Specific sewing questions
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You'll need to be sure to enter your zip code or choose your state to help
you escape from this endless loop.
If you try both of those suggestions to no avail, contact us and we'll find
an alternate solution for you -- generally placing your order through email.
I get a complete set of swatches?
With an ever-changing inventory of around 300 fabrics, we discourage the
purchase of every single swatch. This tends to be overwhelming in the
sheer quantity and frustrating because our inventory does change frequently.
Instead we encourage our customers to request swatches for fabrics only for
the next few projects they're planning.
Compiling swatch orders is very time-consuming for us, and we
tend to ship orders of less than 10 swatches within a few days.
Orders of 10-30 swatches usually take about a week, and 30-100 take
about two weeks. Orders of 100+ swatches tend to go to the back
burner, behind other smaller orders, and can take longer still.
There's simply no way we can send out large swatch orders quickly,
though we do the best we can.
Can you send me a catalog?
With a constantly-changing inventory of approximately 200 fabrics,
it simply doesn't make sense to have a printed catalog. By the
time the catalogs reached our customers, they'd be obsolete: some
fabrics would have sold out and others would have been added. It
simply doesn't make sense from an environmental, financial, or
business standpoint. Instead we concentrate on keeping our website
up-to-date and with as much information as possible. We encourage
people to peruse our website at length and request swatches to get
a better feel for the fabrics.
How do I order from another country? How is shipping handled?
We welcome orders from other countries, and a significant percentage of
our business is non-US orders. You need to be aware that your country may
add additional charges when your package passes through customs. We cannot
affect the customs procedure for your country, and it is illegal for us to
mark packages as a gift so as to avoid fees.
Once an international package leaves our facility we cannot track the
package unless you choose Express Shipping. Express packages
generally take 4-10 days to arrive. The estimated shipping time for
Priority Mail is 6-10 days but First-Class and Priority Mail can take
as long as a month to reach your destination.
I'm afraid to purchase online. Is your site secure? Is it safe?
Oh, we understand. It hurt when we were dragged, kicking and
screaming, into the Internet Age. But ordering online is fun and
sometimes too easy (just ask our credit card statements). It's
also quite safe, as long as you follow a few simple rules. First
of all, never enter your credit card number anywhere that isn't
secure. That is, the URL (web address) should begin with https
(the "s" is important), and in many browsers a little key or lock
will show up at the bottom of your screen. As you progress through
our shopping cart you'll see that the cart itself is not secure;
that's because you're not entering any private data. Once you're
ready to enter your credit card, though, the URL changes to
https://secure.aitsafe.com/ . That is a secure site, and
any data entered will be transmitted securely. So don't worry --
it's a secure site, your data is transmitted securely, and we're
all very happy about that.
I want to order 30 yards of fabric; how do I know if it's in stock?
Unfortunately you can't know, without asking us. It's possible,
albeit not probable, that you'll place an order for a fabric and
we'll have to tell you that we don't actually have that much. In
that case we'll of course refund your money, and we'll help you
find another fabric if you want. We do try to mark fabrics for
which less than 10 yards are available, although sometimes two
orders will come in for the same fabric before we're able to update
its quantity. In that case we honor the first order that is paid
I'm in a hurry. Can I have my order by yesterday?
People have called us miracle workers in the past, but unfortunately
we still can't turn back time. We have no control over the postal
service (and trust us, if we could, New Mexico's postal problems
would disappear!), and can't make your package go faster than humanly
possible. We also prefer to process orders in the order for which
we receive payment unless we're given a compelling reason to do
otherwise. We do try to accommodate special requests, but we're
generally unable to send out packages without at least a couple of
days for processing. ("Processing," in this case, is a fancy word
for picking up the 60+ pound rolls of fabric, measuring out the
proper yardage, performing quality control, cutting, and packaging
it. In addition, of course, to performing whatever administrative
work is required. And there's always some, isn't there?) So talk
to us, but don't expect miracles. See our
shipping page for more
information about what's possible and what isn't.
I have a swatch for a fabric that's not on the website anymore. What happened?
One of the neat things about being a retail business is that we
sell things. Indeed, sometimes we sell so much of a certain fabric
that it actually sells out and we don't have any more. That's when
we remove it from the website, so people don't keep requesting it.
Unfortunately that's probably what happened to your favorite fabric;
it usually happens to our favorite fabrics too. Could we help you
find another one that might work instead?
What happens if you run out of a fabric while I'm purchasing yardage or a swatch of it?
