Pretty organic planters made from abaca cloth

I stumbled upon the first colorful ikat fabric planter image, where else, on Pinterest. I clicked the vistit link and it took me to a closed Etsy shop named 7100 Islands. Hmmm. So cute. I read the description on past sales and they referred to the fabric as abaca (more on that to follow) and the vessels as bowls. The fabric is from the Philippines and the studio that made the bowls was in France. I checked their blog and there were no posts since 2013. I searched the internet for over an hour looking for similar vessels/bowls/planters and found none. I just kept stumbling upon active Pinterest pins of these clever bowls from the defunct 7100 Islands. It was eerie, similar to driving into an abandoned town with just tumbleweeds and great architecture.  I must say that I am shocked that Anthropologie, Urban Outfiiters or ,even, Frontgate hasn’t taken off with something similar. The ikat weave and bright colors certainly make the bowls in the left image more impactful. However, the ones in the right image do have a cool, earthy, organic vibe.

Okay, I must confess that I had to look up the definition of abaca. It is a fiber from  a species of banana that is  native to the Philippines and grown as a commercial crop in the Philippines, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. The plant is also known as Manila hemp and is harvested for its fiber which is extracted from the leaf stems. Plant grows to 13–22 feet It is classified as a hard fiber, along with sisal and coir. It is extremely strong and grows without any need for pesticides or insecticides. It, like hemp, isn’t prone to rotting or molding easily. So, it seems like a great natural and non-toxic option for outdoor use. The ikat weaving is reffered to as  T’nalak.  The weavers use backstrap looms and it takes months to yield 10 yards. The artisans strip, split, knot, design, tie, dye, weave and pound.  Prepping the loom can take a month. The weaving of the exquisitely complex T’nalak, a resist-dyed (ikat) abaca fiber. So, it is now not a surprise that this fabric used by mass producers or easily accessible in the worldwide marketplace.

Are they not adorable? Come back 7100 Islands. I never knew you.

abaca planters

Mattress and Upholstery Foam Musings

CertiPur Foam is being promoted as less toxic than other foams.  Many people assume that it is completely free of flame retardants, too. It claims to be free of only certain classes of flame retardants. The Certi-Pur website page with frequently asked questions doesn’t say that it is free of flame retardants because it tests just for certain classes. It advises us to contact the flexible foam manufacturer to know for certain. The state of California requires disclosure on the labels of products made with foam, Certi-Pur or otherwise.

Many people are unaware that CertiPUR-US is a program of the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam. However, the Alliance of Flexible Polyurethane Foam  was conceived by the Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) whose members are chemical companies and foam fabricators. The Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam doesn’t even have a website. If you search for it on the internet, it brings you back to the CertiPur website. Rumor is that the PFA and the chemical suppliers created the certification to differentiate its foam from less expensive imported foam. This is not a third party certification. Clever, right?

Oecotextiles does a great job of comparing the claims of CertiPur foam to the realities of all foam in its  well researched blog. Once you have all of the facts, it does seem as though CertiPur certification is bluster. Many people believe that removing flame retardants from foam is good enough for them when purchasing a mattress of sofa. As their blog explains, 50% of foams weight is lost 10 years after buying it. Where does it go? We breathe it in and it settles in our homes as dust.

Oecotextiles explains that the foam is still a petrochemical and that it is still toxic. This article addresses just one of many ingredients in mattresses and upholstered furniture.  Conventional mattress ticking and upholstery fabrics are processed with lots of toxic chemicals.  Those fabrics are against our skin and the chemicals are absorbed into our bloodstreams. Most people do not know or do not think about ingredients other than the flame retardants because flame retardants are topical. Many conventional mattresses contain not one natural and non-toxic ingredient. Most upholstered furniture uses plywood frames and plywood is wood scraps and glue with volatile organic compounds. The remainder of most conventional upholstered furniture are components that are, if not completely synthetic, are processed with pesticides and insecticides.

Prop 65 label

Here is the link to Oecotextile’s eye opening blog post about foam as well as many other posts about toxicity in fabrics and upholstered furniture .


Brightly colored pillows for Spring 2017

OC73 sold pink with pom pom face

Dyed with rice stitch and pom pom pillow cover $17.

IKT151 silk

Vliving silk ikat pillow2

Woven silk ikatesque pillow cover $30.


Embroidered linen pillow cover $31.EMB63 Aztec face

Vliving embroidered linen pillow

Embroidered linen pillow cover $31.


Dyed with rice stitch and pom pom pillow cover. $17OC71 solid turquoise with pom poms fabric

Hand block printed in silver metallic with fuchsia ground. $20BP1 Hot Pink block print

IND100 patchwork block print with pom poms

Hand block printed and kantha stitch patchwork pillow cover with pom poms. $35

Fabricadabra new additions for Spring


Recycled sari crocheted tassel garland

recycled sari garland and decorative parasols


recycled-sari-and-mylar-party-tassel-garland-3Graduation party decorations that are recycled, upcycled and reusable!

Are African wax print fabrics finally getting the attention that they deserve in home textiles?

le petit congalese wax prints.jpgI was delighted to see a post in the Linked In group ‘Home Textiles Professionals” of which I am a member whereby one member mentioned that they are all the rage in France currently. She asked if we thought the trend would catch on in the U.S. Anyone who follows my blog or buys from my website ( knows that I have been selling African and Dutch wax print decorative pillows as well as fabric by the yard since stumbling upon them in early 2009. I still do. They just never seemed to mesh with U.S. consumers despite being a party waiting to happen. This same Linked In Group Member posted a great article about Africa wax prints that I am reposting.

