Textile Clothes Line newsletter logoTextile Clothes Line Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 1, Summer 1998

In this issue:

Apparel Manufacturing in Texas: A Look at Change

Despite declines nationally in apparel manufacturing, the Texas industry remains active. About 60,000 Texans are employed in apparel manufacturing. Nationally, jobs in the apparel industry have declined by 16%, but by only 7% in Texas.

The industry provides a significant share of employment in counties bordering Mexico and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Counties with the highest number of apparel jobs (most recent figures, 1995) include El Paso, Dallas, Cameron, Hidalgo, Bexar, Tarrant, Harris and McClennan counties.

Men’s and boy’s clothes, including shirts, trousers, jeans and woven neckties, account for 36% of Texas’ apparel manufacturing. New York and California are larger suppliers of tailored women’s apparel.

The industry, however, may be in for more changes in the near future. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the displacement of the Multi-fiber Arrangement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, and improving communication technologies will affect Texas’ share of the apparel industry income. With the inception of NAFTA, garments cut and formed in the U.S., but sewn and assembled in Mexico, may be returned to the U.S. duty free. As of 1995, 80% of all U.S. apparel imports from Mexico came in under this agreement. The WTO currently prohibits the use of quotas by member countries. After the year 2005, none of the 36 countries currently under quota agreements and members of WTO will have no restrictions on the amounts of textiles and apparels they can export to the U.S. Texas’ proximity to Mexico, plentiful labor, and improving communications technologies will aid the industry in retaining its share of the apparel industry.

Though traditionally a low technology, labor intensive industry, apparel production is becoming more competitive because of “quick response” technology. Be careful not to confuse textile production and apparel production: textile production is a high technology industry, and low labor. Quick response describes the communications technology linking retail outlets, apparel makers and raw material suppliers (mainly textile manufacturers) making it possible for industry to respond to consumer/retailer demand in a much shorter time frame. Traditionally, apparel manufacturers produced sample garments from which retailers throughout the country selected merchandise at market for delivery months later. Quick response now allows the retailer (usually larger retail chains) to provide descriptions of desired garment, colors and sizing they want to carry. Quick response systems, involving computer aided design, ordering, and distribution, reduce the time of delivery from 18 months to about 3 weeks.

Source: Fiscal Notes, August 1997

What does this information mean to Extension?

Interestingly, many residents in counties where apparel manufacturing or some component of it occurs, are not aware of the production process, where products are shipped, nor the businesses’ contribution to the local and state economy. Second, many employees within these production facilities understand little about the fabrics they sew. Third, consider workshops that explain textile terms for businesses and organizations that develop “specs” or requirements for uniforms, materials in products on their fabric or textile. Fourth, apparel workers are an audience that receives relatively low wages, making them prime candidates for FCS programs of many kinds.

A listing of all textile and apparel and related manufacturers in the state and contacts for the facilities is located in the Consumer Sciences Specialist office. In addition, the International Textile and Apparel Consortium, located at Texas Tech, provides a rich resource of manufacturing information for all of Texas and the global market place.

Expo September 3–5, 1998, the 5th International Business Partner Trade Show, Lubbock, Texas. This event will bring together business throughout West Texas and Chihuahua, Mexico in an effort to develop trade relations involving even the smallest businesses including apparel. For more information, call 806-767-0994.

The AgriTech Corridor involves all counties between San Antonio and Lubbock and 90 miles either side of that line. Agent involvement in the needs assessment effort and resulting programming will involve food, fiber and technology that will benefit textile/apparel producers and those interested in the industry. For more information, contact the Texas Department of Economic Development.

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Welfare to Work

In the move from dependence to self-sufficiency, TANF clients need to be motivated, have a marketable skill, and the ability to get and keep employment. Development of job skills, including interviewing, can be enhanced by improving client image. Apparel research over the years provides conclusive evidence that an inappropriate appearance can make an immediate impression on an observer (interviewer) about an individual’s capabilities.

Not-for-profit organizations are promoting economic self-sufficiency by providing business clothing to limited resource women who are job ready, but lack suitable clothing for work. One such effort, Bottomless Closet in Chicago, Illinois, has served over 4,000 women, providing each with two outfits for interviewing and business. Women at this center and others similar to it receive grooming, image and interview skills training. At some centers, clients attend workshops on topics such as: achieving a positive first impression, using positive non-verbal communication, changing negative attitudes, nutrition and fitness, wardrobe building and make over techniques.

