You may remember my freakout about plastic, lead-laden toys 3 months ago, after Olivia's false positive lead screen (we won't go into that again). It immediately got me thinking of ways in which I could reduce her exposure to harmful substances at a delicate age, when absolutely anything is fair game for chewing. I mean really, even cloth toys, who knows what goes into them? Around the time that I discovered Jess Brown was releasing a how-to book for creating your own rag doll (preview here), I came across Organic Cotton Plus, and was impressed not only by their VAST selection of fabrics and notions but by their notable credentials. The company was the first US fabric retailer to become fully GOTS certified and their sister farm in Texas, which dates back 5 generations, was one of the first certified organic farms in the country. They actually produce the organic cotton that other companies use to manufacture their textiles, and they also work with companies in the US, as well as global partners that employ fair trade practices and sustainable methods, to grow and manufacture their other textiles. Selecting the fabric was really fun but it was also really hard to narrow down; so many options. In the book, Jess mentions that she likes to create the body of the doll with a textured cotton muslin. Though I had originally thought to use their organic cotton muslin, I also ordered a yard of their exceptional hemp muslin. I'm so glad that I did because it has the most incredible texture. It just has a lovely weight to it and I think it imparts a more rustic, handmade quality than the more tightly weaved cotton muslin.
[caption id="attachment_1188" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Fabrics used on doll: Cotton rib, Hemp muslin, Voile, Batiste, Silk/ hemp charmeuse[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1221" align="alignnone" width="1200"] The matte side of the silk/ hemp charmeuse shown here in the background, while the doll's dress shows the shiny side[/caption] Organic Cotton Plus were kind enough to send me a varied selection of fabrics to play around with but I have to say my absolute favourite (possibly one of my favourite fabrics ever) was the silk/ hemp blend charmeuse, which I used for the white formal dress. It has the weight of hemp fabric (almost a linen feel) with the extravagant sheen of the silk. One side of the fabric is muted and the other side shiny. I used the shiny side for the dress but I think I may use the muted side for the coat. One thing to keep in mind with this fabric is that it frays very quickly, which is one of the reasons I chose a zigzag stitch on the bottom of the dress, rather than a simple stay stitch as suggested in the book (that is, a raw edge with a single row of stitching above it to prevent fraying). It should be noted that the harvesters of this silk take special precautions to ensure a high survival rate for the worms. [caption id="attachment_1193" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Silk/ Hemp Charmeuse[/caption] What I am most looking forward to incorporating into one of the doll's outfits is the extraordinary organic lace. I had initially intended to use it with one of the white fabrics but the lace was a little more beige than I pictured and I feel like it really needs to be paired with the same colour. For now, our doll will have to settle for a bit of lace negligee. You can see in the images below how intricate the detailing is in the lace. For stuffing, I ordered sheep's wool as well as organic cotton stuffing. I opted for the organic cotton stuffing because it was so soft and just felt really pure. I love that it was undyed and you could see the little tiny cotton seeds. Delighted to discover what cotton really looks like. I probably had to use more cotton than I would have with wool but I really needed very little either way. I felt like the wool might have appeared a little lumpy and found that using little pieces of cotton at a time was a good way to maintain a rounded appearance. [caption id="attachment_1185" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Organic cotton batting (left), wool batting (right)[/caption] Even though I haven't yet had the opportunity to use all of the fabrics (I'll post any projects I create with them- Alex wants an elephant out of the grey muslin), I'll highlight each of them briefly and attach pertinent links. [caption id="attachment_1198" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Left to Right: Silk charmeuse, Cotton rib, Hemp muslin, Batiste, Voile[/caption] Fabrics (all organic, unless stated otherwise)
- Doll hair piece: Organic Baby rib in coral ($10.60/ yd). This fabric is similar to a thicker T-shirt material. I think it would be great for baby leggings. It doesn't really fray, which is another reason why I chose to cut it into strips to make the doll's hair.
- Doll's body: Organic Hemp muslin ($20.22/ yd). A great, weighty fabric with an open weave. Similar texture to linen, only a little knottier (and far less expensive). Unlike the cotton muslin, this fabric has been treated with hydrogen peroxide to achieve a bright white colour. I confirmed with one of their representatives that all of their hemp fabric and hemp/cotton blends are organic, even though it is not specified on their website.
- Stuffing: Organic cotton batting ($10.78 for 1 lb bag)
- Sundress: Organic Miraleste voile ($14.74) A very lightweight, slightly translucent fabric that was perfect for a casual little sundress. It's so lightweight, that it draped really well, even though the dress is tiny.
- Bloomers: Batiste, in natural ($14.88/ yd). I have to admit, before receiving this fabric, I had no idea what batiste was. As stated on the site, it's soft and lightweight, and used to make handkerchiefs and underlayers for dresses.
- Apron: I used the same hemp fabric as the body, utilising the selvedge to create a little raw edge effect on the bottom.
- Evening dress: Silk/ hemp charmeuse ($27.70/ yd) A great option for evening and bridal wear. This silk is grown as a companion crop to the hemp, which is cultivated without the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides. The workers are paid a fair wage and the worms are handled ethically, allowed to emerge from the cocoon, unlike most silk harvesters.
- The laces- 26 mm, 28 mm and 68 mm - so intricate, the photos do not do justice, and very well priced.
- Muslin (extra wide greige/ unfinished)- this particular muslin has to be washed before using but is similar otherwise. I ordered it because the regular cotton muslin was backordered but ended up using the hemp muslin instead)
- Sateen, extra wide ($19.96/ yd). The most vibrant cornflower blue colour sateen; slight shimmer. Cannot wait to use this.
- Sateen in Stornetta blue, extra wide ($23.38). Had originally planned to use this for the evening dress but found the pattern was a little too large for a doll dress. Beautiful fabric all the same.
In the next part, I'll go into detail about making the rag doll and her attire. It was a very straightforward project but I think it helps to have images of the process to compliment the instructions and diagrams in the book. * Organic Cotton Plus was kind enough to provide me with the materials for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily, nor was I asked to provide favourable feedback; all opinions are my own.