brush attachment. You can always visit our Revolution Cleaning Instructions page for more information too!

Enjoy your Halloween!

Sincerely,

Revolution Fabrics

Cleaning Your Sofa 101

Before you know it, winter will be here. You may want to start thinking about cleaning your sofa. The nights will be long and there will be plenty of quality time with your couch. I want your time together to be pleasant. Let me tell you how to clean your beloved sofa…

Step 1) It's important to know what type of fabric is on your sofa. Fortunately, the manufacturer has to include a tag on the furniture with cleaning instructions. Follow their advice! Ignoring the instruction tag could ruin your fabric and void your warranty. Here are common codes and what they mean:

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WS: Use a mild detergent with a steam vacuum or a dry-cleaning detergent. Professional cleaning is recommended.

S: Use cleaning solvents (dry clean only). This fabric will not react well if water is applied to it.

X: Use a vacuum only. No water.

W: You can use water to clean it. On spills and stains, you can use upholstery or carpet cleaner.

Cleaning Tip: With any solvent, water or cleaner, apply a little amount in an inconspicuous place to ensure it does not harm the fabric.

Step 2) Vacuum your sofa to remove loose dirt or debris. Do not forget to vacuum crevices where dirt, hair, and crumbs like to hide. If your cushions are removable, vacuum both sides. Use a lint brush if you still have pet hair clinging to your couch. 

Step 3) Wipe down any exposed metal or wood on your sofa.

Step 4) To remove odors and further loosen stains, sprinkle baking soda over the entire couch. Allow the baking soda to sit 15 to 20 minutes before vacuuming it up.

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Step 5) Stain removal. Try to clean stains as soon as they happen for best results. Remember code X is vacuum only and code S require solvent-based chemicals that will have the directions for cleaning on the bottle. The directions below are for code W and W/S

For cleaning stains, you can buy a cleanser or you can make your own from items you have in the kitchen. For sofas with codes W or W/S, mix 2 cups of distilled water with 1 tablespoon of dish washing liquid and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Put the cleaner in a spray bottle and lightly dampen the stained area. Use a colorfast cloth and gently blot the area.

To avoid damaging the fibers, DO NOT rub or scrub the area.  Use a second colorfast towel dampened with distilled water to remove the cleaner. Finally, use a dry towel to dry the area as best you can. Use a box fan to dry the fabric. You may need to repeat this process a few times for tougher stains.

Revolution Supports Int. Textile Alliance Education Foundation

The International Textile Alliance Educational Foundation hosted its inaugural golf tournament and Revolution Performance Fabrics was a proud sponsor of the event! The ITA Educational Foundation’s mission is to promote the growth and development of future industry leaders.

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Did you know?

Each year, the ITA hosts an industry tour for students from schools across the country. The three-day tour gives them an inside look at the textile industry from concept to consumer through visits to textile mills, design studios, upholstery manufacturers and printing facilities.

On average, the ITA EF contributes over $20,000 per year in salary and stipends to interns working for member companies.

The cover design for each ITA Member Directory and Pocket Guide is designed by a student in a textile design program. The ITA EF receives more than 20 student submissions per contest. The winner and their school are recognized in print and receive a monetary award.

The Virginia Jackson Design Competition was established in 1995 to recognize the most talented students in the field of textile design and create a vehicle to bring new talent into the industry. The VJDC receives more than 50 submissions from students across the country in three categories: jacquard, dobby and print.

The Founders’ Scholarship was established in 2015 in honor of the ITA founding board members.  The first scholarship was awarded in 2016.

  Above:  Revolution Team members:  Bob Ballatow ,  Katherine Shoaf  and  David Hancock

Above: Revolution Team members: Bob Ballatow, Katherine Shoaf and David Hancock

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Want to Know More About Olefin fabrics? Read this!

 Guilo Natta, the chemist who developed the process to make Olefin suitable for textiles.

