Jute – really is a beaut.

An unsung fibre, Jute, is something that we have become increasingly aware. It is Jute’s eco credentials which are really outstanding when compared to other fibres; Jute fibre is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable, in it’s growth it requires very low use of pesticides and fertilizer and the processes involved in the conversion of plant to fibre are relatively low polluting. Traditionally used for feed sacks, carpet backing and door mats, we now stock a variety of products which use jute in a more decorative way.

Diamond patterned Jute Floor Rugs

Diamond patterned jute floor rugs - two sizes and colours

Jute has excellent insulation properties both for heat and sound, these together with it’s antic-static properties make it an ideal choice for flooring. When blended with other fibres, as in the Valley Stripe cushions where the composition is 58% Jute and 42% cotton, added softness and drape can be given to the durability of the jute.

cotton and jute valley cushions; jute pouffes

cotton and jute valley cushions; jute pouffes

Jute’s unique combination of properties have been noticed by other industries; in tree nurseries it is used to contain young trees, which can be directly planted with no disturbance to the roots, the jute rotting away as the tree grows; for stabilising soils prone to erosion it is used as a “geotextile” that supports the growing vegetation which will eventually halt erosion. The jute covering biodegrades by the time the plants are mature enough to hold the soil in place.

Soft Jute Floor Rugs

Soft Jute Floor Rugs - two sizes with fringe

Now, with a fuller appreciation of Jute’s qualities, we are looking out for interesting jute products to add to the Tinsmiths’ selection. Do tell us if you come across any.

Ticking Fabrics

Ticking fabric was traditionally a very densely woven cotton herringbone or twill
weave cloth used for making mattress & pillow cases. The derivation of the word ‘Ticking’, material used to cover pillows and mattresses, is from the Greek theke, “receptacle”. Ticking cloth was traditionally woven with even narrow stripes in the warp, usually in navy or black & cream, however many variations of stripe pattern & colour have evolved.

Our collection of vintage tickings gleaned from bric a brac sales, flea markets etc.

Modern ticking fabric is generally not feather proof as it is woven and finished for qualities of drape and wear for curtains or upholstery. Traditional ticking fabric was also made feather proof by waxing or soaping on the back. Tickings have been a mainstay of the Tinsmiths’ fabric collection since we opened in 2004, and we now stock an excellent range of excellent quality ticking from mills in the UK & EU. We only stock traditional woven ticking cloth with a herringbone or twill weave, & over the years have used it for many successful projects as curtains, blinds & upholstery. For curtain use our tickings have an excellent drape & for upholstery use we have found our ticking to be extremely durable with some of the cotton ticking that we stock achieving a rub test of 35,000 cycles.

Ticking fabric is an excellent choice for those wanting a scheme that will not date; neither cutting edge contemporary or fussy or twee, ticking is a straightforward classic cloth which will look good for decades.

Above: Ticking (Colourway, Dove) curtain with simple taped heading.

Tickings from a huge range on the shelves at Tinsmiths:

Navy TickingCream Ticking

Simple Pattern Pieces

When Kate isn’t greeting and helping Tinsmiths’ customers, she is sewing and, equally to our advantage, advising her colleagues on dressmaking techniques.

Below: the new Dress Shirt pattern from Merchant and Mills made up by Kate Hickson in Marl (a new 100% pre-washed and pre-shrunk irish linen) with the natural stripe working well vertically and horizontally. An easy design in card pattern pieces that can be used over and again and shared around.  Really comfortable design – cool for the warm(?) summer weather.

dress shirt in marl

photo: Clare de la Torre, tailor’s dummy and environ courtesy of  Tailorbird, Ledbury.

Homegrown Woollens

This is just the day, as it is about to snow, to talk about UK Wool. Wool is such a great fibre with very useful qualities; hard-wearing as an upholstery cloth, light and warm to wear. Natural wools are lovely in themselves and dyed fibres work well to give soft, mottled colours that are easier on the eye than fibres that take dye uniformly.

In the past wool has been an expensive alternative to linen or cotton, but, as prices have risen for these imported fibres, our home-grown wools are becoming a realistic option once again. Lengths of checked (I don’t think they qualify as tartans in the strict sense) and plains are leaving Tinsmiths to become curtains and to grace furniture, whilst others are perfect for clothing – see made to measure jacket (by Kate Hickson, Tinsmiths’ Shop Manager) below.

Our Woollen cloth section is set to follow Tinsmiths’ “Blanket and Throw” shop and swell in the forthcoming months, so look our for new woollen fabrics on the roll – UK farmed, spun, dyed and woven – wool is really worth a thought.

Above: top left: Moss Herringbone, top right: Wexford Berry, bottom left: Blanket by Wallace and Sewell, bottom right: Blankets by Sarah Tyssen.

Above: Woollen Jacket made by Kate Hickson

Tired of London? Not in the least.

Having come across Spitalfield’s Life recently and many interesting features on the Gentle Author’s Blog, we noticed a trend in our Tinsmiths’ book selection. Now, whether a result of living in rural Herefordshire or simply a fascination for the built environment, there are a growing number of books on “our shelves” relating to cities and particularly to London itself.

Edward Bawden’s “London,  Sasek’s “This is London”, Herb Lester’s “London Guides” and Gwen Lee’s “Endless London” are all beautifully illustrated editions. When you have exhausted these, there is Piero Ventura’s Book of Cities taking you further afield!

To see all the books on Tinsmiths’ shelves click here.

Swatches, swatches. Wherefore art thou swatches?

Tinsmiths have always offered  free cuttings of fabrics, this really helps people to make decisions and to be sure of the qualities of the cloth. Having reviewed this recently, we have decided that we will send out up five swatches without charge and up to eight swatches for £5.00 – eight being the maximum we will send. In carefully considering and looking back over years of experience we observed that having more samples doesn’t actually help one to decide – in fact the fewer ordered the more likely a decision could be arrived at.

The process of cutting, labelling and sending out cuttings appears simple, but with more than 20 web-enquiries, representing 100 or more swatches each day so, with requests from customers coming to the shop, we cut and label approaching 1000 swatches each week. Therefore it is not surprising that we sometimes get a little over-whelmed with requests, so please bear with us if your swatches take a few days to arrive.