Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Very Own Canadian Sweatshop

Like many, I can always tell when "spring has sprung" by reading the natural environment.

I'm not talking about the appearance of tender shoots of green or tiny buds poking their little heads through the frozen earth. I'm talking about the patio displays at Home Depot and Walmart.

Their bright canvas colors pop up out of the aisles like oddly shaped daffodils. And just as daffodils bring thoughts of warmer weather, brand new patio sets inspire thoughts of cool drinks and fat novels on lazy afternoons.


Of course, their brand new price tags are not quite so lazily afforded so I decided to see what could be done with my current patio furniture.

In comparison to the freshly blooming chaises at Walmart, my little fake wicker settee was looking pretty sad. I'd foolishly washed the "washable" covers not realizing that "washable outdoor fabric" actually means they can barely endure a gentle dab with a wet napkin.

Spinning them through the delicate cycle of a washing machine causes them to completely fray at their would think the manufacturer would mention that wouldn't you?

Then again, white was probably not the best color choice for a piece of furniture that sits outside all year either.

Since the frame and cushions were basically in good condition (having not been washed) I thought I could recover them.

Why are pillows always so much larger outside of their cases?
I don't know if you have shopped for outdoor fabric lately (or ever) but it's expensive. In fact, it's common for it to range from $25-75 PER YARD!


My theory is that it costs extra because they have to infuse it with that chemical that causes it to disintegrate in the washing machine.

But, lady Luck was on my side because I was headed up to Las Vegas where they have the headquarters for an upholstery fabric outlet. AND they just so happen to have an outdoor fabric remnant section where prices range from $3-10 a yard (much more affordable in my book).

Lady Luck was even kinder to me as the reason I was headed to Vegas was to pick up my sister who was flying in from Canada...and she sews.

Now most upholstered cushions are made in Chinese sweatshops these days. From what I've heard on the news, their conditions are deplorable. Seamstresses toil hour after hour for lousy pay in inhumane conditions.

By the time we were done sewing the pillow covers for my settee, my sister was probably wishing she was working in a Chinese sweatshop. I had her cutting fabric on a hard tile floor and working for zero pay.

She does look happy though...

And the results made me happy!
But she did get to enjoy the results with a cold drink and a fat novel.

Drink and novel not pictured here.

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