These non-profits work with women who have been referred to them from agencies and organizations around the area. The Chicago-based Bottomless Closet works with 130 agencies making referrals to them. They solicit donations of professional attire and accessories that are clean and hung on hangars. Clothing is obtained from donations primarily from business women. Knowing that career clothing will be directed to this specific purpose seems to attract donations.

A Dallas-based group, Attitudes and Attire, 214-630-1667, is another non-profit based on the Bottomless Closet model. Some other names of these non-profits in other areas of the country include: Suited for Success, Suited for Change, Career Closet, New Options for Women, and Dress for Success.

Implication for Extension:

Assess the resources for such an effort in your county. Though resale clothing may be available, consider if TANF clients can even afford clothing from those sources. Are there other agencies and organizations that could collaborate to develop a career wardrobe source for women? Are there Master Clothing Volunteers, 4-H leaders and youth interested in such a project who could serve as consultants?  Women’s business and professional organizations are another resource of both clothing and expertise. Programs Extension might offer include many of those mentioned earlier.

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Fashion Forecast – Spring/Summer 1998

Fashion trends for Spring/Summer 1998 focus on a fine mixture of color, style and comfort. Generally, the emphasis will be on ’80s style and ’90s comfort. With designers tailoring their clothing to the everyday lifestyle, consumers can choose from sophisticated yet fun apparel for work and play. But while styles are ever-changing, fabrics and clothing care remain constant.

What types of fabrics will be popular this season?

Linens and Cottons

Cool cotton and linen fabrics are perfect when spring arrives and gradually moves into the dog-days of summer. These natural, light weight fibers can add versatility to any spring or summer wardrobe.

Sheer Fabrics

Feminine is back again, achieved by soft, sheer fabrics: chiffon, georgette, and voile. These fabrics are being used for blouses, dresses, scarves, and draped-over fabric foundation evening dresses. Chiffon includes transparent, veiling, sheer fabrics with high yarn twist for strength. Georgette is a very fine, light-weight, dull-textured fabric made with a crepe weave. Voile is a sheer, light, thin, transparent cloth that consists of two length-wise yarns twisted together.

Metallic Fabrics

Metallic fabrics of white, silver, and pewter are making a surprising appearance in spring fashions. The influence of metallic promises to carry into fall with metallic accents in shades of pewter, silver and brass. Metallic fabrics have a lustrous, rich appearance. Some metallic fabrics are made from metal yarns, which are produced by laminating a layer of metal between a plastic film. This film can be colorless or colored in a variety of shades before the laminating process.


“Easy wear” linen and cotton synthetic blends with stretch fabrics added for comfort and function are in this year. Activewear cotton and linen blends often include spandex or lycra. Another trend in activewear is mesh, used mainly in inset and trims.


Denim can be for all seasons, and comes in different fabric weights. This year, denims in dark colors are the rage, while juniors prefer their denims trimmed with novelties and big cargo pockets. Traditional denim jeans, as well as shirts, skirts, dresses and jackets, continue to be popular. Frequently, denim undergoes washing, bleaching and abrasion to give it a worn, faded weathered appearance.

Lace and Crochet

Hot this season is a more feminine appeal, achieved by layers of sheer, flowing fabric, lace and crochet. Lace can be made of a variety fibers, including cotton, linen, ramie and polyester. Crochet, knitting, embroidery and cut work are common techniques for creating lace articles.

What colors, patterns and prints can you look for in 1998?

Textures, mosaics, brocades and animal prints will prove to be popular prints and patterns for all sorts of clothing in 1998. By definition, brocades are highly decorated fabrics covered with floral, leaf or scroll designs. They are usually constructed from silk, acetate, and occasionally, metallic fibers. Other specialty patterns and weaves include taffeta, moire, satin, organza and crepe.

As for colors, pale, subtle “sea shades” like aqua, teal, lilac, coral, as well as whitened shades, are forecast for Spring and Summer 1998. Large floral prints are again on the scene, while diagonal stripes are a mainstay.

Source: International Fabricare Institute Clothes Care Gazette. January 1998.

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Consumer Spending on Cotton Products: Where Does It Go?

A recent study shows that the share of a consumer’s dollar spent on cotton consumer goods increases as the goods move through the industry. Items analyzed in the production process included men’s denims jeans, men’s knit briefs, men’s business shirts, women’s sweat pants, terry towels and woven bed sheets.

