Prize package for the August 20th drawing:
Fine print/official rules: Open to US residents only. No purchase necessary to enter; send an email to email@example.com with your name, email address, street address, and phone number to enter in lieu of placing an order. Weekly drawings will be based on the orders and entries received between Monday and Sunday of the week prior to the drawing; the "grand prize" drawing will include all orders and entries received between June 25 and September 2. It is possible for the same person to win more than once. We will use random.org or a similar random-number generator to choose each winner. Employees of NearSea Naturals and their family members are not eligible to participate. All participants must be at least 18 years of age.
We're thrilled to announce that Organic Wool Batting is finally back in stock. When the Vermont Organic Fiber Company went out of business (though you can still purchase their wonderful O-wool yarn), we weren't sure if we'd ever find a US company that met our sustainability standards and could produce the quantity of batting (and stuffing, of course) we needed. But we're so happy to say that we've succeeded in that quest. As a celebration, the stuffing is even on sale for the next few weeks.
There are other wonderful fabrics on sale, too -- we tried to pick ones that were good for chilly weather, so we've included flannel, hemp canvas, and just a few of the wonderful fabrics from our brand-new ML Marsh Collection: Organic Designer Fabrics. Expect more fabrics to join the collection over the next couple of weeks, as they arrive from the mill. These fabrics are so splendid; expect to learn more about them, and ML Marsh herself, over the next month.
It seems like the holiday season is earlier every year ... or perhaps it's simply that I have more people on my gift list each year, so the amount of time I have for each present is diminished. Either way, it's generally in October that I really have to kick my crafting into high gear, if there's to be any hope at all!
Do you give homemade presents? We try to buy as little as possible, focusing instead on handmade items, repurposed goodies, family treasures that can be given to someone else who will appreciate their history and usefulness ... anything except brand-new, mass-produced things that will probably end up breaking quickly and being thrown away anyway! This year I'm particularly loving the 1920s Clothespin Apron, which is quick to make and a wonderful gift for anybody who does laundry. (Yes, conveniently enough, that's almost every adult I know!) If I'm giving it to someone who's never hung out wet clothes before, I may pair it with a pack of clothespins and even a laundry line, to make the process particularly easy. And sometimes including directions for tying clothesline knots can be a good idea, too!
(As a side note, if you know anyone even slightly handy with tools, a knot board is a wonderful gift for almost anybody above 6 or so. The concept is similar to this Boy Scout project, but is designed for practice instead of display. The simplest version is simply a piece of wood with metal loops on each end and two holes in the wood as well, given with two differently-colored pieces of rope or thick string and directions for tying several different kinds of knots -- these directions can be found in many places online, in various books, and elsewhere.)
The Protect and Serve Apron makes a wonderful gift also -- can you tell that I really like aprons? The name is splendid, of course, but the apron itself is wonderfully useful. I love pairing an apron with a set of cloth napkins or a couple of dishtowels. And it almost goes without saying that I make all these things with either organic fabric or reclaimed material from clothes that aren't useable any longer. Any fabric pieces too small to use for other projects become gift bags, continuing our tradition of not using wrapping paper through the holiday season. (I love knowing that the bags are part of the gift, and that they'll be used and passed on in the future.)
People with babies generally get either receiving blankets (quite possibly the easiest and most useful gift in the world) or one-piece bodysuits (what were called onesies before the term was patented). Some exceptionally lucky babies might get both, but that's fairly infrequent!
The Reading Pillow is another of my go-to gifts this year, as it works for all ages. I can personalize my fabric choice for each recipient -- a "manly" black hemp/tencel is perfect for my dad, while Corn Maiden's been Winnie's favorite fabric for quite some time now and Debbie is definitely a Cream Clara kind of girl. My youngest just might get one made from pieces of worn-out jeans patchworked together, as he needs the extra durability and doesn't care as much about how it looks!
Those are my plans and works-in-progress at the moment; what are yours?
And humid, too -- we were up to 44% humidity the other day! (Yes, I know that's nothing to people who don't live in the Southwest ... but we were melting, I tell you!)
So why does the heat and humidity matter? Because I've been wanting to wear clothing that is as unobtrusive as possible, and thankfully we offer a wide selection of wonderfully light fabric from which to create all sorts of wonderful items. There are so many -- here are just a few: Superfine Crepe, in colors including the vibrant Leaf; Natural Light Lattice, which is like a mesh but not as opaque; Moss and Russet Featherweight Plaid (marvelous for lightweight shirts); the Perfect Paisley Lilac Crinkle Cut, which just begs to be made into a sundress; Medium Summercloth, which is excellent for home dec projects; and the amazing Double-Layer Amity Silk, which I would choose as a veil were I in the getting-married mood. (As is, I'm in the been-married-for-a-while-and-planning-to-stay-that-way,-thanks mood, so I have no need for veils ... but a lovely light shoulder wrap would work quite nicely too!)