Although we make every effort to remove sold-out fabrics from our stock
as soon as possible, there are occasions in which multiple people
request the same, limited-yardage fabric. In those cases, we fill the
order for which we received payment first. Other orders that include
that fabric are credited for the cost of the fabric, and we write on
your invoice that the fabric is sold out. We do not backorder most
fabrics, because so many of our fabrics are a one-time purchase that we
won't be able to restock. If you have requested swatches of any fabrics
that are either sold-out or temporarily out of stock, we will do our
best to substitute those with swatches of similar, in-stock fabrics.
While we will try to let you know of a sold-out item in your order,
we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We try to err on
the side of sending out your order quickly, rather than waiting for
extended communications about sold-out or backordered items.
The price of a fabric I was interested in changed. What happened?
Although we make every effort to maintain consistency in pricing,
occasionally the mills change their prices and we pass that change
through. We occasionally also raise the prices just a tad to account
for increased costs throughout the business -- fuel costs have
really affected us, for instance. We also do notice that we've
made a mistake and priced a fabric either too high or too low, and
we fix that as soon as it comes to our attention. Because of these
factors, prices are subject to change without notice.
How do I cancel, change or add to an existing order?
Orders usually ship in 1-2 business days. To make it possible for us
to make changes to your order it is imperative that we receive your
communication immediately. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include your order number and phone number.
To cancel an existing order email email@example.com immediately to alert us that you are
cancelling your order and include your invoice number.
To make changes to your order email firstname.lastname@example.org to alert us that you want to change
your order and include your invoice number and any comments. When we start
making changes to orders and emailing back and forth about the changes,
your order is frequently delayed considerably and mistakes can happen.
If your changes are not simple changes it works best for you to enter a new
correct order and in the Comments section of the shipping cart ask us to
cancel the incorrect order and payment.
To add to an existing order email email@example.com immediately to alert us that you want
to add to your order and include your invoice number and any comments.
Then place a new order online with the items you ar adding to the existing
order. In the Comments section of the shopping cart, ask us to combine this
new order with your existing order (if it has not already shipped). Pay
for your new order. You will receive a shipping refund for any extra
shipping costs if we are able to combine your orders. Otherwise we will
treat the new order as a unique order and send it by itself.
Which fabrics are offered wholesale?
We offer many of our fabrics by the full roll for a deeper discount.
Some rolls are shipped from NearSea Naturals' New Mexico headquarters,
while others come direct from the mill, enabling us to offer wholesale
prices direct to our customers, along with our superlative customer
Wholesale purchases are not returnable. Please note
that organic and natural fabrics can and do vary from roll to roll,
depending on many factors involving how the fibers are grown and
processed, including the rainfall and other climate conditions
form season to season. Occasional flaws, seams, and/or snags are
to be expected, and rarely affect the usability of more than a yard
or two in the entire roll. We cannot offer refunds for these instances,
but the discount we offer for these full-roll purchases is generally more
than enough to make up for any lost usability.
Pricing is subject to change without notice, just as the prices the
mills charge us occasionally change without notice. Shipping costs are
extra. We also offer cut yardage that you can use to plan your lines.
Our prices for cut yardage are listed on our website.
Swatches of our wholesale fabrics are available on our
To apply for a wholesale account, please fill out
Can you get me a special fabric? I need ------.
This depends. How much of the fabric do you want? If you're
looking for a fair amount (at least 500 yards), we can often get a
fabric specially milled for you. If you want something we don't
carry and never have, there might be a reason for that. There are
certain fabrics for which we're always seeking a reliable, ethical,
affordable source, and we're thrilled to add them to our inventory.
If you have suggestions, let us know.
Do you recommend any seamstresses? How about manufacturers? What should I know about environmentally-sensitive manufacturing?
We don't currently recommend any particular manufacturers or
tailors. We, do, however, suggest visiting
which is an amazing resource for environmentally-sensitive manufacturing.
Tell her we sent you!
How much extra is shipping for batting/stuffing? How is that handled?
We can't determine final shipping costs until we pack and weigh
your order. If you order just a small amount of batting/stuffing,
it's entirely possible that there'll be no additional shipping
costs, but if we need to use an oversized box or multiple boxes
shipping will be more. The exact amount depends on weight, box
size, where you live, and the shipping method, and we'll let you
know the additional costs once we've determined them. (Generally
the additional cost is between $5 and $10.) We will ship your
box(es) once we receive this additional shipping cost. We do offer
our organic cotton batting/stuffing in full-roll, wholesale
Can I return my order?
Swatches are neither returnable nor refundable. Everything else except wholesale, special orders, and seconds/precut merchandise is returnable, though cut yardage may be subject to a restocking fee. Please review
our return policy.
