Review: Apple Blossom Wovens – Vintage Looms Creating Accessible, Wearable Art

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Morning Glory v.1

A few months back, I saw a Morning Glory v.1 woven wrap pop up on my Instagram feed, and was immediately curious about this unique machine woven wrap that so closely resembled a handwoven in appearance. I reached out to Apple Blossom Wovens to learn more about them and their wraps, and was lucky to stumble upon a really awesome new American brand. They initially sent me 3 different wraps to review, an Heirloom v.1, an Heirloom with Tencel, and finally a Morning Glory v.1 – the same one I had seen a photo of. I am happy to review the Morning Glory prototype – which was truly a gorgeous piece of textile.

 

I received a Size 6 (5.2 meters) Morning Glory v.1 with a natural weft. Right out of the box I was enamored by the softness of the yarn. They are using Maurice Brassard yarn currently, which is sourced from Canada – though they are in the process of trying to switch over to a yarn that is produced in the U.S. The gradient weave was reminiscent of many popular handwoven brands, with that same point twill structure we are used to seeing. Weighing in at 280 g/m^2, this wrap is most definitely in the thick category. Despite its thickness, it is a really loose weave – making it breathable and airy for even hot weather wrapping. It wrapped pretty true to size, I was able to do all carries I would normally do in this length, without having to ‘size up’ due to thickness.

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Front Wrap Cross Carry with a toddler

 

Our first carry in Morning Glory was (surprisingly) a Front Wrap Cross Carry. I almost never use this carry with my 31 lb 3.5 year old anymore – but I was trying to finish up a conference call… and my Dragon Baby was not cooperating. I wrapped her up and was able to comfortably wear her for the better part of an hour. The wrap was so soft and so cozy, it was perfect for bedtime cuddles. My daughter remarked that it was “softer than her blanket”. It had great support for a toddler in this multi-pass carry!

 

 

 

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Double Hammock shows off the gradient nicely.

Next time we wore it was in a Double Hammock. This wrap really shines in this carry! The multiple passes give you excellent support, and you can’t beat that chest pass for showing off the gradient. The smoothness of the yarn makes those cross-passes slide effortlessly, the diagonal stretch allows you to get a really snug fit – even with a giant toddler. I did not have to do any wrestling to get these passes in place, and they stayed nicely once tied off. After a half hour hiking around the farm, I experienced no movement from the wrap. More importantly, we were both very comfortable by the end of that excursion.

 

I tried it another time in a ruck tied Tibetan, but I liked it a lot less in this carry. Here the diagonal stretch that I loved in the multi-pass carries, led to a bit of sagging in this single-pass carry. That is not to say that it would not be great with a smaller baby… but I needed a little bit more recovery with my 3.5 year old. I can see this being great as a Rebozo with a small baby though! I would not discount it all together as a shorty wrap – I just personally found it to be a great fit for my bigger wearee in a multi-pass carry.

 

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Knot Shot with a leggy 3 year old in Morning Glory v.1

These wraps are 100% cotton, easy to care for. The wrapping qualities make it a solid choice for a new or seasoned babywearer. Although thick, it was not bulky and I don’t feel like it would overwhelm a smaller baby. Overall, what I found most appealing about these wraps was that you could obtain the same beautiful look and wrapping qualities of a more expensive handwoven wrap – at a machine woven price point. A Size 6 will run you about $180 which places it in the mid-range category. This is actually one of the original aims of the company – to make this style of woven wrap accessible to those wrappers who may not be able to afford the highly sought after handwovens.