We also have patterns that are splendid for summer sewing, ranging from our ever-popular One-Piece Sundress Pattern to Maternity (and non-maternity) Bathing Suits, from Folkwear's Blonde Bombshell to Jalie's always useful Pants & Shorts pattern for men and boys. And, of course, everything in-between!
So get yourself some light-weight fabrics and a pattern or two, and create a whole new wardrobe for the next few months. You'll be so glad you did! (And yes, if you're a well-organized always-prepared sort of person, or simply the sort of person who lives Down Under, we have no end of heavier fabrics too -- they're just what you need for fall and winter outfits, for holiday presents, and just to curl up in during the chilly nights that really will be coming even to New Mexico at some point!)
Oh, and just a couple of reminders:
(1) If you haven't yet "liked" us on Facebook, you're missing out -- not only do we encourage people to post pictures of creations made with our fabrics, but we also offer not-infrequent sales and freebies. So come on over and join the fun!
(2) There are, of course, new Yard Sale items -- we change them out every three or four weeks, so make sure you check back at least that frequently.
(3) We love to see what you've made with our fabrics -- post pictures on our facebook group, send them in an email, turn a snapshot into a postcard and actually mail it to us ... we'll be thrilled!
For everyone who's been asking, we're thrilled to announce that we received a delivery of our Natural Softest Wide-Width Sheeting this morning. There's about 50 yards to begin with, and we're expecting more fairly soon ... but last time it was in stock, we sold out within two days. So if you want organic cotton sheeting, you might want to buy it now...
Check out our Yard Sale -- in celebration of National Garden Month, we've put some splendid plant- and flower-themed fabrics on sale! Our brand new Persimmon/Seed Bloom is one of these fabrics; it's a wonderful upholstery-weight material that is marvelous for home dec, crafts, and even clothing. The ever-popular Criss-Cross Tops pattern is also on sale, along with quite a few other things. Check them out!
Now, back to actually gardening, which you can of course do while wearing wonderful organic clothes that you've made from our fabrics!
Few people deny that homegrown vegetables generally taste better than conventional, store-bought ones; the classic example is that of a fresh, sweet tomato just plucked from the plant compared with a tasteless supermarket one that was picked early and shipped a thousand miles. Indeed, the desire for good tomatoes is often the reason that people start gardening! In recognition of that, the need to have just one good gardening experience, check out the the One Pot Pledge, from the UK's Garden Organic, "the national charity for organic growing." Dedicated to getting people who've never grown their own food to try at least one pot's worth this year, it has all sorts of help and inspiration for these beginning gardeners. KidsGardening.org is, of course, devoted to encouraging kids to garden; teacher resources and more can be found there. It's wonderful for kids to have a real connection to their food, and many children will happily eat vegetables they've helped grow even if they weren't adventurous eaters before.
In both public and private initiatives, cities are encouraging their residents to start Victory Gardens (sometimes called Recession Gardens, in a modern update to the name); one such example is Victory Gardens San Diego. Indeed, an ever-increasing amount of people are learning how to garden, frequently out of financial necessity. (This NYTimes article about Latino gardens in San Jose was fascinating -- and as a side note, I loved learning that an old friend, Poncho Guevara, was instrumental in the program's success!) Even my little neighborhood is forming a community garden -- one family is contributing the land, another loaned us a tractor for rototilling (a necessity in never-before farmed land in New Mexico!), I'll be supplying the seeds (by the way, here's a great page discussing how to get free and low-cost seeds), someone else is fencing it in, etc. With so many people out of work -- and still wanting to eat healthy, fresh food -- the garden will be a true benefit to us all!
So however you want to do it -- a single plant, a schoolyard garden, your entire backyard, or a large farm -- go out and get your hands dirty. The rewards are stupendous, and oh-so-tasty!
I've mentioned this on our Facebook page multiple times, but in light of Saturday's earthquake in Chile following the devastation in Haiti, I wanted to make a little plug for one of my personal favorite relief groups. Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders is "an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe." They were already on the ground in Haiti before the quake; they were in Chile the day after. They have portable field hospitals that they take to some of the most dangerous places in the world, places other organizations are often unwilling to go, and they stay there long-term. So if you're looking for an organization where your donations will really make a difference, I definitely recommend MSF/Doctors Without Borders. I know many of our customers want to create items for people affected by the most recent natural disasters -- I can only encourage you to start crafting now, but to realize that anything you make won't necessarily find a home in Haiti or Chile anytime soon. So make things, with love, and save them until the time is right to send them.
