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Oct 28, 2014

"We interrupt this Python" or Sidetracked by Organic Cotton Flannel

You know that old chestnut about women being afraid of snakes?  Well, I can't vouch for its accuracy or lack thereof, but I can say that, much to my surprise, every woman who has caught sight of my python jacket-in-progress has totally oohed and aahed over it -- my octogenarian mother included.

I feel a little guilty because, if truth be told, I'm not that into it.  It's just so...synthetic.

Perhaps the gods are listening, because last week I received an email from an online fabric store specializing in organic cotton, Organic Cotton Plus, offering me a few yards of the fabric of my choice in exchange for a review.  I said yes -- not just because I was up to my neck in a PITA petroleum-derived project, but also because if there's a good source of organic fabric out there, I'd like to help spread the word.

I love cotton flannel and when I saw the colors offered on the site (perfect for a "summer" like me) it took me exactly ten seconds to select my fabric.  A few days later, my package arrived.  Hello, gorgeous!

It even came shipped in a recycled "eco" mailer -- nice.

As soft as this flannel was when I received it, after I laundered and machine-dried it this morning (pics below) I wanted to wrap myself up in it and go back to bed.   It reminds me of a vintage chamois shirt I used to own from L.L. Bean -- the flannel is soft, sturdy and has marvelous loft.

Organic Cotton Plus is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified.  You can read more about the environmental benefits of using organic cotton here.

I hope to have an organic cotton flannel sewing project to show you next week -- probably before my synthetic, fossil fuel-derived python jacket is finished.

I am not what you would call an environmentally-conscious fabric shopper.  I'm much more focused on organic food production than I am on fabric production, since I put food in my body and fabric just goes on it.  Perhaps it's time to pay closer attention.

Do any of you seek out organic sources of the fabric you need, if it's available?  If so, I hope you'll give Organic Cotton Plus a look.  (They're also a great source of hemp fabric and have a specific Made in the USA section).

Have a great day, everybody!

PS -- Are you a woman and afraid of snakes? 


  1. I'm so afraid of snakes that I start sweating just thinking about them! I like lizards, I have a turtle, not even slightly stressed by spiders/scorpions/stingrays/you name it and I pretty desperately want to go on safari, but snakes are the ONE animal I really can't stand the thought of!

    You know, I tend to think of you as a fairly eco sewer since you do so much with secondhand fabrics. Sure, they may not be biodegradable, but you're keeping old bedsheets and linens out of the dump and that's eco-friendly, for sure!

  2. I will check them out. I sometimes get requests for organic fabrics on baby blankets I make. I made my husband a chamois shirt years ago, although the fabric was probably not as nice as the Land's End shirt he had.

  3. Their fabrics are very beautiful, pricey. I typically purchase bolts of fabric for cost savings.

    I don't think I am surprised that you have put your petroleum product on hold. Imitation snake skin, is something you would see on a big hair girl from jersey with matching pumps and handbag big enough to carry a JUMBO Can of hairspray who looks like her makeup was put on by homer simpson with a shot gun and she did her hair in a wind tunnel.

    The jacket would look cool without ribbing and I thought that you would just pound it out. I bet if you finish and keep it as someone said, "CHANEL STYLE" You could probably sell it on

    You flannel looks wonderful and soft, a nice pair of cozy pj's to wear and curl up with the dogs might be in order or as you said, a nice flannel shirt.

  4. When you washed the fabric, were there any signs of pilling or dye bleeding? I have had bad luck with fabric that looked great in the store but didn't hold up...

    1. None. Some flannel will pill a bit over time. I pre-shrink my fabric in the dryer but once I've made a shirt, I wash it by hand and let it air dry. A shirt lasts longer that way.

    2. thanks for the info. They have a red french terry that looks cozy.

  5. We switched to organic food some years ago but, more recently, I've started thinking about the environmental and social impact of conventional fabric production. I use organic, ethically (preferably locally) produced fabric where possible but, in reality, it's so minimal it doesn't feel I'm making much of a difference.

    As gingermakes said, I think you're probably doing more by keeping old fabrics out of landfill.


  6. I am not a fan of snakes but I do have my share of snake print garments. Love the organic cotton flannel, looks so comfy.

  7. LOL, nope - not afraid of snakes at all! (well, if they are poisonous that's a different story, but the non-poisonous ones are great). Cross my heart what I am about to write is true - we have three pet snakes, and I currently have one out so he can crawl around and get some exercise. He is our speedy one, like keeping an eye on a toddler, but the two pythons will curl up and sleep on our belly, tucked under a shirt, or go around looped on our necks. They are our babies! And seriously - they have moods and preferences, so funny! Yes, more subtle than a dog or cat of course, but they do. :) I'll just put out there that giving a snake medicine is not a fun time.....

