We have been making plant backpacks out of every type of material here at the North Carolina residency, including used belts and old backpacks that get ripped up and recycled into the plant backpack pattern. A great deal of the fabric for this project in Yancy and Mitchell counties was donated by Glen Raven Technical Fabrics in Burnsville. They make things like Sunbrella and super fabrics for Jansport and the US forces. If you have any old backpacks or suitcases or belts that you would like to donate, bring them by the Green Plum gallery this week from 1-5 p.m. We can make them into a Germination Corps. Plant Backpack!
Here is the pattern table in the gallery workshop. You can see all the woven belts we found and are using for shoulder straps on the right. Old shopping bags work well for the pattern pieces.
Some kids-sized shoulder plant bags made with the Glen Raven donated fabric. The emblem of the Germination Corps., the three leafed sprout, is a necessary component of each bag and is a quick identifier of the project.
Germination Corps. has partnered up with the elementary school in Bakersville, North Carolina. I am doing a workshop there for the 2nd and 3rd graders. The school wanted to have a backpack for each student to have to participate in the plant parade and Germination Corps. events. They have been germinating seeds this spring and we will transfer them to the plant backpacks as soon as they are ready.
Bakersville is also the home to a great manufacturing operation called Quality Plus Apparel that has been making things like limited edition Levi’s jeans and other Made in America heavy weight apparel runs. They have all the equipment and know how to take my designs and make a ton of plant backpacks for the elementary school project. Here are some photos of Lisa, of The Catalyst Collective, and me and the owners of Quality Plus making the test bags in their facility.
We took my patterns and some generously donated fabric from Glen Raven Technical Fabrics in Burnsville, NC to the folks at Quality Plus. The next day we walked in and they had three prototypes made from the pattern I had given them. We asked how fast they could make the bags and they said a week! They also said they would donate all the bags to the elemetery school for the project. WOW! That’s 120 plant backpacks! Thank You Quality Plus! That’s amazing.
These are the pattern flats
They even had a binding in a color combo that I would have used for my own work. Great minds think alike!
Placing a pocket on and basting. You can see they are set up for jean hemming and binding above.
Sewing the gusset on the bag. Quality Plus is sewing a shoulder bag pattern since we only have a week to get the 120 bags to the school. They would have loved to make the actual backpack, but my pattern was too complicated in the time frame we had. Still, this is very generous and nice of them to give back to the community they are imbedded in. I am so glad they are still making a go of it, although we talked a lot about the loss of manufacturing from cheaper overseas labor. A lot of the business that Quality Plus gets now is the job of fixing the products that come back from overseas markets to bring them up to standards for the US market. They still are the primary manufacturer of Levi’s brand jeans and produced the special edition pairs where Levi’s reproduced the first pair of Levi’s ever, that they found in a mine in California. Quality Plus made 501 pairs and they were sold for 501 dollars each.