......................................................................................................................................................Finding BEAUTY, JOY and CONTENTMENT in my everyday life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Organic Discoveries

'Tell me is there a lot of variety with the organic fabrics?' asked Kim in the comments on my previous blog post. Although no expert, I was quick to share what I have learnt so far - below is my lightly edited email response to her....

Hi Kim,

There is indeed quite a variety of organic fabric, ranging in weight (home decor, voile, quilting/poplin etc) and an ever increasing variety of designs. I can’t source any locally (I have asked) but online in the right places there are lots to choose from, just type ‘organic’ in the search box. There are a few fabric designers who have their ranges printed on a number of different fabrics/substrates including organic cotton - Amy Butler comes to mind here. Some sites stock no organic fabrics, others like Hawthorne Threads have a large range.

As always, Etsy is a good place to look too. I have even found some Scanfil GOTS organic cotton thread on Etsy which is lovely to work with (bought from Sew Fine Fabric on Etsy, along with some Cloud 9 solids - they have low shipping rates too, even to Australia).

You just have to read carefully as some designs use the word ‘organic’ to describe a free-form design rather than the fabric composition. It seems to me that in the past a large percentage of organic designs were targeted at babies/young children, but I’m pleased to see a great many more general appeal designs being released more recently.

Cloud 9 is a relatively new fabric company which only uses organic cotton and low-impact dyes. Wildwood is one of their newest releases, which although listed as quilting weight, it is quite light weight, almost like poplin and would lend itself well to clothing too. Last night I checked their site again and they have up several yet-to-be-released ranges which look amazing - I can’t wait! (Click here)

The Intrepid Thread is a US bricks and mortar store which also sells online - and as a bonus, they have great shipping rates, including a special shipping rate for international orders of between 8 and 9.25 yards etc (also for larger orders too). They have a good range of organic fabrics, many currently on special.

Well I’m sure that’s more than enough info for now……looks like I have the basis of a blog post written here! I could have just answered ‘yes’ to your question.

After reading my email and checking the Cloud 9 website, Kim discovered she had inadvertently bought some Cloud 9 fabric at her local Spotlight store recently.  We had a Spotlight store open in our town a few weeks ago but as yet they have no organic stock.

I'm really enjoying working with a selection of Cloud 9 fabrics from three different collections plus their new Cirrus range of solids, purchased from three US retailers. All their cloth is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton and has proven to be colourfast, including a navy/ocean Cirrus solid and also a deep purple/iris Cirrus solid (not shown above). The Cirrus solids are a different cloth type, being yarn dyed with a visible weave, some with a slight shot appearance, and they crease more than the prints (I prewash all fabric) and the darker the colour the more it seems to crease. The solids co-ordinate well with many of Cloud 9's print collections. The Cloud 9 quilting weight print collections are a beautiful finely woven, lightweight cloth with several of the prints and colourways coordinating well with each other. In the photo above I have used mostly Wildwood, along with some fabrics from the Acadia and Shape of Spring collections.

There are many, many good reasons to choose organic cotton, including their amazing range of beautiful prints - both available now and soon to be released. I know what I'll be suggesting for my own Christmas gifts.....

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sweet (Sweltering) November

The jacarandas have been beautiful again this year, spreading their purple haze all around our town for weeks.
Another generation of Australian Wood Ducks are walking our streets. We watched during one dusk walk as an oncoming car stopped to let them safely cross the road - much to our relief!
16 year old Miss N has had two games of first grade night cricket with our local club. She is decidedly dwarfed beside her fellow team mates.
For my birthday this year I requested gifts of service from our children - which were given, as well as chocolate.
My husband seconded one of my organic fabric orders to serve as part birthday gift - isn't it beautiful - Wildwood by Cloud 9 - just what I wanted!   ;)
One of the best birthday treats was having Miss E (6) wear a dress which I made in 2011 for Miss V (which she never once wore!). She didn't last the whole day in the dress but I enjoyed every minute of seeing her wear it. You can just see where she has lost a top tooth too.
I completed my Ginger Blossom pinwheels quilt late Wednesday night and gently tucked it around a sleeping Miss O straight away. It is a delight to see her enjoying this quilt, one long enough to keep her toes warm too!
Today is not quilt weather! The cucumbers were struggling to manage at 11 am, despite me giving them a long drink around sunrise. The gazanias seem to be loving the sunshine. Now noon, it is already the hottest day of the year at 39C (102 f) and the mercury is still climbing (update:it reached 43C at 2.30pm, and was over 40C for several hours). Master J is leaving right now to play cricket in the heat, all afternoon. We need to attend a function elsewhere in town which hopefully will be air-conditioned......
Sweet and sweltering.  :)

Sharing at Our World Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ginger Blossoms: Almost Done

Simple borders have been added, just as Karen Moore did in her original Ginger Blossom Pinwheel which I am shamelessly copying. Basting was completed on our large dining table, in two halves. I'm using Sew Easy 50/50 Bamboo Cotton batting for this quilt - a beautiful light even-coloured soft batting with minimal flecks. Then the straight-line quilting began. I find I have best control if I roll each side up, letting the quilt feed through the machine while I hold each roll as if they were reins on a horse.

Early this morning, before the children began to stir, I finished the quilting on Ginger Blossom Pinwheels. I would not have dreamt of using my noisy old machine with clackety walking foot while any were sleeping. I do however, find that my new machine skips the odd stitch here and there, sometimes several in a row, even after changing needles, so if any have suggestions to help, I'd love to hear from you.

