With the huge growth of awareness about how using products that are environmentally friendly is better for our future, many conscientious people who sew now want to use material that supports this thinking. This means using eco fabrics/sustainable fabrics that are produced in an environmentally friendly manner.
Tonnes of toxic chemicals are used in the conventional farming and production of textiles. These eventually end up in the environment. If we want to use fabrics that are safer for the environment we need to use products made from eco-fibres. The guide below tells you more about eco friendly fabrics, and where you can buy them to help you sew sustainably.
What are eco fibres?
Eco-fibres are the raw materials used in manufacturing textiles without the use of chemicals, pesticides or synthetic fertilisers. They are a renewable, sustainable resource, so do not have a negative affect on the environment. These include the following:
Hemp – made from plant fibres and grows without the use of any chemicals or pesticides. It is quick to grow so is replanted and harvested annually.
Bamboo – is a natural fibre from China grown without pesticides or chemicals. It is the world’s fastest growing, self-regenerating plant. Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial, hypoallergenic and makes a very soft fabric that doesn’t fray or wrinkle. It is therefore ideal for baby clothes. It is also biodegradable on disposal.
Organic Cotton – is grown without using chemicals or pesticides, so does not produce allergic reactions in sensitive skin which ordinary cotton may do.
Organic silk – is naturally sustainable and is different from standard silk because the silk worm is not killed when making it.
Soya – is made from tofu manufacturing waste and the fibres made are incredibly soft and feels similar to cashmere. It is often combined with organic cotton.
Linen – is made from the fibres of the flax plant and is durable and strong. It is considered a luxury fabric, highly absorbent and good for garments to keep you cool.
SeaCell – is made from wood pulp fibre and seaweed. It is said that the nutrients from the seaweed in this fabric are absorbed by your body and create a sense of well-being!
Eco-spun – is a high quality polyester fibre made from plastic bottles so enabling the bottles to be recycled rather than going to landfill.
Where can you buy eco fabrics?
Lots of websites sell sustainable fabrics including: Dragonfly Fabrics (who kindly provided the images for this feature), Bobbins & Buttons, Sew Me Sunshine, Simple Life Fabrics, Bawn, Fine City Fabrics, Raystitch, Stoff & Stil, Well Cultivated, The Hemp Shop, Green Fibres, Offset Warehouse and Organic Textile Company.
Some fabric designers work exclusively with organic fabrics including Cloud 9 Fabrics, Daisy Janie and Birch Fabrics. There is more information about eco-friendly fabrics and the processes behind their fabrics on their sites and blogs.
With the environmental benefits and also the hypo-allergenic and other beneficial properties of these fabrics there seems many reasons to choose these materials. So what are you planning that could be made from an eco-friendly fabric?
This guide to eco-friendly fabrics was contributed by sewing enthusiast Rose Smith.