The stages that cotton consumer goods move through include: farming; ginning; warehousing and handling; shipping and merchandising; textile mill processing and finishing; and manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing of the final goods. Retailing consistently receives over one-half of the final retail value of cotton consumer goods.

Texas cotton producers are investigating ways of increasing value-added processing to cotton and other natural fibers in Texas in order to retain a larger share of consumer dollars in the state.

Source: Cotton Economics Research Update, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1998.

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Fibers and Fabrics

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is there a way to remove perspiration stains?

Answer: Stains from perspiration are usually found on the underarm area of a garment. However, any area that contacts the body may have such stains. Perspiration contains fats, oils and moisture containing impurities that may vary from one person to another. The stain may be invisible at first, but with age and the heat of finishing after cleaning, will oxidize and turn yellow. An untreated perspiration stain on silk may cause the fabric to become severly tendered and to deteriorate.

In the case of a dry-cleanable garment, the remaining stain often contains water-soluble impurities and can usually be removed by your dry-cleaner. Your dry-cleaner uses special detergents and formulas to remove perspiration stains. These procedures, however, may cause shrinkage or texture change in your garment. Thus, your dry-cleaner may ask for your consent before attempting stain removal.

Consumers can control and often prevent damage from perspiration by performing frequent cleaning and stain removal and/or by wearing antiperspirants, perspiration shields or undergarments.

Source: International Fabricare Institute Clothes Care Gazette. April 1998.

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Question: How do you remove chewing gum?

Answer: Chewing gum can be removed from many garments by simply dry-cleaning the item. Chewing gum is soluble in dry-cleaning solvent, and little or no pretreatment is required. However, if the item is machine washable, dry-cleaning may not be the best option.

Chewing gum can usually be removed by blotting the stain with an ice cube. This hardens the gum and makes it stiff and brittle for easy removal. Once the gum has hardened, gently lift the gum from the fabric. This procedure may cause some of the surface fibers to pull or snag but usually not enough to create noticeable damage.

If any gum remains, sponge with a solvent-based spot remover, which is available at most grocery stores. Before using these products, test for color fastness by applying the product in an unexposed area. Let set for five minutes. If the color is affected, don’t use the product. Place the stained area face down over several layers of white paper towels. Apply a small amount of the fluid to the stain. Using another paper towel, blot the stain from the reverse side of the fabric, and lift off the remainder of the gum. Continue to apply and blot until the gum is removed. Rinse thoroughly. Allow the garment to dry, then launder in the hottest water that is safe for the garment.

Source: International Fabricare Institute Clothes Care Gazette. January 1998.

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Sewing Tips for Sheers

Choose designs with minimal seams or fitting details. Inside stitching and seams will show to some extent. The traditional French seam is usually the most common and least likely to travel.

Line or underline the sheer fabric. Underlining allows you to sew the two fabrics as one, eliminating seams and facing show-through. Lining may be favored over underlining, depending upon the desired look. Lining is only secured where essential, allowing the sheer fabric to move freely.

Sew sheer fabric inserts for a little allure without showing more than you want. Yokes and sleeves can provide a pretty touch to an otherwise opaque garment.

Tissue paper under the fabric when cutting out your garment makes for a smooth, even cut. Use serrated edge shears, pin with silk pins in seam allowance, and cut through all three layers—tissue, fabric and pattern.

Select very fine needles (size 60–70) and extra fine thread such as soft mercerized cotton, lingerie thread or machine embroidery thread.

Change to straight stitch throat plate. Test before pressing. Press using minimal heat, with a light touch and press cloth. Increase heat gradually, being careful not to scorch fabric. A cotton-covered ironing pad is best for these sheer fabrics.

Eliminate interfacing when possible. Self-fabric, flesh-colored organza or specially designed interfacing for sheers are good choices if interfacing is necessary. Avoid iron-on interfacing as it may leave fusing residue or become too stiff.

Narrow bias bindings can replace the facings to avoid unsightly show-through. Narrow hems are generally best. A hand-rolled, shirttail, or serged narrow-rolled edge is perfect choices for sheer garments. Try inserting fishing line into the serger to hem for a pretty flounce to the hemline.

Avoid zippers and button/buttonhole closures. If necessary, handpicked zippers and button-loops are nice alternatives. Organza or self-fabric may be used to stabilize buttonholes for a satisfactory look.