Guilo Natta, the chemist who developed the process to make Olefin suitable for textiles.

Olefin (polypropylene) fabrics are made of synthetic fibers that are durable and stain resistant. 

Well… How did Olefin get here?

In Italy during the 1950's, chemist Giulio Natta, developed a process that made Olefin suitable for a variety of textile applications. In 1960, the United States began producing the fiber. Today, Olefin makes up 16% of the total fiber production in the US. Predominately, you can find Olefin fibers in upholstery fabric.

 How are the fibers made?

Olefin fibers are derived from ethylene and propylene. Polymerization of propylene and ethylene gases, controlled with special catalysts, create Olefin fibers. Olefin is difficult to dye once it has been formed. Since Olefin fibers are tough to dye after manufacturing, it is solution-dyed. The colors are added into to the polymers before or during melting. The melted polymer is then spun by a spinneret, which looks a little bit like a shower head. The fiber is pulled through tiny holes to form long fibers. 

There are several benefits of this process. One, is the manufacturing process is less expensive than others. Manufacturing Olefin produces very little by-product; that means less waste, which is good for the environment. Olefin fibers are plastic and 100% recyclable. 

To learn more about Olefin’s environmental impact, please click here.

What's so great about Olefin fabrics? I'm glad you asked.

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Olefin fabric has many advantages:

- These fabrics are extremely durable.  

- Spills and stains are easy to clean. Stain resistance and durability are a huge benefit if you have pets or children in your home. The fabric is even bleach safe for tough stains!

- Olefin is resistant to abrasion and mold. It does not absorb water. Waterborne stains are not a problem. It comes in a variety of colors and will not fade. You can find olefin fibers in car and upholstery fabrics, carpets, clothing as well as rope.

So there's nothing wrong with Olefin Fabrics?

I would love to say “yes”, but nothing is perfect! Oil bonds with Olefin. Oil-based stains are tough to remove. Olefin can break down if extreme heat is applied to the fabric. This would only be a problem if you used a high setting on an iron or a high temperature to dry it. For items that need a fire retardant treatment (FR), Olefin wouldn’t work. 

How is it cleaned?

Most stains can be easily removed by dabbing the stain with lukewarm water and a mild detergent. You can use bleach on Olefin fabric if necessary. If you wash Olefin, line drying is the best option. If you put the fabric in the dryer use a low heat setting. Ironing the fabric is not recommended. Do not use a brush. Do not dry clean, as many dry-cleaning solvents can harm the fibers.

For more detailed cleaning instructions, please visit our cleaning page here.

 

The Jacquard Loom and the Binary Code

Rudimentary “weaving” dates back almost 12,000 years to the Neolithic era when man intertwined branches and twigs to create shelter from the elements. The first loom was simply a frame of branches where warp yarns were hung and stretched taught. The filling yarns were interlaced by hand.

 Photo: One of the first “real” jacquard looms created by Joseph Jacquard

Photo: One of the first “real” jacquard looms created by Joseph Jacquard

From the primitive origin of weaving, you may wonder how weaving on looms can possibly relate to computers and the binary code. In 1801, Joseph Jacquard patented the jacquard loom which used a series of perforated cards to control the movement of parts similar to the paper roll used in a player piano. Each paper roll for a player piano plays a different tune just like each set of cards creates a different repeating pattern. Each card with the various holes punched out corresponds to one row in a design. The longer the chain of cards the larger the pattern. The perforation (a cut) or the lack of a punched hole (a miss) controls a sequence of operations which is binary in nature. 

 Photo: The punch cards used in a jacquard loom

Photo: The punch cards used in a jacquard loom

The binary code based on Boolean algebra are denoted by a 0 or a 1. In 1944, IBM computers received program instructions from a paper tape similar to punched cards. The use of punched cards remained in operation in some computers until the 1980’s. Because of this operation, the jacquard loom was the first computer because it produced an output in accordance with a program (the cards).

