At Britex Fabrics we believe it is important to know your fabrics. Knowledge of how fabric came into being is equally as important, and can be an endlessly fascinating topic. Enter Geana Seaburger, with her workshop Warp X Weft: Textile 101. Geana, a former Britex assistant buyer and marketing whiz, is an Oakland-based maker with a design studio,and owner of GDS Clothgoods. Although she is currently making aprons to order-and quite successfully-her passion seems to be textiles from the ground up, literally.
Attend her workshop Warp X Weft: Textile 101 at Britex Fabrics and you will hear, touch, smell, and see cotton, linen, wool, and silk in their most natural form. These natural fibers each have very different characteristics, which becomes evident the more you handle them.
In the classroom, she encourages students to touch, poke, prod, and pull apart a cotton ball, flax (linen fiber), wool fibers, and silk. Each fiber has differences in length, texture, strength, and beauty.
"Typically with fibers, length corresponds with quality... "
As she talks, students rip or pull pieces of the natural fibers and cut swatches from the corresponding finished fabrics, then glue them on sheets of paper, labeling them and taking notes. This exercise helps to illustrate the process that these fibers must go through to become fabrics. Students swatch different examples of fabric weaves, and learn that the sheen of a fabric is controlled by the type of weave it is woven into/from.
Terms such as hand, sheen, drape, resilience, wicking properties, protein vs. animal fibers, plain weaves, and matte vs. reflection, are thrown around the room as the students handle and catalog examples of each of these. Synthetics and man made fibers are also discussed.
"If we're interested in textiles, it's good to know the whole story."
It is a given that Seaberger is very passionate about her subject matter. She touches on environmental matters as a part of her discussion, at one point saying "conventional cotton is terrible for the environment" in the way that it is produced. She praised polyester for its ability to "imitate so many natural fibers," and described one of the fabric swatches she used as an example of a synthetic blend as a "coarse wool and yucky acrylic."
Her workshop is given practically every month and tickets sell out weeks, sometimes months ahead of time.