Charm Pack Cherry Quilt and The Unsustainable Textile Quandary.

This morning I hand stitched the last little bit of binding on the Charm Pack Cherry quilt.  I really love the finished quilt, and enjoyed making it, despite the long hiatus between putting the top together and making the sandwich.  The break between staring and finishing this project coincided with an influx in media coverage about plastic pollution.  Most of the issues these programmes raise are not news to me, but this new conversation highlighted a few things I wasn’t aware of.

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Quilt Details

Last year at Guild we had a wonderful talk about Japanese textiles from Japan Crafts, and I picked up a charm pack of beautiful Japanese prints.  The Charm Pack Cherry Quilt is a fun, free pattern from The Fat Quarter Shop, and has a helpful video to accompany the pattern.  It actually calls for two plain charm packs, and two patterned charm packs.  I ordered a second charm pack, and made the plain squares from stashed linen.  The linen turned out to be tricky to work with.  The fabric is loosely woven, and likes to move about while I’m cutting and sewing.  I don’t think there was a true right angle in the whole quilt by the time I finished.  Having said that, it’s a very beginner friendly pattern if you use a nice stable quilting cotton.

The Quandary

The wadding is Quilters Dream Green, which is made from recycled bottles.  I quite like this wadding because it’s durable and easy care, and I had thought that giving a plastic bottle a second, longer life was the right thing to do.  But it’s this element that has got me thinking.

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There are quite a few of these types of textiles in my home.  Fleecy dog blankets, polyester pillow inners, microfibre cleaning cloths… I’ve tried to choose items that are easy care AND have a long life.

Recently I’ve learned that the tiny particles that these textiles release when washed are as damaging, possibly more, to the environment and wildlife than a complete plastic bag floating about in the sea.  This revelation has thrown me into a bit of a quandary.

It’s simple enough to be thoughtful about the new textiles I buy, but what’s the best thing to do about my polar fleece dressing gown (now 16 years old),  and the six year old microfibre cloths I use to clean the house each week?

Usually, I’d send unwanted clothing to the charity shop, but that just continues the cycle.  What happens to textiles that go in the rag bin at the refuse centre?  Is it a good idea to have these items shredded for insulation or mattress stuffing?  Is the best option just to bury these textiles in landfill and hope they’ll be less harmful down there?  At least they aren’t floating about in the sea.  Or is the answer to keep using these items for as long as possible and not repeat the mistake?

This problem is obviously much bigger than me.  While it’s apparent that we all need to do our bit, this is another situation where it’s difficult to know what that bit should be.

Are you wondering the same thing about the man made textiles in your life?  What have you decided to do?  Have you found any useful information or projects about the use and reuse of man made fibre?  I’d love the hear.

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