What's a linear yard? How is fabric weight determined?
The fabric weights listed on our website are all by the linear
yard (except in the few cases where we specify otherwise). To get
a linear yard, we roll out the fabric and cut a yard. That means
if the fabric is 60 inches from selvage to selvage, we end up with
a 36"x60" piece which is then weighed. Many other fabric companies
measure fabric weight by the square yard. Keep this in mind when
choosing a fabric; if the weight of a linear yard of 60" wide flannel
is 15 ounces and you're comparing it with an 8-ounce-per-square-yard
fabric, they'll actually be similar in weight.
Are the fabrics made in the US? Are they sweatshop-free and fair labor?
Australians and Canadians will be pleased to know that the vast
majority of our organic cotton fabrics are made in the US; where
they're not, we clearly specify country of origin. We specify this
on the customs forms, to help in determining the correct duties and
fees. None of our hemps are currently US-made; the fact that
industrial hemp can't legally be grown in the US has something to
do with this.
Our fabrics are not certified fair trade or sweatshop free, but
the ethical aspects of their production is very important to us and
we work with the manufacturers to ensure that they're produced in
fair labor conditions. This is facilitated by the fact that most
of our fabrics are made in the US, where it is generally fairly
difficult to legally run a sweatshop. (We all know, though, that
it's far from impossible; that's why we're so careful.)
What's certification? Are your fabrics certified?
Certification is when a third-party certifying agency certifies
that the fibers are raised organically. There are many such agencies,
and different manufacturers/growers often use different agencies.
The majority of our organic fabrics have certification for their
fibers; where they don't, we try to clearly state it in the fabric
description. There are also a few cases in which we know the
manufacturer of a certain fabric and who it was made for, etc, and
have enough information to know that it's organic but we don't have
the paperwork. In practice in the US, certification is generally
a photocopied piece of paper with the certification number on it.
It's so important to know and trust the people from whom you're
buying fabrics (and, really, anything else); that's why we put so
much effort into our relationships with our suppliers. Some people
are working toward the establishment of a sustainability certification
for fabrics, which is a very exciting idea that we wholeheartedly
To clarify, manufacturers get certification for their products;
stores do not -- they buy certified products and then sell them to
you, the consumer.
How big are your swatches? Are they labeled? Can I make things out of just swatches to save money?
Our swatches are approximately 3"x3.5". A label on each swatch
gives the fabric name, number, and composition. While you could
make things out of our swatches, we strongly encourage you not to.
First of all you'd lose a lot of the fabric to seams, but more
importantly we lose money on each swatch. Making swatches is
labor-intensive, the postage is expensive, and too many swatch-only
orders would literally bankrupt us. That said, we are happy to
offer swatches because they're the only way to get a real "feel"
for the fabrics and how they'll work in your projects. Swatches
are a labor of love, so please, please, use the swatches for the
purpose they're designed for (helping you decide which fabrics are
right for you), and actually buy the fabrics you need for your
What does Colorgrown mean?
Although we're used to cotton's natural, unbleached color being
a creamy off-white, the native peoples of the Americas traditionally
raised colored cotton as well. Now commercially available in shades
of brown and green, these fabrics give you interesting colors without
needing to use dyes.
How should I wash Colorgrown cotton? How can I affect the color?
Colorgrown cotton is unique because the color is naturally occurring;
the cotton plant has been specially bred to grow in shades of brown and
green. You can affect the shade of your ColorGrown fabric or yarn by
how you wash and care for it.
To deliberately darken the colors, use a higher pH water (more alkali or
basic) to wash or boil the cotton. To raise the pH you can use common
laundry detergents, washing soda, or baking soda. Your tap water may
have a slightly high pH on its own. (If you get really into this, or
into home canning, you may find a pH meter a very useful investment.)
The more minerals in your water, the brighter the colors will be, and to
see the most dramatic color change, boiling is definitely the way to
go. Try using about 2 Tablespoons of baking soda in about a gallon of
boiling water, and be sure to have enough water to completely cover the
yarn or fabric when it's pressed down. (At first it'll want to float on
the surface and you'll need to keep pushing it into the water.) Bring
the water to a simmer and keep it simmering. Around 20 minutes will
give you the maximum color for browns, but green will keep getting
darker until it reaches its maximum depth of color at about one hour.
If you don't need the dramatic color change you'll see with boiling, you
can also see change with washing. Adding 1/4 cup of washing soda to the
machine for the first few washes will help bring about change, as will
washing in warm or hot water and drying with as much heat as possible --
heat and moisture bring the color out. Again, the more minerals in your
water the brighter your colors will be. You may continue to see color
change for up to ten washes.
