Our Materials

Kaleidoscope Studio strives to minimize its environmental footprint as much as possible through the materials and production process we choose. Sustainability is a journey and as new fabric options become available we plan to continue to evolve, improve and bring fabulous and thoughtfully made textiles to sewists and makers. Here is an overview of our current material choices and impact:

  • Tencel which has a low water and land footprint.

  • Organic cotton which is grown without toxic pesticides.

  • We do not use or promote synthetic fossil-fuel-based fibers, including recycled plastics, which still promotes plastic use and production, and causes extensive micro-fiber pollution.

  • We digitally print our fabrics with non-toxic ink.

  • We promote thoughtful crafting and educate about textile and fashion’s environmental impact.

 

Learn more about our materials below and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Please remember, all materials take resources, water, fossil fuels, chemicals and so on. We encourage you to make thoughtful decisions in your sewing adventures, treasure the pieces you make and if there comes a time when they no longer fit into your life, we hope you’ll pass them on and find them a new home.

Tencel

An honest introduction to Tencel

Tencel is a fiber produced from sustainably harvested FSC certified trees which undergo a chemical process that takes them from wood chips – not the most wearable material- into a soft and luxurious fabric. The chemical process does use petro-based chemicals, however, it takes place in a closed-loop system where 99% of the water and solvents used are recycled. From plant to production Tencel takes between 15 to 20 times less water to produce than cotton. Similarly, it requires less land than growing cotton and doesn’t use toxic chemicals in its agricultural process. At the end of its life cycle Tencel can easily go back to nature and is compostable under industrial, home and marine conditions. Because of all these environmentally friendly features, Tencel was awarded the ‘’The Technology Award for Sustainable Development” from the EU back in 2002. That’s not to say Tencel is perfect, it’s not, but then again nothing is, and we’ve found ourselves falling head over heels for it anyhow. We hope you’ll love it too and can’t wait to see what beautiful things you make!

Tencel is the brand name for the lyocell and modal fibers by the Austrian company Lenzing (akin to tissue and Kleenex). There are a variety of other wood-based fibers - including viscose, rayon, lyocell and modal - all of which are different “recipes” and sub-types. While they are distinct variations their names are often mistakenly used  interchangeably making the whole family name game rather confusing. What sets Tencel apart from its other wood-based synthetically processed siblings is that it is sourced from sustainably certified forests while other fiber types do not have a known supply chain. This makes it impossible to know how the trees were sourced and on many occasions, viscose has been linked to deforestation of old-growth forest including in the Amazon. Thus, while sometimes viscose and rayon are also touted as sustainable options, because of their natural origins and biodegradability, we (along with many more knowledgeable experts) do not consider them to be an environmentally-conscious option and do not recommend them as a fabric choice for sewing or your ready-to-wear fashion.

 

tencel thread illustration.png

   Tencel's Properties:

  • Highly breathable

  • Naturally odor-resistant and anti-microbial 

  • Wrinkle resistant 

  • Soft and silky to the touch

  • Botanic origin

  • Color vibrancy & retention

  • Biodegradable & compostable

Organic Cotton

A wholesome hello to organic cotton

Conventional cotton is grown with a slew of toxic insecticides and agrochemicals, which are dangerous or lethal to farmworkers. Runoff of pesticides also impacts local water quality, poisoning communities and ecosystems. Insecticides at their core are designed to be toxic and kill bugs, so it’s simply inevitable that when sprayed by the thousands of gallons they will be harmful – that’s kind of the point.

Organic agriculture allows for a better quality of life for workers and communities. It helps maintain the health of the soil allowing it to sustain growth for longer periods of time. It also gives farmers more financial independence as they are not consistently spiraling to buy more and more pesticides and new GM seeds as insects and pests evolve. Finally, since it’s a natural fiber, cotton (of all types) is biodegradable and will not pollute the environment for centuries after its life cycle is over. Still, organic cotton is still cotton. It still uses a lot of water and still takes up a lot of land, but it's certainly a hell of a lot better for people and the planet. People have grown and harvested, woven and decorated cotton for millennia, simply put, it’s part of our story and we want to make this chapter the best, most thoughtful one it can be.

 

Cotton thread illustration.png

   Cotton's Properties:

  • Highly breathable 

  • Botanic origin

  • Color vibrancy 

  • Biodegradable & compostable

Digital Printing

deliberate description of digital printing

Digital textile printing is basically just like your home printer if you blew it up to about 8 feet wide and put in a roll of fabric rather than paper. Okay, maybe it’s a little more complicated – the fabric needs to be pre-treated to take in the dye and then after it is printed it needs to be heat set, but you get the idea. Standard commercial methods of dyeing and printing textiles such as rotary and screen-printing textiles are highly energy and water intensive - accounting for a fifth of industrial water pollution! (The New Textile Economy) Digitally printed textiles use less water by applying pigment directly to the fabric. Also, because the process is digital it means that there are infinite possibilities without developing new screens for each color used within a print design. This means we can make our prints with as many colors as we like, which we thoroughly appreciate! Finally, our printing facility uses water-based non-toxic ink so no pollutants are released into the local waterways.

 

digital printing .png

Learn more

Tencel: 

https://www.tencel.com/sustainability

https://goodonyou.eco/how-ethical-is-tencel/

Environmental impact assessment of man-made cellulose fibres by L. Shen, E. Worrell, and M. Patel https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S092134491000217X

 

Textile Footprint:

 

Textile and deforestation: https://canopyplanet.org/campaigns/canopystyle/

 

Environmental Impact of the Textile and Clothing Industry, EU report https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2019/633143/EPRS_BRI%282019%29633143_EN.pdf

Sustainability of Fashion, House of Commons Report https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf 

Certifications 

 

All Tencel fibers have the following certifications;

  • USDA BioPreferred 

  • Biodegradable/compostable by Belgium certification company Vincotte 

  • EU Ecolabel 

  • Won the EU The “Technology Award for Sustainable Development” (2002) 

  • Organic fabric certification from Lenzing Austria for Tencel™ fabric

Our manufacturers printing ink;

  •  Global standard ink certification from Oeko-Tex Standard 100