Posts Tagged: upholstery fabrics

the many fabrics of our lives…..

As the weather has gotten colder these last couple of weeks, I have begun the layering ritual. Undergarments, camisole, shirt, sweater, vest… some days even a jacket. Each garment is usually made from a different type of fabric. Each having their own inherent texture and appeal. As an interior designer, I am in contact with fabric everyday on my job. Whether I am specifying fabric for upholstered pieces, draperies, pillows, or custom bedding; I get to select from a wealth of fabrics that are available. For me, anticipating going to the fabric showroom to make selections for a client is like a kid waiting for their parent to drive them to the candy store. Once I am there, I am in my own special world. One of my favorite fabric houses is Zimman’s located in downtown Lynn, MA. ( One must have an idea of what one is seeking prior to entering this institution. It can be a bit overwhelming even to a trained expert! The fabrics, trims and embellishments are on the first floor and the lower level; the second and third floors are home to amazing furnishings and light fixtures.

Since I began offering my clients “green alternatives” in the realm of interior design products, my quest to find eco-friendly and organic fabrics that have more visual interest than a burlap bag has been a steady source of internet searching. Fortunately, access to these fabrics is becoming less of a search effort and more of clicking on a book marked site for a clients’ request. Here is some of what I have learned about the availability of eco-friendly fabrics.

What makes a fabric eco-friendly?

  • It may be a natural fiber like cotton, hemp or bamboo. They must have been grown without the use of pesticides in the soil for at least three years.
  • If the fabric is dyed, it must be with a low-impact dye.
  • Eco-friendly certification (EU-Eco label certification)
  • Production adheres to fair trade practices.
  • Recycled plastic is also considered to be a green fabric.

Are there enough benefits to using eco-friendly fabrics?


Organic Cotton
Benefits: Renewable, biodegradable, non-toxic, comfortable
Potential Drawbacks: often more expensive than regular cotton

Benefits: Renewable, fast-growing, pesticide free
Potential Drawbacks: Must be imported into the United States

Benefits: Fast-growing, minimal pesticide usage
Potential Drawbacks: Can be expensive, imported, requires chemical bleaching

Organic Wool
Benefits: Biodegradable, renewable, warm when wet
Potential Drawbacks: Can be expensive and hard to find

Recycled Polyester
Benefits: Lowers demand for oil, less waste, warm when wet
Potential Drawbacks: Sometimes expensive; inefficient methods for obtaining quality fibers

TENCEL®/ Lyocell
Benefits: Biodegradable, comfortable, rich color, stronger than cotton
Potential Drawbacks: Chemical processing required

Soy Fiber
Benefits: Renewable, biodegradable, soft, durable
Potential Drawbacks: Usually more expensive, chemical processing required

Benefits: Biodegradable, recyclable, fast growing, versatile
Potential Drawbacks: Rough and coarse ­ good for rugs and bags, but not clothing

Benefits: Biodegradable, rich color, very soft and absorbent
Potential Drawbacks: Requires chemical processing

(The above information provided by The Sierra Trading Post)

Here are some web-sites that I would recommend for eco-friendly fabrics:


eco-friendly fabric Harmony Art

eco-friendly fabric Kravet

And, of course, I can not neglect to mention organic/eco-friendly fabrics without referring to I found at least 10 vendors that have beautiful and affordable lines to offer. If you find yourself unsure where to look for eco-friendly fabrics, please feel free to email ( ) or call me (978-335-1140) I would be happy to assist you.