This is an introduction to why you might want to and how you can start sewing plastic free. If you already know the answer you can follow the links to the specialist posts as listed.
plastic in ready made clothes
Guide to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres.
why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.
The clothes I have made here
Introduction To Plastic Free Sewing
Making your own clothes is probably the only way to get them totally plastic-free. New clothes come packed in plastic and hung on plastic hangers. Even when they are made of natural fibres, the cotton used to sew them, buttons and care labels are all synthetic, plastic fibres. You can read more about the plastic in ready made clothes, here.
Plus the only way I can afford fair trade organic clothes is make them myself. And I get to support local fabric shops which is very important to me. As is buying U.K. made fabrics.
Here is my guide to sewing plastic free….
First you have to decide which fibre – synthetic or natural. While they all have bad points, naturals are way better than synthetics not least because at the end of life they can be composted. Natural fibres are harvested from nature either from animals like wool and silk, or plants like cotton. Most synthetic fabrics are derived from petrol. But there is a kind of in-between called regenerated fibres. The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into a fiver. the later is often touted as an eco fabric but treat those claims with caution.
- here is a quick intro to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres.
- And the reasons why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.
Wool cotton and linen are really the plastic free way to go for me.
Organic & Fair-trade
As many fabrics are made in poorer countries, do try to source fair-trade when ever possible. There are good reasons for trying to also source organic. Cotton especially uses huge amounts of pesticides.
I can only buy organic fair-trade fabric on line. Which leads to problems with packaging. So many people will send it out in plastic bags. But there is one company, Offset Warehouse who in addition to having fantastic fair-trade, organic, eco credentials, and a great range of fabric they will post out in plastic-free packaging.
Problem is fair trade and organic don’t come cheap and I can’t always afford it. Also I cant always buy it locally. So, without beating myself up about it, I also buy natural but almost-certainly-non-organic, who-knows-how-it-is-made fabric because I like to buy from local fabric shops. Buying locally is also buying sustainably. There are many very strong reasons to support local shops. especially fabric shops. There aren’t that many of them, you get to see and learn about fabrics, the staff know lots, they get people into sewing they provide all the bits and bobs you might forget to order online and like all local shops they need supporting.
Locally Made Fabrics
This year I wanted to source some locally made fabrics. In the U.K. the locally made fabric is wool. It is especially relavent to me as I live in Yorkshire a place once famous for its woolen fabric. There used to be hundreds of mills churning out meters of the stuff but those days are long gone. Indeed you may be surprised to hear that there are any working mills left. I was. But my research revealed that Yorkshire cloth is still being made by a handful of mills. What they turn out now is a luxury product. If you thought organic fair-trade was expensive check out these prices. £ 50.00 a meter is the cheap end of the market and way out of my price range.
BUT down on Leeds Market there are folk selling end of line end of roll lengths for very reasonable amounts. And I am sourcing lots more
Needles, Pins & Cotton
These can be tricky to find plastic free so you will pleased to know we have found these online suppliers who will post out in plastic free packaging
Organic cotton on a wooden reel.
Needles & pins in cardboard boxes
I buy paper patterns from my local fabric store.You can download them from the internet but you might need a bit of sewing experience for this to be completely successful.
There’s no doubt that patterns ar expensive but you can make a surprisingly wide range of outfits from just a few basic shape. Check out my patterns here.
You can buy all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield.
Other Fixtures & Fittings like buttons, zips and the rest can be found here.
If you want to be really hardcore, plastic free you will have to sew by hand. I did make some bloomers and a headscarf that way. It can be done but meh! life is too short. So unless you buy and old treadle sewing machine, you will be using a modern machine with some plastic. Consider it plastic to cut plastic.
See how to do lots more tasks #plasticfree right here