    I had to laugh (in a good way) at gingermakes post - her fear of snakes is like mine about spiders. Doesn't matter how small or big, not poisonous, whatever... those 8 legs are the stuff of nightmares for me! The very idea of holding a pet tarantula is enough to make me get light-headed and break out in a sweat.

    I will take a look at the fabric website, sounds nice.

  8. [With blaring relief] FLANNEL!!!

    [In a confidential whisper] I'm tingling all over.

  9. Ahh, so soft and cosy! What a lovely colour you've selected.
    Yes, scared of snakes (once had a 6 foot snake outside my window), spiders, mice...

  10. How the crop fabric is grown is just the start when thinking environmentally friendly fabric. Once it's out of the field (or off the animal) processing and dyeing can also use some really nasty chemicals. Bamboo is touted as being environmentally friendly, which it is in the growing of it, but processing into fiber to make fabric is often a chemical-laden process in order to speed up production.

  11. I am a woman and I am not afraid of snakes. In fact, I have a pet snake.

  12. Can deal with snakes all day long but I am terrified of spiders of any size. Got goose bumps just typing that.

  13. Depends on the snake. I grew up in AZ and assume all snakes are rattlers unless proven otherwise. I was told don't put your hands where you can't see them (good for scorpions too!) and watch where you step. Yelling and dancing about occurs when they slither unexpectedly near my feet, but I would never go out of my way to kill one, as some people will.

    I think your jacket would be a lovely vest. :)

    Flannel sounds delightful. Will go check them out.

  14. I make pajama bottoms for the men in my house - now there are three man sized versions of them - and so much flannel yardage gets very cardboardy after a wash or two. I tend to use flannel sheets from the thrift store, as they are already broken in and presoftened.

    Seattle is starting a fabric/rags/shoes recycling program, so that ginormous pile of fail projects and scraps has a good place to go besides the landfill in the next state. Between that and pizza boxes going into yard waste collection bins, my garbage can is very very small.

  15. am woman, afraid of snakes if I am in a place where I could cross them, grateful for the organic cotton source.
    Totally agree with difficulties(ethic and practical) of fossil-fabric, but it is really looking so cool. And, it's just a wearable muslin, isn't it? at least you are doing something useful(and so pretty!) out of something that could really just become trash somewhere else.

  16. I'm a woman and although I'm not particularly afraid of snakes, I'm not a fan of their skin printed on plastic ;)

    About eco-fabric: I used to work as volunteer with a small start-up brand in ecological women's wear, so I know a lot about it. Among the many different certificates for ecological fabric GOTS is a rather serious one.
    Growing regular cotton is a particularly 'dirty' kind of agriculture which damages the environment and often puts the health of workers at risk. However, because no artificial fertilizers are used ecological production, organic cotton grows slower and, as a result, uses more water per kilo of cotton. In some areas where cotton is grown, this is a serious concern. Of course, we as home sewers are basically end consumers so it is pretty much impossible for us to find out about an issue like that. However, suppliers you are dedicated to environmental and ethical issues will usually take this into account (the real problem is with brands which just use the eco trend).
    Another point is the dyeing of the fabric. In its regular form, this, again, causes serious damage to the environment and dangerous to work with. A lot of 'organic cotton' is so labeled just because the fibre itself was grown organically. It has been dyed using conventional methods. A few years ago, this could hardly be avoided because organic dyeing methods didn't provide very good results yet but there has been a lot of development since. (I tried to look it up but I couldn't find it right now but I think I remember GOTS certificates are for fabrics which have also been dyed organically). A pale colour like that of your flannel could certainly be achieved with organic dyes.
    And it is really good that a website like this exists because organic fabrics are often very difficult to come by in the quantities a home sewer would want. Although plain cotton shirting and jersey are becoming more and more readily available (Spoonflower offers those as well, for example)

  17. I am a woman and I like snakes. I attribute that partly to going to a zoo as a child where we were able to handle snakes. Also, I wasn't taught to be scared of them by my parents, even though where we lived then there were some dangerous ones; we knew that we mustn't touch them and should go and tell an adult if we found one, but there was no panic. I do believe that fear of snakes and spiders is learnt, not inborn.

    Your fabric looks gorgeous!

  18. That flannel looks so soft and warm! It would make a lovely nightgown.

    I love snakes! They have such a cool texture when you hold them, and such cute faces with those beady little eyes. I do think that if you live somewhere like Australia a fear of snakes is perfectly rational, but here in Canada they aren't anything to be afraid of.


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