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.

cowboy-design
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.

vintage-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. Elena says:

    Pam, In Sept. 2011 you wrote about another fabric that is no longer produced in the U.S.A that was part of the “fabric” of this country – like barkcloth. That fabric is “free-zay”, as you noted on the blog, and can withstand anything. Kate’s great grandmother’s sofas look to have been originally upholstered in Frieze fabric. Now barkcloth too?! Time for Retro Renovators to tell our elected officials that we need mills in the U.S.A. that will produce endless yards of barkcloth and frieze.

  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…

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