barkcloth-detailfull swing textilesSo sad: After 10 years creating and selling beautiful, real deal barkcloth, Full Swing Textiles is closing. All of their inventory is now on sale. The discount will increase monthly, until all stock is sold. If you have been pining for some of this fabric, do not delay — some patterns already are going going gone.

Alas, this is another story about a small business doing wonderful things — but the niche-ness of the whole enterprise — in particular, the need for vintage quality — led to insurmountable problems. I talked at length last week to Full Swing Textiles owner Suzanne Boucher about why she was exiting the business. It wasn’t the market — the market was good or, at least, good enough. The problem: The one-and-only company in America with a “stork press” capable of getting ink to properly saturate her unique barkcloth-weave fabric was sold to another company. The stork press also was sold — to a third party, and months after the fact, she still cannot find out where it went.

barkcloth curtainsAfter the loss of the stork press, she tried another printer who thought they could do the job. Not only was it a no-go, precious barkcloth was used up in the process of testing.

40s-style-barkclothbarkcloth-full-swingbarkcloth-fabricSuzanne also tried printing her retro patterns on another fabric, a linen-cotton blend. While the printing worked, customers didn’t bite. Customers wanted that delicious barkcloth.

vintage-atomic-barkclothatomic-barkclothSuzanne did not want to go to the next possible solution: Trying to source it all to China. No. Just no.

palm-beach-barkclothSo, enough. Full Swing Textiles is selling off all remaining inventory. Suzanne already knows what she will do next. It does not involve tenuous supply chains. I am sure she will do well.

This design is a cotton duck, not a barkcloth. FST says “Yippee-EI-O fabric has been copied dozens of times but no one makes it like the original; we’ve been printing it for over 20 years. Printed on 8.5 oz. 100% cotton duck that is beautiful and durable enough to be selected to cover booth cushions at one of america’s favorite chef’s NYC restaurant. We won’t be accused of dropping the name of this famous chef, but if we did, it would rhyme with Fobby Blay.”

cowboy-decorWhat made Full Swing Textiles and its fabric so special? I wrote about the company in the very earliest days of Retro Renovation — at that time, there really weren’t many companies doing retro yet. Full Swing Textiles was one of the pioneers!

savannafull-swing-textileSuzanne sent me a bundle of samples. And oh my, the fabric was gorgeous. The vintage-inspired designs and colorways she created were spot on. Moreover, the fabric had a fabulous “hand” — that means, how it drapes… the weight… the feel. She had found a mill that wove the barkcloth fabric just for her. For each fabric design, multiple 54″tall rotary printing rollers — screens — had to be created — one for each color. She then had the designs printed on that precious stork press, the only press that could print with enough pressure to print vat dies onto her thick barkcloth.

Doggonit, I had had desperately wanted this for my living room/dining room tiki makeover. Alas, it was sold out even before the sale started.

reproduction-barkclothleopard-printYes, Full Swing Textile’s barkcloth cost $58 a yard. This is not a price for the faint of wallet. But if you’ve made it this far in the story, you should now understand the whys and wherefores. Simply getting a small business like this up and running is hard enough. Then, to sustain it, given the trials within a chain of suppliers (themselves within a tumultuous business) crucial to helping get your product to market: Well, that’s not for the faint of heart. It all means the product is going to cost some money.

barkcloth-tropicaltropical-barkclothNote: The original price of $58 a yard ain’t even that expensive for high quality upholstery and drapery fabric, purchased new, available in exactly the design and color you want and with the yardage you need!

cowboy-fabricGood luck, Suzanne, with the next chapter of your life. With Full Swing Textiles, you did a good thing. A very very good thing. I really admire you. Thank you for all you have done!

There are more designs available.

Link love:

  1. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Try looking on Etsy. They are a good source for vintage fabric remnants.

    Pam, I’ve noticed that since about the first of the year, every time I post a comment it is “awaiting moderation.” Was it something I said?

  2. Graciasol says:

    The best to you, Suzanne. You had a unique product, quality in design and manufacturing. I just clicked on your website today, just to take a peek and ended up adopting a few yards of several fabrics. And I’m not even sewing at the moment, but eager to get back to it soon. Your standards are impeccable.. I applaud your decision to not
    go out of the country…and to close instead…. Best of everything to you…

  3. Ed says:

    Last day of the last month. I just moved, so I was careful to get the billing and shipping addresses correct…click submit…acck! Where was the code supposed to go? I know there was a place for it, probably in an obvious and well laid-out position, but trying to navigate the boxes and keyboard on my “smart”phone screen, I just must have overlooked it. E-mailed her an apologetic note requesting we work together for a partial discount. Hopefully I’m not getting on her last nerve or putting too much of a crimp in her day. Even if I don’t get a refund, the values are good, and there’s always Ramen until next payday.

  4. suzanne says:

    No problem! It happens. You will be refunded the entire 90% difference as soon as it shows up in our system. Ed was shopping early today!!

  5. Ed says:

    Thank you, very much. I’ve been working 3p.m. to 3a.m. recently, fortunate enough to be very busy at work. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t miss out on these great fabrics, so I placed my order as soon as I got off work on payday, hoping that would avoid any mistakes caused by rushing. Oh, well, chalk it up to a learning experience, and thank you so much for making it less expensive than it could have been. I’d like to join everyone else in wishing you best of luck in your future endeavors.

  6. And I will miss you too and all your clever Retro Renovation folks who have such IMPECCABLE taste!!! It’s been a good run, really difficult and really wonderful at the same time. I learned so much, grew, matured (in so many ways, some of which I’m not too thrilled about) and met so many wonderful people along the way. Btw, we still have lots of Designer Samples in the old Full Swing patterns for small projects if anybody’s interested. Happy RR’ing to all of you.

  7. Mary Elizabeth says:

    You may have more fabric, but the link in this article with the discount code no longer works. How do folks get in touch with you about the last small pieces?

  8. Ed says:

    The FedEx guy just dropped everything off- everything looks even better than I expected from the pictures. I’ll be tempted to take some time off work to get started on my planned projects. Obviously, I can’t speak highly enough for your customer service, you’ll certainly be a preferred vendor (if that term is applicable) in whatever field you go into next.

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