Sewing with Eco-Friendly Fabrics

Sewing with Eco-Friendly Fabrics

Published: 17th January, 2020


Wether you are just starting out on your sewing journey or you’ve been at the craft for years ,we thought the beginning of the year is a great reminder about sustainable + eco-friendly sewing.

Yes, sewing in itself is a sustainable path for your clothing choices, though sometimes we all need to remember what fabrics we are sewing with. Every garment you make has an end point at some stage, we like to think about what this will look like - eg. can it biodegrade and will it be harmful to the environment?

We’ve come up with a simple breakdown below, of what fabrics are best to sew with, from a eco-friendly point of view #sustainablesewing #ecofriendlysewing


LINEN
. Linen is made from the flax plant, with minimal end wastage
. It can be laborious to manufacturer, though the fibre is very strong (hence why it can be costly)
. It has amazing cooling properties, it takes on the moisture from your skin (+ evaporates into the air), leaving you nice and cool
. It is biodegradable at the end of it’s life cycle (when sewn with cotton thread)
. Linen can take heat when ironing, though it is best to iron on a low-medium heat as the cellulose fibres can become brittle over time with the heat
. Linen will soften with age and each wash
. It is a great fabric for beginner sewists as it is very forgiving and easy to sew!

COTTON (Organic)
. Organic cotton is sewn from seeds. Just like organic produce, there are no chemicals or pesticides used for growing. This means the cotton is stronger and healthier for your skin (when made into clothing)
. The cotton fibres are hand picked, maintaining the purity of the fibres
. It is absorbent, leaving you cool and comfortable
. It is biodegradable at the end of it’s life cycle (when sewn with cotton thread)
. It is a great fabric for beginner sewists as it is very forgiving and easy to sew!


COTTON (Standard) - Not so great
. General cotton is grown in large crops. Due to high demand, chemicals and pesticides are used so that the cotton grows faster. This can lead to the end product causing allergic reactions on your skin (when sewn into clothing)
. General cotton can also be harmful to the environment, the pesticides and chemicals used run off into local water ways and soils causing devastating effects for the surrounding environment and people
. It is semi-biodegradable at the end of it’s life cycle (when sewn with cotton thread)

Check out this article to find more information on Organic Cotton vs Standard Cotton


TENCEL / LYOCELL / MODAL
. Tencel can also be known as lyocell or modal
. It is a cellulose fibre, made by dissolving wood pulp
. Wood chips are mixed with a solvent to produce a wet mixture, the mixture is then pushed through small holes to form threads. These threads are then chemically treated and lengths of fibre are spun into yarn.
. It is 50% more absorbent than cotton
. It is breathable and less susceptible to odours (and bacterial growth)
. Perfect fabrics for travel-wear or activewear
. It is biodegradable at the end of it’s life cycle (when sewn with cotton thread)
. It uses less water + energy to produce than cotton


BAMBOO
. Bamboo textiles are made from cellulose fibres extracted from bamboo
. It is fast growing (anyone who has bamboo in their garden will know this!)
. Bamboo textiles made from 100% bamboo are super soft and easily biodegradable
. Bamboo is 40% more absorbent than cotton
. Similar to linen, it can wick the moisture from your skin
. Often you will see bamboo fibres mixed with cotton or hemp
. Sometimes when a textile is labelled ‘bamboo’, it can be a viscose rayon (not so good) - a fibre made by dissolving the cellulose in the bamboo, then then extruding it to form fibres. This process destroys the natural characteristics of the bamboo fibre - Always Check


SILK
. Silk is created by fibres made by the insects, silkworms (did everyone have these in primary school?)
. Silkworms will only live on mulberry trees
. The silkworms spin cocoons, which are then turned into silk fibres through various processes (not vegan friendly)
. The fabric is highly breathable and moisture wicking (like linen)
. Silk is the strongest natural textile in the world!
. Silk fabric is soft and floaty - often very fine
. Silk fibres have a triangular prism-like structure, meaning that they reflect light at various angles, resulting in subtle rainbow hues
. It is biodegradable at the end of it’s life cycle (when sewn with cotton thread)


HEMP
. Hemp fabric is made from the fibres in the herbaceous plant of the species cannabis sativa
. It's a high-yield crop that produces significantly more fibre per acre than either cotton or linen
. Hemp also leaves the soil in excellent condition for any succeeding crop
. It is a very durable and strong fabric
. Like linen, hemp wicks moisture from your skin
. Hemp blended with bamboo or cotton will be softer than 100% hemp .
. Fabrics made from hemp are hypo-allergenic and non-irritating to the skin
. Hemp has the look of classic linen
. Hemp fabric will soften with age and each wash


MERINO WOOL
. Merino wool, comes from the merino sheep (local to Spain, Australia and NZ)
. Australia produces 80% of the worlds merino wool
. It is a very soft fibre, with a natural shine
. Great for sensitive skin
. It is breathable and less susceptible to odours (and bacterial growth)
. It is a warm fabric, durable, water repellent and naturally insulating (think comfy tee’s + turtlenecks in winter!)
. Merino wool is not itchy, it won’t irritate your skin, compared to some standards wools
. It is biodegradable at the end of it’s life cycle (when sewn with cotton thread)



Hopefully this quick breakdown has given you some insight into eco-friendly fabrics to sew with and some inspiration!
Of course, the most sustainable fabric is one that is already in your stash.

xx Ali + Charlie

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