It all started with a desire to be more eco-friendly.
It's May 2017, and I've been using cloth diapers and wipes for two years now. I've just discovered reusable toilet paper and paper towels. I made them myself, using flannel like my wipes because that's what the world sells, so it must be great. However, I'm not convinced. Flannel seems better suited to spreading liniment on my baby's bottom than for cleaning up a mess or wiping my table.
In my logical progression of reusable items, I'm now looking to get handkerchiefs, and everything on the market is still made of flannel... or cotton. Flannel handkerchiefs are a big NO for my nose: too thick, too stiff, and, most importantly, not absorbent enough. My nose stays wet after using them. I'm not a fan of 100% woven cotton either: a bit too stiff/brittle and too thin; it goes through, and my fingers get wet, or it's too thick in two layers...
So, I embark on a quest to find THE perfect handkerchief fabric.
One that will be soft and looks like a kleenex, so as not to attract attention. I want it to be as hygienic as possible, so for a single use: no large handkerchief where you have to reuse a clean corner but oops! you dip your hand into your not 100% dried snot from earlier when unfolding it.
So I order four fabric samples, all bamboo, of different weights and mixed with cotton or not. I identify them by overlocking them with different colors.
The samples are approximately 3 in. x 3 in.. blowing your nose in that is a bit far-fetched.
Meanwhile, Bateau bateau is registered in Quebec and appears on Etsy. My primary mission: to make a difference in this world, to help the planet however I can.
I then offer grow with me clothing for children (I find it so much more eco-friendly to use clothing for several years than having to buy clothes every three to six months) and eco-friendly items.
I love grow with me clothing, I love sewing stretch fibers and the fabrics are beautiful!! I also offer reusable flannel toilet paper and at the same time, I'm also on the hunt for the perfect fabric for reusable paper towels (another quest that I ended up abandoning several months later to focus on the rest). Sewing clothes and building my brand will take up quite a bit of my time (very partial because I have another job) for the next year.
Three months after the creation of Bateau Bateau, I resumed the search for the perfect handkerchief fabric and that's when I will begin my first real tests.
The mini samples served to convince me of one thing: bamboo fabrics are incredible in terms of comfort and softness!
After several months of occasionally using too small squares to blow my nose, I decide to buy at least 1/4 or 1/2 a meter. There's a fabric I didn't have as a sample but appeals to me on the website where I buy my fabric: bamboo/cotton. Hemp also interests me. I order these two, and when I receive them, the hemp is too stiff for the nose, but the bamboo/cotton is a revelation! I test 10-12 handkerchiefs for a few months (until spring), simply cut, and realize that it's finally exactly what I've been looking for a very long time!
But what if there's something even better?
So in May, I ordered everything I could in bamboo, in different colors and thicknesses: bamboo, bamboo/spandex, bamboo/cotton, bamboo/cotton/spandex and a little UFO: lyocell/cotton.
Unfortunately, the bamboo/cotton that I had tested was no longer available; it was out of stock (!) So I shed a few tears and consoled myself by thinking that with all these new fabrics, I would surely find an even better one! And I still had a light gray bamboo/cotton in my batch (although a bit thicker).
Next, it was time to search for testers! But before anything else, I thought that people would want to put their handkerchiefs somewhere, so I designed a fabric box to store them. Since my goal was for them to resemble disposable tissues, I also wanted a box that looked like a disposable tissue box!
Once I find the testers, they received this text:
A tissue box will contain 12 identical sheets. Your sample includes 12 sheets of six different bamboo fabrics (in duplicate for each). Sometimes made of 100% bamboo, sometimes blended with organic cotton, sometimes with other fibers... the sheets vary in thickness, and are either white or gray. All fabrics have been pre-washed, so you can use them immediately. All white fabrics have been marked with a colored symbol for identification: red square, green circle, purple triangle, pink star + dark gray, light gray. For each fabric, there is one sample with a serged edge and one without a seam. This is intentional; the finishing is also to be tested.
Test the softness of the fabric, the feel in your hands and on your nose, its thickness, and its absorption (which is not at its full potential, as the fabric has only been washed once). Then, place the used tissue in a small bag or basket. A small fabric basket will be provided with the purchase. The kits will include the tissue box + basket, but it wasn't ready for testing. Wash them and continue your test. The washing experience is also to be tested. It is important to initially test with the use of the dryer. This improves the absorption of the fabrics, and I also want to test the fraying of the unsewn edges.