Who makes our fabric? Sourcing organic fabric online

After the recent ‘Who made your clothes’ campaign, I’ve been thinking a lot about who the hell makes my fabric? I am a sewer who’s made a pledge to only make my own clothes as a way to avoid ‘fast fashion’ after all.  The clothing industry that make ‘fast fashion’ is of course linked very closely to the fabric industry. It’s a no-brainer, but I haven’t really seen a debate about this in the online sewing community (if I’ve missed something, let me know).

The documentary ‘The True Cost’ looks at not only the garment industry in countries like Bangladesh, but also at the incredibly toxic cotton industry in the US and the huge influence and power of GMO a-holes like Monsanto.

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The documentary is absolutely nauseating and it’s made me even more resolute to try to have as a sustainable wardrobe as possible. This made me think about where I buy fabric, and how I can make sure that I buy fabric that’s produced in a sustainable, organic way and not harmful to the environment, or the people involved in the production process.

So I’ve done a LOT of googling, and made a list of online fabric companies that are either exclusively organic, or at least provide a selection of organic materials. I thought I’d share this list as a useful resource to all of you fellow sewers. The list is by no means exhaustive (and very Europe and North America-centric…), but it’s at least a good place to start.

If you know of any shops not included on this list – please write a comment below or email me so that we can expand the list! So here we go:

Europe

England/Wales:

  • Offset Warehouse: These guys sell 100% Eco fabric. Lovely website with great information (incl. video’s) about their fabric. They also have a great ‘get involved’ page where you can join their Offset Collective on LinkedIn.
  • Ray Stitch: Have a pretty good organic fabric selection – and what’s even better is that it’s the first category on the list of fabric types i.e. they are promoting it which is awesome. Does worldwide shipping.
  • Cloth House: Have a small selection of lovely organic cotton on their reasonably new online shop. Their shipping costs are pretty outrageous if you ask me, so hopefully the quality makes up for it!
  • Organic Textile Company: Huge range of Eco fabrics, all of it certified organic. If you want shipping outside the EU you need to email them.
  • Maud’s Fabric Finds: Sells only ‘eco friendly’ fabrics but not all seem to be organically certified. Great shop though with a lovely selection. They ship worldwide.

Germany:

  • Lebenskleidung: 100% Eco certified textile company. You have to log in to see prices and to purchase anything which is a bit annoying, but otherwise they seem pretty good. Good selection and they ship to quite a few countries.
  • Siebenblau: 100% Eco certified fabrics. Really nice website which features photo’s of the production and print processes for some of the fabrics. Ships worldwide.

Finland:

  • NOSH: A Finnish clothing and fabric design company that uses 100% Eco fabrics. Really cute stuff and pretty decent shipping rates to Europe and the US.

Sweden:

Denmark:

  • Stof og Stil: Has an Organic’ section on their site with a sort of decent selection of organic fabrics. It could definitely be better. Don’t seem to deliver outside Denmark.

North America

USA:

  • Organic Cotton Plus: These guys are 100% organically certified down to their packing – pretty impressive. Awesome website and they deliver worldwide. Super decent pricing and a huge selection.
  • Spoonflower: Fabric printing company where you can upload your own fabric designs or buy custom made by other designers. Provide organic options for customers but aren’t 100% Eco. They have an interesting page where they outline how they are working to avoid waste etc.
  • HoneyBeGood: 100% Eco fabric retailer with a really fab website. Only ships to limited countries outside the US unfortunately.
  • Eden Fabrics: 100% Eco with a nice but limited collection of fabrics. Not sure what their shipping policy is.
  • Cedar House Fabrics: Smallish fabric company with a lovely website and 100% Eco fabrics. Stocks a limited number of fabric designers like Cloud9, Amy Butler and more. Cute stuff.
  • Nature’s Fabrics: Family run company with worldwide shipping. Their website states that ‘most of their fabrics’ are organically certified.
  • Fabric.com: At the bottom of the list because of their limited selection of Eco fabrics. Stock organic cotton fabrics that you can find here.

Canada:

  • Simplifi Fabric: Lovely online shop with a good selection of 100% Eco fabrics, a lot of them produced in the US or Canada. Ships internationally.
  • Rawganique: Sells a very limited number of fabrics but their stuff is about how Eco and ethically produced it can get. All fabrics and grown, woven and knitted on site. They are also a self-sustainable farm and raise rescued animals. The real deal people. Read more about them here. Sell a wide range of products and provide worldwide shipping.
  • Efforts Hempwear: Sells hemp and bamboo fabric and clothing and also do wholesale. 35% of their products are made in Canada and everything is 100% Eco. They only seem to ship to the US and Canada which is a shame!

