Published on June 17th, 2008 | by Skye Kilaen22
Fabulous Fabrics: What do Mainstream Stores Offer?
So far in the Fabulous Fabrics series, I’ve been looking at offerings from independent designers as well as specialty online shops. We’ve seen organic cotton, recycled fleece, hemp, and other fabrics that try to step more lightly on our common home.
That’s great for people reading this blog and other green crafting blogs, but large scale change is going to require many, many crafters demanding organic and other earth-friendly products. If all the products are sequestered in little green boutiques, that’s going to be a slow process. What about the crafters who aren’t reading this blog? Do they know these products exist? Have any of these products gone mainstream? I went on a hunt through some of the biggest mainstream fabric shops’ websites to find out.
First up, online mega-shop EQuilter. Doing a plain text search for organic products was tough here, because they also use the word organic to describe some of the designs. Once I found the right category, though it was easy to see their products. ORGANIC Solids, Textures & Threads offers YLI organic cotton thread, Michael Miller organic cotton sheeting, herringbone, fleece, terrycloth, and “fuzzy sherpa” (anyone want to tell me what that is?). They also offer “organically dyed” handmade cotton fabric “dyed by hand with natural elements such as vegetables, berries, minerals, and more.” The cotton itself is not organic, but the dyes are earth-friendly. They have eco-spun fleece in one color, latte tan.
What about Joann.com? They have Lion Brand and Bernat organic cotton yarn, plus organic cotton batting on a roll, but nothing else. (They do have recycled paper cardstock for scrapbooking, which is kind of cool.)
Keepsake Quilting is near and dear to my heart, since I once got stranded there for four hours when a friend and I drove up from Boston on a pilgrimage and then had to call a tow truck to jump her ailing vehicle. Yes, stuck in Keepsake Quilting for hours. It was HORRIBLE. (Kind of. Not really.) I was really hoping they would knock my socks off with organic products. They have the YLI organic cotton thread, as well as two fabric medleys: the lightweight Oasis Canvas Medley in solid colors and the Woodblock Vegetable Dye Medley, which is kind of paisley and stripey and floral. The former is organic cotton fabric, the latter is printed with vegetable dyes.
Hobby Lobby doesn’t sell online; they partner with Crafts Etc. All they have is some recycled paper sketch pads.
Michaels, though, had even less. They had nothing.
So what does this mean for green crafting? Autumn has asked crafters what would be in the green craft store of their dreams, and I have to say that I had no idea we were so far from it. I don’t go to craft stores very much, and when I do I’m looking for one specific thing. I’m more used to grocery stores, and in crunchy Austin, organic products are popping up left and right even at the corner market.
I try to think about the average crafter in mythical Middle America and whether she or he would be interested in greener options. I think so. Crafters are a thrifty lot, and we pride ourselves on using our supplies wisely. So how do we get the word out to them about greener alternatives?