Made In The U.S.A.

Ten things… Parts 5, 6 and 7.

In Adventures on May 28, 2009 at 12:57 am

Last year I also bought:

5. Picture frames. FrameUSA touts 100% American-made picture frames. You can even look in on the workshop. I get that they’re assembled in Ohio, but are they importing the frame blanks from China? That’s the problem I’m having at every framery I can find. Nobody seems to indicate where the materials come from. And since I’m essentially buying materials, it seems important in this case. The more I investigate the site, though, the more they tout 100% manufactured and assembled in the USA. That sure seems to imply that everything they sell is manufactured and assembled in the USA. If they sell me a metal blank from China, I’m gonna have to cry foul. (My favorite online framery–the one from which I’ve purchased most framing supplies over the past several years–makes no mention of MITUSA-ness. Even though the company’s name makes you’d think they would.)

6. Curtains. Horchow makes curtains in the USA, but the fabrics appear to be largely imported. I’m guessing that would be the issue with many drapery makers; even if you can find them making in the US, the materials–i.e. the bulk of the thing you are buying–are likely imported. So the real key would be to make them yourself of American fabrics. Does such a thing exist?

What’s weird is when you search for things like “American-made fabrics” on Google you come up with lots of different online forums designed to put Western sellers in touch with Eastern makers; the global trade happens in simple terms online right in front of us in places we’d never bother to look. It’s interesting that the Chinese maker even reaches out to the little guy seller; I picture a global market always involving many men in suits and boardrooms, but it just isn’t always the case.

The idea of even looking for American-made fabrics is proving to me that nobody else cares about this. That, or it’s impossible. So I decided to ask my mom. Aside from moms usually knowing stuff, my mom is a seamstress, sewing instructor and former fabric salesperson. So she’ll know. I hope.

[asking mom]

Yep. Just as I thought. Generally speaking, fabric is from everywhere other than here.

There is a site that lists American textile mills. But aside from random successes, such as SAFE Denim–a site where you can buy denim by the yard for your own projects–most of the information appears tailored to industrial-scale manufacturers. If you want to walk into a fabric store and get something MITUSA to make curtains or a bedspread, chances are you are S.O.L.

7. Bedding and bath linens. Ditto the curtains. Yeah, it might be sewn together in the U.S. (although even that seems doubtful), but where does the material come from? I’m guessing “fine Egyptian cotton” is not a product of the U.S.

Turns out that Egyptian cotton is actually what was used in my sheets. They come from Italy, by way of Restoration Hardware. They are comfy, so I suppose it’s possible that those Italians know what they’re doing.

The pillow shams are from India and Portugal. The bedspread from an entirely different store is from an entirely different country, China.

If I’d been buying them this year, I suppose I would have tried Eddie Bauer. They make some MITUSA pillows and comforters and such. Still Made In USA lists some other sources for bed linens, but again–unless you’re willing to forego walking into a store and choosing from a few options, it’s kind of impractical to find this stuff.

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