Humans have been making quilts now for more than 1,000 years. We have used everything from animal pelts, velvet, silk and satin, denim and wool, fleece and canvas, to cotton and polyester blends. Quilts have been made for many purposes- from the practical to the extravagant. I have been on both ends of the functionality-spectrum.
Last week at Houston Quilt Market 2018, Honest Fabric was officially launched! So, I wanted to take a moment and introduce to you what this company is all about.
But before I do, let me give you a little bit of a background about myself, Karlee Porter. I am the founder of Honest Fabric.
I have been quilting since about 2009, and quilting professionally since 2014. Over the course of my career, I have been very fortunate to be able to be a creative in the quilting industry full-time. I come from a very grass-roots, self-reliant, do-it-yourself type of background. As number seven out of eight children, I was raised from a young age that if there was something I wanted in life, it was up to me to make it happen. No one was going to make my aspirations come true (creatively AND financially).
As I built my own freelance Graphic Design business, I self-published my own books, patterns, and videos. I pride myself on always running my business with a spirit of self-reliance. Self-publishing my computerized quilting designs gave me the financial footing to focus on finishing my graphic design degree and learning the skills I would need to write books and other publications. Self-publishing my book Graffiti Quilting is what funded the purchase of my longarm quilting machine. Quilting for hire allowed me the freedom and confidence to become a professional free-motion quilting teacher. Traveling to teach quilting classes gave me the credibility to offer online quilting classes that I knew people could love, and trust.
Now that a few years have passed, and I have recognized how fortunate I am to actually earn a living as a creative professional, Honest Fabric is my effort in now raising the tide for the designers of the quilting industry as a whole. Through my journey in the industry, I have on more than one occasion been offered professional relationships that, while they sounded awesome in the elevator pitch, were not financially viable options to sustain a creative career. The promise of free stuff, free exposure, and obscure “future paying opportunities” wouldn’t really allow me to allocate my time wisely enough to support my family.
…Insert Honest Fabric.
Honest Fabric was founded on 3 moral pillars- American Made, Fair Trade, and Eco-Friendly.
I know there are many, many wonderful products produced all over the world! But I think there is just a little more that we can do here in the states. For Honest Fabric, all printing production and sales operations are done in the United States. While it is understandable that some goods just simply can’t be produced here in the States, we can still minimize the amount of risk that comes from producing products overseas. We can source our goods from companies that are safe to work at, operate above board, and do not put the safety of their employees at risk, which unfortunately is a little more common than it should be in the textile industry as a whole. Every little bit counts.
The nature of the beast right now with custom printed fabric is that it is more expensive to produce than traditional yardage made in Asia or the Middle-East. While our custom printed quilt tops cost more per square inch than traditional yardage would, you are saving money in the amount of yardage it would take to make a quilt top, the pattern, as well as the time it would take to piece it. You are buying a finished composition, opposed to yardage type fabrics. Most importantly, every time you buy one of our quilt tops, we get to pay a designer a fair percentage for their contribution. That is HUGE. Whether a design sells once or a thousand times, the designer gets a fair cut EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. If Honest Fabric can be even just one solid stepping stone in an artist’s self-reliance, we will have successfully done our job.
The beauty of custom printed fabric is that unlike traditional yardage companies, there are not bolts and bolts of fabric being printed with the hopes of later being sold. Much of the yardage in the sewing and quilting industry either goes to waste or is sold for less than it costs to produce it- simply to get it off the quilt shop shelves. Apart from the quilt tops that we print to market our business, every single quilt top that we print is already spoken for and promised to a loving home. As a textile production company, we strive to produce beautiful products, WITHOUT contributing to the waste that we see too often in the industry. Fabric stashes are GREAT! …as long as the fabric actually gets used.
Now that we’ve covered why Honest Fabric morally exists, I wanted to talk a little more about the fun aspects of using a custom printed quilt top, opposed to a traditionally pieced or appliquéd one. (And please, don’t get me wrong, piecing and appliqué techniques are still extremely important, valid, and beautiful ways of making a quilt top. Our efforts here are not to compete with those techniques, rather to compliment them.)
Spend more time quilting:
There are many makers in the quilting industry (myself included) that simply enjoy the process of quilting much more than the process of piecing. While those avid, passionate piecers still exist, Honest Fabric is providing a product for those of us who would prefer to spend more time quilting than we get to now.
A Learning Tool for Quilters:
Many of our custom printed quilt tops are reproduction designs of patterns that were originally created to be pieced. THIS IS AWESOME! This is a great way for quilters to get their feet wet with quilting, while eliminating the worry of ruining a beautifully pieced quilt top with their beginner level free-motion quilting. These quilters can rest easily knowing that if their quilting is not as great as they want it to be, they will be able to at least take comfort in knowing that they didn’t also lose TONS OF TIME piecing a quilt top. I also have found myself in a position where I have pieced tops that would be left un-quilted for years out of fear of ruining them with my quilting. On the other side of the coin, if a quilter uses their custom printed quilt top as practice, and it turns out even better than they expected, then they have the added bonus of a finished quilt that also has a beautiful top to it, opposed to a plain piece of fabric.
Unique Designs That Are Otherwise Unachievable:
While many patterns can only really be accomplished through appliqué, paper piecing, or other traditional piecing methods, Honest Fabric offers dynamic quilt top designs that simply cannot be achieved by any other method than printing. Printing allows the quilt top to have gradients, textures, and shapes that would not be feasible (or at least not realistically) with traditional methods. These designs will open up a whole now world of aesthetic possibilities for the quilts we make for our loved ones. From this day forward, panels will no longer be considered “cheating”, but simply another way to create an exquisite, loved, snuggled, hand-made quilt.
High-Quality, Color-Fast and Long-Lasting:
The technology of printing with ink on fabric has come SO FAR! Gone are the days of “gross polyesters that uncle disco used to wear”! (I mean those still exist, but Honest Fabric’s Polyester blend is nothing like that.) We print our custom quilt tops with the highest quality polyester. Every piece is completely washing machine safe, will not bleed, and will not unjustly fade. The fabric is soft to begin with, and only gets softer and more buttery with each washing, without compromising the rich, vibrant colors.
I truly feel that starting this business has been inspired. I have felt a guiding hand through every aspect and I really know how great it can be. When we collaborate together as artists and makers, and remember that there is so much room in the quilting and sewing industry for all of us, we can all see prosperity. So remember, when you purchase a custom printed quilt top from us, you are not just purchasing a high-quality product, but you are purchasing a dream, a vision, a mission, sustainability and longevity so that we can continue to make quilts and spread love for another 1,000 years.
-Karlee Porter and the Honest Fabric Family ❤️
P.S. If you use the coupon code “tenpercentplease” you’ll get 10% off your entire order of custom printed quilt tops.