It feels wrong to turn to business after talking about a natural disaster, but I did want to let you know that I added three glorious new fabrics today -- two splendid fleeces, in creme de cassis and fern, and our perennially popular naval stripe -- on a white background. Don't miss any of them. And definitely check out the new yard sale items, good through March 16. There are many green and lavender fabrics -- St Patrick's Day, anyone? -- and some other goodies as well.
We've added the line of Sew Liberated patterns to our site. Designed by a mom and former Montessori teacher, these patterns run the gamut from adorable kids' clothes to marvelous reversible aprons, stopping at a couple of crafts like the Mischievous Gnome Messenger Bag. If I had a daughter I'd so be making Twirly Skirts galore!
We've had a lot of requests for 25+ yard purchases lately, so I wanted to remind everybody that our Fabrics By The Roll Page is a marvelous place to get large quantities of single fabrics at spectacular prices. These deals aren't limited to wholesale customers, either -- everybody can play!
Since it's getting chillier every day in our part of the world, we've been shipping out many packages full of our warmer fabrics. Though it's new, our Deluxe Natural Velour has proven particularly popular; its soft coziness is incredibly appealing. We clearly got flannel back in stock just in time (in both natural and whitened versions), as it's been flying out the doors! Keep your eyes open, for we're hoping to have an even heavier, softer flannel within the next month or two -- how exciting is that??? Our Collegiate Stripe is also splendid -- it's nicely comfortable and so very eye-catching.
We've swapped out the freebie for our facebook friends, so make sure you join us there to see what the goodies are this month. We're also posting various gift ideas -- charities, discount offers for eco-friendly stores, crafts you can make, and more. What fun!
We're absolutely thrilled to have heavyweight (8 oz/sq yd) organic cotton flannel back in stock just in time for winter. Woven in the United States from US-grown organic cotton, it's available in Natural and Peroxide-Whitened. Soft already, the fabric becomes positively luscious when you wash it. I'm so thrilled to have this material available again; it took a long time to find another US mill who would make it for us, and we're hoping to have it available for a long time! (Truthfully, I think these are much nicer flannels than any we've had before, which is wonderful.)
To celebrate flannel's return, both versions are on sale through the 26th of October, along with some other splendid fabrics -- be sure to check them all out.
We also encourage you to check out Friends of Slow Money. After attending the Slow Money conference last month, Winnie and I both came away very inspired that this is a movement that truly can and will make a difference. Friends of Slow Money is aimed at getting 5,000 people to donate $5 and sign the manifesto this week ... won't you join us in doing so?
As I've mentioned before, our customers make amazing things from the fabrics we offer. Sometimes we're lucky enough to see pictures of the finished products, and occasionally we like to share pictures of special creations with everyone else. This is one of those times: Loralee Holman shared pictures of her beautiful wedding gown and bridesmaids' dresses that we'd like to let you see too.
Loralee's mother must love her very, very much, as her mom sewed all the dresses for the wedding. The bridesmaids' dresses were made using our Plum Hemp/Silk Charmeuse, while the wedding gown was crafted from our Natural Hemp/Silk Charmeuse.
Look at the details that went into the whole process -- the embroidery on the wedding gown that matches the bridesmaids' dresses, the barefoot bridesmaids carrying wildflowers ... doesn't it look like a beautiful wedding? I love how eco-friendly weddings can run the gamut from the simplest, least-fuss ideas imaginable to incredibly ornate, and it's so marvelous knowing that our customers care enough to ensure that their happy day will be a happy one for the earth as well.
(Click on any of the pictures to see them larger -- they're definitely worth it!)
We get many questions about upholstery -- what fabrics will work best, obviously, and how to do basic projects. In an attempt to reduce a bit of the mystery, here's some information that just might help.
For fabric choices, your best bets are woven fabrics (of course) that are fairly heavy. You want them to have a tight weave and to be fairly durable, especially if the piece you're going to upholster will be receiving a lot of wear and tear: if you're covering a couch that will have kids and pets bouncing on it, it'll need a much stronger cover than if you're covering a side chair that's mostly for show. Some of my favorite upholstery fabrics are:
(That doesn't mean these are the only upholstery fabrics, of course -- just that they're my current favorites. Just about any tightly-woven fabric can be used for upholstery/slipcovers, depending on what your particular needs are.)
Here are some how-tos from around the web. Many call for materials that I would want to swap out for a safer alternative: organic batting instead of conventional, natural latex instead of foam, etc. Your choices are, of course, up to you!
How to reupholster a dining chair set -- a video from the ReadyMade Magazine folks. Their plan includes foam and spray adhesive, both of which I would personally avoid (I'd choose a natural latex, obviously), but it's a good demonstration of how easy it is to recover a basic chair seat.
