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In this post you can read about 
plastic in ready made clothes
Guide to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres.
why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.

Where to Buy 
Fabric
on line suppliers
Local fabric shops.
Sewing Supplies
Which Pattern

See
The clothes I have made here

Read About…

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….

Fabric
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.

Wool cotton and linen are really the plastic free way to go for me.

Organic & Fair-trade 

3/4length sleeves

3/4length sleeves

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.

Local Shops

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

Buy

on line suppliers
Local fabric shops.

Sewing Supplies

Needles, Pins & Cotton 

#pfuk 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

Patterns

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.

Scissors

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.

Machine

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.

Results

You can see what I have made, here

 

 

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18 thoughts on “How to sew plastic free

  1. Thanks for dropping by. I saw a lovely old machine in the charity shop. Was tempted. Had to say my borrowed machine is going strong after years of use but if I have to give it back, I might just buy it. And i don’t think we need to stop using all plastics – its a great product been badly misused. Plastic cabling with a long life and hopefully recycled at the end of it, is acceptable.

  2. Hi,

    I’d just like to add that there is a sustainable option to either a new nasty plastic sewing machine or a treadle version. I bought a second hand, fully serviced, 1970s solid metal Elna machine from my local sewing machine shop. Sure, it weighs a tonne (including its metal carry case) but it runs like a dream! Whilst others I know have had to ditch their cheap, plastic probably Chinese made sewing machines after a year or two, I was able to have mine repaired and parts replaced. I expect it to go on forever. I suppose if you are nitpicking, the electricity cable is plastic insulated but we have to be safe! The advantage of buying second hand is that no new goods are being created.

  3. Not quite sure what a big box store is… I’m guessing it doesnt sell big boxes? But if it does …. maybe thats why you didn’t see any fabric. Or is that just me being silly? Thanks for dropping by.

  4. I just got back from fabric shopping at a big box store and was completely overwhelmed… I didn’t see anything local (all made in China), and there definitely wasn’t a sign for any organic cotton. Gah. I’d much rather shop at a small business but I had a gift card! Life is hard. Glad you have such wonderful shops near you!

  5. This almost wants to make me take up sewing! (I can sew buttons on or fix a ripped seam, but I haven’t made anything myself since junior high sewing classes…) Buying local vs fair trade is always a dilemma for food, it’s interesting to know the same thing happens with fabric.

  6. I just admired your sewing skills (clicked your last link in the post)! Awesome! I need someone with your skills right here. Unfortunately your too far away and I have to figure it out myself. I’m going to make curtains and bags from burlap coffee sacks. Will have to see where I can get all my utensils for that without plastic.

  7. Its so difficult to find sewing materials plastic free! Great research. I have been sewing my own reusable produce bags, i’ll be using this post for reference if I need anything else.

    Thanks for a good read!

  8. Awesome post. I have always struggled with finding plastic free sewing materials. I will be pinning this post for later reference.

  9. Ahh thanks. You have fun over the festive period. I got some great products lined up for the new year so hopefully see you then. X

  10. Hi Katie, just wanted to thank you for sharing some wonderful thought provoking and entertaining posts. I love reading your blog and have shared so many of your ideas I’ve lost count. Prob wont be on line much between now and new year so if you do christmas, have a good one. If not have a good one too. Stay safe and plastic free AMAP. Cheers, Maree. 🙂

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