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American Made Brand Fabric - Farm to Fabric Interview with Ted Hoffman

July 13, 2020

This year Spring Quilt Market was held virtually.  I loved being able to attend all the sessions.  I normally do all of that in a roundup type post as quilting trends but one session stood out to me more than the others and I wanted to dedicate a full post to it.  Clothworks has a line of American made fabric. It's grown here, spun here, woven here, and dyed here.  I didn't know of any fabric lines that were manufactured completely in the US until Ted's presentation.  The American Made Brand fabric follows the model of farm to table restaurants.  

American Made Brand Fabric


This post may contain affiliate links.  Purchasing items from the links cost you nothing more and adds a few pennies to the fabric budget.

After watching Ted Hoffman's Schoolhouse session I reached out to him. I wanted to share more information about American Made Brand Fabric with you.  Ted was so kind to not just send me information but to actually have a phone call with me so I could ask the questions that I knew you would want the answers to.  

How Ted and Candice Joined The Quilt World


Clothworks is based in Seattle, Washington.  Ted worked for Microsoft, starting when the company was rapidly growing.  As the company grew Ted felt his entrepreneurial spirit grow as well.  He wanted to find a company that he could work with his wife Candice at.  They weren't startup people and wanted to purchase a proven company. 

Clothworks had been family owned and operated for its entire life but the owner didn't have anyone to pass the company onto so he was looking the sell it.  Ted and Candice got to know the owner and went to Quilt Market and fell in love with the quilting community.  As quilters, we aren't shocked to learn that competing companies are friends and look forward to seeing each other at trade shows it certainly was a shock to Ted.  The tech world isn't that way.  So 15 years ago they took the leap and joined us in the quilt world with Ted as CEO and his wife Candice as Creative Director.

The Begining of American Made Brand Fabric


Ted reminded me a lot of Paul.  Not being from the quilting world he didn't know a lot of the whys and isn't afraid to challenge them.  The textile industry changed after WWII, with most domestic mills focused on making industrial textiles and Japan focusing on high-quality low batch runs of consumer fabrics. 

When the crash of 2008 happened Ted wondered why couldn't some fabric be made here.  That's when he learned of the changes and the whys.  Textiles are an easy way to bring economic development to areas and Japan had spent decades developing the process to make what we call quilter's cotton.  Ted couldn't see why that wouldn't work here.  Providing farmers an outlet for their crop, providing truck drivers loads to carry, and mills orders.  So for the next two years, Ted worked with cotton industry experts to develop a plan to make quilter's cotton here in the US.  It wasn't easy, he had to convince mill owners that there was a demand and money could be made.  In 2014 the first version of American Mande Brand fabric was shipped.  Over the years they have continued to improve all aspects of the product to give us the quality of fabric that we are used to using.


Making Fabric In the US vs Overseas


I wanted to know about the differences between producing fabrics here versus in Japan and now Korea.  He said that the mills in Japan and Korea (who were trained by the Japanese), have perfected screen and rotary printing for the detailed requirements of quilting fabric production  They know exactly what and how to do it, send them the idea and the order and they are on it.  There's no teaching required because they've been doing it for years. 



Producing fabric here in the US has been kind of like recreating grandma's famous recipe.  My grandma was known for her cooking ability. She wasn't known for writing those recipes down well enough to recreate them perfectly.  Grandma would leave key steps out, like setting the bread outside on the porch during the summer to produce the same crust.  That's how it has been producing fabric here.  Everyone in the supply line had a general idea but there was a lot of tweaking and experimenting to get the recipe as close as possible because the methods had been lost over the years.  With the first version of the fabric, they just wanted a viable product.  They took the feedback to the spinners, weavers, and the dyers so they could improve on the fabric.


Final Thoughts From American Made Brand Fabric


I asked what Ted wanted us to know in closing.  They are a family-based company.  The people they work with and their partners are looking to make the world a better place. Treating others with dignity and respect is ingrained in their business. They have made a fabric that has provided a market for farmers to sell crops and jobs to fellow Americans in the textile fields and shipping fields.  Not only has it brought jobs and economic growth it is a product that everyone in the production process can be proud of.

Where to Find American Made Brand Fabric


American Made Brand fabric comes only in solids.  They are in the process of revamping their website so they don't have a store locator available but you can email them at info@clothworks.com and they will be happy to help you find a shop in your area.  If there's not a shop in your area you can purchase it online at fabric.com, Hancock's of Paducah, and American Quilter's Society.


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