Fabrics & Printing
About Our Fabrics
At Selkie Patterns we do our best to provide you with a stylish and sustainable wardrobe. We feel a responsibility to source healthy, ethical materials as best as we can. All of our own fabrics are printed in the UK (some in Sheffield and some in London), but the raw fabrics are imported. Any other fabrics we would stock are from wholesalers we trust to deliver beautiful fabrics that are ethical, organic, or both.
At the moment there is no perfect fabric, supplier or factory that combines everything we ideally want from a fabric. When you buy a fabric, you can look at the farming, the production, the workers’ circumstances, the country of origin and the monitoring of chemicals/pesticides, to name a few. We pick fabrics that we are able to print here in the UK and that fulfil our criteria in different ways. This does not mean that this is where we stop researching different suppliers, fabrics or factories. We have to start somewhere and the journey ahead is long and meaningful! We will continue to explore different fabric options as we go on and deliver transparency along the way.
The best thing would be to spin your own fabric (or just go naked!), the next best thing to wear undyed and unprinted fabrics, and after that comes printed and dyed fabrics where the social and environmental impact has been considered. There is no perfect answer, but there are tons of possibilities.
Please read below where our fabrics are from. They are all digitally printed in the UK with printers that make an effort to lower their impact, with certified inks, and they correspond to one or more of our following criteria:
- Certified organic
- Traceable origin
- Sustainable crop
- Audited factories (Fair Trade, Better Cotton Initiative, REACH or other)
- Low transport miles
1. Cotton Satin from a Fair Trade factory in Pakistan, printed in Sheffield.
Here the main factor is the transparency in the supply chain and the ethics of the working circumstances in the factory where the fabric is woven. The Fair Trade certification sets standards for environmental, social and economic criteria. You can read more here https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/What-is-Fairtrade/What-Fairtrade-does
2. GOTS-certified Panama Cotton from India, printed in London.
The main factor is the GOTS certification (Global Organic Textile Standard), which ensures that the cotton crops have been farmed in an organic way. This takes into consideration both environmental and social criteria. You can read more here: https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html
3. Responsibly sourced bamboo from China, printed in London.
This is the crop that is most sustainable out of the bunch, although after harvest, the organic cotton wins the race. Organic cotton is currently easier to source as a fabric to print on than organic bamboo, but we won’t stop trying (our current printed bamboo is not organic). Our bamboo is responsibly sourced, which means the farm and factory are audited for labour rights, health & safety, environment and business ethics.
Bamboo is sustainable in the way that it is grown as a crop: it requires much less water than cotton, it requires no fertilisers or chemicals to keep away pests or encourage growth as it is the quickest growing crop and very hardy at that, and bamboo doesn’t need to be replanted every year to continue growing. It is not the most sustainable in the way the fibre is turned into fabric, as currently a lot of bamboo fabrics use chemicals.
Both our bamboo and GOTS Panama cotton are sourced from mills that are REACH-compliant. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals and is an EU initiative. Its aim is to protect humans and the environment from the risks posed by chemicals used during any part of a production process.
4. Linen from Europe/Pakistan, woven in the UK, printed in Sheffield.
This UK-woven linen and cotton mix ticks several boxes. Linen is woven with a fibre called flax, which is a crop that uses far less water and pesticides than cotton and therefore has a much lower environmental impact. The flax in this mix is sourced from the EU (France and Belgium) and the cotton fibre is from a mill in Pakistan which is BCI-compliant. The Better Cotton Initiative promotes more responsible cotton growing practises and as a member you are audited on their 7 key principles. You can read more here: https://bettercotton.org/about-better-cotton/better-cotton-standard-system/
About Our Printing Processes
Not only the fabric itself is important, but also how fabrics are dyed or printed. Our London printing company recycles paper and ink with specific waste management companies so the material doesn’t end up in landfills. Our Sheffield printing company makes sure their waste water is treated in a specialised and friendly way. Printing textiles produces samples, test squares and off cuts; these are sent to charities or school to avoid throwing them away. The machinery is equipped with energy saving switches, which lowers the energy consumption when a machine isn’t used.
Pigment inks and reactive dyes are two ways to print onto natural fibres. They differ in the amount of water that is used, colour fastness in the end product and the need to use a coating on the raw material. There are pros and cons to both, but overall, pigment inks are usually considered the more environmentally friendly option.
Please see below in what ways we print our fabrics:
1. Cotton Satin and Linen: Oeko-Tex Standard 100. Digitally printed with reactive dyes.
The Standard 100 is a set of criteria developed by Oeko-Tex to indicate that a product or material has been tested against harmful (chemical) substances. It is probably the most well-known and widely accepted standard for independent testing of chemicals in materials. Many chemicals have been used in the textile industry for years, for example to reduce creases in fabric and to increase colour fastness. Chemicals used in printing and dyeing find their way into our respiratory system, our reproduction system, and our world’s water system. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 tests against these chemicals to make sure they are not harmful to our health.
2. GOTS-certified Panama Cotton: Inditex Clear to Wear. Digitally printed with pigment inks.
Digital Pigment printing requires no water whatsoever during the printing process and produces very little ink waste, as the printer uses the exact amount of ink needed. In comparison to traditional screen printing, the digital printing method requires around 95% less energy.
Clear to Wear is a product health standard developed by global retail group Inditex, who is working on the first compilation of all chemicals used in the leather and textile industry. Clear to Wear was developed to check against chemicals used in the production of materials used for manufacturing clothing, footwear and homeware. If a fabric holds the Inditex Clear to Wear standard, it means that the ink or dye used does not contain any chemicals above the limit considered safe for humans.
3. Bamboo: Inditex Clear to Wear. Digitally printed with pigment inks. (Please see above)
In addition to Inditex Clear to Wear compliance, the inks used also do not contain any chemicals outlined as hazardous according to the below policies:
European Directive “Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances” 2011/65/EU (“RoHS Directive”)
REACH Directive – European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA) Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern for Authorisation.
You can read more about Inditex Clear to Wear here:
You can read more about Oeko-Tex Standard 100 here: