I found this photo while looking at a Vegan Mattress site. Very interesting. Click for source.
It’s quite hard to list online fabric stores- there’s so many! I’m focusing on eco-knits; many of these online shops also offer gorgeous wovens. You can even get organic cotton quilting cotton these days! Eco-knits is a somewhat smaller category…
I like green fabrics. I like them for the appeal of working with sustainable/ethical fabrics, and I like the way they perform. Many of you ask me where I get my fabrics- especially the knits. The Fabric Store opened up last year in Brisbane and I’ve hardly bought online since then. Unfortunately, TFS don’t have an online shop.
However, I’ve been scouring the internet for the best eco-knits I can find! When I first started working with hemp and organic cotton a few years ago, I could hardly find anything that wasn’t off-white. Now we have a much greater choice of colors, finishes and prints! These retailers are scattered over three continents, and wherever applicable I note if I’ve ordered from that company.
Even after a week of digging around, I’m sure I missed something great, so if you know another source for eco-knit fabric, please leave a link in the comments!
Organic Cotton- grown without harsh chemicals, softer fiber
Organic cotton doesn’t wear the same as regular cotton. They’re almost different fibers altogether! I find organic cottons become extremely soft with age, and wear well. I find I don’t mind a whiff of spandex or lycra in the fiber, 5% or less will give the fabric greater recovery and wrinkle resistance.
Edited to Add:
Organic Cotton Knits, Hart’s Fabrics, United States
Organic Cotton, Mood Fabrics, Los Angeles- They also have a large range of organic cotton twills!
Organic Cotton Jersey, Fabric.com, United States. I have ordered from fabric.com many times, and while the shipping is steep the service and fabrics leave nothing to be desired.
Organic cotton interlock, fabric.com, United States
Organic Cotton Sweatshirt Fleece, fabric.com, United States. Fabric.com has a pretty large range of eco-fabrics, and they’re constantly updating. I have always been satisfied with their customer service. Once they sent me the wrong colors of jersey and rather than lump the shipping costs for their mistake, let me keep the wrong colors and sent me what I originally ordered.
Organic Cotton Jersey, Kelanifabric.com.au, Australia. These prints are gorgeous, designed and screen-printed in Australia. The price reflects this. The plains are comparable to what I’d pay in a bricks and mortar shop.
Organic Cotton Interlock, organicfabricsonline.com.au, Australia.
Organic Cotton Stripe, Near Sea Naturals, United States. I have ordered from them several times in the past and have no complaints. They’re one of the first online sources of hemp and organic cotton I located, and the variety of fabrics they carry is unparalleled. I had a hard time choosing just one stripe to feature! Their prices are quite decent, too. This striped jersey costs $16/yd.
Printed Organic Cotton Interlock, Near Sea Naturals, United States.
Organic Cotton Thermal Knit, Near Sea Naturals, United States
Printed Organic Cotton Interlock, PM Organics, United States
Organic Cotton Sweater Rib Knit, PM Organics, United States
Organic Cotton/Soy, Sew Mama Sew!, United States.
Organic Cotton Interlock, Harmony Art Fabrics, wholesaler. They have a beautiful site with well-chosen coordinate suggestions, and a great list of retailers who carry their fabrics!
Organic Cotton Plus carries a nice range of undyed organic cotton knits, and is based in the United States.
Hemp- grows quickly, revives tired crop soil
While I enjoy sewing and wearing hemp fabric for a raft of reasons, hemp knit fabric is harder to come by. I’ve noticed more and more types of hemp knits in recent years, but the colors are usually quite limited. Also, I find that hemp knits feel curiously “gritty” at first until the fabric softens with washing.
Hemp smells like linen. Except stronger. I really like that.
Hemp stretch, Margaret River Hemp Company, Western Australia. I have ordered from them several times, they’re a great supplier even though the colors are limited.
Various Undyed Hemp Stretch Fabrics (check out the sweater knit!), Hemp Traders, United States.
Hemp and Soy and Milk knits, Hart’s Fabrics, United States.