Buttonholes should be worked horizontally for better stabilized stitching.

Careful selection of undergarments, slips and camisoles, leggings, etc., is a must. Be sure to check “show-through” with a full length mirror and backlighting to make sure you are not showing more than you want.

Avoid a hem or seams at lower sleeve edge. Cut two sleeves at once, with a fold at the lower edge. They will eliminate the hemmed edge, with only the underarm seam.

Source: Spring 1997 “Trend Briefs” From the Sewing Fashion Council

Sewing Revitalizes Our Social Fabric Traditional Pastime Acquires New Meaning as Millennium Nears

In a stressful era of corporate downsizing, job fear and hectic schedules, many of us are rediscovering the creative and therapeutic values of this traditional pastime. A survey conducted in 1997 by the American Home Sewing and Craft Association found that people who sew feel more creative, energetic and optimistic.

The Sewing Fashion Council Reports on These Major Sewing-Related Trends

Trend 1

Well paid, professional—under 40—women are sewing. Up and coming women professionals are realizing you don’t have to be a pro to sew. These women see sewing as a practical way to create eye-catching, one-of-a-kind fashions that showcase their individual flair. With minimal skills, they are finding it easy and rewarding to sew designer clothes at a fraction of retail costs. This resurgence is being energized by new, easy-to-use sewing machines that cut, sew and even embroider with computerized functions; discount-price designer fabric stores and sewing classes offering streamlined instruction. Learning to sew at home is particularly important for people in geographical areas of the country where access to trendy stores is limited.

Trend 2

Many see sewing as a cost-effective way to cope with home decorating projects. Another impetus to the increase in home sewing is the nation wide trend toward family redefinition, reflected by newlyweds who live with their parents to save money, single mothers who buy houses together and inter-generational living arrangements. Sewing generates more value from shared living spaces. With new software programs for sewing machines, even novices can turn out upholstery, custom slipcovers and drapes with ease.

Trend 3

Sewing for a cause is bringing people together. Many individuals and groups around the country are gathering together, sharing their skills and bond through their common interests, as they sew for a cause. A few examples of sewing for a cause include:

  • Volunteer sewers in Cleveland, led by the local Professional Needle Guild, create sleeping bags for children in shelters around the city.
  • The San Diego chapter of American Sewing Guild hosts community service “sew-in,” where premature baby clothes and blankets are made for donation to Children’s and University Hospitals; and garments are mended for The Polinsky Children’s Center.

Trend 4

Home-based sewing businesses are growing, including dressmakers who are sewing one-of-a-kind apparel, custom bridal gowns, personalized gifts, and home decorating items. These are made by special order, sold by local-area boutiques and/or displayed at fairs and markets. Small business owners are also using sewing to expand. Dressmakers and fabric stores are reaching out to their customers by publishing their own newsletters and creating online shopping services. Artists are designing fabrics to appeal to sophisticated sewers.

Source: Spring 1997 “Trend Briefs” From the Sewing Fashion Council

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Jersey Knits

Jersey knits get their name from the island of Jersey, off the English coast, where the smooth fabric was first produced. The simplest and most basic of all knit fabrics, jersey is constructed with yarns making loops in a cross-wise direction. Wool, cotton, polyester, acrylic, rayon, rayon/acetate, and polyester/cotton blends are some of the fibers most frequently used to make jersey knits.

Because it can be constructed quickly and easily, jersey is the most widely-manufactured of all knits. Jersey can be found in a variety of garments, including shirts and T-shirts, dresses, skirts, pants, sweaters, hosiery, underwear, and pile coats or linings. Knitted terrycloth and velour fabrics are abundant in sportswear, lounge wear, infant’s and children’s clothing, towels and slipcovers.

Jersey’s biggest complaint is shrinkage and distortion from both use and care. To give jersey its shape, tensions are also placed on the fabric during manufacturing and secured with special finishes. These finishes are often unstable and can be removed during cleaning, causing the jersey to shrink back to its original size and shape. Jersey can also stretch out of shape and distort from simple tension and stress during use.

Rayon jersey is especially prone to stretching and distortion from many factors. The rayon fiber itself has little stability, especially when used in a jersey knit construction. In many cases, the weight of the fabric alone will cause some distortion and uneven stretching prior to care, either during wear or while hanging. This distortion can be further aggravated by care procedures.

Unfortunately, once stretching or distortion occurs, the damage is usually permanent. As a result, special precautions need to be taken. Here are some tips you can follow.  

