Sew Valley in the West End of Cincinnati is hard at work on its first batch of 100 chore coats in the new bull denim material, and so I crossed the Ohio River this afternoon to take a quick look at the process.
Sew Valley is located in the floor below The National Flag Co., which has been in business for more than 140 years. It’s a gorgeous brick factory with expansive windows and lots of room for machines and cutting tables.
Founded by Rosie Kovacs (above) and Shailah Maynard, Sew Valley seeks to nurture industry in this area by bringing back sewing skills. So short production runs, such as our chore coat, is part of what the company does.
Today production was in full swing on the chore coats, with components neatly laid out and labeled all over the shop. And four people (including Rosie) were setting up machines (both old and new) to assemble the coats.
As always with production, there is a fire somewhere. Today Rosie informed me that she had been shipped only about 40 buttons for the 100 coats. Hmmm. Probably not enough. A text to Tom Bonamici, our designer, got her an answer. The buttons were on their way from New York.
I don’t have a date as to when the coats will be ready. But when they are, I think you’ll be pleased. The sample that Sew Valley made for us is excellent. And even though we’re using a small contract shop, we’re going to be able to keep the price at $185, a small miracle that is the result of both the low overhead and the work ethic at Sew Valley.
— Christopher Schwarz
19 thoughts on “Chore Coat Production at Sew Valley”
Have you considered; perhaps, a chore vest
American Made, Proudly Made.
I’ll second the idea of a “chore vest”, even if there isn’t an historical basis for them. You could start history! Four pockets, no flaps. Maybe even at least one inside pocket.
Say yes to the vest!
This could actually work out well, I’ve been looking for some a high-quality sleeves-only garment.
How’s your toe?
I second the idea posted by others below for the “chore vest”. The vest configuration would be good for those of us who are working hand planes at the bench as no sleeves means more freedom of movement at the bench. Ditto for those of us sawing joinery by hand at the bench.
I don’t have a Cuff-Wide Rule! I need one of those!
Looks like really nice work.
This is great.
I’ll chime in with a vest comment, though I probably cheap myself out of your price range despite the pedigree of American made.
I find a vest essential for my hybrid style of work in a shop whose heated floor allows me a comfy 56 degrees in the cool season here. A lined denim (think Carhartt or fire hose fabric fabric) is my constant and durable companion. I would gladly supplant my best with one from Lost Art Press once this one meets its demise.
I have a chore coat from the first batch. I bought it because it fit a need I had but I really didn’t count on it being so good. Making clothing is so different from making furniture or tools or books, I thought, this can’t really work. They’re gonna be way out of their lane. And yet it’s beautiful and super functional. It’s so much more sturdily built than the imported macho brand stuff and it relieves me of some of my guilt when I think about what is going on in those Vietnamese factories.
Even the sleeves are long enough for my monkey arms when at rest, and when at work they pull up a bit, ideal to keep the sleeves away from the finger eating 220v tools I use as apprentices.
Thanks for taking a gamble on us. Tom Bonamici, the designer, is a woodworker and is just as passionate and John and I. I also love my coat and wear it almost every day.
I think there are actually a lot of similarities between woodworking and all the different crafts that work with design and construction using fabric. The mediums are different but the fundamental design techniques, reliance on geometry (both “artisan” and highly technical, depending on style/piece), historical breadth and impact on society, and even some fundamental hands-on techniques (preparation and marking out, the general concept of “coarse/medium/fine” operations, understanding the properties of the wide array of materials available within the craft) have close parallels.
I only reply about this because I think about it a lot since my wife has a bachelor’s in fashion design.
I agree. Learning to work leather was a lot easier after learning woodworking. Knowing what sharp is. Being aware of layout. Listening to your tools and materials. All these things were easier to pick up with leather after years of woodworking. Still, mastery is always an impossibly long way off.
For sure. What I have found interesting in my particular, narrow experience, is that my wife and I can help each other talk out challenges we might be facing on a project, even though the first thing I’d do with a sewing machine is stitch forefinger to my thumb, and the first thing she’d do with a drawknife is take her kneecap off. It’s really interesting and fun how some of the approaches to the work have those commonalities that allow us to enjoy discussing each craft with each other.
Anyhow, I’m rambling on. The chore coats look cool and our household is very glad to hear a company like Sew Valley is out there kicking ass.
My favorite shot is of the person crawling around on the table in his stocking feet cutting patterns.
I want to order an XXL but the website says Sold Out. When can I order?
Sew Valley is working on the next batch. They hope to have it done in a week or so.
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