At the start of January 2016 my New Year's Resolution was to change my fabric buying habits, with a view to 'greening' my stash. I wanted to focus on organic/fair trade fabrics as much as possible. Fourteen months later I'm still shopping this way, but it's not always easy. The positives about it for me are:
- my hobby is now much better aligned with my habits in the rest of my life
- I buy less and the more I stick to my principles, the easier it gets
- I spend less time aimlessly browsing fabric stores online. No point looking if you are not going to buy.
- There has definitely been an impact on my quilt-making. I have turned to recycled shirts as a way of adding the texture and variation I miss in the organic ranges and am learning to mix reclaimed fabrics in with quilting cottons from stash. Turns out I love this way of working.
The biggest down sides are the obvious ones:
- Much less choice, especially if you are not looking for feature prints.
- Some things are harder to go without than others. For me, it's Grunge, Carolyn Friedlander, Janet Clare, that I miss the most. (I should say that I'm not rigid and do occasionally buy something non-organic, but I am finding myself less inclined to do that as time goes on).
I know that for quilters in the US there is a good selection of organic fabrics available, but often I see something lovely, try to track it down and sadly come to the conclusion that it isn't available over here. The solution used to be saving up the pennies and ordering from American stores, but the current exchange rate has scuppered that . So I have been gathering together a list of all the places I can find organic fabric in the UK. Most have relatively small ranges, but there is plenty out there if you know where to look, and I have also learned to check everywhere before I buy as prices can fluctuate quite significantly - some are a bit steep but there are also bargains to be had.
Anyway, here's my current list. If you are in the UK and minded to try a bit of ethical shopping, do go and check them out, especially some of the smaller sites.
Shops specialising in organic fabrics (they are not specifically aimed at quilters, but there are fabrics suitable for quilting.)
In addition to the larger ranges, like Cloud9 and Birch Organics, its worth looking for Daisy Janie, Monaluna, Saffron Craig, and small organic ranges by Amy Butler and Robert Kaufman.
I am not claiming this is an exhaustive list, just that it's what I've found so far. If you know of any other shops, please chip in with a comment and I will update the list.