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Thread: Organic cotton

  1. #1
    Super Member judykay's Avatar
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    Organic cotton

    Has any one worked with organic cotton? My niece want s to make a quilt with it and wants to know if it will hold up over time. I have not used it at all so I told her I would do some research.
    Happy Quilting
    Judy in Lower Michigan

  2. #2
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    I've used organic cotton a few times- it was kind of a ( fad) some years ago. It holds up fine, the quilt I made ( for a child, lots of use/ laundering) 10 years ago has held up fine. The organic were popular, easy to find 10 years ago, I've not seen many lately so, don't know how the quality is now. And of course there is a range of quality like all fabrics- some much better than others.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  3. #3
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    Its "organic" because its grown and processed without any chemical insecticides or fertilizers. Its still just cotton.

  4. #4
    Super Member Onebyone's Avatar
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    Cotton is not a food plant so it isn't grown organic. The organic comes from how the fabric is processed. No sizing, or harsh chemicals are used.
    I love my life!

  5. #5
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    Actually, organic cotton is grown organically. Here are a few links:

    https://organiccottonplus.com/pages/learning-center
    https://ota.com/sites/default/files/...tton-Facts.pdf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_cotton

    I haven't used it personally, but some of my kids' baby and toddler clothes that we were gifted have been made from organic cotton and it has held up fine through multiple washings. I assume that it wears the same as regular cotton.

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    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    I got sheets that said organic cotton. too soft and icky feeling for me. not sure of quilt fabrics though.

  7. #7
    Super Member Onebyone's Avatar
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    I live in cotton growing country. We have a cotton gin mill in town. I called one of the cotton growers field managers and he told me an earful about organic cotton growing. For the small fields it's fdoable but for the big cotton fields, the owner cannot take the loss of the cotton crop by going organic. It takes years for the organic way to show benefits and never will produce the amount of cotton needed to keep the fields profitable. The organic chemicals are more harmful in other ways then the crop dusting done now. He ended with don't you think if organic cotton growing was the same or more profitable the growers would all be growing organic? Bottom line is profit and demand for abundant cotton. Not much demand for organic cotton to mass produce cotton goods.
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  8. #8
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onebyone View Post
    I live in cotton growing country. We have a cotton gin mill in town. I called one of the cotton growers field managers and he told me an earful about organic cotton growing. For the small fields it's fdoable but for the big cotton fields, the owner cannot take the loss of the cotton crop by going organic. It takes years for the organic way to show benefits and never will produce the amount of cotton needed to keep the fields profitable. The organic chemicals are more harmful in other ways then the crop dusting done now. He ended with don't you think if organic cotton growing was the same or more profitable the growers would all be growing organic? Bottom line is profit and demand for abundant cotton. Not much demand for organic cotton to mass produce cotton goods.
    Its all about money. How much are people willing to pay for the item and can the grower make a profit at that price.
    Patrice S

  9. #9
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Several years ago I got curious and did some research on what constitutes organic farming, what techniques and products are used, the regulations and what entity enforces those regulations, etc. It was very eye-opening. Of note are the facts that organic farmers use things like slurries made out of dead bugs (apparently dead bugs may repel other bugs) and arsenic.

  10. #10
    Super Member Bree123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onebyone View Post
    He ended with don't you think if organic cotton growing was the same or more profitable the growers would all be growing organic? Bottom line is profit and demand for abundant cotton. Not much demand for organic cotton to mass produce cotton goods.
    So true ... and it applies to quilts as well. So many cheapy quilts that one can buy at Wal-Mart that quiltmaking has been largely relegated to a hobby rather than something one can do for a living. Still, there are discerning customers out there willing to pay for quality quilts, just as there are those of us who see the benefit of organic cotton. It's not for everybody, but there are people who either (1) care about what how their purchases impact the environment, and/or (2) have allergies/sensitivities to some of the chemicals routinely used in the harvesting, dying/printing, finishing, or packaging of soft goods like fabrics or the quilts made from them.

    JudyKay,
    To quickly answer your original question: if it's quality fabric like Cloud 9 or Birch Organic, the organic cotton fabrics hold up quite well.

    On a more detailed note, interestingly, the more I've researched organic cotton, the more I've found that it's really the dying process that tends to be the most harmful to the environment (by far) rather than the processing of the pre-dyed/printed fabric. And there are different standards of labeling that allow for a fabric to be labeled "organic", some of which do not consider the impact on the environment of dying processes that use enormous amounts of water that is then contaminated with chemicals and discharged into the local water supply.

    The gold standard for measuring the impact of such chemicals is Oeko-Tex. Unfortunately, right now there are 0 companies in the US producing Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Class I woven cotton fabrics (deemed to meet their human & ecological requirements for children under the age of 3). Robert Kaufman Kona white & dyed fabrics are certified as Class II, but they are not made with organic cotton.

    I have yet to find an organic cotton fabric that also has received Class II certification from Oeko-Tex. So, short of using undyed cotton, it is always a trade-off. Organic cotton is most frequently printed -- which generally has a very low impact on the environment as little to no water is used. When it is dyed, there tend to be one of two routes suppliers go. First, some will use 100% "natural" dyes. These dyes rarely hold up to frequent washes, sunlight or time; they rarely start out very saturated & what color they do have will fade rather quickly. Second, some will use "low-impact" fiber reactive dyes. These are synthetic (i.e., not organic) dyes that use significantly less water than more traditional dyes & hold up quite well to multiple washings. In an ideal world, they would be dyed in small batches to further limit the impact on the environment, but the downside of that is that it drives up the cost of producing the fabric.

    The final thing I would point out about organic fabric is that you will definitely want to get a good amount of starch/sizing as, in my experience, it typically is not as crisp off the bolt due to using fewer finishing chemicals. Personally, I wash everything that comes into my house & then starch the living daylights out of it. But if you prefer not to pre-wash, you may find yourself using more starch than usual to get the fabric ready to cut & piece. Also, I find that organic cotton seems to shrink a bit more so I buy a couple inches extra just to be safe (versus when I buy cotton fabric that isn't certified organic).

    I think it's so wonderful that your niece is thinking about the impact of her choices. I hope her quilt surpasses her expectations & reminds her always that the biggest way high-quality quilts impact the environment is when they are cherished & used for a very long time, rather than mass produced & tossed aside like so much of what we buy in this country.

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