December 30th, 2010 / posted by paularath

A reader asked me where she could find organic fabrics. I haven’t bought any fabrics in years because I have so many bolts and pieces stacked up in my sewing “room” (which is really a former closet) that I won’t allow myself to buy any more. That means my info is out of date.

So I asked Kaneohe-based fashion and jewelry designer Sierra Dew, where she finds her organic fabrics. Sierra said she sometimes finds organics at Kaimuki Dry Goods. I know other friends who have found bamboo and sometimes organic hemp there as well. I don’t know anyone who has found any at Fabric Mart.

Right: Sierra Dew in an organic T-shirt, left: another Sierra design.

Sierra and I both like to order from Dharma Trading Company, which is based in Berkeley, California. They sell all sorts of organic fabrics to dye … or not. (I’m not cheating – I only buy fabrics from them when I need silks for rust- or indigo-dyeing. I never have enough of them.) Their service is excellent.

Sierra also has good luck with and

Unfortunately, organic fabrics still seem to be priced a bit higher than other fabrics. That has never quite made sense to me. Do any readers know why that should be?

I remember once having a discussion with Josh Feldman, owner of Tori Richard, about sourcing fabrics. He has a pet peeve about bamboo. Although bamboo is a renewable resource, Feldman said it requires more chemicals and energy to turn bamboo into fabric than is required for other fabrics, so he contends that it is not at all eco-friendly. What do you think?

 – Paula Rath

What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
December 30th, 2010 at 2:28 am

Wow, a blast from the past. When living in San Rafael California I used to frequent the Dharma Trading company on Fourth street very often. I loved that store. I spent a lot of hours perusing all the wonderful fabrics. I also met many interesting folks that shared ideas and advice on fiber art and designing!

Sierra Dew
December 31st, 2010 at 12:19 am

Hi!The price of cotton is actually going up around the world and will be increasing about 30% due to higher labor and real estate costs. Organic cotton requires more labor than growing conventional cotton (which uses the most harmful pesticides and herbicides known). Here is a link to some helpful info this helps!

December 31st, 2010 at 7:07 am

How on earth did this happen? Cotton would seem to be such a natural fiber, grown naturally and processed naturally…but it definitely is NOT. My husband, Jerry, grew up in New Mexico and his family had a small cotton farm. “There was no such thing as organic cotton back then,” he said. Planes used to fly over the cotton crops spraying pesitcides. That was in the ’40s and ’50s.

Emma Howard
January 1st, 2011 at 4:40 am

Paula,I loved reading your post on organic fabrics!

kain batik
December 14th, 2013 at 7:22 am

An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who was doing
a little research on this. And he actually bought me breakfast due to the
fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the
time to discuss this topic here on your web site.

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