It is worth pointing out that a lot of other online fabric shops also stock small selections of Eco fabrics but unfortunately they don’t make it easy to find. That is you have to search for it rather than have a separate category for organic fabrics.

Btw – when I talk about organic certification above, I mean GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certification.

Finally – it’s worth pointing out the the most sustainable thing you can do as a sewer is to upcycle old clothes and use vintage materials such as sheets etc (and Refashion!!!). Waste not, want not….

I can’t say for sure that I’ll only by organic fabrics from now on, but this exercise has at least given me a load of good resources.

Hope you found this list useful! And again, if you think I’ve missed a brilliant online shop let me know.

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30 thoughts on “Who makes our fabric? Sourcing organic fabric online

  1. Hi! I don’t think enough sewing bloggers have touched on this yet (I know we haven’t). It’s something that I think about when I’m buying RTW, so I really want to be more aware of what I’m buying when it comes to fabric too – a lot of the time it turns out pretty hard to find out where the fabric comes from. Along with the fabrics being organic/eco, are they ethically sourced from any of these links? I would love to know! Going to watch that documentary tonight, thanks for sharing :) Hannah x

    • It varies I think – the 100% Eco shops generally had a very good ‘About’ page with info on where they source their fabric, if they collaborate with particular producers, if they do any kind of activism etc. The GOTS certification does have certain social standards as well, and many of the Eco fabric suppliers are also Fair Trade certified. If you buy organic fabric online I guess you need to check each fabric where it comes from. I’m afraid not all of these sites provide that information, but some do!

      • Yeh I’ve been having a look at those sites. I watched the documentary last night, thanks for sharing, it made me really think about my consumption of RTW and I’m going to make a stronger pledge to be a more conscious consumer.

  2. Amazing post, thank you. I need to watch True Cost as I’m not very aware of the effects of the cotton industry. The ethical aspect of sewing is a big plus for me, but I admit I don’t consider the sources of my fabric at all at the moment. I feel like that will be the next change, and this list of suppliers definitely helps! I hadn’t considered how much more sustainable using secondhand fabrics is, so definitely going to hit the charity shops more.

    • Thanks Katie. I had exactly the same attitude to sewing – we just need to remember that we can take it a step further by thinking about the fabric we buy. I can’t say I’m great at it myself, but the more I read and watch the more motivated I am to reduce waste and buy ethically sourced and produced. Enjoy the documentary!

  3. Awesome post! This is something I think about A LOT and I’ve been seeing more and more sewists I admire talking about it… Sonja of Ginger Makes did an interview with the designer of O Jolly knitwear, which you can buy by the yard & it is organic, US-grown and made cotton. So Zo also did a provocative post discussing organic cotton, and Heather from Closet Case Files wrote a post commenting on it too. Nicki over at This is Moonlight is exploring these ideas in a really incredible way and I’m participating in her initiative called One Year One Outfit — it’s not too late to join if you’re interested! I also just posted my thoughts on khadi cloth as an ethical fabric — sometimes it’s organic, sometimes it’s not, but you can find it on Etsy and I love sewing with it! I’ve been mentally planning my own post on why I buy organic, and it’s totally in line with what you’ve discussed – though I actually still haven’t seen the True Cost documentary! Another great source in the US is Fancy Tiger Crafts and Hart Fabrics – both have online shops with organic & “eco” options, and Alabama Chanin is a huge leader & inspiration!

    Link overload below :)
    O! Jolly! interview: http://gingermakes.com/2015/06/27/interview-with-o-jolly-knit-textile-designer/
    So Zo: http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/thoughts-on-organic-cotton.html
    Closet Case Files: http://closetcasefiles.com/whats-doing-sewing-blogs-vol-49/
    This is Moonlight: https://thisismoonlight.wordpress.com/category/one-year-one-outfit/
    Fancy Tiger Crafts: https://www.fancytigercrafts.com/products?sort=created&order=desc&f%5B0%5D=field_product_category%3A4
    Alabama Chanin: http://alabamachanin.com/the-school-of-making/fabric–sewing
    Hart’s Fabrics: http://www.hartsfabric.com/organic-apparel-cottons.html

