Monday, February 23, 2009

Green Stuff

How is your Going Green quilt coming along? You still have time to make one. Earth Day is not until April 22. It doesn't have to be a large quilt. Wall size or even postcard size will do. Organic quilting products are still hard to find and I don't expect your quilt to be totally green. Maybe you can try one of the new products on the market or incorporate some recycled fabric into your quilt. The purpose of this challenge is more a visual statement, which sends an environment message. Using Eco-friendly products will certainly add to the message. I recently started working on mine. The prep work is done and piecing has begun.

It appears that batting has taken the lead, for going green, in the quilting industry. I look forward to testing out the new Bamboo Batting, by Fairfield. Made from 50% bamboo fibre and 50% organic cotton. Other earth friendly batting's available are: Mountain Mist Eco-Friendly Batting Blend made from 50% cotton and 50% pla (corn base) fiber and Quilter's Dream Green Batting made from recycled plastic bottles and Hobbs Heirloom Organic Cotton Batting. Recycled flannel sheets, regular sheets or light fleece blankets can be used as an alternative batting.

Marcus has recently introduced some organic and Eco-friendly cotton. Robert Kaufman's Kona Organics, although limited to white and natural, could come in handy to test out some earth friendly dyes. Robert also has a line out called Bermuda, which is 100% bamboo fabric and Sea-Tiva, which is 25% seacell (seaweed) and 75% cotton. Also, fabric called Panda Wash, which is 60% cotton and 40% bamboo. Andover Fabric is testing out vegetable dyes on non-organic cotton. Hoffman of California has an Eco-Friendly collection made from 65% bamboo and 35% cotton. How about a little Hemp Muslin. Made from 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton. That may work for stitchery projects.

Take a step back in time and make our own natural dyes. Purple cabbage, purple onions and yellow onions, for example make great fabric dyes. Bring a pot of water to a boil and simmer the veggie, until the leaves have lost all colour. About half a cup of veggies to four cups of water, simmer for an hour or two. Strain and cool. Presoak your fabric in tap water first. Wring out and then soak in your homemade dye overnight. What else makes great fabric dye? Blueberries, marigolds, turmeric, purple grapes, coffee, paprika, tea, cranberries, beets and leaves and I'm sure you can come up with plenty more. Something to keep in mind.....tea dye is semi-permanent and in time will wash out or fade from the sunlight. Also, tea dyes only works on natural fibers. Before you dye a piece of fabric, you may wish to first soak your fabric in a dye fixative. Salt (1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water) is recommended when using fruit for your dye and vinegar (4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar) for dyes from flowers, leave and plants. Simmer fabric in salt or vinegar fixative for approximately an hour, then rinse and wring out before putting the fabric in the dye.

Other earth friendly finds, NearSea Naturals sells organic cotton thread. The colours are limited to white, black and natural, but it's a start. Also, YLI and FiberActive Organics have partnered to sell 100% organic cotton thread. Available in white and natural, with more colours to come. And have you heard of QuiltCare? It is an "earth friendly" liquid wash for quilts and contains no phosphates, no bleach and is biodegradable. Lastly, some interesting (green) Internet sites to keep an eye on, Crafting a Green World and Forever Green Quilts.

I hope you can find a way or two to make an environmental statement in your quilting room and maybe we can improve the earth one fiber at a time.

P.S. I will be double posting today. Watch for a second post.


Sew Many Ways... said...

Such a great post with great ideas that I'll have to try.

Carol said...

It's good that people are concerned about thinking about trying to do away with some of our bad habits and poor choices that are getting our planet in trouble. How it has all changed since I was a child growing up, a young wife, and a new mom. As a child, I am sure we could not have lived much greener. I did not live in a house with a bathroom until I got married! And I didn't have an automatic washer and dryer until my kids were out of diapers - the cloth kind. We had a coal stove in the living room and one in the kitchen. No air conditioning which I don't think I could go without anymore. There was no plastic - waxed paper was used to wrap things. I remember when nylon was invented - wow. Could go on and on but won't. Would I want to go back to that? No, of course not. But we do have to be more responsible and not waste our precious resources in order that our grandchildren and their grandchildren and so on down the line will still be able to enjoy the good things. I think people are really getting the idea and starting to change. Good job!

Carol said...

Just a note - in rereading my post, it sounds as if we had coal stoves in our home when I was an adult - they were in my childhood home!

Robin said...

Thanks for the fabulous listing of resources here! I didn't realize that organic thread even existed. Very cool. I'm also anxious to try out some of that bamboo batting as well.

YankeeQuilter said...

One of the quilters in my guild tried the bamboo bat and is concerned with bearding coming through the quilting...have you heard anyone else with that issue?

My sister just gave me some bamboo kitchen towels...they are wonderful!