Friday, March 24, 2017

Organic Cotton Plus Fabric Review

Checking my email a few months ago, I was ecstatic to see a message from Organic Cotton Plus offering me fabric from their website. They deal in 100% certified organic fabric that meet Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). Their range of products include different types of silk, jute, linen, and wool in knit and woven forms. In just their silk category, they offer hemp, "peace" silk, and a hemp/silk blend. They also carry in their online shop "green" laundry detergents, natural horn buttons, and both fiber reactive and vegetable dyes.

After looking through their site I was eager to choose my items; however, I had no idea how hard the decision would be. I found myself taking two days just running through fabric type, quantity, and color scenarios; if I bought two yards of their French terry, could I still afford anything else? However, I could afford four yards of their organic twill but then get just one color or split it between colors? I was also tempted with their peace silk but whatever I made with it would probably only be worn once because of my so-NOT-silk-friendly lifestyle.

I decided to end the indecision by thinking of the patterns already in my stash and what projects I had been wanting to make that were already on my project list. I then compared that list with which fabrics Organic Cotton Plus had to offer that would work with them.

Nutmeg brown and olive green

In the end, I choose two lengths of their 60" (actually 62"!) twill in two colors that are always hard for me to find; a strong green and a rich brown. I was so excited to get my hands on this fabric and in addition, by publishing my review, I would join the likes of Cut Cut Sew, Lladybird, Male Pattern Boldness, and True Bias in sampling Organic Cotton Plus fabrics.

How it arrived.
Unfortunately, both two yard lengths I originally received were off-grain. I contacted the company and they graciously sent another cut length. While better than the first, the new length was also stretched out of grain. Even though I knew in theory how to fix the problem, I took this as a research opportunity and looked through my 20-plus sewing books and found everything I could about straightening fabric grain. Out of all my books, the most detailed and complete instruction was found in my Vogue Sewing Book (c. 1982) on page 132. This was the only one that suggested soaking the fabric to relax the fibers.
Dampened with the selvages pinned together.
I first straightened the crosswise ends of the fabric by cutting into the selvage and pulling a thread across the width. After unsuccessfully trying to stretch the fabric into shape while dry, I decided to block the fabric. I soaked it in warm water, gave it another good stretch on the bias, and pinned the selvages together.
Still wet and coaxed into place.
Then similar to what is done with knitted projects, I laid the fabric flat, stretched, and pressed it into position to dry for a few hours. Before it was completely dry, I steam ironed it while continuing to coax it into place. This corrected the grain.

Ta Da, dried and corrected fabric!
While time-consuming, I am still happy with this fabric, the quality and durability is excellent. It also sews and presses well. However, I strongly feel that the company should do a review their manufacturing process, because somewhere along the way something is pulling their fabric off grain. In all, I received three separate 2-yard lengths from them and all were off-grain. Since I started this blog in 2006, I have been in the habit of checking the grain of every woven fabric before I work with them but many sewists (especially new ones) may not do this and that is were the harm would be.

Rated on a scale of 1 to 5:

Organic Cotton Plus = 4, with suggested due diligence.

Here's a sneak peek of my finished project made with their nutmeg brown 60" twill (#16018OT-NUT), the review is coming up next!


sissy said...

I guess that I will be first. Good Grief. Everyone must be speechless. I was for a time and then I thought that I just had to respond. What a nice laid back person you must be. I would be furious if I ordered fabric and it was this much off grain. Yes, you managed to fix it but how many would even know that it needed to be fixed. Those new to sewing would not have a clue.

bbarna said...

It is not unusual for fabric folded on a bolt to be out of grain. Roll up a magazine and see how the pages are skewed. If it comes off a roll and hasn't been folded first, it has a much better chance of not being off grain. I sell fabric for a living and I see it all the time. If I notice it is seriously cockeyed, then I add a bit extra to the purchase to be squared up. I learned in grade school sewing how to straighten the grain, but I seriously doubt that most new sewers have a clue, until their first pair off trousers have twisted legs and they wonder why. Beautiful job on the culottes, btw.

Sue said...

You did it! I am someone who is very lazy about checking that fabrics are on grain, I applaud your diligence! As you saw on IG, I just got my hands on a copy of The Vogue Sewing Book (c.1970) and am glad to hear you've found it a good resource. :)