Much like litmus paper, the green color turns yellow when exposed to
acids and then goes back to green when exposed to bases. For example,
if you drip lemon juice on a piece of ColorGrown green cotton, you'll
see a yellow spot develop; this spot will disappear with laundering if
you use a basic (non-pH neutral) detergent.
Although the colors don't wash out, they will fade in the sunlight; for
that reason we don't recommend ColorGrown cotton fabrics for curtains if
they'll be directly in the sunlight. The green is most susceptible to
tanning in the sunlight; that is somewhat reversible with laundering,
but not completely.
What kind of dyes are used in your fabrics?
Oooh, dyes are a controversial issue in the natural textile
industry. Although it seems like "natural" dyes would be the best
choice, significant environmental problems can result from the
growth, collection, processing, and use of the natural materials
for dyes. (Unless they're organic natural dyes, plants are grown
with pesticides, fertilizers, etc; if they're harvested from the
wild they could very easily be overharvested and lead to the plant
or animal's extinction; the mordant used to set the dye can have
repercussions, etc.) However, using synthetic dyes isn't a wonderful
option either; the chemicals used in making the dyes, the environmental
impact in their use, etc, can be very detrimental. Many people
choose not to use any dyes at all to lessen the impact of their
fabric choices; for these people, the option of our wide selection
of Colorgrown fabrics is particularly helpful. Others want to wear
organic and natural fibers without sacrificing color; for these
people we offer a wide selection of colored fabrics. In these cases
the dying is done with low-impact, synthetic dyes in an
environmentally-sensitive facility. Generally our fabrics piggyback
onto a larger dye lot, reducing the impact even farther.
I'm chemically sensitive. What can you do for me? Can you guarantee that I won't react to your fabrics? How are they packaged?
Oh, living with chemical sensitivities can be so hard -- we
sympathize with you. Unfortunately we can't do too much more than
that; there are so many different things that people react to that
we can't guarantee our fabrics won't affect you. We strongly
recommend requesting swatches of any fabrics you're considering,
to see if you have any issues with them. We generally wrap our
fabrics in tissue paper and package them in cardboard boxes with
all open edges sealed with packing tape. If you need a different
type of packaging, do let us know. There can be an additional cost
for that service (and a delay in shipping time) if it takes significant
amounts of time or requires the purchase of additional materials.
Do you have a bricks-and-mortar store so I can see the fabrics? I'm visiting New Mexico on vacation; can we come see your facility?
As part of our quest to keep costs as low as possible for our
customers, we decided early on to keep the internet as our base of
operations. Not having a storefront means we save on money for
overhead like rent, utilities, insurance that allows customer visits,
handicap access, salaried employees for regular hours of operation,
etc. It also means we can draw from a world-wide customer base
rather than having to move our operations to a location that would
actually support an organic fabric business (unfortunately there
aren't yet enough of those, though we live in hope). So instead
of a storefront in a city somewhere, we're happily nestled in a
solar-powered facility by a creek near New Mexico's scenic Pecos
Wilderness. It's not conducive to customer visits (which is fine,
because our insurance won't permit them anyway), but it's absolutely
perfect for us in so many other ways.
Specific sewing questions
Are the fabrics pre-shrunk? How should I wash them?
Many of our fabrics are pre-shrunk, and we do try to state that
in the fabric description. However, even with pre-shrunk fabrics
you should still expect between 2 and 10% shrinkage depending on
the fabric and how it's washed. (Deliberately felting wool can
result in more shrinkage, of course, as the fibers grow closer
together in the process.) We recommend prewashing and drying the
materials in the harshest conditions your finished project will
ever encounter to ensure that any fabric changes happen before
cutting the pieces. That is, if you're making baby clothes you'll
want to pre-wash and dry on so-very-hot because it's entirely
possible that you'll need to wash the finished garment on hot later,
but if you're making a dry-clean-only outfit you'll need to be much
less concerned about fabric changes.
What is a knit fabric? What is a woven fabric? When would you choose one over the other? Is it hard to sew with knits? I'm afraid to try them!
The easiest way to think about it is that your T-shirts are made
of knit fabrics while your blue jeans are made of wovens. Most
patterns will specify what type of fabric you should use, and
patterns for knits will often say how much stretch you need. Sewing
with knits can intimidate beginners, but it's really not hard to
get the hang of. And knits give more leeway for minor sewing
mistakes than woven fabrics do, thanks to the built-in stretch.