How to reupholster a (more complicated) channelback chair or sofa.
Here's another solution, for those among us who prefer less work: leave the original fabric on and simply sew another layer on top of it. Demonstrated on an office chair.
How to upholster a headboard using a frame or a piece of plywood (make sure it's formaldehyde-free, though, and do use organic batting!).
How to reupholster a couch, in words (no pictures, and no video).
Here's a photograph-rich description of how to make a couch slipcover; she's frank about how much work it is but yet makes the task seem eminently doable.
If that seems like a bit too much work, consider making a sofa wrap -- they're quick to make, easy to swap out to change your decor, and can be ever so elegant. Winnie just made one, and her only comment is an enthusiastic "I love it!"
As promised, we've changed out our sale fabrics; my two favorites of the new offerings are:
- Natural Herringbone at an unbelievable price. This is my go-to fabric when I want to make something sturdy that looks good, from kids' clothes to stunning adult business attire; it also works well for home dec projects, everything from casing for pillows and mattresses to being used as upholstery by itself. Try dyeing it, too, or adding an applique if you want a bit more visual interest.
- Topiary in three different colorways -- olive, skookumchuck (which may be my new favorite word), and roasted pepper: This high-end fabric has a splendid pattern that reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright. I want it all around my house -- and so does Winnie, so luckily we can order more! Take advantage of the sale price, and get enough for multiple projects. You won't be sorry.
After many requests and much dragging of the feet, we've finally put up a facebook page; become our fans, won't you? (Doesn't it seem silly for us to be asking for fans? It does to me!)
And on yet another completely unrelated note, I wanted to mention MPSDigital printing, who print *paper* labels (not fabric labels for your clothes, but paper labels for other items -- maybe hangtags? I don't know). They talk about helping "clients turn their packaging green" and might be worth talking to if you're looking for a labeling solution that includes FSC or recycled paper. They're at mps4digital.com
My "baby" turned seven last month (and yes, we did go camping), so I'm fairly detached from the world of cloth diapering. Luckily I have many friends who are in the thick of it, as it were, and they keep me very up-to-date with the latest changes. Aren't I lucky? It amazes me how much cloth diapering has changed since my kids were babies, though -- and in saying so I sound like my mother, who used to wash my diapers in the stream near the house she and my dad were building and many years later marveled at the innovations her grandkids benefitted from!
Some of the best new concepts in organic diapering are directly attributable to fabrics that are now available organically that did not exist previously or were simply far too expensive to be used for anything but couture garments. Fine knit organic wool is a prime example of this. When my kids were little, diaper wraps were almost exclusively made of vinyl, PUL, polyester fleece, or a thick knit wool (often hand-knit, like the splendid patterns we have in our Diapered People section). The organic wool jerseys and interlocks available now, once washed to remove shrinkage (you don't want to go through all the work of making a cover only to have it end up fitting a field mouse), make splendid diaper covers that I only dreamed of with my little ones! And with wool you only need a few covers per size. They don't need to be washed after each use -- just air them out when damp and the lanolin will generally take care of any smell. Wash them only when soiled or if they really need it. (When you do wash, though, make sure to use a wool wash that contains lanolin or you'll lose the water-repellent properties!) Wool's an amazing fabric in so many ways, and it's splendid for diaper covers. See? Other people think so too!
Continue reading "Sewing organic diapers, diaper covers, nursing pads, and cloth pads" »
I just spent a week caring for my aunt after hip replacement surgery, and was reminded anew how important handsewn and handcreated gifts can be for people who are in less than perfect health. Much of my goal -- when I wasn't helping her stand up or sit down again -- was to find ways to help my aunt be both more comfortable and more independent when I left, since she won't be able to drive or go anywhere for a month. So I spent time doing things like:
- Fashioning simple bags for her walker, to carry her cell phone and water bottle.
- Creating a mattress pad for her bed, to cushion her whole body but especially her hip -- so important when there's limited movement and you don't want bedsores! (I know I've said it before, but our Luxurious Wool Pile is perfect for mattress pads, and doubled or tripled up it makes splendid malleable padding to help get just the right level of comfort.)
- Making simple nightgowns that are comfortable to wear, decent when sitting, in bed, or participating in physical therapy, and don't get caught up in the walker when she's moving around. (The Subtle Pointelle is really nice for knit nightgowns, and the Natural Brushed Wide-Width Sheeting for woven ones.)
- Sewing simple rice packs that can be either microwaved for spot heat or chilled for temporary cooling. (When making longer/bigger pads, it's nice to make them segmented so all the rice doesn't fall to the bottom. That's the concept behind a baffled featherbed, and it works here too.)
