Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fashion and Beauty: Heather Lair Designs

Textiles, they're everywhere. We are literally surrounded by them. Couches and chairs are covered in them, so are our bodies. Fabrics make our purses, pillows and blankets to name a few. Look around your room, now look at your clothes. I must admit, I never really gave textiles enough thought before. Someone had to grow a crop (like cotton), or raise animals (like sheep) for raw materials. Those materials had to be transported to a processing facility, usually a factory, to make fabric. That fabric had to be shipped somewhere else to manufacture goods like clothing and furniture. Then the finished products are transported to retail stores where we buy them and transport them home. Phew!

I did a little digging, and the textile industry is actually responsible for a large amount of air and water pollution. I'll definitely think about that the next time I'm wrestling with, 'Do I really need this t-shirt?'. So it was nice to hear from a textile artist who tries to keep her creations green. I spoke with Heather, of Heather Lair Designs, about the creative process behind her quilts, purses, cell phone and ipod cases.

'I have been sewing since I was in school. My first quilting project was a backpack from the book "The Great Noank Quilt Factory" in 1974.' Heather studied the history of textiles through the ages and around the globe and incorporates these techniques and materials into her award winning work. 'I am a textile artist. I am aware that the textile industry is one of the worst polluters in the world. I keep that in mind when I design my product line and use as much [recycled] fabric as I can.'

'Found and reclaimed fabrics are much more fun to work with. The designs for my purses have already been started by the tailor who cut the cloth for a sleeve, or lapel! I just re-work their creations.'

Heather feels good knowing that she is using material that would otherwise be going to the landfill. 'I always think about the amount of energy that went into the production and shipping of [textiles] before I get [them]. Especially the beautiful hand woven wool [from] jackets that I [repurpose] for purses. A farmer raised the sheep and kept them healthy to produce the raw wool. The dyers and spinners and weavers of the cloth, tailors and designers have all touched this very cloth that I am using!'

'...The jackets have been worn by their owners, and I often think, "Where have they been?". To Europe, the opera, weddings, funerals, classes, out for romantic dinners? If only the cloth could talk!'

You can find a work of textile art that speaks to you in Heather's online shop.


  1. Great interview. I love Heather's excitement for upcycling.

  2. What a great feature! I love Heather's suitcoat bags :)