We're passionate about fabric at Sew Me Sunshine. Here's our guide to everything TENCEL™ Lyocell, Modal, Cupro Bemberg™ & Lenzing™️ EcoVero™️ Viscose, and tips on how to sew with these sustainable dressmaking fabrics.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY?
The term sustainability is a broad term that refers to meeting your own needs without compromising the needs of future generations. It can be broken down into 3 sections:
- Economic (Profit) - to be a sustainable business it must be profitable. Examples: recycling of products and the use of renewable raw materials
- Social (People) - companies promote fairness and respect for individual rights. Examples: fashion made by people who are treated fairly, with respect, dignity and paid well
- Environment (Planet) - companies committed to protect the environment by reducing risks. Examples: less water used to produce fabric, recycling solvents used to manufacture fabric
Image source: https://byotogo.org/sustainability/
It is important to note that no fabric is 100% sustainable because any fabric production will impact on the environment in some way.
The term sustainable fabrics is used to group together various environmentally friendly textiles. TENCEL™ Lyocell, Modal, Cupro Bemberg™ & Lenzing™️ EcoVero™️ Viscose Fabrics are often cited as sustainable fabrics.
WHO IS LENZING™️ ?
- Lenzing is an Austrian company that certifies lyocell, modal and viscose fibres known as TENCEL™ Lyocell, TENCEL™ Modal & EcoVero™️ Viscose
- Sustainability is at the core of their brand. Each Lenzing fibre is made from cellulose which is a biodegradable product. The wood pulp used to make these fibres are sourced from specific sustainably managed forests (certified or controlled according to FSC® and/or PEFC ™) and Lenzing is actively involved in the protection of endangered forests and primeval forests.
- Lenzing are committed to sustainable production. They have innovative production practices whereby less water is required for the fibre production and solvents are recycled
- Lenzing's suppliers also have to comply to the high level of social responsibility and human rights standards that Lenzing are committed to. They promote social welfare by valuing safe and environmentally friendly operations as well as fair employment practices
WHAT IS TENCEL™ Lyocell?
- Lyocell is a form of rayon that contains cellulose fibres that are made from wood pulp that’s harvested typically from Eucalyptus, Oak and Birch trees. Unlike viscose Lyocell is derived from wood pulp that is dissolved using an organic solvent (Amine Oxide). The solvent and water used in the production process can be reused.
- TENCEL™ is actually a brand name of lyocell. TENCEL™ fibres are derived from sustainable wood sources and the production is known to be environmentally responsible due to Lenzing's innovative closed loop production process where water is recycled and solvents are reused during the solvent-spinning process.
- TENCEL™ fibres are known for their softness, breathability and colour fastness.
- TENCEL™ fabrics can come in a variety of different weights. Lightweight TENCEL™ lawns have a fluid drape and are not structured. These fabrics are suitable for floaty dresses and blouses. Medium weight TENCEL™ twills are more structured, which means they are suitable for sewing trousers and overalls.
WHAT IS TENCEL™ Modal?
- Modal is a type of rayon, it is made by spinning cellulose that has been reconstituted from beech trees.
- Like lyocell, modal fibres can be registered by Lenzing with the brand name TENCEL™ Modal. TENCEL™ Modal fibres are manufactured from beech wood sourced from sustainably managed forests, and are produced using their eco soft technology. This technology offers chlorine free bleaching, has high recovery rates of process ingredients and causes very low air emissions.
- These fibres are known for their softness and flexibility.
WHAT IS EcoVero™️ VISCOSE?
- Viscose is often cited as sustainable because it is made from renewable plants (wood pulp). However, chemicals are required to produce viscose which results in toxic chemicals being released into the air and waterways surrounding the factories. Additionally, concerns have been raised that the production of viscose is contributing to the rapid depletion of the world's forests. Another issue often raised is that due to the growing fast fashion industry viscose is often manufactured cheaply which can have a negative impact on factory workers and the environment. According to The Made-By Environmental Benchmark for Fibres which compares the environmental impact of the most common used fibres in the garment fashion industry classifies viscose and bamboo viscose as a class E (the classes range from A-E - more sustainable to least sustainable).
