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. Pamela H. says:

    The yardage price is extremely reasonable for type of fabric and printing methods. Too bad another innovative business with vision has been forced to compromise or close.

  2. virginia says:

    Just placed an order and very hard to choose. Lovely stuff. Thanks for the heads-up and all the best to the owner as she embarks on her next adventure.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Beautiful, high quality goods and now impossible to produce in this country. Insurmountable obstacles, yes. Betcha the stork press was sold off cheap by its new owners and is now in China. Very sad. I also wish the proprietor much success in her new endeavor.

  4. Robin, NV says:

    Gosh, it always makes me so sad to see businesses who did things “the old way” (i.e. “the right way”) go under. Lately it feels like one step forward, two steps back with the retro gods.

  5. Pam,

    Thank you so much for such a beautiful piece on Full Swing. You have always been such a good friend to us. An important piece of info that your readers may have overlooked: The discount schedule and promo codes are on the home page of our web site. We’ve had a bunch of orders today that never plugged in the promo code “FEB30” which is at a 30% discount for the month of February. If any of your readers forgot to put in the promo code and read this, simply have them contact me ( and ask for the discount. I’ll be happy to apply it for them (as long as they tell a friend – big smile). We think it’s the least we could do for your readers who have always been such a great source of enthusiasm for all things Full Swing.

    As always,
    Suzanne Boucher
    Full Swing Textiles, Inc.

  6. pam kueber says:

    Thanks, Suzanne. I updated the story to underscore the need to check the homepage for the current discount code.

  7. Diane in CO says:

    Uh, that would be me! Didn’t know about the promo Code when I ordered that adorable pine fabric this morning.

    Thank you Suzanne for such a generous offer for RR readers – very nice! I will email you tout de suite…. and I’ll certainly tell a friend about your gorgeous fabrics.

  8. Julie says:

    so sorry to see it go… I’m a small biz owner with a do-it-small-do-it-right approach, and it’s so hard!

    On a related note, what ever happened to MelinaMade fabric? Anyone know? She made pretty barkcloth, too.

  9. carol says:

    Suzanne, Thank you for the many years you have spent producing a premium quality, made in America product. As a retired manager in manufacturing, I realize the challenges you have faced in this “global economy”. My heart withers a little each time an American manufacturer is displaced. I’m sure your integrity in the manufacturing process will make you just as successful in your next endeavor, whatever that may be. The best of luck to you.

  10. I’ve been a customer of Suzanne’s for several years and it was a tremendous shock when both she and told me they were done last year! GULP!
    I’ve used their gorgeous fabrics for my pillow covers and it’s been a challenge trying to find the last little remnants of their one of a kind patterns and fabrics. I thought of trying to buy Melina Made myself, but, that was not do-able. So, now the world is without two of the very best in reproduction, authentic pattern barkcloth! :\

  11. Michele DeGroat says:

    Thank you for the information and I am sad to see Full Swing go. This leaves me sad because if there ever was a time to reproduce quality barkcloth I would think it is now. I have been collecting original barkcloth from eBay for ten years and have a remarkable collection – I use it in many of the rooms of my home and it leaves me with such a sense of old fashioned “all is well”. The very best designs and quality were produced by SPECTRUM and I tried to do some research to find out what happened to the original templates–their designs were magnificent and unique. However, cannot find any information on them. Thank you Full Swing for promoting this wonderful design period and best wishes.

  12. Debra says:

    Gorgeous fabric & a trip to the past awaits those who visit “Full Swing Textiles” I have been looking for fabric for our MCM family room and I have three choices to run by the hubs!! Thank you for sharing. I thought the prices were fair because of the quality & design.

  13. 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.

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