When I first heard of Red Land Cotton two years ago, I was amazed that a company made bedding exclusively from the cotton grown on THEIR OWN farm.
THEN…I learned that each of their bedding products - from the fitted sheets to the pillowcases to the duvet covers - were sewn by actual humans, women sitting at their own sewing machines crafting each piece.
I had to know more, and Anna, RLC’s fearless co-founder, agreed that these ladies behind the scenes had to be brought front and center!
This post is all about the women of Southern Sewn.
It's about Ms. Dorothy who is a spunky 84 years young, and as Francellua, one of Southern Sewn's newest employees stated, "Ms. Dorothy can sew circles around anyone." (She is impressive, y'all!)
It's about Ms. Karen who has 42 years in the fabric and garment industry and her sister, Ms. Carol, who is a master seamstress but refuses to be photographed. She stated that adamantly, and I simply responded, as any southern girl of my raising, "Yes ma'am." :)
With over 200 years of sewing experience combined, these ladies turn our RLC fabric into beautiful bedding for your home, and we're proud to be working with them.
Every time you enter a place for the first time, you’re anxious, or at least I am anyway. What will it look like? What will the people be like? Will they welcome me or ignore me?
All of my fears quickly evaporated as I entered the glass doors of Southern Sewn.
I was immediately greeted with warm eyes and genuine smiles, and the buzz of floor fans and an oldies station playing in the background soothed my nerves.
It was an inviting place, and I was glad to be there learning from these knowledgeable women.
The Grand Tour
Kim, the owner of Southern Sewn and daughter to Ms. Karen, made her way to the front and offered to take me on the grand tour.
We started right where I was standing – at a very large cutting table. Picture the fabric measuring table at Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby; then, multiply it by 10! :)
Cutting It Just Right
Kim explained that RLC’s mindset of “waste not, want not” starts right there at the cutting department. Large bolts of RLC fabric are unrolled, inspected carefully and then cut to specific measurements for EACH product.
For example, if the ladies are working on fitted sheets, Ms. Delores and Ms. Vicki - the measuring and cutting gurus - unroll a large bolt of fabric and measure it to the RLC specs for, let's say, a king size sheet. They cut it and then repeat...until the bolt is empty or until the quota is complete for fitted king size sheets.
Sew Good :)
From there, the large pieces of cut fabric are moved to the sewing floor. This area of Southern Sewn is comprised of about 10 sewing machines, some with very specific purposes.
Like, the hemstitching machine Ms. Karen runs was commissioned by Anna and her dad Mark to make this stitch that’s unique to Red Land Cotton’s Hemstitch sheets and pillowcases. It takes a master seamstress to run this machine because it has 2 bobbins. They run out of thread at different times, and you must keep a straight line. Needless to say, Ms. Karen makes it look easy!
Also on the sewing floor, elastic is sewn in our fitted sheets (Ms. Dorothy's job!), and 3-inch hems are placed in our pillowcases and flat sheets. Ms. Theresa often sews this gorgeous, but tricky hem, making it look like a breeze. It ain't, folks!
Our patchwork duvet covers are pieced together on the sewing floor as well. Here's another way that we strive to use every piece of fabric wisely...and beautifully. See, to make our fitted sheets, the ladies of Southern Sewn cut out the corners from rectangular pieces of fabric after they leave the cutting/measuring department; instead of being discarded, those corner pieces are used to make some of our duvet covers - the Abbey Church Patchwork, the Baker Lane Patchwork and the Cottontown Patchwork.
Seriously, we aim to waste nothing, and the seamstresses at Southern Sewn make this goal of ours a reality...even dreaming up more ways to help us with this mission.
To the Board
From the sewing floor, our finished bedding is moved a few feet to the ironing board.
The ladies informed us that ironing many of our products before packaging them ensures quality. It helps hems to lay flat, and the act of ironing allows another person to inspect the finished good. Ms. Debbie often does this step, always with a sweet smile...and a watchful eye.
Our bedding products go from the ironing board to packaging where they are carefully folded before being placed in a clear bag for safe keeping. Southern Sewn even has a master fitted-sheet folder – Nikki. (That's definitely an art!)
Throughout our journey, RLC has been blessed in many ways, and the ladies at Southern Sewn are definitely one of those blessings.
Ms. Karen saw a newspaper article about us in 2016 and mentioned to Kim that she should contact us about sewing our bedding products. The rest is history!
And, what's even cooler and, we believe, divine, is that Southern Sewn is located in our hometown of Moulton, AL. Yet, neither company knew of the other before that fateful newspaper article in 2016. All we can say, He works in mysterious ways. :)
We want to conclude by genuinely thanking the women of Southern Sewn. They have taken our vision for beautiful, high-quality bedding and literally made it a reality.
By: Rachel Eubanks, a girl blessed with a small-town Alabama raising. She grew a deep appreciation for farming as she watched her father, an extension agent, work alongside farmers for over 30 years. She now lives outside of Huntsville, AL.