I've developed a new allergy. There is something in the fabrics made in the Far East, which is most of the fabric sold here in the USA, that is causing my hands and fingers to break out, split, blister, peel, and bleed if I sew on a regular basis.
Now, I've been sewing for over 40 years. This makes my new allergy a frustrating thing, to say the least. I've no doubt part of the reaction comes from the formaldehyde used by a lot of companies in their finishing sprays or the applications they use as insect deterrents before shipping their fabrics to the USA. For 10 years or so now I've made a habit of washing all my new fabrics at least once before I ever cut them out and sew with them, but lately it's not making the grade.
At this point in time I have 3 fingers that are in the beginning stages of healing - again. It's hard keeping them dry when dishes and laundry have to be done, when grandbabies need to be changed, and when chickens need to be cared for. My internist prescribed an ointment - it's basically useless. I get more effectiveness from putting TAO on a bandaid and applying that, but those pesky little bandaids don't stay on very long.
I can use fabrics from Nature's Fabrics because a lot of them are organic or Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, so they haven't been inundated with poisons intended to keep bugs away and make fabrics be nice, stiff, and shiny when you buy them from the store. -Speaking of which, have you ever taken the time to really inspect some of the fabrics at the chain stores? If you stop and close your eyes, you can actually feel the chemicals on and in the material. It's slimy and almost oozy sometimes. No wonder my skin hates it! Jeanne sells fantastic fabric at great prices. I only wish she had more wovens to offer, since I can't make everything out of a knit!! The bamboo fleece, terry and velour make some of the nicest cloth diapers around and are great for clothes as well - sweats, lounge pants, pajamas, skirts, tops, dresses and undergarments come to mind. They're also good for mama pads & nursing pads - I get good feedback on the items I make from the bamboo fabrics every time I sell some to a customer who hasn't used them before.
Today I called the people at Connecting Threads since they claim most of their fabrics are made in the USA and Mexico. The lady I talked to couldn't tell me what chemicals were used on the fabrics because they have switched vendors so many times since they opened. She did take my name and number and promised to get back to me. I have a feeling that since their fabrics are less expensive than some of the bigger names in fabric manufacturing we're going to be facing a formaldehyde problem.
I'm going to have to go through my considerable fabric stash soon and get rid of the cheaper cuts I have, leaving the more costly stuff that I know so far that I can use without doing further damage to my irritated skin. I'll need to set up a sale or find somewhere to donate it. Hmmmm...that could be fun!
Have a blessed weekend!