I've recently been thinking how I can be more sustainable & how my sewing practice can help in this endeavour & thought I'd put together a series of blog posts giving some hints & tips, along with some little projects that can be made to help achieve this. There will be some scrapbusting projects along with some projects that will help to use less single use items made of plastic. So let me introduce you to Sam's Sustainability Series - catchy innit! (Philippa's idea that one!)
So, since we are a fabric shop, what better place to start than with fabric! First off let me just clarify that there's no perfect fabric in terms of sustainability, it's just that some are better than others. For example, the cost to the environment in producing cotton in terms of water, pesticides etc is huge but cotton will break down once it goes to landfill whereas polyester won't & microfibres can potentially leach into the waterways.
We have lots of options at Fabricate:
- GOTS Certified Organic Cotton - GOTS is the Global Organic Textile Standard which ensures that organic farmers use natural methods to grow cotton, not fossil-fuel based fertilisers, use less water to grow & emit less greenhouse gas & less hazardous substances are leached into rivers, lakes than non-organic cotton. The certification also means safe working conditions & no child labour. Our current collection of GOTS organic cotton fabrics can be found here
- Oeko-Tex Cotton - this is standard cotton which has been certified free from hazardous chemicals and is therefore deemed baby and child safe. It is tested at all stages of production & ensures customers confidence in safeguarding their health.
A good example of Oeko-Tex Cotton is our range from Atelier Brunette, which can be found here
- EcoVero - This is Viscose which is derived from certified renewable wood sources using an eco-responsible production process by meeting high environmental standards, minimising environmental impact (compared to production of traditional viscose fibres) and is also used by Atelier Brunette in their fabric production.
- Ramie is a new addition to Fabricate. It's a linen-like fibre made from the stalks of the nettle plant. It's very strong, durable, breathable, bacteria resistant and highly absorbent, even more so than cotton. Ramie is relatively sustainable if not mixed with other products, can be harvested 3 to 4 times a year, requires significantly less water than cotton to produce & can grow healthily without pesticides.
- Tencel - The fibres and materials, as well as the production environments for the fabrics chosen for the collections, are all certified sustainable and/or eco-friendly with very low ecological impact.
- Recycled Materials - one of the best ways to be sustainable is to use or re-use what is already in the system. Our Recycled Cotton Ribbed Knit uses 60% recycled cotton is OEKO-TEX certified.
- Dead Stock - Similar to recycled materials, Deadstock fabric is essentially leftover fabric from the fashion industry that the designers have been unable to use, often due to over-ordering or sometimes the fabric was rejected for some reason. Either way, this is fabric that could have potentially been sent to landfill & is considered a sustainable option. Many of our fabrics are sourced from a supplier that deals primarily with deadstock fabrics.
Here's a few extra tips to consider before purchasing fabric, that may help with your fabric consumption.
- Check how much fabric you need before you buy. Often pattern designers suggest that you need more fabric than necessary to allow for pattern matching. You can mitigate this by cutting out your pattern pieces first & measuring them against an existing fabric length you may have at home or alternatively measure it out on the floor - just double check that the width of fabric that you're buying is the same as the one that you tested with.
- Have a game of "Pattern Tetris"! This is just a term to ignore the pattern layout suggestions & fit your pattern pieces on to the available fabric more economically. I personally still like to keep the grainlines aligned as much as possible but for some pieces it doesn't matter, such as pockets.
- Cutting on a single layer of fabric rather than on the fold can save fabric & help with the Pattern Tetrissing - see above!
- Pattern matching - why not be a rebel & ignore pattern matching?! This one is definitely a personal choice - I try & avoid "flower boobs" but otherwise I don't worry too much about pattern matching, especially if I'm short of fabric!
I hope this has given you a few ideas on how to sew a bit more sustainably and I'll catch you soon with some scrapbusting project ideas!