One very serious concern that I have regarding Africa textiles is their being knocked off or copied in China. since the launch of Fabricadabra in 2008, I have purchased African batik, indigo cloth, mud cloth and Ankara or wax prints to make decorative pillow covers. I find it disheartening to see retailers such as Anthropologie buy Chinese knock-off fabric to make bedding and upholstered furniture using the copied versions. They charge enough for their products that it us unnecessary. Not only that, their using them tacitly implies approval of this process. Africa’s beautiful fabrics should be made by Africa’s textile artists in the traditional wax resist methods that they employ and not be copied and rotary screen printed in China for global distribution under the name of African wax printed fabric. Furthermore, the true Africa fabrics do not actually cost nearly as much as they should. They are a bargain, unless you  buy them through One King’s Lane.

So, here is the repost of a blog article by Kenisa Home that highlights how on trend they are in France currently.

There have been many studies about the toxic #flameretardants in upholstered furniture, but I read little about the same ones that are in our mattresses whereby we spend more time in than on our sofas. I’m curious as to when this will be addressed and shared with consumers. This one article addresses it in the tagline, but not in the content of the article. The same flame retardants are in foam pillow inserts, electronics, car seats and so many other products that we use daily.


The importance of G.O.T.S. certified fabrics

I discovered a new brand of upholstered furniture this week that touted its eco and non-toxic attributes. These include Certi-Pur non-FR foam (about 90% petrochemical)and fabrics treated with Scotchgard (See the Environmental Working Group’s easy guide to toxicity at . I was flabbergasted that this company promoted these as non-toxic. The founder of the company doesn’t have a background in textiles or chemistry, so I immediately understood that she was only sharing what she was told. But, do we believe everything that we are told? I used to. The Gold standard for less toxic textiles is the Global Organic Textiles Standard GOTS). Conventionally processed textiles are loaded with heavy metals. Even if the fabrics are made from natural fibers, the entire process from growing the fibers, spinning the yarns, weaving the fabric, dyeing and finishing is nasty. I’d like to share this information that my diligent friends at Oecotextiles shared with us. Please do check out their beautiful collection of far less toxic home decorating fabrics.

You will not have to live with fabrics containing chemicals which have been proven to cause harm – chemicals which are often outlawed in other products – because the fabric is produced to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

A fabric made from organic fibers is not necessarily an organic fabric. Why is this a big deal? It’s like taking organic apples, and cooking them with Red Dye #2, preservatives, emulsifiers, and stabilizers – you can’t call the finished product organic applesauce; and you should not feed it to your kids. Same is true with fabrics.

GOTS defines a standard for organic fabrics that covers every step of the complicated textile production process from field to finished fabric to store shelf; not just the fiber. GOTS is so comprehensive that it governs details such as packaging materials; warehouse cleaning chemicals; warehouse pest conrol practices and labels. GOTS covers workers rights; and, although it does not directly address carbon footprint, its other organic requirments mean that a GOTS fabric is by far the best choice you can make, regardless of country of production. GOTS certified fabric is therefore much more than just a textile which is made from organic fibers. It is an organic fabric.

The GOTS standard only applies to natural fibers, and requres the use of third party certifed organic fiber. (For synthetic fibers, use only Global Recycling Standard Gold level recylced polyester if you must; and some rare nylon. Read our blog – see link in the footer below, for updates or for more.)

In addition to requiring that all inputs have to meet basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability, one of the important things that GOTS does is close a very common loophole with greenwashers. GOTS prohibits entire classes of chemicals, rather than calling out specific prohibited chemical in a class. What that means is that instead of prohibiting, for example lead and cadmium and therefore allowing other heavy metals by not prohibiting the entire class, GOTS prohibits ALL heavy metals. Here’s the GOTS Version 3.0 list:

Aromatic solvents Prohibited
Chlorophenols (such as TeCP, PCP) Prohibited
Complexing agents and surfactantss Prohibited are: All APEOS, EDTA,
Fluorocarbons Prohibited (i.e., PFOS, PFOA)
Halogenated solvents Prohibited
Heavy Metals Prohibited
Inputs containing functional nanoparticles Prohibited
Inputs with halogen containing compounds Prohibited
Organotin compounds Prohibited
Plasticizers (i.e., Phthalates, Bisphenol A
and all others with endocrine disrupting
Quaternary ammonium compounds Prohibited

Other GOTS strengths include:

Strict and extensive water treatment internally before water is discharged to the local ecosystem. Water treatment applies to pH and temperature as well as to biological and chemical residues in the water. Even if only salt is used in the fabric processing, returning salty water to the local lake will kill amphibians and wreck havoc with the local ecosystem.

Environmentally sound packaging requirements are in place: PVC in packaging is prohibited, paper must be post-consumer recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC.

Labor practices are audited in accordance with the International Labor Organization (ILO) standards – no forced, bonded, or slave labor; workers have the right to join or form trade unions and to bargain collectively; working conditions are safe and hygienic; there must be no new recruitment of child labor; and for those companies where children are found to be working, provisions must be made to enable him/her to attend and remain in quality education until no longer a child; wages paid must meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmarks, whichever is higher; working hours are not excessive and inhumane treatment is prohibited.

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