Focus on… buying organic & fair trade cottons

As usual the focus of this article is UK-based online shops. If you are shopping in the USA, you have a lot more options available to you. Here in the UK, you have some options if you prefer to buy cottons which have been grown organically, and a lot fewer if you want to try and buy fair trade – I have searched round to find what I can for you. First up there are the brands/manufacturers that use organic cotton only.

Birch Fabrics

 

Online shops that regularly have Birch fabrics in stock are The Eternal Maker, Seamstar, Ray Stitch and M is for Make.

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Cloud 9

Cloud 9 Logo

Online shops that regularly have Cloud 9 Fabrics are Backstitch, Celtic Fusion Fabrics, M is for Make, Eclectic Maker, Fabic Rehab, The Eternal Maker, Ray Stitch, Saints & Pinners, Seamstar and Tinsmiths. Cloud 9 has two categories for its collections – Premium and Price Sensitive, which means there are options for people on a budget too.

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Westfalenstoffe

Cottons from this German manufacturer are available in the UK at Celtic Fusion Fabrics, Fabric Rehab, The Eternal Maker, Frumble and more.

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Daisy Janie

A USA based company set up by Jan DiCintio. The Eternal Maker is a stockist.

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Robert Kaufman

This huge USA-based manufacturer has a number of organic lines. A number their print ranges are printed on organic cotton – it’s worth checking out the list on their greenSTYLE page. Frumble, The Eternal Maker, Saints and Pinners, The Village Haberdashery, Fabric Rehab, Fancy Moon and many many more UK-based shops sell fabrics from Robert Kaufman.

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If you are UK based shop and you stock any of these brands or fair trade/organic fabrics and would like to be included in this article, do please leave a comment, I will be happy to add you.

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Shops with a particular focus on Organic and Fair Trade

 

Ray Stitch

 

Ray Stitch has a particularly rich selection of organic fabrics, helpfully organised together in a group in the online shop. There are prints, solids, checks and stripes and a variety of weights and types of fabric too, including voile, jersey, needlecord and cambric. If you want to pick some organic fabric along with other sewing supplies and maybe other fabrics too, then Ray Stitch is a great general sewing store too.

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Fair Trade Fabrics

This lovely store stocks only fairly traded fabrics. The cotton is grown in Gujarat in India to organic standards and it is woven in a workers’ cooperative in Tamil Nadu. There is a wide range of beautiful colours in solids, stripes and check weaves.  Fabrics are available by the metre (mostly at £10 per metre) or Fat Quarter, and there are FQ bundles and very prettily packaged Charm Packs available too. The payment options are credit card and Paypal, and the delivery charges are £2.30 plus 20p per item.

 

Organic Textile Company
Organic fair trade cotton

This store has a lovely (and huge!) range of all kinds of organic and fair trade fabrics.  They stock calico, cord, velvet, linen, jersey, handloom cotton, bamboo and silk, many in beautiful colour ranges, and even have some amazing-looking herbal-dyed cottons. This year they have won an award from the Ethical Fashion Forum. I haven’t bought from these people myself, but they come highly recommended.

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Oakshott Fabrics

Oakshott fabrics

Oakshott have a lovely range of beautiful fabrics, including gorgeous shot cottons which are just perfect for quilting. Although (as far as I can tell from their website) their fabrics are not fair trade or organic, they are woven by a workers’ co-operative in Kerala (India), and the weavers are protected by local labour laws and by International Social Accountability Standards (I assume set by this organisation). You can buy fabrics from Oakshott by the metre or in a wide selection of bundles. They also have specially designed, very stylish kits for bags and quilts.

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Please do let me know if you have other recommendations that I can consider adding to the list!

22 thoughts on “Focus on… buying organic & fair trade cottons

  1. Hi, just to add that from my research, hemp is much more eco-friendly than even organic cotton. http://Www.hempiness.co.uk have a fantastic selection of woven and knit hemp fabrics, the only downside is they are pretty much all undyed, although they do sell washing machine dyes too. I plan on trying to use some natural substantive dyes like cherry bark and onion skins to dye some hemp jersey for dressmaking.

  2. Hello Ali,

    Karen here from “The Draper’s Daughter” a relatively new online store selling a carefully selected range of designer and organic fabrics, sewing accessories and stitch kits.

    We have a range of organic crossweaves & ginghams which we’re just about to add to so if you could include us in your article it’d be very much appreciated.

    Thanks and kind regards,
    Karen

  3. Hello! Great article, although I have one observation – these are all “ready printed” organic fabrics. I’m looking to put my own designs onto organic fabric here in the UK and that is proving much harder. I’ve spoken to the Soil Association and the UK GOTS rep but so far they haven’t certified anyone doing a print on demand service in the UK. It’s so disheartening because the textile industry is one of the planets largest polluters and there has to be a better way of doing things!
    Organic fabric is one thing – but what about the chemical make up of the dye / inks used to print onto the fabric and the process used to actually keep it there? Alot of them give off Volatile Organic Compounds (not everything Organic is good!) and even vegetable based inks are questionable – especially if they are Soy based and contributing to deforestation….I fear there is no immediate easy answer, however there is some fantastic information on the Oecotextiles website. But much harder for us in the UK to obtain – any info you have would be gratefully received 🙂

      1. Hi Rachel, thanks for the info.
        I have used Organic Cotton biz before for fabric and the ‘print your own’ option they offer here is best suited to simpler designs without too many colours as I believe it’s a manual printing process (blocks).
        I’m still searching for a digital ‘print on demand’ fabric printer that uses GOTS certified inks here in the UK to print some of my more complex patterns.

    1. Probably a bit late to respond but I just found a company that’s able to print as many colours, very reasonable and on bamboo or organic cotton. Have yet to put my first order in (looking for logo neck scarf) but they do small runs starting from a meter. They explained something about the dye they used but it did go over my head a bit- http://www.fabricatextiles.com
      Hope this will be of help to someone.

      1. Hi Harpal – Yes I’ve been in touch with James at Fabrica for quite some time, he’s very helpful. Fabrica are currently test printing on fabrics I’ve had my eye on, so keen to see how they develop!
        Thanks for responding Harpal and good luck!

  4. Hello .. it’s Tracey from Quilt me Happy. I have just started stocking the Akonye Kena Fair Trade Hand Dyed cottons, grown and processed in Uganda by a small cooperative. There are 2 ranges available. A natural dye range from Bark and Berries – 20 colours available, and a chemical dye range called Seed to Sower. There are 40 colours in this group divided into 4 seasons . I have all 60 in stock on the bolt. Bolts are only 5yds because they are hand dyed but all fabric is 58″ wide. I’ve made a couple of quilts with them now and they sew beautifully. Seed to Sower are on the website.

  5. Oooh Jane, what a good question. Possibilities include a light cotton canvas, a linen/cotton mix, a light denim or ticking. It’s probably a good idea to go for pre-washing if you use any of these!

  6. Wow there is a lot of information there to take in, thank-you. I will be looking for some cotton for making appliqued aprons next year with my sewing group, something with a bit of body but washable without shrinking any suggestions which might be the best? Sorry if this is too specific a question but many thanks for information.

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