Monday, April 20, 2015

Sewing with a Conscience: Organic and Eco-Friendly Fabrics

Over the past several years—and especially here in Berkeley—we have seen more and more demand for organic and eco-friendly fabrics.  Whether you're sewing for children, striving for a more sustainable lifestyle, or just like the look and feel of these fabrics, there's plenty of reasons to shop organic!

Here at Stonemountain & Daughter, natural fibers have always been important to us.  When our founder, Bob Steinberg, opened his first fabric store in the 1960's, he was passionate about offering cotton, rather than just polyester and synthetics (anyone remember all those polyester double-knits?).  Suzan, Bob's eldest daughter and co-owner of Stonemountain, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a major in Conservation of Natural Resources with an emphasis on Community Self Reliance and Sustainability. This family tradition of promoting natural fibers, along with our personal commitment to "be green," has led to our current selection of organic and eco-friendly fabrics.  Let's see what some of our staff and customers have been making with these beautiful textiles!

One of the most common reasons for buying organic is when making things for children.  And one of the most common projects?  Baby blankets!  One of our buyers, Lauren, made this baby blanket with an organic cotton flannel from fabric designer Rae Hoekstra  (we're a little obsessed with her work—we wish all her patterns were printed so we could stock them!!).  When Lauren discovered the birch tree trunk printed fabric she chose for the back had foxes on the selvedge, it was a match made in heaven!  To highlight the adorable selvedge, she used it as a tie when gift wrapping the blanket.

If you're ready to graduate from simple baby blankets, Charlotte's quilt may just be the thing to inspire you!  One of our long-distance customers, Charlotte used organic cotton designed by Mo Willems, author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.  We know her son will love his new quilt!  Want to make your own quilt but don't know where to start?  Check out all the quilting classes we offer!

Kids will love organic fabrics for their soft feel.  One of our favorite bloggers (and a local Bay Area sewist!) Cherie of youandmie made this adorable dress and this amazing backpack.  Check out that pattern matching!  Rae Hoekstra designed another fabulous collection of organic cotton, and we just love Cherie's use of this fabric!

Organic fabrics are often more expensive than non-organic, which is why making accessories that don't require much yardage may be the perfect project for someone new to sewing or new to organic fabric.  As a beginner, this young sewist showed us how she used an organic cotton canvas to make a cute new bag.  Don't you just love that orange topstitching?!  If you have a young sewist at home or if you're looking to make something your teen will love, you should definitely look into Project Teen, a book dedicated to teen-approved patterns.

Organic cotton also makes beautiful garments.  Our friends at A Verb for Keeping Warm, a local yarn and fabric store, made a sample dress for their Endless Summer Tunic pattern out of an organic cotton double gauze.  We currently carry that gorgeous blue color, as well as the cocoa colored gauze!  They make beautiful, breezy garments and can really bring a simple pattern to the next level.

One of our beloved sales associates, Liz, also uses organic fabrics for her garment sewing.  She whipped up this adorable top using the Alma Blouse pattern by Sewaholic, using an organic cotton that made this garment soft, breathable, and eco-friendly.  We love how she used a shot cotton for the contrast collar.  Isn't it wonderful to be able to customize your wardrobe like this with handmade garments?  And with a "me-made" wardrobe, you can get great fitting pieces like Liz's top.  Need a refresher course on pattern adjustments or just starting from scratch?  Take a class on Adjusting a Top Pattern with master sewer Barbara!

We have a much larger selection of organic fabrics in store than we do online, so stop by and look for the green tape!  All of our organic and eco-friendly fabrics are marked with this neon green so they're easy to find.  If you're not local and you're not finding what you need online, give us a call (510-845-6106)—we're always happy to email pictures of our stock that doesn't make it to the website and do a mail order!

Last but not least, please feel free to bring your extra scraps and fabrics to our drop off bin!  This is an amazing gift to our community from our community, and a great way to recycle your unwanted fabric.

We hope you're feeling inspired by all these gorgeous applications of organic and eco-friendly fabric.  What have you made from sustainable fabric?  Show us in the comment section!  If you haven't discovered our selection of eco fabrics yet—organic and eco-friendly cotton, linen, and rayon—stop by and see!

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