With Earth Day on Friday 22nd April, we're looking at ways and giving you some ideas to be more sustainable in your quilting, and signposting you to some fantastic resources and more information on this important topic.

Looking after our precious planet is something we have become increasingly aware of and on Friday 22nd April it’s Earth Day, a day to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It started way back in 1970 in the US when a senator from Wisconsin organised a national demonstration to raise awareness of environmental issues. Since then, every year people have taken part in activities such as picking up litter and planting trees, to try and make the world a better place. Head to the official Earth Day website to find out more about how you can get involved in activities where you live. It brings us around to thinking about how we can be more sustainable in our craft, as quilters, and what we can do to tread more lightly on the planet while still enjoying our wonderful pastime. There are a few ways that we can practice sustainable sewing, and collectively make a difference.

Use what you have

So many quilters have a large stash, more fabric than they could possibly use in a lifetime, (me included!) yet we continue to buy more. No one is saying to stop buying fabric altogether, we need to support the industry after all! But next time you start a new project, why not see if you could use fabric from you stash instead.

Also, tracking what quilting tools you already have will keep you from accidentally buying duplicates. Our Quilter’s Planner Design Book has a quilting tools inventory to help you do just that.

Use up those Sewing Scraps

Every quilter has scraps, and quite often, more than we know what to do with! Some quilters trim them up to a certain size, such as 2 1/2” or if a bit bigger, 4”, so that they are a uniform size and more ‘useable.’ This is a great idea, but it does take time.

Next time you make a quilt, you could challenge yourself to only use scraps. Opt for a quilt that will work well with lots of different colors and don’t be afraid of colors and prints that don’t ‘match.’ It’s surprising how well an eclectic mix of fabrics can really work! You might only make a small dent in your scrap stash but it may just inspire you to keep using up those smaller pieces!

You can make beautiful quilts with scraps!


Visible Mending

The term ‘visible mending’ is quite a new one, where you intentionally show off stitches in a decorative way, while the primary function is to repair an item such as clothing. However, the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy has been around for centuries. For example, in Japan, they believe in Kintsugi, which means that just because something is broken, it doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. Boro and Sashiko, both traditional Japanese techniques, use large visible stitches and patches to repair clothes, and add another layer of beauty to them.

This is definitely an important philosophy to try to embrace when learning sustainable sewing, particularly given that the fashion industry is responsible for over 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. Click here to find out more about sustainable fashion and what we can do to help.

Quilter Karen Lewis features a beautiful visible mending project in her book Wabi Sabi Sewing

Get Swapping!

How many of us have fabric in our stash that we’ve fallen out of love with? All of us I think! So why not organize a fabric swap with some friends, or at a Guild or quilting group meeting. It’s super simple to organize. Everyone puts their unwanted fabrics on the table, and then you take from the table, approximately the same amount of fabric that you put in. Everyone leaves with something ‘new’ to them, and hopefully some ideas for how to use it. It’s win, win for everyone.

Create and Sustain

If you’re interested in further ways to be sustainable with your quilting, check out the organization Create and Sustain. Founded by Patty Murphy, Kristi McDonough and Jennifer Sampou, they came together to highlight the quilting, sewing and crafting communities while promoting sustainability to help preserve our world. The three women were inspired by global activists and decided to put their vision into action.

Their mission:

We are educating makers that want to create more sustainably; guided by the simple idea that we can create beautiful and thoughtful things without hurting the environment.
We are finding and sharing creative ways to keep fabrics and fibers out of landfills. By using our collective voices, we can work together to create a positive impact on the environment.

Do take some time to explore their website and gain more insight into how to practice our craft more sustainably.

Hopefully his article has been food for thought for your own practices, and that you’ll be inspired to find out more and even get involved in some of the wonderful work that’s going on to make our planet a better place while still getting much enjoyment and love from sewing and quilting.