Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Could Some of My Fabric Choices be Making Me Sick?

Okay before you start to assume I'm an over-sensitive eco-lunatic about natural vs. man-made fibres bear with me for a bit. I actually started on the natural fibre journey because I was noticing that natural fibres held up better than the man-made fabrics that I was sewing with and it started my inner calculator to conclude that I really was better spending a little more at the cash register for the natural fibre fabrics. 

CC-licensed image by Flickr user:  Jo Jakeman {Source}
I found this to be the case because they last longer and in the long run, man-made fibre garments actually cost more because they had to be replaced more often. This sewing thing has been a long journey full of little observations along the way.

But then another observation that doesn't have to do with how quickly and badly a fabric is prone to pilling made me start thinking about other natural vs. man-made fibres qualities from another angle. It had to do with my allergies. This past summer I had a part-time job at the local fabric/quilting/home decor/knick-knack store. Yes, my happy place. While at work I spent over seven hours a day handling fabrics in a very dusty environment (and think of all that lint!). One thing that I quickly noticed was that it was not the greatest environment for my allergies and sinus issues. I found that the days I cut large quantities of fleece / home decor fabrics and put them back on the shelves these were the days that I had the most negative and painful issues with my sinuses. I felt like I was sick all the time with flu like symptoms and the tissues were becoming stained red when I blew my nose. I have since left the position and miraculously my sinus issues improved. For the most part...

The observation that the days I worked more closely with fleece and home decor fabric were the worst lead me to wonder if the blanket on my bed could also be contributing to feeling stuffed up when I woke up in the morning.


I made this blanket back and 2011 and it has been part of my bedding ever since even in the summer months. But one day while changing my bedding I started to consider that this simple item that laid on top of my sheets may also be a culprit. I often woke up in the middle of the night unable to breathe and I always woke up feeling stuffed up. Could this blanket made of similar fabric in the fleece / home decor department be playing havoc with my sinuses and breathing?

I decided to do an experiment and remove the blanket from my bedding. I made my bed up with just flannel sheets and a down comforter. Would this make any improvement? Much to my surprise (it really shouldn't have surprised me but it did) I experienced a much better sleep (I've actually been sleeping through the night) and I didn't wake up stuffed up. I should add that recently I've been starting incorporating Rhonda's essential oil routine.  But I digress...

All of that was until I made this project.  Another man-made, faux fabric and after handling the fabric for about eight or so hours while I cut, chalk marked seam allowances and sewed, I found myself waking up the next morning all stuffed up. Could my man-made fabric choices of the past be what has been making me sick? Some people are allergic to wool, so can an allergy to the chemicals, finishes and products used in making man-made fibres be such a far stretch?

I don't think that these pieces put together amount to a coincidence. They actually might be worth more investigation. Or at least a little experiment.

I've cleaned out my closet of all the clothes made with man-made fibres and for the next three months I'm going to strive to wear a natural fibre wardrobe. I have another appointment with an ENT specialist next year. So, it will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable change after being more mindful of what I wear and perhaps see if this sinus situation improves with this wardrobe change.

Happy sewing!


8 comments:

  1. Oh so interesting. I believe you may be onto something. I'd be interesting hearing the journey.

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    1. Thanks, I'm interested in seeing what I'll find out at the end of this as well. The next appointment is in February. Until then...

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  2. Home furnishings fabrics are required by federal law to meet stricter flammability regulations than garment fabrics (for adults). For fibers that are not inherently flame resistant, chemical retardants are added. In addition, all fabrics have chemicals used in the manufacturing and finishing process. Many of them are considered harmless (waxes) but it isn't just the fibers that may be bothering you.

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    1. You're 100% correct, it could be the chemicals used in the manufacturing and finishing process found in all fabrics. But I can't ignore that I've noticed a pattern in the different type of fabrics. There might not be any change after a few months but I'm going to give it a try. It's not like I have to sew a new wardrobe. I'll just be more mindful of what I'm going to wear for the next few months. And who knows, if I'm lucky, [knock on wood] I'll see an improvement.

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  3. Bedding is always worth investigating for sinus things I reckon. You spend so much time with your face in it for a start! Perhaps the synthetic fibres shed a little, or perhaps it is the chemicals. Have a think about your pillow as well - they are less likely to shed but they do get very dusty and wool ines are available now as well as down and synthetic. Good luck!

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    1. I use a water pillow. And I change my pillow case twice a week, but good suggestion.

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  4. I too get stuffed up when working with fabrics, but in my case it's both man-made and natural. I wonder if it's not the inhaled fibers creating small cuts and/or absorbing too much moisture. If I remember to use the nasal saline spray, it helps quite a bit with the stuffiness.

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    1. Me too, nasal saline spray is part of my daily routine.

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