- Viscose may contain LENZING™ ECOVERO™ fibres, these fibres are derived from certified renewable wood sources using an eco-responsible production process by meeting high environmental standards. This type of viscose production generates up to 50% lower emissions and uses less water compared to generic viscose production.
- EcoVero™️ Viscose fabrics vary depending on how they have been woven. For example, viscose lawn is light weight and has a fluid drape, whereas viscose twill is medium weight and is more structured.
WHAT IS CUPRO & BEMBERG™ CUPRO?
Cupro is short for cuprammonium rayon, it is made from cotton production waste (cotton linter). It is often referenced as a sustainable fibre because it is a byproduct of the cotton industry, however, hazardous chemicals are required to manufacture cupro (solution of copper and ammonia) that can be toxic to both people and the environment when they are not disposed of correctly
Production of cupro in the USA has been banned due manufacturers failing to comply with basic air and water regulations
It is predominantly manufactured in China. This is a concern because Sewport states that 'China’s synthetic textile factories are reviled around the world as havens for modern-day slave labor'
It is lightweight, drapes beautifully and has a similar feel to silk, unlike silk it is a vegan product
Bemberg™ Cupro is a brand of cupro produced by Asahi Kasei. These fibres are manufactured using innovative technology and techniques that reduces the environmental impact. They strictly control the chemical substances used in the manufacturing process and have introduced a closed-loop production system that recovers and reuses copper and ammonia. They also take into account social elements by collaborating with various stakeholders to achieve a sustainable society, for example, working towards goals to increase the income of workers and helping women have greater opportunities
WHAT SHALL I SEW WITH LIGHTWEIGHT TENCEL™, ECOVERO™ VISCOSE & CUPRO:
- Magnolia Dress - Deer and Doe
- Sudley Dress/Blouse - Megan Nielsen
- The Wilder Gown - Friday Pattern Company
- Sequence Blouse/Dress - Papercut Patterns
- Roseclair Dress - Cashmerette
- Pauline Dress - Closet Core Patterns
- IRMA Shirt - I AM PATTERNS
WHAT SHALL I SEW WITH TENCEL™ MODAL JERSEY:
- Rise & Fall Turtlenecks- Papercut Patterns
- Ebony Dress and Top - Closet Core Patterns
- Nova Jumpsuit - True Bias
- Olivia Wrap Dress - Named
- Appleton Dress - Cashmerette
WHAT SHALL I SEW WITH MEDIUM WEIGHT TENCEL™ TWILL:
- Zadie Jumpsuit - Paper Theory
- Blanca Flight Suit - Closet Core Patterns
- Calder Pants/Shorts - Cashmerette
- Portobello Trousers - Nina Lee
- Nenuphar Jacket - Deer and Doe
- Juno Jacket - Papercut Patterns
TIPS ON HOW TO SEW WITH TENCEL™, TENCEL MODAL™, ECOVERO™ VISCOSE & CUPRO:
- Pre-wash your fabric as they are prone to shrinking (30 degrees, air dry)
- Use a new sharp needle. When sewing with lightweight ecovero viscose, tencel and cupro it is advisable to use a microtex needle. When sewing with tencel modal jersey then a jersey needle is required
- Use fine sharp pins
- Take your time when cutting out your fabric and make sure your grainlines are lined up. Use a rotary cutter and cut on the flat when cutting out lightweight fabrics
- Use woven interfacing when sewing with woven fabric
- Press seams before stitching with a medium hot iron with lots of steam
- Stay stitch (a line of stitching sewn around an edge within the seam allowance to prevent the fabric from stretching out)
- When sewing with tencel modal jersey then use stay tape at necklines and shoulder seams
- Make sure you let your garment hang for a day or more before finishing any hems when sewing with woven ecovero viscose, tencel and cupro
- Sew a line of stitching before pressing the hem as this will help you to achieve a straight hem
- Hand baste tricky areas such as zips, cuffs, collars pockets etc
- You can use spray starch when cutting out your fabric as this will make the fabric more sturdy and help with accuracy
You can find all of our TENCEL™ Lyocell, Modal, Cupro Bemberg™ & Lenzing™️ EcoVero™️ Viscose fabrics on our website.