This laser cutting machine makes short work of cutting pillow forms and sturdier fabrics. Fine fabrics, however, are still cut by hand.
You may not know the name Eastern Accents but if you've purchased bedding from Horchow or Room and Board, you may be sleeping under them. This small Chicago company, overseen by a husband and wife team, has been making luxury bedding since 1989. I took a quick tour of the factory, a facility that includes sewing machines, woodworkers and painters.
Perhaps my history with manufacturing is the origin of my fascination with where things are made — my grandfather retired from a bus factory, my parents met in a record album pressing plant and my father eventually retired as a kitchen cabinet builder. So, when I found out that Eastern Accents is based here in Chicago, I had to get a peek inside.
• A machine blows filling into a pillow form. As fun as this photo is, it cannot compare to how neat it was to see in real life.
• Yes, that's just what it looks like – a giant pile of fill for pillows. Do you know how hard it was to resist temptation to jump into that?
• Sewing staff are lined up at machines, pulling fabric and notions from bins as they go along. The sound of dozens of sewing machines creates an exciting din – to me anyway. I'm sure the staff prefer listening to music to make the time pass.
• Those pleats don't make themselves, people! Seeing the little details being hand sewn is a great reminder to appreciate the artistry.
• This laser cutting machine makes short work of cutting pillow forms and sturdier fabrics. Fine fabrics, however, are still cut by hand.
• In addition to bedding, Eastern Accents makes window treatments. Seamstresses can create large drapery panels that appear seamless by clamping them on this mechanized table to pin them.
• A wood shop is tucked into a section of the building far removed from the fabrics and sewing machines. Here, woodworkers build the frames for upholstered benches – and also build the sewing tables and other furniture used in the factory.
• Professionally trained in-house artists hand paint designs for luxury bedding. They begin with pencil drawn outlines and then paint the designs using a special paint that won't crack or flake.
• The process for creating a pillow is illustrated on a wall in the hallway of the offices. Similarly, this small facility houses a complete operation: from designers to production to sales. Walking around, I was able to get a sense of the process for making a small manufacturing business work.
• Siw and Ridvan Tatargil started the business in 1989 and it remains a small, family- oriented operation.
For more information, and for links to retailers, check out the Eastern Accents Website.
You can also order luxury bedding directly via Belmont Home Decor.
Images: Jason Loper