This is the first quilt I have sewn without prewashing all fabrics. Using a fat quarter bundle it seemed impractical (and it is generally not advisable to prewash these smaller pieces of fabric), however I find the smell/chemicals tend to irritate my throat when I've been working with the unwashed fabrics for a while. I'm contemplating squaring the quilt, zigzagging the edges and giving it a couple of washes (along with the binding fabric separately) before I attempt to attach the binding and hand stitch it on the quilt back. I'll let you know how I go...

I'm keen to finish Ginger Blossoms so Miss O can begin to use it and so I can start to play with the beautiful organic fabrics which have arrived since I last posted. More on that soon!

*Update: I did square off and zigzag the edges, washing and line drying the quilt and separate binding fabric twice! I'm very pleased to be able to report that this almost completely removed the new fabric/dye smells/irritation and has caused no further issues.  :)

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton fabric - I have bought a little of it here and there for quilting in the past. It cost slightly more and it was rarely true white but I chose it because it was better for 'the environment'.

Then a few weeks ago I stumbled upon this:

'Approximately 25 per cent of the world's insecticides and 10 per cent of the world's pesticides are used on conventionally grown cotton and it's estimated that 50 per cent of all the insecticide used in India is sprayed on cotton. This causes monumental damage to the environment and to the health of farm labourers who are exposed to the chemicals. Non-organic fabric can also use genetically modified seeds....

Unfortunately it gets worse: as the pests develop resistance to these chemicals and the soil loses it fertility, the farmers find themselves in a never ending spiral of debt....illness, depression...suicide

...Organic cotton farming...natural fertilisers...crops are rotated and bugs are hand-picked...Weeding is also done by hand...allows farmers to grow their own food safely and keep animals.....increased opportunities for women working within the organic system...farmers involved also gain skills and training because the organic system is so tightly controlled and education-focused...the farmers are generally paid faster than those in the traditional industry...'

Suddenly 'the environment' was becoming very personal. This double-page spread in the midst of the Cassandra Ellis's impressive book, 'Cloth' (from our local library), has started me on an intriguing trail of discovery. Before having children I had spent a total of eight months living in India over the course of two trips, and my husband has had much more time India, even as recently as 2012, visiting some of our Indian friends. (See the label 'India' in the group of tags in the column on the right for more about our ongoing India connections).

The more I read, the more I have been disturbed by what I have learnt about conventional cotton farming, harvesting and printing/finishing.
Gina Pantastico, Director of Operations for Cloud 9 Fabrics recently shared a couple of articles over at Sew Mama Sew which have been most informative yet not too technical:
This first one looked at cotton farming and in the second article Gina gave a somewhat disconcerting outline of harvesting and printing/finishing cotton fabrics..
Another site, O Ecotextiles, covers some very interesting issues in greater depth including, but not limited to, fabric. 

What to do? While I still treasure and will carefully use my collection of conventional cotton fabrics, I can see organic cotton featuring much more strongly in future purchases - for the sake of the farmers, the environment (our waterways, air and soil) as well as the health of those who work with and use/wear the end products - and that's every single one all of us! 

Today I received a small order of hand printed organic fabric from Maze and Vale. Leslie custom mixes environmentally friendly, water based textile inks and screen prints her own designs in her one room studio in Melbourne. The fabrics are fine, soft and smooth, the prints are wonderful and the packaging was delightfully personal (thank you Leslie!).

I am very grateful also for companies like Cloud 9 Fabrics and Birch Fabrics who are continuing to release ever more enticing designs in organic cottons. There are some packages of organic fabric on their way to my home right now - at least one of which I hope will arrive in time for my birthday later this week. 

Do you have experience with, or thoughts on organic cotton? I would love to hear about it.

*** Just to clarify that the Maze and Vale order shown above, as well as the 'packages' on their way, are all my own purchases.  I really want to support the organic cotton system as well as looking after the health of myself and my family. In fact at this point I'm not buying any fabric unless it is organic and have been busy looking into organic batting as well as organic bed sheets etc.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday and Fabric Tuesday.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ginger Blossom Pinwheels

It was love at first sight! Browsing Flickr for quilting ideas I happened upon this quilt by Karen Moore. That was in September 2010. A fat quarter bundle of the same fabric, Ginger Blossom by Sandi Henderson, was quickly sourced on Etsy (the one and only fat quarter bundle I have ever bought).  

When the fabrics arrived they weren't quite as bright as they appeared on Flickr but they were still gorgeous. Miss O in particular liked the fabrics. I set to work making all the HSTs and sewed over half into pinwheels. And that's as far as I went. The pinwheels and remaining HSTs were neatly stacked away in a cake container and placed in the top of the cupboard. As this was before I began blogging, I have no record of exact times and details.

After completing Peaceful Night last week I immediately started thinking about my next project. Now seemed to be the perfect time to work on this WIP while I waited on creative inspiration for a new project. This was the first piecing I had done on my new machine and what a pleasure it has proved to be. Working a little here and there, all the pinwheels were complete, pressed and trimmed.

Thankfully Miss O still really likes this quilt and worked on the layout for the pinwheels which I have sewn together. The borders are yet to be cut, pieced and added but we both really like the pinwheel centre panel. I'm looking forward to seeing this one complete and in use on Miss O's bed .

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

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