Resources for Sustainable, Organic Fabric

Hi friends! Today is all about sustainable and organic fabric options for the consciously minded sewist. In my quest for a handmade, ethically sourced wardrobe, it’s been difficult to find fabric manufacturers that are well known and also conscious of how their fabric is made. Part of the issue with the clothing industry is not just who makes the clothes and how they are treated, but what fabrics are used and how those fabrics are processed. For example, did you know that cotton is one of the dirtiest crops on the planet? And not in a Christina-Aguilera-music-video kinda way. I’ve had to do some searching to find sustainable, organic fabric, and even then my options are limited.

Sustainable, Organic fabric

Obviously, one of the best ways to acquire sustainable clothing is hand-me-downs, clothing swaps, or the thrift store. I’m all for that, and I’ll do plenty of re-fashioning on this blog, don’t you worry. But sometimes a girl just wants some brand new, shiny fabric to make something and indulge her creative process, amirite? So cultivating a list of places that will indulge my creative urgings while also satisfying my need sustainability sounds like a win-win to me.

This is a list I hope to keep updating and expanding as I learn of more companies who are purposeful in their ethical business practices, so feel free to share any that I don’t have listed here. The more, the better, in my opinion!

Sustainable, Organic Fabric Resources:

  • Organic Cotton Plus – They have a beautiful selection of organic cotton fabrics from muslins to voiles to sateens. I used one of their navy cotton sateens to make this version of the Anna dress from By Hand London.
  • Fabric Worm – They have tons of organic cotton fabric for quilting and other craft products. I think they are geared towards quilting more than garment sewing, but nevertheless a good resource to have.
  • Honey Be Good – This online fabric store sells fabric from a variety of merchants, and even sells organic cotton batting and thread!
  • Cedar House Fabrics – Another online store that sells fabric from a variety of organic cotton merchants. Ships internationally!
  • Stork and Me – This Etsy shop has tons of organic fabrics for baby blankets, quilts, knits and more. Great selection and great seller ratings.
  • Birch Fabrics – This vendor has a great selection of knit and woven fabrics in fun colors and prints.
  • Mood Fabrics – I add this with a caveat – many of the fabrics from Mood, although I totally love their selection, are not organic. However, they do sell some organic cotton, hemp, and raw silk. If you are looking for their eco-conscious items, search “organic” in the search bar, and that should narrow down the selection a bit.
  • Spoonflower – Spoonflower prints fabrics on demand using eco friendly dyes. They print the exact amount of fabric needed, so there is little wasted fabric or dye.
  • Pick Natural – This site sells organic cotton, linen, and hemp fabrics. There is a minimum order of 10 yards, so it’s best for larger projects.
  • Donna Flower – An online store specializing in antique, vintage or retro fabrics. A great way to add a blast from the past to any project.
  • Revival Fabrics – Another online retailer that sells mint condition vintage fabric from the 1920’s through the 1970’s.
  • Retro Age Vintage Fabrics – An Australian shop which offers a range of beautiful and eclectic vintage fabric. They sell all types of varieties from sheeting to sateen.

I’m looking forward to sifting through these retailers to see what goodies I can come up with. What organic or sustainable fabric retailers do you know that aren’t on this list?

 

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Finished: Floral Ponte Print McCall’s 5845

Hey friends!

I hope you are having a lovely Saturday thus far. It’s a rainy, blah-ish day here in Chicago. You know, one of those days that’s a perfect excuse to stay inside all day and work on sewing projects? Yeah, well unfortunately, that’s not in my future. Some good friends are moving today, and I promised to help out. Helping friends friends move in the rain – that’s true love, folks.

Anyway, before I force myself to function for the day, I wanted to share a finished project with you all. And guess what?? It’s another McCall’s 5845 hack! The first one was the silk taffeta bridesmaid’s dress I blogged about here. This one was the eh-I-have-time-so-why-not version.

Flipped hair don't care
Flipped hair don’t care

Remember how I said there have been weddings on weddings on weddings this summer? I wore this to one or two of them, plus a few fancy events.

Heyy!
Heyy!

I think this is one of my favorite garments I’ve ever made. The fabric is a ponte knit that I’ve had in my stash for a while, so there is enough give to make it comfortable while still maintaining it’s structure. Bonus: The teal heels I’m wearing have been in my closet for years, and matched the colors in the fabric perfectly!! It was meant to be, ya’ll. Extra bonus: The earrings I’m wearing are my go-to pair from Mata Traders. They’re a sustainable fashion company based here in Chicago. They employ women in India and Bangladesh and provide the ladies with a fair, living wage so they can support their families. Mata has some beautiful items, check them out!