    Sorry this comment turned into a short essay! Excited to see what you make with organic cotton :)
    ~ Jess

    • THANK you for your essay! :) Such great tips. So Zo’s article is really good and makes a lot of good points about organic cotton. I’ve never sewn with hemp or bamboo before but I’m really keen to try both. I know hemp especially uses a fraction of the amount of water than cotton which is awesome. Alabama Chanin has beautiful stuff -thanks for sharing. I couldn’t find any ‘eco’ category over at Fancy Tiger Crafts when I looked at their site – but maybe I’m just being blind. Khadi sounds brilliant read your blog post about it and am fascinated by its resistance history – very powerful. Hope you enjoy the documentary!!

  4. Very important topic and one that we cant’t talk too much about! Thanks for sharing the documentary and this list.
    I think I can name some more shops for Germany, if you want to include them.
    Lillestoff for example is a company that sells a lot of GOTS certified fabric. And there’s an online shop called Nelly Morelly that sells organic fabric and yarn. And Stof og Stil (here called Stoff und Stil) does also have a German online shop.
    And for Austria there’s Biostoffe.at. :)

    • Awesome – thank you so much :) Can’t believe I missed Lillestoff, they are brilliant. Germany in general is really good at organic stuff, very impressive. In Sweden/Denmark the selection didn’t look great. Or maybe I don’t know where to look!

  5. Thank you for compiling the list! This is something I’ve though about before, but it definitely hasn’t been discussed as much as the negative effects of “fast fashion” has!

  6. Thanks so much for including us Ingrid! I started Offset Warehouse because I couldn’t source ethical fabrics, in fashionable styles and in the colours I wanted. I am SO so pleased to see more and more sewers getting curious about who makes their fabrics, and the environmental impact the fabrics have.

    Always delighted to hear from anyone interested to know more, so please do drop me a line info @offsetwarehouse.com

  7. Yes! You know I’m with you on this one. I see someone already mentioned Alabama Chanin – their fabric is not cheap but the quality’s great and the colours are really special. In the UK there’s also fairtradefabric.co.uk, she doesn’t seem to shout about it but the fabrics are made from organic cotton as well as being Fairtrade certified. I recently ordered some Lillestoff fabrics from biostoffe.at (Austria) because she had the best prices, but kitschykoo.bigcartel.com also sells them in the UK. Greenfibres.com has a small range of organic fabric, old-fashioned stuff, they’re very rigorous about the ethics and the quality is really high. Organic Textile Co are my favourites even though their website is so ugly/confusing – the fabrics are always lovely. More in my old blog post here (needs updating really): http://toftsnummulite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/conscious-crafting-some-sewing-links.html .

    • Also gorgeous organic cotton fabrics woven in France: lestrouvaillesdamandine.com but I often have trouble getting their website to load, not sure why.

      • Dear Nina, thank you for writting about us ! Your website is loading very slowly…. Sorry ! We’re working on it this month so it can work fast after on september. I created Les Trouvailles d’Amandine five years ago because I couldn’t find beautiful GOTS organic fabrics. All of our fabrics are made in France from weaving to dyeing or printing. And each stages of production and workshops are GOTS certified each year. It’s very important for me to propose another way to produce fabrics, and to preserve french Know-how on textile.
        Thank you very much Ingrid to think about this theme and write about it !

  8. Alabama Chanin for organic cotton jersey. 100% grown and processed in the US and I think such an inspiration for a business. Pickering International is a major wholesaler of organic fabrics in the US and you can find their offerings at fancytigercraft.com under the company name Pickering. Rawganique.com also sells fabrics. I have picked up organic pieces from drygoodsdesignonline.com also.

  9. Have been thinking about this topic quite a bit lately; over the past year I’ve tried to shop more & more eco/organic/fair made when buying RTW, only natural it should extend to the fabric I use for my own projects, right?! Thanks for the list!! The Europe bit deffo helps!

    I know this shop in the Netherlands that stocks mostly eco fabrics: http://www.textielfabrique.nl/index.php/stoffen.html. Not sure whether they ship internationally, I think they will when asked?

  10. Pingback: Funky oilcloth apron | We The Sewing
  11. Thank you so much for putting together this list! I have to admit I am shamefully unaware of where the fabric (or clothes) I buy come from :( I really need to research it and needed this reminder!

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