How much batting do I need to make a pillow? What's the difference between batting and stuffing? Is the batting washable?
First things first, the batting and stuffing is the same thing.
Well, the wool batting and wool stuffing is the same, and the
(non-packaged) cotton batting and cotton stuffings are the same.
They're simply sold in different ways -- by the yard or by the pound.
When sold by the pound it can be in multiple pieces; when sold by
the yard it's generally in a single piece. Cotton batting and
stuffing is washable in an item or, sometimes, in a pillowcase; if
you put it in the washer by itself, you'll end up with lots of
little pieces of cotton fluff and a clogged drain.
And as far as how much you'll need for a particular project,
that depends on how big and how firmly stuffed you want the item
to be. Cotton batting compacts over time, becoming much firmer.
(If you've ever had a cotton pillow, you've probably experienced
that.) Many people choose to make pillows out of a central cotton
core for firmness, surrounded by wool for springy comfort. If
you're redoing a project (a pillow, upholstering a chair, etc) you
can also weigh the stuffing that's already in it to get a general
idea of how much new you'll need assuming they're of the same
I want to make sheets and bedding. What do I need to do?
Bedding is one of the most popular things for our customers to sew, and it's generally very easy. These resources might be of help: Making fitted sheets, and again, and again; Making a bedskirt/dust ruffle; Making pillow cases; Making a duvet cover, and again, and again.
What fabrics should I use for diapers? for upholstery? for lingerie? for kids' clothes? for straightjackets?
This is a hard one -- there are so many different options, so
many different ways everything could be made. We're happy to give
our suggestions, but please don't take them as gospel. Just use
them as a starting point and let your imagination take you from
there. And remember, this is the perfect place to take advantage
of our swatch program -- the best way to get a real feel for the
fabrics and how they'd work for you. So, that said, here're some
For organic diapers, you've got three main concepts -- prefold,
contours, and fitteds. Most people choose flannel
for prefolds, though there are also some splendidly soft prefolds made from
etc. For contour diapers, many people choose to make one side from flannel
and the other from a terry, sherpa, or some
other poop-containing fabric. (Contour diapers are
shaped somewhat like an hourglass.) For fitted diapers, people
tend to choose flannel, velour, sherpa, and the like, sometimes
with a brighter fashion-fabric on the outside. (Our
wide-width sateens work well for that.)
For upholstery, you'll probably want a heavier woven fabric
(generally at least 12 oz/linear yard), preferably with a tighter
weave. If you have rambunctious kids, furniture-hopping dogs, or
the like, you'll want a sturdier fabric; if your furniture sees
lighter use, that's not as important. Look through our selection
of cotton and hemp wovens to
see what appeals to you and request swatches of them.
For lingerie, you have many options. For underwear and bras,
women often like our
cotton/spandex knits; they provide comfortable
support. For slinky, consider our
or the like. For comfortable nightgowns, camisoles, etc, look at our
lighter rib knits.
One of the most important considerations for kids' clothes is
durability -- these things are worn and washed and washed and worn
and washed and washed. Some people choose
hemp blends because
of hemp's strength, while others simply look for more tightly-woven
fabrics in general. Just about every fabric can be used for kids'
clothes, of course, depending on what you're making -- an outfit for
art class or playground visits will be very, very different from
one for going to church!
I'm expecting a baby. What can I sew for him or her?
Oh, so much fun! Making stuff for babies is satisfying in so
many ways -- it's generally quick to make and doesn't require large
amounts of fabric, and it's so wonderful seeing a little one dressed
in and surrounded by things that you made. And when you use organic
fabrics, you know baby's surrounded by the purest material possible.
We carry many patterns for little
people to inspire you, and so many soft fine fabrics that you'll
want to use. And don't forget the felted
wool puddle pad to protect the mattress from any escaping liquids.
You'll find it worth the cost many, many times over!
Do you want to see what I made with your fabrics? Do you want my feedback about them?
We would love to see what you make with our fabrics. So often
we get to hear about the wonderful projects people have planned but
we never get to see the final items. Please do send pictures to
us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll consider including the
pictures in our gallery. Let us know what materials and/or patterns
you used, how it went, how you feel about the finished product, and
anything else you feel like sharing. If there's a link to your
website you'd like us to add, send that too.
If you have comments about one of our fabrics or notions, please
tell us them too. So often our customers are more skilled than we
are at certain areas, and we'd love to share your expertise. If
you know the gauge of one of our yarns, or if you've found that a
certain fabric doesn't work well for shirts because it's too stretchy,
or you've found that one of our materials is perfect for smocking,
or anything like that -- let us know, please!