If you’ve been following me on Instagram you might have seen I’ve been hinting at a new project. And you heard me right, it involves sustainably produced fabric woven with recycled yarns which I’m going to make available online in limited quantities as part of a kit. Why? So many reasons! Besides it being absolutely lush and containing an element of sustainability, the fabric is also woven in The Netherlands by Annemieke of Enschede Textielstad. If that’s not the definition of luxury I don’t know what is!
In all the conversations I’ve had with sewists interested in sustainability, fabric shopping comes up as a challenge for those of us with specific requirements. My wish list includes fabric with interesting substrates (e.g. that you see in some “sustainable” collections in big brand clothing stores), that have an element of sustainability and transparency. And guess what? I finally found luxury fabrics that meet my requirements and I’m super excited that I can make this available to other sewists as well.
What will be available to buy and when?
The lovelies pictured here will be available in small lengths as part of a kit – as quantities are very limited I’m not setting up a webshop for now. All to be revealed but I will say the kit involves elements of zero waste and upcycling. Next year, I hope to be able to bring you a small collection of fabric with other substrates.
Of course I’d love if you would follow along with me on Instagram @timetosew as I work on this project. And if you’d like to subscribe to this blog you won’t miss the post when the kits become available.
Tell me about the fabric!
As well as always containing an element of recycled material, each of these fabrics are blends. The warp (i.e. the white fibres that run down the direction of the grainline) is wool and viscose. The weft (cross-grain yarns) contains cotton – some organic, some recycled. The weight and drape of these are not dissimilar to a 10oz denim. As you can see, there is no “wrong” side – they are just different because of the weave pattern so you choose what you like best.
You’ll notice that the fabric contains virgin materials. This is because fabrics that are woven with recycled natural fibres need to be blended with virgin fibres in order to be durable (you won’t see 100% recycled cotton apparel fabric on the market). The process of recycled cotton generally involves mechanical shredding of factory waste cuttings or post-consumer clothing. This means the fibres are shorter/weaker than virgin ones.
However, on the upside, no colouring or dyeing is involved in the production of these fabrics. Recycled yarns obtain their colour from whatever has been shredded. That’s a big win in my book.
Who made my fabric?
The fabric is made by Annemieke who owns her own weaving mill, Enschede Textielstad, in the Netherlands. The focus is very much on local and sustainable, and she specialises in recycled yarns. Her story of why she started her business is well worth a read – interview with her here. Let’s just say there aren’t many people I know that took action against fast fashion on the kind of scale that she has!
As an aside, if you know sewist Marianne of @foxglovesandthimbles you might already know Annemieke is her daughter. And yes, she sews clothes as well 😉
But what about all your talk of buying less and greenwashing?
You know I’m a fabric, sewing and sustainability obsessive. I care a lot about what I buy, who I buy it from, how much stuff I buy – and I’m not changing my tune.
There’s no greenwashing here; I’ve already said that this fabric contains virgin material. You can point at me and say it’s not sustainable; but to be totally frank, I don’t believe any fabric is ever totally and utterly sustainable – what they can have is sustainability elements. We can talk all day about how plants are grown, the number of steps to process the fibre and make the fabric, making a case for deadstock etc. But there will always be pros and cons to each fabric. The only real answer is less, but I’m not here to judge anyone’s lifestyle and shopping habits.
I approached Annemieke for a fabric collaboration for several reasons. Firstly, I want sewists to have an option to access and try fabrics that look fabulous, are different from what’s out there already, and also include a recycled element. Secondly, buying this fabric supports local production. The fact that the weaving mill is 2 hours from my house makes me feel very joyful indeed! Thirdly, as a sewist, I use fabric to make stuff. Fabric is available in many places but this to me is special and unique. And if it can be available to others, then all the better!
Sound good? I hope that you are excited to see this come to life too and will support and share 🙂
Till next time
Yay! Very much looking forward to this! Love the colours too!
It’s my favourite blue palette ???? thanks for reading Wilma!
Wow Kate! Those fabrics look very lovely! The combo of fibres is interesting (in a GREAT way). I’m curious, how do you keep the colours of the fabric consistent across bolts, when the colour of the recycled fibres is purely dependent on what had been shredded? Coming to think of it, slight variations in colour (if any) adds to the character and uniqueness of these fabrics!
Hi Sil! Thanks for the nice feedback. There is so much waste around that the yarn spinners make colour ranges. So you pick your yarn colour from a shade card same way as you would buy fabric for example