Working with Organic Fabrics, 2019

SO I figured I’d put a date on this because who knows what kinds of organic fabrics are in our futures, right? Most of us understand that we need to be the change in our society and planet and reduce our contribution to climate change where we can. (…and with the Amazon forest fires the past couple months, OOF!) I have, for a couple years, been reflecting on my predicament as a quilter and a consumer of fabrics – cotton fabrics – in light of this. Questions come to mind like, “is growing cotton environmentally friendly?”, “is linen from flax more friendly?” “is organic cotton actually any better for the environment?*” Of course I keep making quilts and things and, yes, I keep buying fabrics but I buy a little less and I started actively getting organic cottons or upcycling fabrics including remnants from my mother’s stash from 60 years of sewing. Certainly a way of reducing my environmental footprint is using up what I have and making do with it, right?

Though I had been on the lookout for fabrics to make a “vintage sheet” looking quilt, I wasn’t just buying fabrics willy-nilly – I was trying to make a more thoughtful process of it for myself. Lo and behold Paintbrush Studio fabrics basically got it in one line. I recently picked up a fat quarter bundle of their Flower Market fabrics designed by A Beautiful Mess. It’s SO Very Seventies! and really was giving me the colors and style I was looking for. I added on three Birch Organics Solid poplins and one poplin from the previously mentioned mother’s stash. (it’s a light pea green, I bet she got it in the 70s!)

I’ve only done my first set of cuts with it and stitched a bit and I wanted to comment on it and share with other quilters who may be curious about the quality and hand and color and generally, my overall satisfaction with the fabric:


*Short answer: organic cotton comes out looking better than conventionally grown because conventionally grown cotton usually has a BIG carbon footprint due to the pesticides and herbicides application to the crop. So organic cotton is an improvement. Both take a lot of water and use a lot of land – organic uses more land because you don’t get quite as much cotton out of an equivalent area of land. There’s details. and science. and case by case situations. I’m also pretty interested in fair trade or in other words making sure my fellow humans get treated fairly wherever they may be and organic fabrics certification (GOTS) includes the criteria: “Facilities must maintain minimum fair labor practices from the International Labor Organization”  additionally, linen is made from the flax plant and is being used in a bunch of quilting fabrics these days – blended with cotton  like in Robert Kaufman’s Essex  –   and I personally LOVE the texture of linen so I will explore those more in the future too.

Windham fabrics just released a line on organic fabrics too: Sweet Oak by Striped Pear Studio. I picked up 3 pieces of this line, the acorns on ochre, the snails in ochre, and the damask on cream. The blues and corals in this line are clear and really easy to match. I have some other fat quarters of Birch organic poplins in my stash and the light blue and rich blue go really well with it. I’m expecting some navy Essex from Robert Kaufman to go pretty well with it too. I have to put together some sashiko projects for an upcoming class so I already have the navy Essex coming in for those and I can check it at that time.



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