Hemp/Organic Cotton Printed Jersey, Pickering International, United States. This is a wholesaler, but their range of knit eco fabrics gives me hopes for some great new fabrics that might show up in shops online and off!
Many, if not most fabric stores want to provide their customers with the fabrics the customer desires. Don’t be afraid to politely request eco-knits- the shop owner won’t know someone wants these fabrics unless you tell them!
Hemp Fabric UK also stocks a range of undyed hemp and organic cottons.
Linen- Ancient fiber, de facto organic
From what I unearthed when I looked into the linen-making process, as well as from ongoing reading on the topic, I consider linen an “eco” fiber. Part of this is due to the relatively low-impact method of farming and processing, and part of this is due to linen’s “endurability.” This fiber ages extremely well and lasts forever.
Linen jersey, Mood Fabrics, Los Angeles.
For your interest, check out a thread on laundering and cutting linen jersey at Artisan’s Square. This is not an endorsement of the thread, I think they may perhaps be a bit precious about it all. My own experience with linen jersey is that it does fluff and shed in the wash, but I expected that from the moment I clapped eyes on it. The jersey I worked with that shed lint looked like it would shed, like a close-cropped angora.
The linen-cotton slub knits I’ve worked with did not shed.
“Skewed” knits are usually caused by bad cutting in the factory, simply open out the fabric and cut the pieces singly.
85% Polyeter, 15% Linen, Fabric Mart, United States. I only mention this fabric because I simply can’t find any other linen jersey for sale online, and I won’t link. Why someone would mix this much polyester with linen escapes me. Linen jersey doesn’t really wrinkle. Linen fibers are tough and strong. They take dye and abuse very well. Adulterating the fibers with polyester would severely alter the nature of the linen, its breathability, its scent, the drape. Polyester is also not good for our water.
Edited to Add:
100% Linen jersey, Hart’s Fabrics, United States- wow! They have such a great range!
Ali Baba has a truly maddening variety of wholesale linen jersey, but I just can’t buy 400kg at once!
Tips for Handling Linen Fabric (this is exactly how I prep my linen jerseys, too. None too gently.)
Tencel- Rayon made in a “closed loop” process
I haven’t had a chance to play with a Tencel knit yet, but I see them more and more when I go to The Fabric Store, often blended with other fibers. Tencel is basically a rayon that’s produced cleanly and sustainably.
Tencel-Organic Cotton Rib Knit, PM Organics, United States
Peace Silk- Wild silk, violence-free silk. Carded and spun, not reeled.
Peace silk larvae are permitted to leave their cocoons before the silk fibers are harvested. Many peace silk operations also support local artisans, organic farming practices, and good labor ethics. I wrote about peace silk here, and you can read more at Aurora silk. The silk produced this way is more of a “utility” silk than a “precious, precious” silk, and it wears very tough.
Noil silk knit, Aurora Silks, United States
My Tips for handling Silk Fabric
Bamboo/Soy- Generally inferior for durability
This is not my favorite fiber, but it’s not terrible either. I find it tends to pill or get “fuzzy,” the fabric likes to grow, and lightweight bamboo can be somewhat tempermental. That said, it drapes beautifully and feels great against the skin.
Bamboo Jersey, Mood Fabrics, Los Angeles
Bamboo, organic cotton, and soy jerseys, British Made Eco, UK
Bamboo rayon, fabric.com, United States
Bamboo/organic cotton, ecofabrics.com.au, Australia
The Bamboo Fabric Store, Australia
List of UK-based Organic/Eco Fabric Stores
German-Based Eco Fabrics
Another German-Based Eco Fabrics Store
Enormous database of fabric stores worldwide
Eco-fabrics have come a long way in the past few years, and I hope in the future we’ll have even greater variety for our sewing! The way to make that happen is to ask for it. Most shops, especially fabric shops, want to make their customers very happy.
Whew! Have you ever sewn with any of these fabrics, or ordered from these retailers? What did you think? How gorgeous is that last organic cotton print? Wow. Am I too hard on polyester? I think I want to go pick up some of that organic cotton twill for Stephen’s summer workwear now…