 In modern jacquard weaving factories, punch cards have been replaced with electronic loom files. The basis of the loom file is still a cut or a miss. Notice the picture of the red and white design file; the red is a cut where the warp is on the face or a white which is a miss where the warp is on the back with the filling to the face.

 Above: Graphic of designing a jacquard pattern

Above: Graphic of designing a jacquard pattern

 Above: An electronic weave file

Above: An electronic weave file

 Above: The final product! A Revolution jacquard

Above: The final product! A Revolution jacquard

Not Your Grandmother's Fabric

 Revolution Jacquard Patterns!

Revolution Jacquard Patterns!

When you hear the word jacquard, what comes to mind? You think of a fabric that is heavy, elaborate and traditional like a paisley or floral fabric that you would find in your grandmother’s house… right? You are not really sure. When you Google the word jacquard, you find a definition that is so complex and technical that you still can’t quite comprehend. Or you can read through the entire biography of Joseph Marie Jacquard who was the inventor of the jacquard loom (save that reading for when you are trying to fall asleep at night!) 

Still not sure what a jacquard is? First of all let’s clear up any misconceptions that you may have. Jacquards are not just stuffy or traditional fabrics and they don’t have to be fancy or complex… and I can promise you they are not only for senior citizens! In fact, I can probably guarantee that you have at least one jacquard fabric in your home!

A modern jacquard fabric is where the design is actually woven into the fabric itself, meaning the design is not printed or embroidered. You can have intricate jacquard designs or simple ones. They can be traditional or contemporary designs and everything in between. They can be made from multiple types of fibers- natural fibers such as cotton and silk or man-made fibers such as polyester and polypropylene. Jacquard fabrics are typically thicker and more durable which makes them a great choice for use in your home. They can be brightly colored or monochromatic or you can even have gradations of color to give an ombre effect.

Toile: Print vs. Woven

The use of toile patterns in design has been a constant since the mid 1700’s, however, the use of toiles experiences surges in popularity from time to time. A toile, or more specifically a Toile de Jouy, literally means “cloth from Jouy” located just outside of Paris. 

 An example of a traditional toile. This piece actually came from a historic document in a museum.

An example of a traditional toile. This piece actually came from a historic document in a museum.

In 1759 Christophe – Philippe Oberkampf began printing pastoral scenes on cotton fabric. The popularity of the fabrics grew. The motifs printed not only included idealized landscapes or floral designs, but expanded to pictorial representations of historical events and scenes with a political message such as sailing ships or colonial expansion. With the gain in popularity the printing of toile patterns was no longer confined to France, England, and the United States, as other countries began printing their versions of toile designs.

Traditionally, a toile has a white or very light ground with the pattern printed in blue, black, red, or even green but there may be variations. Wallpapers are even printed with toile patterns as well. 

Although a toile is generally printed on fabric, the pattern can also be woven. This season we have a botanical toile being offered in our Revolution line. So why use a woven toile instead of a printed toile? Generally, a woven design can withstand heavier use than a design printed on top of fabric. A woven design is integral to the fabric. In addition to durability, our Revolution woven toile is bleach cleanable making it family friendly.

 Revolution pattern,  Estate

Revolution pattern, Estate

History of Textiles: Part 6

This week, I continue with the history, but with a different take (Then and Now).

 STI’s mill and offices in King’s Mountain, NC

STI’s mill and offices in King’s Mountain, NC

Here at STI, we primarily use Polypropylene (Olefin) and Polyester yarns. Our purpose for focusing on these yarns is to bring our customers (and ultimately, the consumer) durable upholstery performance fabrics which are soft to the touch, washable, and are inherently stain resistant, requiring no dangerous chemical after-treatments. As a Designer and history buff, I began to research the development of man-made fibers and how their paths of development lead to the performance yarns we use today. The following timeline gives highlights of the history of synthetic fibers:

1910 – First production of Rayon by the American Viscose Company.

