Today is both Earth Day and the first day of Fashion Revolution week. Coincidence? I don’t think so. As we know, the fashion industry can be environmentally and socially degrading. Therefore the focus of this week is to bring light to these issues.
Many sewers know clothing and textile-based goods are not easy to make and even harder to trace. Consumers are usually left in the dark about the true environmental and social impact of what they are buying because clothing brands rarely disclose their practices.
Luckily, for the Confident Stitch community, we can make our clothing, and reduce the unknown portions of clothing’s downstream supply chain. But what about the fabric production? As conscious consumers, how do we choose which fabrics to use?
I have compiled a list of my favorite sustainable fabric options sold at the Confident Stitch to help answer some of these questions.
Clothing brands often do not use all the fabric they order for a variety of reasons. The fabric can be dyed with the wrong color, orders can be canceled or overestimated, or, on occasion, the fabric has slight damages. Jobbers, formerly known as rag men, buy this extra fabric and try to sell it, usually to fabric stores or smaller brands. If they cannot sell it, the fabric goes to the landfill.
The Confident Stitch is one of the fabric stores that buys from jobbers. We are the perfect home to this rejected fabric, because we do not require excessive yardage and do not need to necessarily reorder once we run out of a certain fabric. Although the sustainability of the fabrics’ content can be debated, buying leftovers is always better than starting from scratch. Look for the “designer” in the product’s name to find our deadstock collection.
Cotton production uses 10% of the world’s synthetic pesticides. Then mills use synthetic dyes and caustic finishers to get the correct look and feel of the fabric. That’s a lot of chemicals leaching into our soils, going into our air and touching our skin.
We produce Organic Cotton without synthetic pesticides, per the USDA or similar programs’ requirements, and without harmful dyes, finishers or toxic chemicals. Thus, Organic Cotton is not only healthy for our planet but also our bodies.
Tencel is the hippy-sister of rayon. Like rayon, tencel is made with wood pulp that is dissolved then dried in a certain way and with certain solvents to make yarn that is woven into a light-weight, breathable fabric. Unlike rayon, the wood in tencel is from sustainably managed forests and Lenzing Group (the Co. that makes tencel) has a closed loop solvent recycling process. This means that there is no harmful waste water. Since it comes from a natural material, tencel is bio-degradable and does not cause as much harm post-consumer as synthetic fabrics.
Durable, high-quality fabrics
The sustainability of a garment or quilt is a result of, well its sustainability. In other words, the longer something lasts, the smaller its impact. That is one of my favorite things about the maker community: We know how to create clothing that lasts. We can make clothes fit us perfectly and alter and mend them when needed. Instead of constantly buying clothing we sort-of like, but something’s off, we can just make the perfect piece. Hopefully by doing so, we are lengthening the lifetime of our clothing and reducing the amount of clothing we need to buy, in turn reducing our footprint.
I highly suggest referring to the Made From category in Good on You’s blog for a overview of most fabric options. (Their Brand Directory is also a great way to check how responsible your favorite brands are). The material guides are super informative and give the reader a better idea of the impact of the fabrics they wear.
For What it's Earth
The most sustainable garment in your wardrobe is the one that you wear all the time. It needs to be durable. The first step towards making clothing that lasts is the fabric, and, since all fabric at the Confident Stitch is chosen with longevity and quality in mind, it’s inherently sustainable! TCS provides the ingredients you need to make wardrobe staples that won’t need constant replacing. Happy Sewing, and Happy Earth Day!