I also had far too much fun with sticky-backed velcro, which is not at all organic but is incredibly useful for people with limited mobility -- with a nice wide strip of velcro on one edge of her chair-side table and pieces on her cell phone charger, flashlight, grabber, and other necessaries, my aunt is much less likely to drop things and have to laboriously attempt to pick them up again. (And, knowing me, you won't be surprised to hear that I cooked -- my aunt's freezer was nicely filled before I left, so she can bring out organic meals whenever she's hurting too much to cook for herself. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my family pretended to want me back so who was I to argue?)
My aunt, of course, is incredibly fortunate -- she'll be up and around soon and should be all the better for this eventually. Not everyone is so lucky, though, and this was borne home to me on Tuesday when I went to visit a family friend who is struggling with cancer. For people in her position sometimes being surrounded with comfort and love is of utmost importance (as I suppose it is for all of us, but it's even more important as we're facing the final transition). I find myself in a position where I don't quite know what to do to show my love, my appreciation of her role in my life, and I fall back again on creating things. My ideas?
- When cooking for sick people and their caregivers, the best book I've ever found bar none is Laurel's Kitchen Caring. It's full of nutritious recipes designed to tempt even the most feeble appetite, including many broths and clear liquids that can sometimes be all that people can swallow.
- Although the bigger rice bags can be too heavy for people who are weak, smaller handwarmers are sometimes still appreciated -- especially if there are caregivers who will warm them up for someone who is bedridden.
- Beautiful things and comfortable textures are both very valued at times like this, when they can fall by the wayside.
- If someone is very sick in the height of summer, consider the indulgence of a wrap of Amity Peace Silk which is so light and gorgeous but yet will help maintain modesty and provide the perfect amount of modesty.
- If the person is likely to be chilled, consider making a simple quilt (like this, or one of the projects from Meryl Ann Butler's book) out of fleeces or other soft fabrics to quite literally wrap them in your love.
- If you have an organic garden (and the person you're visiting isn't allergic), bring some long-lasting flowers or an arrangement of greens -- it seems obvious, but isn't necessarily. Organic only, though, if the person is at all sensitive; my aunt reacted really badly to a conventional bouquet that we had to ask the nurses to remove from her room but was absolutely fine with a similar arrangement from Organic Bouquet. (And notice, please, that I'm not even discussing the environmental, social, etc, aspects of non-organic flowers; can you believe it? Neither can I!)
Many wonderful, wonderful people sew, knit, and crochet for charity -- making things for people who they'll never see but who will benefit immeasurably from their hard work. We benefited from that when my firstborn son was in the hospital for so long ... he was the recipient of a hat, booties, and a blanket that people made for babies in the NICU. He was such a tiny, scary-looking baby, with wires and tubes sticking out all over, and seeing him in clothes made such a difference -- it made him look like a real
baby. Almost more important than that was the knowledge that people we didn't even know cared enough to make these items for my baby, that they were made with love, compassion, and best wishes. That hat, booties, and blanket meant so much more than any commercially-made clothes ever could have, and I still have them today. (The picture, in case you couldn't guess, is of Neil when he was only a few days old. Notice how my finger's bigger than his arm? Winnie wants me to mention that he's 10 now, and just had his Suzuki Violin Book 4 recital last weekend. His arms are stronger now. Bigger, too.)
I was lucky enough to talk with a woman who makes blankets for NICU babies about a year ago. She was denigrating her work, saying it was a way to pass the time and probably wasn't that important, and I was able to tell her how much it meant to those of us whose babies benefitted from the work of people just like her.
It's not just NICU babies, of course -- Project Linus provides blankets for children in need (and the Miss Hailey's Baby Quilt Pattern was designed to benefit Project Linus and to be a good introduction to quilting). ChemoCaps and Head Huggers focus on making hats for chemo patients who've lost their hair (and The Daily Knitter has a partial list of other charity options for knitters). Ugly Quilts are marvelous, easy-to-make sleeping bags for the homeless, and a perfect project for any group to which you might belong (friends, dinner groups, moms or dads groups, church groups, SCA folks, etc). Mama to Mama's goal is "connecting families through homemade action"; their first project was making blankets and caps for babies in Haiti, and I'm looking forward to seeing what their next focus will be.
And, of course, I firmly believe in the curative power of crafting with sustainable materials. Or at least in the "first do no harm" theory thereof. But when combining the love, care, and positive intent of a handmade item with the best, safest materials, I feel like I'm doing as much as I can in this area.
