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Thread: Organic Cotton Quilting Fabric, Safe Dyes & Finishes, Fair Trade, Etc.

  1. #1
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    Organic Cotton Quilting Fabric, Safe Dyes & Finishes, Fair Trade, Etc.

    Personally, I'm becoming more and more concerned about the fabrics that I am using for my quilts. While I love to use scraps, especially from old, vintage fabrics, I still buy new fabrics for my projects. Sometimes, when I get them home, the smell of them, alone, just about knocks me out of the house. The dyes and finishes that they use can't always be good for people, or the environment. I would like to use more environmentally sound, socially responsible fabrics. Does anyone here use only organic fabrics? What about fabrics that are dyed with safe, natural dyes and finishes? What about Fair Trade fabrics? Let's open up the discussion!

    ~ Cindy

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    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I wash my fabrics when I get them home. That takes care of the sizing, finishes, and smells. If I had to wait until I located "organic" and "fair trade", I wouldn't be able to quilt!

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    I have been discovering some online stores that sell organic, cotton, quilt fabrics, batting, thread, etc. Most of their sale prices are very reasonable, while a few of their latest collections are outrageously priced. My point is, they're out there. Has anyone had any experience ordering from them? How is the fabric quality? What about international fabrics that fall under "Fair Trade?"

    ~ Cindy

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    If by "organic" you mean cotton that was grown without any type of pesticides, I would be very surprised to find that any cotton could be labeled as such. I lived in west Texas cotton country, and all the cotton crops were sprayed with pesticides and with an exfoliator (kills the leaves on the plants). Since the cotton is washed during processing, I don't worry about it being organic. Dyes would be another matter, but I have been making my own clothes since I was 12 (and now I'm 60), and haven't had any problems with dyes in all those years. I do know that some people are sensitive to dyes, but they are not the majority. With the push to "go green", it has become a fad to label things as "green" or "organic". I would just say, buyer beware. And is it really that important to you when throwing it in the washer when you get it home will solve the problem.

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    With all due respect, there are already lots of organic cotton products out there these days and organic cotton farms are pretty easy to find in California, as well as other parts of the world. So, organic cotton is not all that uncommon and I certainly don't consider it a fad, by any means.

    Personally, I have to look at the total process and the environmental consequences of using pesticides vs. going organic. They may get washed out in the washing machine, but where do they go then? Where does the pesticide go when the farmer puts it on his crops? What is the company supplying the pesticide being used? Does that company create a monopoly on that crop and it's future seed with GMOs?

    It's my personal choice to shop for organic products. I'm not trying to be preachy...to each her own. I just want more feedback and information about organic quilting fabrics.

    ~ Cindy

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    I find it hard enough to find affordable fabric to work with and I know I would have to give up quilting if I bought only organic.

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    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I would like to point out that arsenic is organic, and is used in organic farming. Where does IT go when the washing machine is done? Just sayin'.

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    I'm washing a load of material right now. I'm using it for packing material, so it can move with me, upon unpacking it will all be washed.

    I will watch this thread. I notice a smell on one of the latest materials I picked up.

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    I know there is a place in NC that grows cotton, that is sold locally, and turned into tshirts . . . I read it in my monthly power company co-op magazine. I am union power, the magazine is Carolina Country. I tried to find it, but I am dial up =((.

    somewhere to start . . . ??

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    Fabric is not worth my worrying about if it is organic or not.
    Got fabric?

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    I've been shopping around on the internet for organic quilting fabrics. Most stores carry organics now, including Joann's. Cloud9 has some beautiful stuff. HoneyBeGood has some very nice sale and coupons on their organics. Robert Kaufman does an organic line. Fabric Indulgence has some gorgeous yardage. There's a few fabric artists on Etsy that sell their goods.

    I'm also interested in batting. I usually use cotton and organic cotton is readily available now. Has anyone tried the bamboo/org. cotton batting? I hear it's really nice and luxe. I haven't looked at organic thread yet. I have way too much of the regular stuff right now.

    Other sources???

    ~ Cindy

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    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I won a spool of organic cotton thread as a door prize. It was very linty and limp. It shredded too much when used on the machine so I used it for handsewing. Bamboo batting is not bamboo.

