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China Factory and Fabric Trip 2019

January 2019

When everyone was on summer holidays...... I had the exciting time of solo traveling to China.  Exciting, scary, exhilarating and a huge achievement for me to do on my own.  This time I left on Boxing Day, as my children were due to have two weeks with their Dad, and I was going to be child free so the timing worked well.   They don't celebrate Christmas in China, so everyone was still working during this time; and my absence from the office HQ in NZ wasn't really noticed!  It was also winter and Freezing cold!!

Firstly I had an impromptu visit to my production factory.  I wanted to check item quality, and factory conditions, before my autumn stock was shipped.  Please bare in mind that I'm just  a small town girl from Cambridge, so it was such a huge sense of achievement that I was able to get myself to the factory, on the outskirts of an industrial city, knock on the door, and surprise them.    I hadn't organised this visit with the factory, as it was really important to me that I turn up unannounced.... incase they had been hiding things I suppose.....   They were delighted to see me, and so proud to show me around.   The conditions were excellent and the staff and machinists were really proud of their work.    Everything was "tip top."   I gave the machinist crews  lots of NZ pineapple lumps, and we shared lunch together in the staff canteen.  No communication, so I was just sharing photos on my phone.

The second part of my trip was to travel on high speed train (300 kph) to the fabric market.   This is an experience!!!   The train whizzed through rural farmland, small villages, big cities, and it was interesting to see it all from the window.   The fabric market is a huge complex, multi levels, with thousands of small booths for each fabric supplier. And no English anywhere obviously.  I rely heavily on Google Map and Google Translate, and a battery power pack extra.

At the fabric market, the walls at each booth are covered in tiny swatches, and you really just have to select anything that appeals.   Please bare in mind that I used to buy my fabric at Spotlight in NZ and order by the metre, and now I buy fabric by the bolt (roll).   I wasn't buying at the market though - just finding suppliers and pieces that I liked.   Pretty much searching for a needle in a very big Chinese haystack.     I completely filled my suitcase (my actual luggage had to go into my hand luggage), and I will sort through the fabrics and narrow down choices when I get home.    I only had one day there, and didn't make my way around completely.  I could have done better with 4 days!

Sometimes I see a fabric and can visualize what I can design it into, and how it will look on a woman.  And other times, I have a design in mind and then have to sort through my fabric stash to find something that will suit it.   Its all part of a process.... gathering the fabric swatches is just the first part.

Anyway, enjoy these pics...

Train station- my tummy was churning with nerves!!!

Each booth is about the size of a double bedroom You can select fabrics that you like, and they'll cut you swatches to keep, along with their business card. Hunting for patterns that I like..... flicking through one by one

I was trying to get around as many booths as I could..... so was working fast!! There are so many levels at the fabric market, and I couldn't work out any sort order, everything is mixed