Just in time for more sewing fun, we have several new colors of knit fabrics made from pure organic cotton to inspire your creativity! Check out our Creme de Cassis Cotton/Spandex Jersey and matching jersey, our Mellow Rose Cotton/Spandex Jersey and matching jersey, and our Pacific Blue Cotton/Spandex Jersey and matching 1x1 Rib Knit. You'll also appreciate our Cloud Cover 1x1 Rib Knit, which matches our Cloud Cover Jersey.
We've also brought back some old favorites: Turquoise 1x1 Rib Knit (which matches our Turquoise Jersey), Petal 1x1 Rib Knit and matching Petal Jersey, and Hazelnut Canvas.
There are, of course, more goodies to come, so keep checking back...
Regardless of what the calendar may say, it sure feels like winter out there. Even though our home is heated by a combination of solar hot water and environmentally-friendly wood, it still wasn't overly warm inside this morning. (I'm very much not complaining -- our first winter here we had no heat at all, and it was frequently in the low forties indoors. We tend to wait for the rich solar power of the day to heat the house, and the low sixties in the morning seems downright luxurious!) Perhaps when you make your own power you're more apt to be careful with it? Regardless, days like today I'm very grateful for the wonderful organic fabrics with which we're able to surround ourselves and keep cozy even when it's chilly!
Continue reading "Keeping warm while it's cold outside, with our organic fabrics. " »
First of all, woohoo, we've added bunches of new fabrics including a fabulous new safari print. Check them all out. (Oh, and new yarns, including the best deal imaginable on bulk merino yarn, and pretty single-needle silk cases to go with our Ultimate Silk Knitting Needle Cases.)
Secondly, I've been thinking about sleep a lot lately. We've had many customer questions about pillow making, and I've had to admit that I haven't had the time or inclination to make my own pillows since children entered my life lo those many years ago. I know a lot about the concept and I've worked with a good many people who've made pillows, but making my own? Not a chance. My sewing time is dedicated to other projects these days, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. But many of our customers are more dedicated than I, and others are in the same boat as I am, and it's to all of you that I dedicate this entry. :)
Continue reading "New organic cotton fabrics, organic pillows, and chocolate, always chocolate." »
I've been intrigued by Furoshiki, the Japanese art of gift wrapping with fabric, since I first learned about it many years ago. It wasn't until a business trip to California, however, that I found the book Gift Wrapping With Textiles: Stylish Ideas from Japan (available other places too, of course!). That book, combined with a little spare time (hey, there's not all that much to do in a hotel room, even an eco-friendly one, besides watch really bad TV and work), inspired me to start playing around with the concept ... and it's so very much fun!
Today I was lucky enough to be able to work with two new Harmony Arts fabrics, Black and White Whispering Grass Wide-Width Sateen and Blue Moon Light Flannel, and I couldn't resist trying a little furoshiki. (The new fabrics are probably worth an entry in their own right, especially because it's so wonderful having a printed flannel that can be used for the whole family and because the black and white version of Whispering Grass is so strikingly eye-catching, but instead I'm simply using the fabrics as props for a larger post. Do check them out, even if I'm not giving them their due in the blog.)
Continue reading "Furoshiki, and new Harmony Arts fabrics. " »
Although we added these three fabrics last month, I forgot to mention them on the blog. Definitely my oversight here -- these are such fun prints and I've come up with so many great projects that would benefit from their use. You've probably noticed the relative scarcity of printed organic fabrics for kids and babies, and particularly of nice designer prints -- well-designed, sustainably grown, and perfectly suited for today's modern baby and child. These go a long way toward rectifying that omission. (I'm so jealous -- where were these fabrics when I had little ones???)
These three prints make gorgeous clothing and accessories (baby changing pads and diaper bags come to mind immediately), bedding, drapery, and upholstery. I managed to entertain a two-year-old for much longer than I'd expected by telling a story based on the animals in the Enchanted Forest fabric. And Cloud Nine would make the most perfect curtains imaginable, don't you think? It's probably a bad idea to want another baby simply so I can surround him or her with these fabrics, but they just give me that feeling -- cozy, magical, and loved. I highly recommend the fabrics -- definitely check them out.
We're so thrilled with this new, limited-edition tea towelling, and we're sure you will be too! It comes with internal selvages dividing it into five separate sections that you can easily cut into tea/kitchen towels. Choose to hem or serge the edges, or simply leave them loose to fray gently. It comes in 3/4 yard pieces, which is big enough to make 5 towels. The fabric will soon be available in a peroxide-whitened version as well.
We've added other new fabrics too (today was a fun day!). Check out our Definitive Natural Canvas, Medium Open-Width 1x1 Rib Knit, Cave Art Sunflower Seed Jersey, and Tumbleweed Interlock; there are also two new Harmony Arts fabrics, Ohio and Orange Surrender.