    Federal Trade Commission want consumers to know that while bamboo does grow quickly with little or no need for pesticides and has found excellent uses in hard products like flooring and furniture, the soft bamboo textiles such as sheets, shirts, and batting are actually rayon, which is not an environmentally friendly product.
    Last edited by BellaBoo; 05-22-2013 at 06:01 AM.
    Got fabric?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo View Post
    I won a spool of organic cotton thread as a door prize. It was very linty and limp. It shredded too much when used on the machine so I used it for handsewing.
    Well, just because it's labeled "Organic," doesn't mean it's a quality product, that's for sure. But, isn't that true for everything?

    Another product that I've been seeing in the organics category is hemp/cotton blend fabric. Has anyone used this? I made my daughter's wedding dress from a hemp/silk blend. The fabric was absolutely beautiful and very durable. I imagine that hemp blend quilting fabrics would be long wearing.

    ~ Cindy

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    Super Member thimblebug6000's Avatar
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    This is an interesting topic, thanks for opening it. Just scanning a few sites & found this blog, will check back later when I have more time. http://quiltersbattinguniversity.blogspot.ca/

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    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tropit View Post
    I would like to use more environmentally sound, socially responsible fabrics.
    Quote Originally Posted by tropit View Post
    Has anyone tried the bamboo/org. cotton batting? I hear it's really nice and luxe.
    Bamboo is a very nice batting, soft with a lovely drape. However, if you want environmentally sound and socially responsible products, stay far, far away from it. I did a lot of research on it a couple of years ago, and it is NOT environmentally friendly.
    Last edited by Peckish; 05-22-2013 at 06:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peckish View Post
    Bamboo is a very nice batting, soft with a lovely drape. However, if you want environmentally sound and socially responsible products, stay far, far away from it. I did a lot of research on it a couple of years ago, and it is NOT environmentally friendly.
    I've heard that rumor. I used to work in the apparel industry and there was a lot of talk, pros and cons, about bamboo. With so much competition in that sector, I'm not sure what I believe to be true and what not to believe.

    There are a couple of designations/certifications that are awarded to organic fabrics, which helps. One is the GOTS, which stands for, "Global Organic Textile Standard." Here's an explanation of what it stands for: http://tilth.org/certification/stand...-textiles-gots.

    Another one is, "Organic Exchange (OE) 100," which tracks organic fibers, making sure that they do not get mixed up with non-organics.

    "SBP,' gives honors for fabrics made out of sustainable and biodegradable products.

    You can also look for the words, "low impact dyes," on the label, or description.

    ~ Cindy

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    Also, on the subject of batting...I was just looking at some quilting catalogs and they are now offering organic, Soy/Cotton blend batting. Hummm...what part of the soybean plant are they using? I assume not the bean, but the rest of the plant. Waste not, want not...true to a quilter's mantra.

    ~ Cindy

  18. #18
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tropit View Post
    I've heard that rumor.
    Rumor?

    Okay, here's the body of the article I wrote about bamboo batting. Read it carefully, investigate the links, and feel free to then draw your own conclusions. I personally could not care less what other people use for batting, but if it's important to you, please base your decision on more than just a "rumor".

    What kind of batting to use is a decision that a lot of quilters have difficulty with. There are so many variables to consider, so many different products to choose from. Poly, cotton and wool are well known, tested, and documented. It’s looking as if that’s not the case with bamboo.


    Lots of quilters got excited when the new bamboo battings came on the market. They were reported to be a sustainable, environmentally friendly and rapidly growing crop with antimicrobial properties, grown without harmful pesticides and fertilizers. For quilters looking to minimize their impact on the environment, their exposure to chemicals, and be “green”, this seemed like a dream come true.


    However, the Federal Trade Commission has quite a different story. They want consumers to know that while bamboo does grow quickly with little or no need for pesticides and has found excellent uses in hard products like flooring and furniture, the soft bamboo textiles such as sheets, shirts, and batting are actually rayon, which is not an environmentally friendly product.


    Going green is appealing to many people. But it’s difficult to go green if we don’t know the truth about the products we’re using. In fact, it can be detrimental to the life of our quilts.

    I found an article on the web that discusses good vs. bad bamboo and how to tell the difference. In summary, bamboo is either processed chemically, which is harmful to the environment and the people processing it, or it's processed mechanically, which makes it organic and “green” but is very labor-intensive and actually costs more than chemical processing. Scroll halfway down the page for a short list of things to check when you’re considering purchasing bamboo batting.