Floral print McCalls 5845

Love me some low backed dresses.
Love me some low backed dresses.

Floral McCall's 5845

The bodice of the dress is another hacked version of McCall’s 5845. I lowered the neckline 1 1/2 inches and scooped the back. The skirt is a self-drafted half circle skirt. There are tons of great tutorials out there, just give it a Google and you’re sure to find one.

 

Le front
Le front

Construction was pretty standard, I bagged the bodice using the same tutorial from Neeno (that tutorial is linked in this post) and attached the skirt. I’m very proud of how straight that waist seam line is! It’s the victory in the little things.

Le back
Le back
Seriously love this print.
Seriously love this print.

All in all, very happy with this one and looking forward to years of use out of it. May you enjoy your clothes and find something silly to laugh about today.

My roommate, who takes my pictures, can always make me laugh.
My roommate, who takes my pictures, can always make me laugh.

Finished: Navy Blue Silk Taffeta Dress

Hey friends!

Happy Saturday! I love this time of year. The sun, the heat, the beach – August is when things get good and hot here in Chicago. People are happy and nice because there’s sunshine (no polar vortex or snowpocalpse can keep us down!), and there’s so many free things to do! Movies in the park, dancing in the parks, street festivals – Chicago is a great place to be in the summer (*end of shameless plug*).

The Princess Bride! "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya!"
The Princess Bride! “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” What a great line.

You what else there is to do? Weddings. So. Many. Weddings. For three months this year, I was either in a wedding or attending some wedding-bridal-bachelorette festivity every weekend. I’m really happy for all my friends and family who’ve gotten hitched this year, but sometimes a girl needs a weekend of Netflix, sweatpants, and ice cream, ya know? My couch and my cat felt sadly neglected.

But one of the nice things about weddings upon weddings upon weddings is that I got to make a lovely dress which was first used as a bridesmaid’s dress (been one of those 7 times now, *self-five*) and then re-worn to a friend’s wedding two weeks later.

Pensive thoughts.
Pensive thoughts.

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845This was my first time working with silk taffeta. I was more than slightly terrified to cut into it (and put it through the wash when I wasn’t supposed to, oops) but all in all I think it turned out pretty well. The fabric is from Mood, and was a beautiful, rich navy blue. I love the descriptions and pictures on that website. So far, everything I’ve bought from them has been true to what I read about it online. Yay for consistency!

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845The pattern is a super-hacked version of McCall’s M5845. I lowered the front neckline by 1 1/2 inches and changed the back to a low scoop. I was originally going to draft a box pleat skirt pattern a la Zooey Deschanel from New Girl to copy this dress:

Totally trying to steal your look, Jess.
Totally trying to steal your look, Jess. Via pinitgallery.

But in the end, I ran out of time and went with a simple gathered skirt. I think it was for the best, as the silk taffeta shows a lot of wrinkles, which are less obvious in a gathered skirt where intentional wrinkles are kind of the point.

Le front.
Le front.
Le close-up
Le close-up

 

Le back

Please excuse that invisible zipper insertion. I have since figured out how to *actually* do it right. Who knew that when tutorials tell you to sew as close as possible to the zipper, they literally mean in that little groove right along the zipper teeth. I know…..just give me a break ok?

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845I lined the bodice using this tutorial from Neeno over at SewMeLove. The idea to hack the M5845 was also inspired from her many hacks of that pattern. What, imitation is the highest form of flattery, right??  The cut fits my shoulders well, also I need to tweak the pattern a bit across the upper bust.

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta Pockets

Love it!
Love it!

I also inserted pockets into the skirt pattern. The fabric is made from an Indonesian batik print that my mom got for me as a present. Woo-hoo! I love the small pop of color.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this project turned out. I’m looking forward to re-wearing this one throughout the years, as it’s fairly classic and not likely go out of style soon. Enjoy the rest of your beautiful Saturday, friends!

Wheee!!
Wheee!!

 

 

 

 

Upcycled Gray Button-Up Dress Shirt

Hello all!

I haven’t been able to do much sewing in the past month or so, due to the vast mounds of books and schoolwork that overtook my sewing table. But now it is that magical time of year – spring break! And with it comes a little more time to sew. And with that, I give you my latest project:

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion

I found this shirt as a men’s XL dress shirt, living a lonely life at my local thrift store. I decided to take it home and give it a home. It was my first refashion and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I cut off the collar, shortened the sleeves, cut two inches off the bottom, and took in several inches along the sides. I accidentally deleted the photo of the original shirt (whoops!) but if you take a look at my Instagram feed, you can see it there.

