Monday, May 18, 2015

The Joy of Color Matching (or not)

I was reminded today of the importance of color-matching and, feeling sure that everyone would find this fascinating, got all excited to write a blog post about it.  I'm sitting at my favorite tea shop writing and re-writing these sentences and realizing that, perhaps, this is a REALLY nerdy topic and can't possibly sound interesting to anyone but me.  But I'm going for it anyway so bear with me!  Here's why I think color-matching is an unappreciated art…

Nearly everything you wear or have around your home has multiple parts that need to match.  I was recently deconstructing old NokHoo sample bags and noticing how many elements had to match:
1) the main fabric
2) thread
3) elastic
4) zippers
5) mesh pockets
6) twill tape
7) straps

If you sew you probably have some idea how difficult it is to get all of these elements to coordinate.  It's nearly impossible to source off-the-shelf bits and pieces that happen to match.  I spent the first part of my career working for big companies that had whole departments in place for this and I spent HOURS staring at colors, commenting on them and sending them back until they were just right.  (As any old coworker reading this can confirm!)  Getting colors to match isn't as simple as mixing the same percentage of red, yellow and blue into a dye.  Many times each element is made in a different factory,   weather and humidity play a part and a huge factor is the type of material being dyed (plastic, elastic, natural and synthetic fabrics, etc.).

When I initially had the NokHoo bags made I was lucky to have a partner in India, where they have the manufacturing infrastructure to match colors.  Now I'm back in the US and starting to source and manufacture here.  I'm excited to work locally but, since US manufacturing has virtually disappeared, these tiny, but important, details are both difficult to find and difficult to afford.  Which means that, when you accidentally find a color that matches, it's really exciting!  Here's my serendipitous find that inspired this blog post…

Hooray! For my upcycling project a perfect match with the blue bag.  I'm making this into a kiss lock purse which I'll post as soon as it's complete.  So, when you look at the stuff you own, take a moment to appreciate all the matching parts, it's truly an art!