  • Jersey knits should always be cleaned according to the care label instructions. Whether a knit is washable or dry-cleanable generally depends on the fiber content.
  • If machine washing is recommended, wash on delicate cycle for five to eight minutes in warm water.
  • To minimize agitation, place in a net bag during washing. Hand washing may be recommended to further restrict agitation.
  • If recommended, tumble dry at low temperatures. Promptly remove the jersey knit after drying. Laying flat to dry may be recommended to minimize any distortion.
  • Jersey knits will not typically need to be ironed. A cool iron may be used if ironing is necessary. Do not apply stress or pressure while damp.
  • To avoid stretching, fold and place in a drawer or fold over a hangar. Hanging may inadvertently cause the knit to distort.
  • If you have any questions or are uncertain on how to proceed, consult your professional cleaner.

Source: International Fabricare Institute Clothes Care Gazette. April 1998.

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Problems with Linen

Linen, knows for its crisp, smooth finish, is a popular spring and summer fabric. Unfortunately, with that crisp finish come the tendency to wrinkle easily, and manufacturers have responded by producing linen with blends of other fabrics to help make linens more wrinkle resistant. These blends offer two advantages over pure linen: 1) they are able to retain crispness and 2) they are softer and more comfortable to wear. As a general rule, blends are less expensive than pure linen.

Linen blends often require special attention, based on the individual fabrics used in the blend. Be sure to check the care label carefully and care for accordingly. Linen blended with polyester may respond very well to a washing procedure, while linen blended with silk usually requires dry-cleaning.

One of the problems with linen is the removal of stains. In some cases, the problem is caused by misuse by the consumer, especially in cases where commercial linen, such as tablecloths and napkins, is involved. Many napkins and tablecloths contain a high percentage of polyester, and these fibers attach themselves to oils and greases. If these stains are left on the fabric for some time, before the article is washed, a yellow stain may appear.

In some cases, the linen article can be rejuvenated by sending it to a professional cleaner. Dry-cleaning solvents and other similar solvents, available only to the cleaner, can be very effective in removing these stains. However, if the stain is left on the fabric for a long time, or subjected to previous washing and drying cycles, the stain may be permanent.

Source: Cotton Economics Research Update. Vol. 2, No. 1, April 1998.

What Is International Textile Products and Apparel Consortium (ITPAC)

IIPAC mission is to facilitate interaction among government and non-governmental agencies to procure collaboration of international textile and apparel related entities by bringing together scientists from the College of Human Sciences and the International Textile Center (ITC) at Texas Tech University at Lubbock. ITPAC has been established to develop a comprehensive information database for the textile and apparel industries, from individual producers to manufacturers, from designers to retailers. Through the ITPAC information network, interested parties can find out the who, what and where of designing, manufacturing, buying and selling of textiles and apparel.

Box 41162
Lubbock, Texas 79409-1162
phone: 806-742-1603

Master Clothing Volunteer

The Extension Service has developed a Master Clothing Volunteer (MCV) exhibit. At a recent Creative Inspiration Exhibition in San Angelo we premiered the exhibit and attracted a lot of attention registering over 100 individuals interested in the MCV program. Interest in teaching others the skills of sewing, whether for personal or economic benefits, is certainly alive and well.

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Clothing Publications:

Mark Your Calendar

September 1998 is Sewing Month

November 18–22, 1998
ITAA – International Textile and Apparel Association Pre-conference – Finding the Forces of Outreach Education for the Future. Registration fee $75 includes notebook, lunch and multiple presentations. ITAA is a professional organization for clothing and textiles. This year the meeting in Dallas, Texas is November 18–22. The Pre-conference is for Extension professionals. Don’t miss it.

January, 1999
Creative Inspiration by Sew Pro Inc.
San Antonio Convention Center.
January 28–31, 1999

February 3–4, 1999
Hobby Industry Association
Dallas Convention Center
Dallas, Texas (Home Sewing Association will have an exhibit there.) ( http://www.hobby.org)

March 1999 is National Craft Month – Celebrating the contributions of craft to traditions around the world. Four out of five households are involved in craft/hobby work.

Web Sites

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Textile Clothes Line is published by Family Development and Resource Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System, College Station, Texas.

Editor: Dr. Pamela J. Brown, formerAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist-Consumer Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System, College Station, Texas.

Last updated: 21 November, 2013

Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status.