Sustainability has become increasingly important and we've all been learning more about protecting the environment. As quilters, we all use different kinds of fibers sourced naturally from the earth—fabric made from cotton or flax, batting made of wool, silk, or bamboo, and tools made of wood. A clean environment is essential so we can keep doing what we love!
The Suzy Quilts team has been hard at work behind the scenes learning as much as we can about ways quilters and sewing businesses can be more green. That's why we were thrilled to learn about the new nonprofit Create and Sustain, which focuses on sustainability in sewing!
As part of this year's Suzy Quilts Gives Back initiative, we aren't just fundraising for the five nonprofits we're supporting. We're also friendraising! That means we are spotlighting each nonprofit throughout the year in a blog post that introduces you to each organization so you can really get to know the good work you're helping to support with your purchases.
Suzy Quilts is honored to be a founding sponsor of Create and Sustain. Let's learn all about this new quilt nonprofit, and get tips for being more green in your own quilting!
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What Is Create and Sustain?
Mission: We believe that through art and education, we can help shift environmental changes with our collective voice in the quilting, home sewing, and craft industries.
Vision: To provide education to the public focusing on creative and sustainable quilting, sewing, and crafts via workshops, demonstrations, discussion groups, lectures, exhibits, special programs, and the distribution of creative and sustainable information through written media and the Internet.
Founded in 2019 by Patty Murphy, Kristi McDonough, and Jennifer Sampou, the nonprofit arose from a need to promote sustainability to quilt industry businesses, fiber artists, home sewists, and other crafters.
Patty Murphy serves as the volunteer Executive Director for Create and Sustain, and she answered our questions about the work this organization does and ways home sewists can be more sustainable.
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What Does Create and Sustain Do?
One of Create and Sustain's current goals is to research and easily distribute resources about sustainability to quilters and quilt businesses. As an entirely volunteer-run organization, gathering and distributing those resources takes a lot of time and dedication.
This year, Create and Sustain wants to make it easier for you to find sustainable businesses and artists. "Our retail directory is live on our website and we plan to roll out our artist directory soon," Patty said.
"We are currently collaborating with craft publishing company C&T's Creative Spark to schedule a zero-waste sewing class, and we're hoping to roll out a program for ambassadors," she said. "We're also starting to reach out to companies so you can hear directly from them about what sustainable initiatives they have or plan to incorporate into their business practices."
If you own a sustainable quilt business, click here to be added to the Create and Sustain retail directory. And if you are an eco-friendly fiber artist, click here to be included on their new artist directory.
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What Does Sustainability Mean in Quilting?
For Create and Sustain, sustainability is about more than promoting positive environmental practices in quilting. "We should also think about sustainability as it relates to our craft and the industry," Patty said.
"We need sustainable business models and we need artists to get paid fairly so they can have a sustainable life, and we need healthy, sustainable quilt shops because they are a big piece of the industry backbone," she explained. "Cleaner and more environmentally friendly practices are KEY to a sustainable industry. But sustaining business needs from corporations to self-employed artists needs to come into play, as well."
Making sustainability and environmental consciousness more broadly accessible and relatable is also important to Create and Sustain. "We want to meet people and companies where they are so there is no shame about what they can or can't do, or don't do with regard to sustainability," Patty said.
We're all on the same sustainability team so it's important to support each teammate at their level to reach the end goal. We will continue to stress this because no one wants to get started on something new, or incorporate something new into their art or business, from a place of shame. Growth and understanding are important for everyone. - Patty Murphy
What Can Quilters Do To Be More Environmentally Friendly?
While many of the most far-reaching changes for sustainability happen at the corporate level of larger businesses, there are small actions that hobbyist quilters can take to help their own quilting become more eco-friendly. Patty provided a list of ideas for simple things you can do to get started:
- Be mindful about what you buy and seek out supplies from businesses that support sustainability
- Make a bag to take to the quilt shop instead of using a disposable bag
- Support your local quilt shop
- Unplug your iron and machine when you aren't sewing
- Install LED lights in your sewing space
- Get creative with the fabric and materials you have at hand before purchasing more
- Mend worn textiles and garments instead of buying new ones
How will you start quilting more sustainably? Let us know your ideas or questions in the comments! And make sure to visit the Create and Sustain website and follow them on Instagram!
5 thoughts on “Suzy Quilts Gives Back: Create and Sustain”
I already subscribe to C&S’s Instagram and it is empowering. Thank you for the work you do.
Thanks for taking on this important task!
Question: I have been trying to find cotton or bamboo batting that does not have a synthetic scrim. Do you know of any sources?
I love Quilters Dream cotton and bamboo batting. From their website, “We do not use scrim, resin or glue – just 100% pure natural cotton. Because we use such a high grade of cotton and have a unique multi-step processing, Quilters Dream Cotton Batting is strong yet exceptionally soft.” Their bamboo batting is a blend of silk, bamboo, tencel (environmentally friendly eucalyptus wood pulp derived from sustainable tree farms) and USA cotton. I do not believe this batting uses scrim either, however it’s not mentioned on their site.
I’ve been thinking about this, mainly due to the cost of fabric etc so I’m trying to use my little fabric stash – 2 drawers, then try to buy thrifted/ pre loved fabrics or only what I need. I try to use larger pieces of leftover fabric from making a quilt to piece the back. I’m trying not to hold on to things like orphan blocks etc, so I’ve spoken to a midwife friend and am making them into quilts for babies that don’t make it, obviously some of these are very premature so different sizes are required. Tiny quilts can be made with tiny squares fairly quickly. What’s left either goes in my scrap bin or to teacher friends/parents for collages. I’ve used old fleecy blankets as batting and old duvet covers for backing. Of course I still buy new fabric, batting etc just trying to get a better balance.
Love this perspective on keeping your stash small! That’s such a helpful way to quilt more sustainably, especially because you’re supplementing your fabrics with thrifted fabric. Very cool! And it’s an excellent and meaningful idea to ask a midwife about donations of small quilts.