Sustainable fabrics are a hot topic in the sewing world today. We are all so much more aware of our ethical footprint on the world around us as we strive to make the world a better place. Sustainable fabrics are a part of that footprint, but it is such a complex area!
What does sustainable mean to you?
The best place to start is to ask yourself ‘What does sustainability mean to you?’ Does it mean organic, without toxins or harmful dyes or is it about the way it’s produced? There is no one perfect answer to what sustainability is, so you really need to give it some thought and decide what matters to you the most.
Things to consider are what the fabrics are made from, how is it produced, who made it, and are they cared for in the process.
Sustainability to us is also about using what is already in the world, giving it a second or third life, and making sure you make the most of what we have made already. Think of second-hand clothes and up-cycling items like duvet covers and sheets for clothing. Also, make the most of your scraps and leftovers for smaller projects.
Remember there is no perfect solution and nobody can be 100% perfect when it comes to sustainability. We need to do what we can and just think about other options, even the smallest change makes a difference.
Where to shop for sustainable fabric?
We are seeing organic and sustainable fabrics appearing in our favorite fabric shops. Fabric shops are also now able to buy up remnant fabrics (or Deadstock) from the fashion industry and sell them onto us. This is another great way of being considerate in your fabric purchasing, as previously this would have all have just gone to landfill.
We have listed some of the best stores in the UK to buy sustainable and remnant fabrics. We will try to keep this list up to date and add more to the blog as more shops add to their stock. Some stores are specialists in this area and others give you well-filled section of organic or eco-fabrics to choose from.
- Offset Warehouse
- Dragonfly Fabrics
- Lamazi Fabrics
- Organic Textile Company
- Cloud9 Fabrics
- Sew Me Sunshine
- Green Fibres
- Croft Mill
- Like Sew Amazing
- Selkie Patterns
- Fabric Godmother
What else can you do?
Would you like to be more sustainable in your sewing and shopping practices, but don’t know where to start? We thought about this particular subject last year and came up with M.U.S.T.A.R.D. You can check out the full video below.
Make Upcycle Share Thrift Assess Repair Donate
Make as much with what you already have as you can. Dive into your stash and use that fabric that you already own, making sure to use as much of it as you can..think zero-waste!
Upcycle where you can, don’t throw away fabric or any type, try to reuse it for another item and upcycle.
Share your wardrobe with friends and family. Before you make or buy an item is there something you can borrow from a friend? Pass your kids clothes down to families with younger children in your area.
Thrift or Charity shops have become a part of our High Streets. We love a charity shop and we buy from them whenever we can, they are a great source of items for up-cycling or just giving clothing a second life.
Repair should be an easy one for us sewists, we should all be doing this. Change those buttons, darn that hole and make that item wearable again.
Donate what you can rather than fill landfill. If you have to get rid of clothing make sure it goes to a home that will appreciate it (Charity shop or local charity).
What is the future of fabrics?
As the world strives to find a better way to produce fabrics there are some fantastic innovations coming our way.
The industry has been experimenting with fibers to replace our addiction to cotton. Hemp, bamboo, and flax, are all sustainable alternatives to cotton. Even the humble stinging nettle is being used as it produces a soft fiber which is naturally fire-resistant.
Alternatives to leather are another exciting innovation being worked on at the moment. Think mushroom, bark, leaf, apple, and coconut (believe it or not!). These may not appear in fabric shops anytime soon but we are excited to see them popping up on the high street.
Other organic items being used to manufacture clothing are oranges and pineapples, both of which produce a huge amount of global waste in the food industry every year.
Orange Fiber is a textile made by extracting the cellulose from the leftovers from the industrial pressing and processing of the oranges. The fiber is naturally enriched with citrus essential oil which means the vitaminic textile nourishes the skin when being worn.
Piñatex is a leather-like fabric made from the waste taken from pineapple plantations. The local factories separate the strands and felt them together into a non-woven, leather-like fabric that can be used for clothes, footwear, furniture and accessories, just like the bag below.
Biofabrics are being hyped as the future of sustainable fabrics but at present, they are still in the testing stage. Biofabricated textiles are materials grown from live microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, algae, and fungi root structures. The colour, structure, thickness, and texture of the finished material can all be programmed into the DNA of the microorganisms cells.
It’s an exciting time with all of the progress being made in sustainable fabrics and we look forward to seeing more and more options coming to the High Street.
Sustainability to us is about making the right choice, as much as you can. It’s good to try as best you can but, to be honest, it is often difficult. So, don’t give yourself too hard a time about it just do the best you can. Every small change you make can make a big difference.
You may also be interested in another blog we wrote about eco-sewing to reduce single-use items in the home. Check it out here
If you want to start sewing and upcycling and don’t know the best place to start, then check out our FREE Learn to Sew class. We take you through all the basics of how to use a sewing machine and you will be sewing with confidence in no time.
We hope you found this article useful and we would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with sustainability in the sewing world. If you know of any other retails who sell sustainable or eco fabrics then drop us a line and we will update the list.
Nikki & Rachel