I See a Pattern Here... a Pattern of Trouble!
November 10, 2008
The carpet was a face-to-face Wilton from, hmm I don’t know if I should mention the company’s name as I will be speaking in less than a flattering light of them by the end of the article. But in the same vein, I want you to be aware of who it is so you can watch out for this “pattern of trouble” I have seen from them.
So what to do? Well, I’ll give you a couple of hints. The company name rhymes with the name of a city just north of Wilkes-Barre, PA. You know where Joe Biden was raised, where Hilary learned to shoot as a girl and had a shot and a beer during the primaries. What? Still don’t have it? OK, where Dunder Mifflin paper company from the show The Office is. What? Still don’t have it? Ok, Ok, the name of the town is Scranton.
I digress; the carpet was a face-to-face Wilton, with a set match 3’3 1/4” (one meter) being installed in a large upper hall and on a curving staircase as a runner. The main part of the upper hall took a piece13’2”(4 meters) x 18’. There was a back hall off to the right side that needed a piece 6’ wide x 10’ long with the pattern shift. On the left side was a sitting area with a closet on each end that needed a piece 5’ wide x 16’ long with the pattern shift. Great; simple enough, right? 13’2” x 16’ split down the middle, trim the selvage edges, the right side of the fill piece goes to the left side of the main shot, the left side of the fill goes to the right side and we’re off to the races.
Not so fast; as I prepare to trim the edges, I find my pattern and from the back I count rows on each edge to make sure I am cutting at the same spot in the pattern on both sides. Doing that I find there is nothing to trim except the selvage scrim extending past the edge, no face fiber rows to remove to get to a clean edge. The edges are all roughed up, naps un-twisted, and the tops blossomed (Photos 1 and 2). I put the seam together and it was a horror show! I took it apart and trimmed off one row from each side to try to get into some kind of a clean edge. The rows are only about a sixteenth wide and I was willing to try to sacrifice a bit of the pattern to get a better seam. I even taped back the naps with masking tape to keep them out of the seam (Photos 1 and 2). It was to no avail; the seam was ugly, all because I didn’t have enough to trim for a clean seam. I explained all this to the customer and said I would talk to the mill.
So, I call this carpet company, whose name rhymes with Scranton talked to their tech guy. When I first heard his name I thought, “Wow, I’m talking to one of the founding members of The Kinks.” Anyway, he was great, and said, “That doesn’t’ sound right. Can you send me a piece of each side?” I said, “No problem I can send you a one-foot piece of the whole width.”
The long and the short of it was they sent me enough carpet to replace the two seam areas and paid me for my time to redo those areas. The seam was fine and the customer was happy (Photo 3).
The lesson here is that the mills will work with you, if you communicate with them. OK having said that, let’s get to the less flattering light portion about this carpet company, whose name rhymes with Scranton. Jon and I had another job come up with a face-to-face Wilton, 13’2”(4 meters) wide with a set match 3’3 1/4” (one meter) pattern from the carpet company, whose name rhymes with Scranton. Now I’m not the sharpest cheese in the fridge, but it doesn’t take more than a couple of whacks with a 2-by-4 for me to catch on.
I always measure the width of a carpet because they don’t always come in the way they are supposed to. So especially patterns I measure the width, and I learned the hard way to measure the pattern itself to make sure it’s what it is supposed to be. Tufted goods can be squirrely, but I always thought that with woven goods, you set up the loom and there you go. Wrong!
I measure this one and find that while the pattern is a 3’3 1/4” (one meter) set match (Photos 4, 5, and 6), the carpet is only 13’1/2” not 13’2”(4 meters), an inch and a half short of what I need to match the pattern even without a trim (Photo 7).
OK so back on the phone with this carpet company, whose name rhymes with Scranton and based on my last experience, I’m thinking this will be easy; they will send out some more carpet and everything will be fine…ha, not quite.
This time, talking to the same people, mind you, a whole different story unfolds.
“Well, we have a two-inch tolerance you know,” I’m told. “Really, and how am I supposed to put this carpet together when you don’t make the carpet wide enough for the pattern to repeat completely? At this point you have not delivered to me the 4-meter goods you sold my customer. You have only delivered 3 meters of useable carpet.” That was my first response.
So, they stick to this 2-inch tolerance thing, telling me I needed to order more carpet to account for the tolerance. I told them I though that was not right; I would need to order an additional 13’2” x 14. That’s 20.5 square yards to make up for the full pattern; at approximately at $60 per square yard, that’s $1,230 worth of carpet I would be throwing away because you can’t make your product correctly? My patience begins to wear a bit thin and I start with a few smart-ass questions like, “Well, if you have a 2 inch tolerance, how come I don’t get 13’4” goods? If you went to the store bought a six pack of beer and they only gave you five cans saying they had a one-can tolerance, would you accept that? And to the lady in customer service, “If you bought a blouse that had one sleeve shorter than the other would you accept it because they had a two inch tolerance?” They failed to see the logic of my arguments, but after three weeks of wrangling they did send out enough carpet for me to get the job in. Here’s the amount we had to cut off and throw away, half a pattern off each edge. You will notice one roll is shorter; that was the side the pattern was short (Photos 8, 9, and 10).
So I’m thinking about this whole tolerance thing and wondering if in fact the “carpet is textile and fabrics are blah, blah, blah” crap may have a basis in fact. I mean, all the mills sing that same song. So, I went into a Jo-Ann fabric store and asked the lady how wide the bolts of fabrics were. She said they came in different widths, some 54, inches some 60 inches, what kind was I interested in? I asked if they ever came in different than what they were supposed to be, like the 60-inch stuff come in at 59 inches? She looked at me like I was goofy and said, “No they never come in different than they are supposed to be. If they did we would not accept it.”
My, my, my, textiles, fabrics made the way they are supposed to be? Who woulda thunk?