We still have a huge array of new fabrics and items for the website, and are adding more to that pile all the time, so do check back frequently to see what's new.
Y'all know that we hardly ever have sales at NearSea Naturals, since we try to offer the best possible prices each and every day. Sometimes, though, circumstances let us offer better prices, and this is one of those occasions. In honor of my four-year-old, who believes that "everyone in the world needs blue stuff", we've put our Royal Blue 1x1 Rib Knit on sale. It matches our Royal Blue Jersey, for greater versatility. So get creating -- you'll love the clothes you can make with this beautiful fabric, and you'll be amazed at the price.
Oh, and I just added several new fabrics. It was particularly difficult getting some of the colors to look right, so do request swatches if you're not sure. I particularly like the Chestnut Pointelle, which is a gorgeous fabric.
I've been remiss in writing for the blog lately. It's been very cold and very muddy here -- not necessarily at the same time, but frequently so. We made it to town fewer than once a week over the past couple of months, as there was more than a foot of mud on the road between our house and "the rest of the world." Thankfully both my husband and I work from home and we homeschool the kids, so our routines weren't interrupted all that much besides a bit of stir-craziness! (The kids may have benefitted -- this morning they were telling stories about Odysseus, Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and spring gardens.)
Our heaters have been acting up and our new, environmentally-friendly woodstove isn't installed yet, so we've been operating in "hibernate" mode. We have blankets made from Heavy Fulled Wool Flannel on our beds and as couch throws ("blankets" may be an exaggeration -- they're actually just pieces, not hemmed or trimmed in any way) and our slippers all have inserts made from Luxurious Wool Pile. It's so easy -- just trace a slipper and cut the shape out of the wool pile, pop it in the slipper, and ooooh, the difference it makes! A visiting friend, who loves to knit, was raving over our beautiful wool yarns (she particularly likes the Tweed Wool Yarn) and left having exhausted her yarn budget for the month but with a glorious collection to work with. She'd always thought she was allergic to wool, but was delighted to find that she didn't have any problems with the organic wools. And oh my goodness, have you felt a swatch of our Organic Merino Interlocks? They're absolutely luscious! We've also been wrapped in our alpaca/llama goodies, which are so light, soft, and cozy that they make even freezing houses somewhat more bearable.
Continue reading "In praise of wool..." »
Sunday's New York Times had an article called "How Green Was My Wedding" (registration probably required), about environmentally-friendly weddings. People have been coming to us for organic and natural fabrics to use for formal attire since we started business, and I've definitely noticed an upswing in interest over the last year. I've lost count of the number of women who've worn wedding dresses with NearSea Naturals fabric, but it always makes me smile.
Continue reading ""Green Weddings"" »
Have you seen our Luxurious Wool Pile? It's an amazing fabric made with a 1.25" pile of organic wool on an organic cotton backing. Perfect for bed toppers, baby "sheepskins", wrist rests, hood and muff liners, and so many other uses. If a full yard is more than you need, you can also buy a half-yard piece, approximately 29" x 36". Perfect for crafts -- and with the holiday season coming up, who doesn't have lots of presents to make? (If you don't, I envy you. Wholeheartedly.)
Although she grew up in West Texas, the nation’s cotton-producing capital, Michelle Meyer never thought she’d have any association with the world of textiles once she left her parents’ home. Instead she studied interior design and then went to graduate school in architecture, eventually earning her LEED certification and specializing in sustainable buildings. But the impending arrival of her first child inspired a new focus.
Michelle says, “When I was expecting my son, I saw a need for stylish organic baby bedding. With my design background, I knew I could fill this niche.” The Harmony Arts fabric line, which had recently been released, was perfect for Michelle’s needs and thus Cotton Monkey was born.
Continue reading "Cotton Monkey" »
Graceland, the sateen version of Stumps Speak, and Silent Stumps (which is, of course, Stumps Speak without the words) are finally in stock, yay! Graceland is our favorite of the Harmony prints so far, and is absolutely beautiful. There are so many ways I'd love to use this fabric: a long, twirly-swirly skirt or a summer dress, curtains or a bedspread (or, heck, bed curtains -- I always wanted a canopy bed when I was a little girl), throw pillows, baby's bedding or a diaper bag that looks too stylish to be true ...
It's always amazing what clever ideas our customers come up with, and how beautifully they're executed. Take these splendid produce bags -- useful, good-looking, and a great way to make a difference.
Melissa explains her project like this:
"At my grocery store, we are required to weigh organic produce and affix a price sticker before checkout. Not wanting to waste so many plastic bags for each individual item, I decided to make my own 15x11 inch cloth produce bag using your sustainable cotton/hemp artichoke print fabric. Now I can weigh my produce, place the sticker on the outside of the bag, and conveniently carry everything together. I estimate that I save at least three produce bags with each visit, amounting to a whopping 300+ bags a year!"