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Lisa and her daughter in a wrap she wove herself

Apple Blossom Wovens was started by Lisa Carter about a year ago. She was inspired by the beauty of the handwoven scene, but found that her financial situation would not allow her to afford many of these pieces of woven art. Lisa knew that if she was in that situation, there must be other caregivers who also appreciated the beauty of these wovens, but were unable to commit to the price points associated with the market. Having had an interest in handcrafts and textiles for most of her life, she happily began to research looms and different weaving styles to try and find a way to make this style of gradient wrap more accessible. Lisa sought out a local weaver’s guild in Ohio, and learned to weave her own woven wrap. She quickly realized that the time and effort put into hand weaving was what contributed to the pricing, and decided that there must be a way to accomplish this same look with a power loom. Her search led her to a family owned mill in Pennsylvania, where a father and son team was weaving textiles on this 90 year old Vintage Draper Dobby loom. These weavers have over 100 years weaving experience between them, and were able to work with Lisa to create the type of gradient weave she had been imagining. And so, Apple Blossom Wovens was born.

 

Apple Blossom Wovens is a husband and wife team. While Lisa is responsible for the designs and the brand marketing, her husband helps with accounting, and puts his art degree to good use consulting on color design and theory alongside Lisa. It is a far cry from the Mathematics Degree Lisa had started out towards, but having this business allows her to work from home and spend time with her children – something she feels lucky to be able to do. Her passion for supporting the American textile industry keeps her working only with small weavers based in the United States, and her products have been finished by a local seamstress. Her newest batch of ring slings will be finished by Going Uppy, another work at home mom that she is thrilled to support.

 

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Heirloom v.1 prototype

I mentioned they are sourcing the yarn from Canada, which is in part because the only U.S. producer they can find has a minimum order of about 5 times the amount they actually needs for a 100 yard production run. They were previously using a yarn sourced locally – this was what the Heirloom v.1 tester I had the opportunity to try was woven with. Lisa described it as being “rough and hard to break in”, though I think she is being really diplomatic. It was pretty sand-papery and had no give to it. When I received it, I mentioned I was going to wash it… and was shocked to hear it had already been washed and worn! I am happy that they have moved on from that source, it was pretty unwearable. As the production runs start to increase, they aim to start sourcing the yarn here in the states.

 

The liability involved in manufacturing baby carriers makes securing funding via bank loans and private investors a real hurdle to get over. Lisa found this out first hand, and ultimately borrowed from her family’s savings account to fund the initial investment that started Apple Blossom Wovens. Since then, every production run is financed by the profits from the previous run – meaning that production quantities are increasing… but gradually. A standard 100 yard run returns about 17 wraps and 2 ring slings. This seems like a very limited quantity to us as consumers, but only because we are not accustomed to manufacturers actually communicating the amount of wraps they are releasing. These numbers are quite standard across the industry, with many smaller mills having a standard minimum order of 100 yards.

 

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View of the Vintage Loom in progress

Lisa’s an avid babywearer herself. She wore everything from a Baby Bjorn after the birth of her first daughter in 2008, to her first wrap – a Girasol No.22, which she eventually sold to finance a Didymos Ornament. When she set out to create Apple Blossom Wovens, she wanted to create a beautiful but accessible brand that thrifty families like her own could justify splurging on. These wraps are one of a kind. None of them will be re-woven ever… making them collectible pieces of art. For Lisa, this fits into the philosophy of wanting to make wraps for frugal families. With the saturation of the woven wrap market currently, it is important to her that families investing in her product will be able to retain the value of the carrier in the resale market –  a market that was a big part of her personal wearing journey.

 

When asked about her influences, Lisa said:

“I can’t say that one particular company has influenced me, but rather the industry as a whole; it’s an industry almost exclusively run by strong, entrepreneurial women, with the same family responsibilities as I have. That has been so encouraging to me, when I start to get overwhelmed with juggling family and work responsibilities.”

I completely agree. Her story, and the stories of so many other women in this industry have been a huge inspiration to me. It has been a real pleasure to work with Apple Blossom Wovens on this piece, and to be a part of their journey. I am so excited for their next release! Keep an eye out on their website or Facebook Page for upcoming pre-orders – this is definitely a brand to watch out for.

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Apple Blossom Wovens Morning Glory v.1 with my 3.5 year old toddler

 

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