Home & Garden

Life’s a stitch

Cynthia Mann enjoyed sewing clothing and accessories for her two sons, but she had one complaint.

“I couldn’t find the exact fabric I wanted in stores, so I ended up buying a lot of it online,” she said.

Inspired, she began selling the hard-to-find contemporary juvenile prints she adored on etsy.com, a site where individuals can sell art, crafts and crafting supplies. She began her business in June 2008. Her venture evolved into fabricworm.com and, by mid-2009, she had outgrown her home-based business and began searching for commercial space.

In July of last year, she opened Birch Fabrics in Paso Robles, which combines offices for her online business, and a retail showroom that offers fabrics, sewing supplies, gifts and ready-made items like aprons and handbags.

Initially, Mann had doubts as to whether local crafters and quilters would be hip to her taste for what she describes as “retro-inspired modern, trend-forward” fabrics.

“Some people are still not used to it,” she said, “but we have been surprised with how many people shop with us who are younger and interested in sewing.”

Mann also has a longstanding interest in organic fabrics. When she discovered that few manufacturers carried them because of the higher cost of manufacturing, she took another leap of faith and decided to produce her own.

Working with designer Monaluna, she launched her first line of organic fabrics last May. A Beach Mod line by Monaluna and a Marine line by Dan Stiles are due out in January. Another line that Mann designed with husband Jason Rector will be available in April.

Birch fabrics are manufactured in India and are 100 percent organic cotton, approved by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). GOTS evaluates the entire manufacturing process, including how the cotton is transported to the mill, and how the fabric is bleached and printed.Because the primary market for organic fabrics is people sewing for children, most of the organic fabrics at Birch feature juvenile prints. Yes, they are whimsical, but not childish in the least.

One print, inspired by architects Charles and Ray Eames, depicts line-drawn 1950s ranch houses. Another was inspired by vintage Herman Miller chairs. There are woodland prints, retro florals and funky geometrics. With their sophisticated color palettes, they would be just as appropriate on family room pillows as they would be in a child’s room.

Birch also carries home décor fabric. Here, too, you will find contemporary, retro-inspired prints in heavyweight fabrics appropriate for applications like upholstery and window coverings. By the end of the year, Mann plans to add two additional lines of home décor fabrics by designers Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner.

Birch Fabrics is located at 1244 Pine Street, Suite D, in Paso Robles, 239-8888.