Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Company

Donated fabric is the best. Like my most favorite thing ever. Friends, customers, family members, strangers, you name it, all donate fabric to my stash. Thankfully, the property where I reside is home to a two stall garage, and a pole barn style building (also Shelby's bedroom), and my home office, so there is always room for donations. I have absolutely no reason to say "No" to boxes or giant garbage bags of fabric and old clothing, because I have room. I sort everything and store the majority of my fabric in the larger pole barn garage, and bring in fabric as I need it. Sewing with donated fabric also helps to create the most interesting pieces. Sometimes, I'm able to pin point the exact history of fabric, like today, and find out exactly where the fabric came from,.. it's story, history, and imagining it's former life.
Today's blog post will feature just one small yard of fabric that lines the interior of a small camo wristlet (above) I made as a commissioned piece, and how the fabric made it's journey to my workroom.
When local artist Crystal Floyd sent over a few egg crates packed full of fabric with a friend of mine, this past summer, I was so excited to go through it! Loving Crystal's work, and knowing that she has great style and taste, I just knew that the fabric pile would be home to all kind of goodies. At first glance, there was a fabric remnant that made this purse, tweetie bird fabric I used to line a small collection, and countless other pieces I have laid out for future projects. Mostly vintage by the yard fabric, the egg crates were full of promise. 
After a customer from the market had seen this wristlet in my inventory, she wanted a similar clutch for a gift, but in a different color of camo. Custom pieces are so much fun, I always say "bring 'em on"! All I asked was for the camouflage, since the previous blue Navy collection came from my sister's uniforms. When planning and cutting out the clutch, I came across this piece of fabric (above), thin cotton perfect to line the clutch.
"LOT APPROVAL SAMPLE" from Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Company. Dated and stamped December 1st, 1978. This small sample from the factory was purchased by Crystal's grandmother in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
I like to picture her grandmother in fabulous clothes in the 1970s, an artist like Crystal, purchasing fabric straight from the source, in a small showroom in the front, clearer area of the factory. A place where designers would go, and get first pick of the new prints, or commission rolls of custom fabric. And then I like to step back in time and see old Rock Hill, and picture the people that would work here everyday for 30 years. 
The factory, "Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Company", was located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, dating back to 1925, when the first of six building were built. Known by the locals as "The Bleachery", the plant bleached, dyed, printed and finished cloth fabric purchased from cotton sources in the South. 
In the early 1960s, it expanded from 200,000 square feet to more than 2 million square feet. At it's peak, the company employed over 5,000 people in Rock Hill, in 1965.
The factory was sold in 1986, and in 2012, it was finally tore down. It will eventually be developed into real estate, according to a Rock Hill news article. And to see some photos of the abandoned factory, click here.
Special thanks to everyone that donates fabric to me and my company, it really means the world to me. I'm such a sentimental person, these little bits of history, and seeing the Rock Hill Printing Factory make the construction of pieces like that clutch so much fun. I'm actually using the last of it today to line a beautiful new handbag. 
And also thanks to Crystal for the extra special fabric donations. To see her work, click here.

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