Image credit: The Fabric Store
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Some of my favorite childhood memories were watching my mother sew and copying her on my miniature, pink sewing machine. While I didn’t become a fashion designer, it did give me an appreciation for finding the best fabrics for the job.
Sourcing fabrics as a home sewer or small designer isn’t always easy, especially with many businesses having large minimums, which is the amount of fabric required to make an order (and often more than you need). Couple that with wanting more sustainable and ethically sourced materials, and you have a challenging task on your hands.
So, we have compiled a list of our favorite online fabric shops that stock conscious fabrics, allow customers to order less than a yard of fabric, and ship internationally.
What fabrics should you buy for your sewing project?
Alternatively, deadstock fabrics are an option for small designers and home sewists. Deadstock is the leftover fabrics from fashion houses that have overordered materials for their collections. Traditionally these would be sent to landfills, but many organisations and brands now rescue this fabric destined for landfills and give them a new life. While they aren’t always made of natural fibers, you’re using something that otherwise would be discarded. Often there aren’t large quantities of each fabric, but limited rolls mean small product runs of unique designs ideal for a budding designer.
Viscose (or rayon), while very popular in the fashion world, can be problematic for a multitude of reasons. If a man-made cellulosic really does provide the look and drape you’re going for, check to see if it has been Oeko-Tex certified, which means it’s been produced in a facility that has taken the necessary environmental and safety precautions. Or look for Tencel, which is the brand name for Lenzing’s lyocell material. Tencel is made in a closed-loop process, which uses a third of the water that viscose production uses. Because viscose and Tencel are made from wood, there’s the issue of deforestation to consider. But, the fabric manufacturers Lenzing and Aditya Birla have been ranked as low risk for sourcing from endangered forests.
Where to shop online
Owned and operated out of Canada, this online fabric shop offers organic, handcrafted, high-quality designer fabric that meets its high sustainability and ethical standards. Its eco-friendly materials come in a vast selection of solids or contemporary prints and range from certified organic cotton and hemp to Lenzing and Oeko-Tex Certified fabrics, which you can order at the minimum amount of 0.5 meters.
This New Zealand-owned and operated business is a destination for designers and the creative community alike, providing deadstock fabric ranging from organic linen to upcycled cotton twill. It also offers a very low minimum order of 0.25 meters, so you don’t need to worry about wasting fabric.
Core Fabric Store, another Canadian favorite, stocks an exciting selection of fabrics from master artisans and reputable mills, prioritising natural, eco-certified fibers such as handspun cotton and deadstock fabric from the fashion industry with a minimum order of 0.5 yards.
As the name suggests, Offset Warehouse is a social business that curates over 150 eco-fabrics ideal for everything from fashion to interiors, dispatching them from the UK-based warehouse. If you want to try something really different, Offset is currently the only consumer-accessible supplier of the innovative ‘Milk fiber’, created from the dairy industry’s waste by-products. Offset Warehouse will only sell fabrics that are socially and environmentally responsible, and has a minimum order of 1 meter.
Out of the UK comes what you could call a one-stop-shop for sewing enthusiasts. Merchant & Mills stocks everything from the finest cloth, which you can order at a minimum of 0.5 meter, to patterns, natural fiber thread, and buttons. The owners have taken a lot of care in sourcing responsibly and ethically made materials such as hemp, while also acknowledging ways in which the business could improve.
Hailing from Berlin, Germany, the team at Lebenskleidung launches two collections each year of durable and classic fabrics, mostly of 100% GOTS-certified cotton grown in Turkey. Not only does it have a low minimum of 0.5 meters, but you can also buy organic cotton cords, linen tape and natural rubber bands, perfect for a range of sewing applications.
All the fabrics on offer at Eagle Fabrics are made locally in Los Angeles using non-toxic and metal-free dyes. It stocks a range of materials which you can order at a minimum of 1 yard, including Tencel, GOTS-certified organic cotton, wool, and the exciting innovation ‘Soy Silk’, a by-product of soybean oil.
FabScrap was created to divert New York City’s textile waste and give it a new life. With the option to donate deadstock materials, and buy properly recycled fabric from their Brooklyn warehouse and online store at a minimum of one yard, FabScrap provides direct access to a wide range of beautiful fabrics of all types.