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion Upcycle

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion Upcycle

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion Upcycle

There is a personal story behind the green bias tape that I used to finish the raw edges. I found it in my grandma’s sewing stash, which was given to me after she passed away several years ago. I haven’t dug through it too much, but I’m really glad I decided to take a look.

I’m hoping to get more posts up soon, but until then, have a wonderful day!

Finished Project: DIY Baby Blankets

Hey there!

I wanted to share a quick project that I did this week. My step sister-in-law is having a baby, and she’s due in April. Yes, that is my stepmother’s son’s wife. Families can get so complicated. Anyways, since I’ve been on a slight sewing withdrawal due to excessive amounts of work and snow, I decided to share this project that took me all of an hour from start to finish.

DIY Baby Blankets

I found tutorials on Pinterest for two different kinds of baby blankets. One is for 3 minute receiving blankets, and while it wasn’t quite 3 minutes on each blanket, it wasn’t much more. I don’t have a serger, so I just used the fake serge stitch on my sewing machine, which I think worked just as well. I will definitely be making more of these in the future. What’s that, you say? You’re having a baby?? I have just the thing to make for you…..

DIY Baby Receiving Blanket
Such cute patterns, right??

The second tutorial was a little more labor intensive, but still took about 30 minutes. And it was so soft I kinda wanted to keep it. But since April in the Midwest is hardly ever warm, I think the new little one will need it more than me ;-). The tutorial was easy to follow and the blanket turned out great.

Easy DIY Baby Blanket
The bears and the bees are too much. Just stop. So much cute.

I can’t wait to mail these out! I hope that you’re staying warm and enjoying what little is left of the winter. Can’t wait for spring!

Finished Project: Navy Blue Anna Dress

The Anna Dress by By Hand London.

An internet classic. The pattern came out just around the time I started sewing. It felt like I couldn’t turn around without seeing another version, a hacked version, etc. I’ve been wanting to try it for myself for a while now, and finally had a reason to give it a go.

Navy Blue Anna Dress

A recent school project asked for us to address an issue of social justice with a creative project. I chose to make a dress out of organic, fair-trade fabric, and decided that the long-awaited Anna dress was the perfect pattern to use. Let me just say, it is extremely difficult to find certified fair-trade fabric, even on the internet. I finally settled on a navy blue cotton from Organic Cotton Plus. They are a family owned business that sources their chemical-free cotton from a farm in Texas. I will definitely be using them again, as the service was great and the fabric has held up beautifully.

navy blue floor length Anna dress

Back to the dress! Really, what else can be said about the Anna? She’s beautiful, easy and quick to sew, and just looks so feminine. I chose to do the floor length version because I don’t have too many long dresses and they make me feel super elegant. And that slit soooo says I’m-Angelina-Jolie-at-the-oscars-sexy.

Navy blue anna dress 2

I added pockets to mine, since I absolutely love having pockets in everything I own. I can finally say I understand what all the fuss is about and am totally on board with By Hand London’s designs. I can’t wait to try the knee length version in the future.

We got a little artsy with the pictures
We got a little artsy with the pictures

Navy blue floor length Anna dress Navy blue Anna dress

 

Bonus: My friend who took the pictures has a cat named Lucy. Isn’t she adorable??

Lucy cutie cat

Throwback Thursday – Aqua Bridesmaid’s Dress

Happy Thursday!! I personally can’t wait for this week to be over, can you? The first full work week after the holidays is so rough. I mean, how can they expect you to work 5 days in a row?? And here in the Midwest, it’s been extremely cold. Like, hurt-your-face-when-you-walk-outside, dear-god-why-did-I-walk-outside, kind of cold. Which leads me to think about warmer days and sunnier times, like this wedding I was in this summer:

Aqua bridesmaid's dress

A dear friend of mine got married in August, and the only guidelines she gave her bridesmaid’s for their dresses were the color and length. Otherwise, we were free to choose whatever we wanted. I, of course, got really excited about the ability to make my own dress and started dreaming. For the bodice, I used Simplicity 1497, I used chiffon for the first time (which was a project unto itself), added pockets using this tutorial from Burdastyle, and drafted my own pattern for the skirt and sleeves.

The bodice starting to come together
The bodice starting to come together

Aqua bridesmaid's dress 2

Finished aqua bridesmaid's dress
Finished dress! With the boyfriend.

 

This was the biggest project I have attempted so far, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. So while it is snowing sideways outside, I will sit inside, sip my tea under a blanket, and remember happy, sunny times.