Lisu Applique

This unique trim was years in the making. Many of you have been
interested in how we "found" this fabric.  For a couple of years, we had
been buying it at a wholesale store that sold Hill tribe fabrics.
Because we kept selling out of the trim, we quickly realized that we
needed to buy a lot more.  During one of our trips there was very little
inventory in the store and they did not expect to have any more for
quite a while.  That was when I learned something important regarding
the hill tribe people and their textiles. Many of them are farmers who
grow rice and also do harvesting of other fruits and vegetables. 
September is an important month for rice, so they do not have time to
make the trim or textiles.
For 5 years we had used my trusty driver/interpreter/friend Dae to help
us with a variety of issues.  We asked if he knew how we could find more
of the trim because none of the other stores had any.  He informed us
that he knew the village that made it....it only took 5 years for him to
tell us that???
He took us to the village, and boy, did we have fun.  The villagers took
us to the Shaman's house and the news of our arrival spread throughout
the village.  The ladies arrived with the trims they had, and the buying
commenced.  After we paid for everything, our adventures continued.
We were invited to a home and found out that this lady coordinated the
applique making in the village.  Palin showed us her "catalog" and
showed us how they make it.  It is a 9 step process with 2 of the steps
being done by hand.  We had enough purchased for now, but ideas were
dancing around in my head.
During our next trip to the village, we asked her to make the trim in
colors we thought would sell in the states.  The Thai traditional colors
are primarily bright colors of red, blue, green, orange, black, and
yellow in all kinds of combinations.  I gave her swatches of fabrics
that had color combinations that we liked and she made the trim in
those colors  This has continued throughout the 13 years that we
have been doing business with this Lisu village.
Since we began working with the villagers in Thailand, we have always
had a thought; what can we do to help the artisans we work with?  How
can we make things easier for them?   We  learned that they have
processes which have worked for them through many generations.  They
showed us how they cut the thick fabric folded for a bias cut.  They
used big scissors with handles wrapped in carpet to prevent blisters. 
Watching them, we thought that rotary cutters, mats and rulers would
help greatly.  We took some supplies with us on our next trip and showed
them how to cut with the rotary cutters. You should have seen their
eyes! They were amazed.  We realized that we couldn't afford to continue
supplying these items by ourselves. We spoke to Martelli about what we
were doing, and we are happy to say that they are  keeping us supplied
with rotary essentials to take to the villagers.  Thank you so much,
Martelli for your generosity!
That is how we developed our business relationship with the Lisu
Applique trim makers and how we are able to make this beautiful and
versatile fabric available to you for your creative pleasure.