The Secret to Cheap, Eco-Friendly Fabric

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When I ordered a dress pattern online a couple of weeks ago, I just assumed I had enough calico with which to make a toile. I’m new to dressmaking and following patterns and I like the comfort of making the dress first in cheap fabric to ensure it fits.

Of course, once the pattern arrived and I went digging through my fabric store, I realised I had about ½ a metre of calico…and I needed 3.5 metres! Uh oh.

Minor panic set in as I was determined to get this toile done quickly. I looked online at organic calico (not wanting to go against my developing beliefs and buying chemical-laden fabric), and it came in at £4 a metre – even cheaper than non-organic, but still expensive when it’s all added up.

So I hummed and hah-d and dithered for a while. Then I remembered something I’d heard a while ago which is sheer genius: using second-hand bed sheets for trial projects. I immediately jumped on my bike and peddled into town (enjoying the sunshine and ‘warm’ 7 degrees!). Three charity shops and half an hour later, I’d spent £13 and had five big flat bed sheets – metres and metres of perfectly good fabric for next to nothing…not to mention, upcycled and totally eco-friendly!

I immediately threw them into the washing machine with a good 20 drops of tea tree oil (to get rid of the charity shop smell) and set it to the highest setting. Dried on the highest setting as well, folded immediately so they didn’t wrinkle…and Bob’s your uncle! A whole pile of usable cotton fabric for a song.

Now to make that dress!

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