Make Me a Wardrobe 2015-Ethical Supplies

I blogged earlier on in the week about finding secondhand supplies for dressmaking and crafting, as part of my Make Me a Wardrobe 2015 challenge, to make an item of clothing a month for the year.

mmaw 4

I love mooching around charity shops and vintage fairs to see what fabulous retro fabrics I can find, and I have built up quite a stash, BUT I never seem to have quite the right bit of fabric for the thing I am looking to make. It’s alway not the right colour/fabric type/not enough fabric. So I end up Making Do, and never being quite happy with the results. Or making a total mess of the whole thing as I am trying to squeeze too many pattern pieces onto too little fabric.
I am sure that as I become more experienced, I will be able to work around these issues, and use different fabric to those suggested, or make adjustments in the pattern, but for where my skill level is right now, this isn’t really happening. And it’s a bit dis-heartening, and off-putting.
So I have decided that for my #mmaw2015 challenge, if I don’t have quite the right thing in my stash, I will allow myself the luxury of buying new fabric!
BUT it has to be ethical.
As I said in the previous post, making something by hand is always going to be better than buying something one of the ‘fast fashion’ retailers, but all too often we forget about the environmental impact of the raw ingredients. The cotton, or the wool, and then how it is processed and dyed, and made into the resource that we buy in the shops.
Conventional cotton farming is not good-for the environment, or for those growing it. It uses vast amounts of water and pesticides, and the farmers are often living hand to mouth, as well as exposing themselves to a whole heap of toxins at the same time.
This video by Charlie at Offset Warehouse goes into much more detail about the benefits of organic fabrics over conventional ones:

There is such a fabulous range of organic, eco-friendly and fair-trade fabrics available now, so in my books, there is absolutely no need to buy conventional fabrics.
Org fabric collage
And there is also a big choice of organic sewing notions too-from thread to pompom trims!
Organic notions
I’ve been hitting the inter web, to scout out the best places to find ethical fabrics and haberdashery, so you don’t have to!
One point I want to make before we start, is that many sites selling organic fabrics and haberdashery supplies seem to be USA based. I have tried to restrict the list to UK companies, as I think that’s where most of my readers are based, and once you factor in flying fabric over from the States, it starts to become a lot less ‘ethical’!
If enough people shout, and tell me whereabouts in the world they live, I will try and put together a global directory (eeeek!)

Here’s my (mostly UK) guide:
Where to Buy Ehtical Fabric

Stores selling only ethical fabrics

  • Offset Warehouse-“Your one stop shop for beautiful, quality eco-fabrics
    I LOVE Offset Warehouse! They stock a huge range of eco-friendly fabrics, from cotton, through to denim, fleece, and silks, as well as more unusual fabrics like Banana fabric! In addition to this, they have a fabulous blog, jam-packed full of information about all things eco-sewing.
  • Lancaster & Cornish
    L&C logo
    Based in Cornwall, this online store has a good range of organic printed fabrics, as well as some really cute kits to make your own organic knickers!
  • Maud’s Fabric Finds
    Mauds Fabric FindsI came across this fab shop at Kirstie’s Handmade Fair, and it stocks loads of organic and hand-printed fabrics, that you can buy by the metre, or by the fat quarter
  • Stitch Organics is a UK based Etsy shop selling fabulous printed and plain organic fabrics
    Stitch organics
  • Warp & Weft
    Another UK based Etsy shop, with some lovely printed organic fabrics available by the Fat Quarter
    Warp and Weft
  • Organic Cotton.Biz
    This online shop sells a super range of organic fabrics, including jersey, fleece and linens
    Organic textile Co
  • Fair Trade Fabric
    A great shop for quilters, this store has Fat Quarter packs and jelly packs, as well as Fair Trade fabrics available by the metre

Stores selling ethical and conventional fabrics

Stores selling ethical haberdashery

Wow, who would have guessed there was such a fabulous range of ethical sewing loveliness, available at the click of a button!
If for any reason you can’t find what what you are looking for, or just haven’t got time to wait for an online purchase to arrive, then the next best ‘ethical’ option for buying conventional fabrics and notions, is always your local independent haberdashery! Don’t forget about these guys, and if you have one near you, always choose it over the big multinational craft stores-shopping locally, and keeping money in your local economy is a very valid ethical choice!


12 thoughts on “Make Me a Wardrobe 2015-Ethical Supplies

  1. Wow I am so jealous.
    I have forsaken the right to buy new fabric for the whole of 2015 and to use up my mountainous stash instead.
    I almost faltered when I saw the beautiful organic fabric on offer but decided I must stay strong.
    Next year maybe…..

  2. There is so much good light weight organic cotton fabric, but not enough canvas and decor weight organic cotton. You can say that there is no reason to buy conventional, but I have not been able to switch 100% to organic yet, b/c most of the canvas prints from cloud 9 and others simply won’t sell when I made them up into pillows. It was my goal to have totally phased out the conventional cottons by end of 2014, but did not make it. I got a wholesale buying account set up w/ cloud 9 so I could start buying bolts, but the best organic cotton sellers for my products (line leaf) were no longer available. Their canvases for 2015 that are available were either really poor sellers for me, or did not look promising for summer 2015. It’s really frustrating. I have one good option that sells from Harmony Art (stitch simple is a reseller). I know there is another indie organic cotton designer with a sort of scandanavian/african hybrid style, but I have pretty good confidence it won’t go over well w/ my customer base. I’m rather desperate for more Organic cotton canvas, so let me know if you know of others. I recently found a pin stripe hemp / organic canvas, and I also use hemp/organic cotton denim, and hemp canvases. Overall I see a general deficiency in traditional prints in the Organic cotton industry. Would like to see more traditional styles like toile, damask, etc.

    • Hi there
      Thanks for the comments-interesting to hear other people’s experiences sourcing organic fabric. If you click through on the links, there is quite a range of different fabric weights and types available at Offset Warehouse and Organic Cotton Biz. Cloth house London have organic canvas in a stripe and a weave as well as plain, and I can’t remember where, but there was definitely some gorgeous striped canvas somewhere in amongst everything!
      Good luck in your search-please do share if you find what you are looking for!

  3. Pingback: January Round-Up | Moral Fibres - UK Eco Green Blog

  4. Organic cloth still has to be flown across the globe to the uk as we don’t grow cotton here, or hemp, or bananas etc, so it doesn’t really matter if you purchase from America/ china/India/Turkey etc – as it is actually closer to the source of manufacture.

    • Hi Kristie
      Yes, I totally see your point. But I would imagine that the majority of non-organic cloth is also flown across the globe, so at least organic is having less impact at the growing/manufacture stage?

  5. Pingback: My first sewing project | westywrites

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