A few months ago I joined the W.I. (Women’s Institute). My branch of the WI is called the BaD W.I. and when I saw their title, I was instantly intrigued. In fact, the name has to do with the geographical location, but the use of it suggests a group that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I liked that. I have really enjoyed every meeting so far, and have been pleased to find other members who are interested in textiles, too.
Actually the whole of the W.I. as a national organisation is interested in textiles, in the shape of their concern about so-called ‘plastic soup’, the ever-growing collection of plastic items in the sea and the micro-particles of plastic that result as objects are broken down. (You can find out more about ‘plastic soup’ via the link at the bottom of this post.)
The W.I. has always been a campaigning organisation and is particularly interested in this question at present. It is conducting an ‘End plastic soup’ survey about buying and washing of clothing, which I have just completed. I will give the link for this below, too, as you don’t have to be a member of the W.I. to participate. All garments made entirely, or partly, from synthetics such as nylon (polyamid) and polyester will be contributing to the ‘plastic soup’ in the ocean, because small particles are shed when the garments are washed. (In addition, when these pieces of clothing are discarded, if they go to landfill sites, they don’t rot down.)
I take all this seriously, not least because I have been drawing and painting life beneath the ocean, in the shape of tropical fish in the seas around Australia – I’ll write more about this next week.
The great majority of my clothes are 100% cotton. Cotton isn’t completely trouble-free to produce, since it uses a lot of water and requires pesticides while it is being grown. However, it is an absorbent, comfortable, hard-wearing fabric that washes well and that will biodegrade when it finally comes to the end of its useful life. Very many of my clothes come from charity shops. I love the thrill of the chase – you never know what you will find and often what I find is in pristine condition. It’s fun to look, it’s an economical way of dressing, and it’s a quiet response to ‘fast fashion’. I sometimes make my own clothes from cotton fabric.
As a fabric designer, I am delighted to be able to promote my designs printed by Spoonflower, who offer high quality cotton fabric as an option, and who use non-polluting dyes – you can see the whole range of designs by clicking the link on the right
As a quilter, I use 100% cotton for my quilt tops and backing. For wadding, I like using wool wadding, 80/20 wadding (80% cotton/20% polyester) or 100% cotton wadding. For reasons of cost, I have used polyester wadding in the past, but I am beginning to reconsider now, even though quilts have a far longer shelf-life than fast fashion items. My quilts include recycled fabric. In fact, my ‘Funky Flowers’ quilt top was entirely made from re-purposed cloth and was inspired by a child’s dress found in a charity shop (see more below).
So, let’s see what can be done to help save our wonderful oceans…
Find my ‘Funky Flowers’ quilt pattern here
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This is my ‘Abstract Watercolour’ fabric design. You can find it here.
It looks especially nice printed on the Celosia Velvet base fabric!