1924 – First production of Acetate by Celanese Company.

1931 – DuPont invents Nylon (this was the first fiber 100% derived from petroleum chemicals.  Rayon and Acetate were derived from plant cellulose).

1939 – Commercial production of Nylon for sewing thread began (at this time, it was used for parachutes and the first nylon hosiery for women).

Late 1940’s – Cotton still made up 75% of the fiber market in the US.  Nylon was beginning to be used in automobile carpeting.  Olefin (Polypropylene) was first produced by Hercules, Inc.)

Early 1950’s – Acrylic and Polyester began production.

1965 – Manufactured fiber made up 40% of the fiber market in the US.

Early 1970’s – Public concern for flammability became important.  99% of US carpets were being made of synthetic fibers.

Late 1990’s – the push for “green manufacturing processes” became important.

2015 – STI begins production of their Revolution Performance Fabrics.  For the first time, performance fabrics could now be purchased for upholstery applications using a fabric that is never treated with chemicals due to being inherently stain resistant.  Bleach cleanability along with no PFCs (polyflourinated chemicals) makes demand for Revolution Performance Fabrics immediate.

2016 – STI introduces Revolution Plus, their machine washable performance fabrics used for slipcover applications as well as pillows.

2018 – STI introduces Revolution Outdoor Performance Fabrics.

I am proud to know I am working in a modern textile facility which has built upon 100 years of synthetic fiber development, and has had an eye for the future with innovative fabric production.

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Urban Lodge

The designs in Navajo weavings have always been a personal expression of the weaver. However, we can make some educated guesses based upon historical research and interviews with Navajo elders.

Perhaps two of the earliest design elements to be utilized by Navajo weavers are the diamond and the triangle. These elements were incorporated into old wearing blankets and continue in the modern day Navajo rugs.

We bring you several new Revolution Fabrics inspired by the traditional Navajo blankets. These patterns have been 100% created, designed, and woven in Kings Mountain, North Carolina on state of the art jacquard looms.

They are fully cleanable upholstery fabrics.

 A Revolution pattern inspired by traditional Navajo Designs

A Revolution pattern inspired by traditional Navajo Designs

Revolution Supports Savvy Giving at "A Room to Heal" Event

Savvy Giving by Design had their third annual fundraiser on September 8th, 2018. The Room to Heal event is Savvy’s largest event of the year and the donations they receive through ticket sales, sponsorships and auction items help to fund the magical rooms they create for children facing life threatening illnesses.

While Savvy needs the monetary support to complete these amazing rooms, it also takes the donation of products. Revolution was introduced to Savvy Giving in 2017 and has been a proud supporter ever since! Revolution has donated fabric to multiple Savvy rooms and was honored to be a sponsor at the Room to Heal event and have STI owners, Lisa Gibbons and Kelly Hovis, and STI employees Ashley Hovis and Jill Harrill attend.

A very visible and avid supporter of Savvy Giving headlined the event, the Bravo TV star, Jeff Lewis. Jeff is a renowned interior designed and house flipper, his knowledge of the design industry and over the top personality, made his show “Flipping Out” one of the most watched Bravo TV series. Jeff has supported Savvy Giving since day one. Being located in California, he was adamant about supporting a local charity and having peace of mind that his donations were being used to directly benefit the cause. Jeff has launched product lines of paint and tile with Home Depot and has also come out with a brand of barn doors. Jeff has graciously donated these items to many Savvy rooms and speaks frequently about them in the media in an effort to increase their awareness.

Below is Savvy’s new video highlighting the 40+ rooms they have completed in the past three years. Savvy now has 8 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and continues to grow! Revolution Performance Fabrics looks forward to continuing to support Savvy in every way they can!

Below: Savvy’s 2018 Video

Below: Click pictures below to scroll through photos from the Room to Heal fundraiser!

Below: Pictures of recent Savvy room reveals!