As we have told you before, we made our first tops on my gran’s old singer sewing machine. They worked brilliantly, but the material we used for the pocket was not exactly right. Firstly, it was hugely expensive, which is fine when you are only making a hand full of tops for yourself, but not when you want other people to buy them. Secondly, we found after about 20 washes, it’s waterproofness was not as effective.
So, we needed to find the perfect material for the inside of our tops. It had to stop dribble soaking through, it had to be breathable, it had to be durable and it also had to withstand tumble drying … how hard can it be?
All we had to do was Google waterproof, breathable, tumbledryable materials right?
That was our first port of call and of course loads of materials came up – mostly from the Alibaba site – so we wrongly thought that our task would be easy. We ordered dozens and dozens of these materials (often having the most weird email conversations to Miss Emma and Miss Tracy from manufacturers in China) until we thought we had found the perfect one. It was waterproof, breathable and tumble dryable. It was soft and when we screwed it up in our hands it wasn’t scrunchy. Perfect. But just to make sure we cut up little squares and pushed them into the top of eggcups to make little wells. Then we filled these little material wells with water and left them overnight – just to double check that they would keep the dribble off the chest .
Hurrah in the morning all the water was still in the material well and not a drop in the eggcup. Success!
So we sent it off to the factory to have our samples made up.
They came back perfect – we had done it. We were so proud.
We had the Bubble Show London coming up in a few weeks and we wanted to take our samples up to show prospective buyers. We had our little area on the Casa Chico stand and we thought it would be brilliant marketing to let people hold our tops whilst we sprayed them with water, so they could see for themselves that water was not coming through to the skin.
So we washed and ironed our samples and packed them up to take to the show (along with our baby Mannequin Sam).
You can imagine how mortified I was when, whilst holding the top and showing people how the water was not coming through, I realised that my hand felt damp. No that can’t be possible, our material was waterproof! So I snuck off to the toilet to inspect it.
To my horror the inside of the top was indeed wet. I felt sick. What can I do? I didn’t want to worry Tracy, so I didn’t tell her. I felt so awful that a migraine came on and poor Tracy thought it was just the stress of the show. From then on I just made sure that I didn’t get anyone to feel the inside of the top.
The next day I told Tracy what had happened. ‘That’s why you got that migraine’ she realised. But back to the problem in hand. We looked at our other samples and they still seemed to keep the water out – what was happening? What was the difference? Then it struck us – the samples we took to the show had been washed!
No way! – yes way, the wonderful, perfect material we had been found was not waterproof after it had been washed – arghh!
That is when we realised you can’t always trust what other people tell you.
Back to the drawing board.
From then on we were both on the internet every day, often until late into the night, sourcing materials, emailing and phoning manufacturers, finding out the qualities of different materials, backings and coatings – wow you would not believe the number of different materials that are out there.
When our samples would arrive we became little scientists and our homes became little testing houses. Every sample of material was given the 2mums Ltd testing. The only testing we could trust.
If we liked the feel of the material when it arrived, it was cut up into squares. Every little square first endured the egg cup test. If it passed that the washing and tumble drying began. Each piece was washed and tumble dried at least 50 times (which resulted in continued use of our washing machines and tumble driers – in fact Tracy’s tumble dryer packed up all together!) to see if it was still waterproof. Some stayed waterproof for a few washes and tumbles, but far too often after 10-15 washes their effectiveness lessened, which was not good enough. For months, our bathrooms were covered in little squares of material in different colours and thicknesses, in various stages of testing. We would place the squares over our noses and mouths to see if we could breathe through them! Or blow air through it to see if we felt it on our hands. Then we would burn it – yes you read right, we would hover over our sinks whilst holding our little squares and set them alight to see how quickly they would ignite and burn. Anyone looking on would have thought we were crazy!
Yes, our testing was not scientific – but it meant we could be 100% sure that it was right. Far more sure than if we relied on what the manufacturers told us!
In the end we found our perfect material and knowing that it had passed all our tests, we knew we had no worries when it came to the ‘official’ testing that it had go through at the testing labs.
So you live and learn.
Nothing comes easy. Worry and sleepless nights are par for the course and never ever trust what you don’t find out for yourselves.