Over on Instagram, I shared a little about my love of natural fibres. How it’s not just a preference, but something that has fundamentally changed how I feel about my body.
Before I discovered natural fibres, I really thought that my body just smelled bad, that I just had to try and mask the problem, but that ultimately my body was to blame. Spoiler alert: a wardrobe full of polyester will probably make anyone stinky.
Now that I sew my own clothes, I’ve worked out that even amongst natural fibres there are winners for me. Linen, merino, silk, and even modal/bamboo work much better for me than cotton (which holds smells).
My preference for the fibres that I make my shirt, tees and pants from has a lot of crossover with the fabric I like to make my undies from! Merino and bamboo/modal are my favourite undies fabrics (especially in combination in the Kapunda Undies (bamboo side-panels and merino gusset and front and back is my favourite)!
What are my favourite fabrics?
Maybe you’ve noticed my wardrobe is a lot of linen? Linen has great qualities, and comes at a great price! I especially like undyed linen! Linen can also be great to sew with (if it’s not a shreddy b-word)!
Silk noil is my weakness (A+R Fabrics is my go-to source)- I love how it’s fancy but perfect for everyday-wear! It’s great to sew with, and doesn’t need ironing after washing (I air-dry and give my things a flick before hanging them out).
Merino is an old-favourite and my new favourite merino comes from The Merino Collective in NZ! I first tried it in this whisky shade from A+R Fabrics, which I used to make this Tarlee T-Shirt. I stocked up on the Merino Collective Fabrics from For Fabrics Sake (NZ-based) when they had a sale recently!
How do I wash my natural fibre fabrics before sewing?
I pre-treat my fabric in the way I intend to launder it. Coat fabrics don’t get pre-washed because I’m not going to wash them. Since I wash my clothes in cold-water, and generally air-dry my washing, that’s how I wash my fabrics before cutting & sewing.
How do I wash my clothes and how often?
I do a lot of spot-treatment to clean marks (I’m messy, what can I say)? And of course, I wear clean undies every day (and socks, if I’m wearing socks that day), but everything else is fair game. Of course, if something needed to be washed, I would wash it (can you tell that I’m preparing you?)!
My natural fibre t-shirts (in cotton, bamboo and merino) certainly go more than 5 wears before getting a wash… longer for merino.
Natural fibre pants? They get aired between wearings, they get the sniff test and they get washed a couple of times during the season.
Natural-fibre bralettes? The sniff test returns, but they’re certainly not 2-wears before washing.
Basically, moving to natural fibres for my clothes has also moved me from the ‘1-wear, 1-wash’ which was necessary with my polyester clothes because they made me stinky, and I made them stinky in return.
What are some changes I’m trying to make
I love bamboo, but I’m trying to shop modal instead (you can hear @Michelleofatime chatting about the dark side of bamboo here).
I’d love to find some more sources for hemp fabric- especially 4-way stretch which would be appropriate for undies. Hemp has similar moisture-wicking, antibacterial qualities to merino (from what my googling has shown).
The ethics stuff: I’m also glad that there’s a crossover between fibres that I love to wear, and fibres that tick my particular environmental ethics boxes. I know that folks set these ethics for themselves, and everyone has things that are more important to them and things that are less important to them. For me, avoiding plastics is my main aim. This means I also mostly wear leather shoes (because plastic-free, but also because ethics and because there’s less smell with leather).
Basically, I love natural fibres!