In addition to being the mother to three children under seven, Melissa has a wonderful website "meant for anyone who is concerned about his potential to affect this earth, for it is the culmination of each small action that has the greatest implications. " Check it out at TheColorGreen.info. Melissa even had a contest among her blog commenters, and awarded the winner a beautiful produce bag!
Cloth produce bags are easy to make, and can make a tangible difference. We challenge everyone to have - and use - at least one!
It seems like we've been awaiting this shipment for months now, probably because we HAVE ... and now we finally have it back in stock again. There's only 200 yards, though, so get it while you can!
It's a new batch, with a slightly different feel from the last; if exact matching is important to you, request a swatch before ordering yardage.
As one of only twenty-one participants in Winchester School of Art's catwalk/fashion show at London Graduate Fashion Week this summer, Nora Sotamaa had a great opportunity. She was uniquely positioned to show hundreds of viewers, photographers, and reporters that, as she says, "sustainable fashion doesn't have to be boring." These attendees took special note of her six male models, who wore clothing made from natural, organic and sustainable fabrics.
Almost her entire collection was created using NearSeaNaturals fabrics, which Nora was thrilled to find because of the variety of different offerings in a wide range of colors.
Nora, who is from Finland, has been studying fashion in England for the past four years. Winchester School of Art is well-known for fashion and textiles departments, as well as fine art. The small campus is part of the University of Southampton (a larger city about 12 miles south) which offers programs in many different fields.
“My designs and garments support the argument that sustainable fashion doesn't have to be boring. I made suits out of 'Adobe hemp' and 'Sophisticated Jade' and used different weights and colors of organic cotton jerseys for a cardigan and shirts. I also made fitted collared shirts with 'natural hemp muslin' and 'forest blue hemp’ print.
There's more information about and a picture of Nora's collection below.
Continue reading "Sustainable Designs for Men" »
Almost-six-month old Halen's wonderfully talented mama, Christy, made this gorgeous pirate's quilt for her little boy. Doesn't he look thrilled with it? And well he should, really -- look at the great combination of fabrics she used to come up with the oh-so-scary design. All the fabrics are from NearSea, though some are sold out (Christy must've been stashing them for a while -- very appropriate for a pirate's quilt, as I'd love to find a treasure chest full of organic fabrics!), and there's organic batting as well.
People sometimes come to us looking for an organic analog to a specific conventional item that they just have to have for their projects -- rickrack, embroidery thread, ribbon, pompoms, etc. It can be very frustrating to hear that certain things just aren't available in organic versions yet, but as you sew more you become much more adept at figuring out substitutes. They might not look or function exactly the same as the non-organic version, but you just might find that your items are beautiful in their own right. And that's not even mentioning the good feeling that going organic can provide, especially when you're sewing for a baby who you want to surround with the purest of everything! I think Christy's quilt is a perfect example of the charm and interest that fully-organic items can have. Not only is it special because of all the love and care that went into its creation, but it's also visually striking ... and without the need for conventional fabrics or notions. Don't be dissuaded if you can't find exactly what you want in sustainable fabrics and notions; take it as a challenge, and you just might find that you can rise to the occasion!
Here are two more pictures of Halen's quilt; click on them for a larger version.
Many of you have seen Amy's name on your packing slips or talked with her on the phone, but few people know how creative she is. We're lucky enough to have Amy work here part-time; her wonderful, artistic eye makes her the go-to person when we need to know if two fabrics really match or if something is a blue-red or an orange-red. Coincidentally, Amy's older sister went to high school with Winnie; they didn't realize the connection until Amy applied for the job. New Mexico really calls to people, and it's always surprising to see who answers.
Anyway, Amy's latest challenge was to make a rag doll using scraps of our fabrics. This is what she made. You may recognize some of the fabrics as ones which sold out long ago, and others from our current offerings. Her arms and legs are braided strips of fabric; her head, body, and feet are stuffed with our organic cotton stuffing. Her face is embroidered, and her mouth is a piece of red herringbone.
Continue reading "Amy's rag doll" »
We just spent all day adding new fabrics to the site -- almost twenty of them! I'm not going to point them all out (what fun would that be?) but I just have to mention a few of my favorites.
We just got the most amazing colored Hemp Silk Charmeuses. Seriously, they're absolutely incredible. There's Autumn, Black, and Sand. They'll make wonderful small projects -- I think lots of people will be getting eye pillows for presents this year. I've been wanting a natural silk to use for the cover forever.
Continue reading "Such beautiful new fabrics!" »