My Top 5 Ethical / Sustainable Fabrics for Home Dressmaking

top 5 ethical fabrics


Pouches I made for a recent collaboration with Brighton charity the Martlets using fabrics recycled from clothing.

The easiest and cheapest way to use ethical fabrics in your home sewing is to re-use your old clothes. Give old fabrics a new lease of life and save them from landfill by using your creativity; be inspired by the tradition of patchwork and the boro textiles of Japan and have a look at Portia’s annual Refashioners project on for more fashion focussed inspiration.


Collections I designed for ethical sportswear brand Gossypium using organic cotton.

Organic cotton is the next easiest choice and is becoming more widely available. Fabric choices include single jersey and denim and colours aren’t just limited to pure undyed cream. Conventional cotton is intensively farmed using synthetic fertilisers and pesticides which can be damaging for both workers and the environment. Organic cotton tends to be better quality and even better, cotton biodegrades and won’t be around forever in landfill.


make your own pantsPants I made myself last year using bamboo single jersey.

Bamboo has gained popularity in recent years. It is very soft and behaves a lot like cotton but is softer and drapes more like viscose. It takes a lot less water to grow than cotton and grows quickly. It is most commonly used in single jersey and makes beautifully soft t-shirts.


recycledpolyesterFabric by the metre made from recycled plastic from Offset Warehouse.

You might think that polyester wouldn’t be a great ethical or organic choice, but polyester fabrics can be made from recycled plastic waste such as bottles. This recycled polyester is commonly made into fleece and satin fabrics and they have a double advantage in that they can also be recycled at the end of their useful life.


ikatGorgeous Ikats from Offset Warehouse.

Distinctive Ikat fabrics are likely to be ethically made as long as you buy them from a reputable retailer who can tell you where and how they have been made (Faberwood and Offset Warehouse have some gorgeous Ikat fabrics). Ikat fabric tends to be produced in small quantities due to the labour intensive way it’s dyed and woven: Ikat is a traditional technique worked by hand – this brilliant blog post by Offset Warehouse explains the process of making Ikat fabric really clearly. To tell a genuine woven Ikat from a printed one, just turn it over and look closely, a woven ikat will have the distinctive design on both sides of the fabric.

Inspired to include some ethical fabrics in your next project? Have a read of my post “Where to Buy Organic Fabrics” for more recommendations of where you can buy online.


5 responses to “My Top 5 Ethical / Sustainable Fabrics for Home Dressmaking

  1. Pingback: Exercise 1.2 Create a list of suppliers – Contemporary Practice Jane Murdock

  2. Pingback: Sewing’s Dirty Secrets

  3. Pingback: Where to Buy Sustainable Fabrics | Wendy Ward

  4. Thank you for being inspiring on so many levels, I really appreciate this information. Have you tried printing or dying the offset warehouse polyester? It’s something I’m hoping to get my hands in and have a play soon.


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