Last fall a customer came to us requesting a basic chevron pattern. Initially, we were reluctant. How could we create something that would satisfy their request, but still stay true to the spirit of a Tai Leu Textile? What could we create to stand out among the vast sea of machine made zigzags being pumped out all over the world?
Fortunately, Brittany, who has a degree in textile design, has an understanding of weaving, motifs and how they are repeated, she was able to visualise the possibilities. And the Tai Leu Chevron was born!
Pictured below are examples of a very common Tai Leu pattern, often referred to as the "Big Flower" pattern. In Luang Prabang, you will see this pattern at the night market and in many shops around town. There are many variations of this pattern, depending on who is weaving it and what part of the country it is coming from. Sometimes we can only find a few yards of a certain pattern, never to see it again! Other times we know the weaver and can request larger lengths. This is part of the magic of the fabrics we are working with- and why we like to create small, speciality collections with limited stock numbers.
Weavers from different villages across Laos have access to a different variety of patterns that they can set up on their looms. Some women understand how to modify the patterns. Much less are able to design a whole new template from scratch. So when we had questions about our new design ideas, we went to Navon, a talented local weaver, expert dyer, and Ma Té Sai's very good friend (see photo right).
The concept was simple: Instead of mirroring the flower pattern, we would repeat it. Navon was up for the challenge. A few weeks later we had a successful, beautiful Tai Leu chevron in our hands. A modern pattern that was still, undoubtedly Tai Leu. It was love at first sight! And before we knew it, we were designing a whole new range of Sabai fabrics inspired by this fresh, simplified version of a favorite classic.