Recently I’ve been logging the contents of my fabric stash into a new i-phone app called Cora. It takes some time because you need to measure each piece and fill out a list of questions. I now know that of the 38 pieces in my main sewing closet (and there are other closets), 17 are cotton, 15 are silk, and 4 are linen. Only one cut, bought for exercise pants, is mainly polyester.
Yes, I am a natural fiber snob. Usually ashamed of my prejudices, I have worn this one like a badge of honor. What is behind it? And does it make sense?
The main reason I avoid polyester is because it makes me sweat. Recently I made a knit top from a 50/50 cotton polyester blend. Wearing it was like having a sweat lodge on my back. Many women who sew praise the breathability of new synthetic blends, but I have not been inspired to carry out a systematic check.
I am also convinced that natural fibers are better for the environment. This might be up for discussion, though. Polyester isn’t biodegradable, but pretty much nothing decomposes in densely packed landfills. And while cotton feels wonderful against the skin, conventional cotton farming uses a heavy load of pesticides and lots of water. Unless you pay for the organic variety, you probably aren’t reducing your carbon footprint.
There are costs in maintenance as well. I iron my woven shirts and pants, while many synthetics are wash and wear. Some people send their silk and linen to the cleaners, adding to their environmental load.
So what do you think? Beyond simple preference, are there good reasons to be a natural fiber snob?