    Until further analysis and verification can be documented about bamboo (and labeling rules and laws are changed), it might be wise to stick with standards like wool and organic cotton battings that have been tested, confirmed and are widely available.


    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/cons...ts/alt160.shtm

    http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5538.html

    http://ecovillagegreen.com/2009/02/i...ndly-material/
    http://organicclothing.blogs.com/my_...-facts-be.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayon
    http://www.awakenedaesthetic.com/201...s-your-bamboo/

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    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tropit View Post
    I haven't looked at organic thread yet. I have way too much of the regular stuff right now.
    ~ Cindy
    Organic thread, Silk. Manufactured by silk worms. Can't get much more organic than that. But then you get into the animal rights issue on treatment of silk worms.

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    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    Last summer I attended a lecture by an executive from Hobbs Batting (manufacturing headquarters in Waco, TX.) What the man said falls in line with Peckish's information -- It is manufactured in an environment heavy with chemicals. He said that they sell it, because people are on the organic bandwagon. They do produce an organic cotton batting.

    I have a friend who farms in N.D. He has looked into the regulations on organic farming and says that the restrictions and recordkeeping are ridiculous -- as if farmers didn't have enough hoops to jump through.

    I appreciate the pesticides on fabric sent from overseas, because I don't want invested goods. However, I do wash my fabric before using it.

  21. #21
    Super Member charsuewilson's Avatar
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    "
    arsenic is organic, and is used in organic farming"

    As a chemist, I know that arsenic is inorganic element, although there have been both inorganic arsenical and organic arsenical pesticides. To be organic, the chemical must contain carbon, so an organic arsenical must also contain carbon. "Organic" farming is something different. Someone else has posted links to information on organic farming.

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    Dear Peckish,

    Please, I didn't mean to offend you with my word, "Rumor." I apologize. When I was manufacturing swimwear, bamboo fabrics had just hit the market and the talk about it really were rumors at that point and time. I had a friend that was producing lingerie and she did so much research on bamboo. She never did come to any conclusions about the fiber. It was all so mind boggling! I'm just trying to sort things out. I'll definitely read your information. Thanks for all of the links.

    ~ Cindy
    Last edited by tropit; 05-23-2013 at 06:08 AM.

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    Just checked on eQuilter.com--they have a sizable collection of organic fabrics, at 8.50-12.50/yard. They do go on sale, too, mixed in with the regular fabrics. Also, just recently noticed that a lot of Kaufman Kona solids are dyed according to Oeko-tex Standard 100 which (I believe I read) creates less environmental havoc. [disclaimer: I have referred fairly often to eQuilter in my posts--no financial interest! I just like the company.]

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    I'm allergic to dyes in clothes but those are the dyes that come off the clothes as you wear them. Those are the really cheap dyes from out of country I've found. When I bring home fabric it goes immediately into the washer. I do have to tell you one day I was at JoAnn's and as I was standing there a woman whipped out her cologne and used it. She got it on her hands and then proceeded to wipe her hands on the fabric. The dye came off on her hands and she complained to the management. I looked at her and thought the dye was just getting back at her. The manager said they would have to cut that part of the fabric and sell it on discount or send it back. She thought they should do something because she might be allergic to the dye. Idiot.

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    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    I am glad you started this topic, tropit.

    I am sorry you started this topic, tropit!

    I am thoroughly conflicted about "organic" and would like to bury my head in my stash for the next fifty years while it is all sorted out. So far I have never sought out or bought organic fabric, thread or batting. For a while I bought organic food...until I became aware that organic food often had a carbon footprint of astronomic proportions and that some unscrupulous stores sold food as "organic" that was conventional...But I also hate to support Monsanto and their ilk...but I hate to pay a lot for groceries. Did I mention that I am conflicted?

    I considered bamboo batting for a couple of projects, but balked at the price, and then felt guilty for balking at the price! Occasionally I assuage my (general) guilt by telling myself that at least some of the time I am using scraps; that even if the original fabric was produced using unfair labor practices, or environment-destroying chemical processes, that by using scraps or recycled fabric I have somewhat mitigated the original menace. But then I remember that I am producing yet more "stuff" in a world drowning in "stuff", and I am plunged into ambivalence again...

    Sorry tropit. Not a very constructive post. But I am very glad that someone is raising these issues, and in a constructive, positive, helpful way! I do think about this. I just don't know how to act on it yet.

    Alison-The-Ambivalent

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