Come see FaeriesDance.com In Person This Saturday

OCTOBER 24, 2009
International Day of Climate Action!
(On UNITED NATIONS DAY)

Come out and enjoy the Southern California sun in support of climate change action.  FaeriesDance.com will have a booth set up tomorrow at the Irvine Regional Park in Orange, California.

 

Our booth will be open from 9:00am – 3:00pm.  Register to participate in the event which includes a 5k run hiking, bicycling, tree planting, yoga and educational programs.  For more event information, see the full event listing.

 

If you don’t live in Southern California and would like to join an event in your area, check here for worldwide event listings.

 

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Swap Your Halloween Costume this Sat, Oct 10

Folks who live in Los Angeles have a unique opportunity to swap their old Halloween costumes with other eco-savvy swappers.  Swap-O-Rama-Rama is hosting a Halloween costume swap in Venice, CA.  What a great way to reduce our holiday footprint.  You can also bring pre-loved clothing items and swap them for new-to-you fashions – a true eco-fashion initiative.  Both adult and children’s costumes are welcome.

After you’ve found your treasure, design stations are set up where you can hem, silk screen or appliqué your new clothing to make it unique to you.  What a fun idea!  Here are the details:

Saturday October 10, 2009, 12 noon to 5pm
Swap-O-Rama-Rama – Halloween Costume and General Clothing

Venice Center for Peace with Justice and the Arts,
located at Venice United Methodist Church
2210 Lincoln Blvd (at Victoria, just north of Venice Blvd)
Venice, Ca 90291

For more information, visit: http://www.hiplinemedia.com/swaporamarama.html

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Your favorite lingerie – satin, lace and Formaldehye?

Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  So it might surprise you to find out that there’s probably formaldehyde in your underwear, albeit at very low levels.

Formaldehyde has been used for years on a variety of clothing as a finishing agent.  It contributes to the stain-free, wrinkle-free and static-free properties of a garment.  The low levels of the chemical used in clothing have historically been considered safe.

However, last year Victoria’s Secret got hit with a lawsuit after one woman started developing welts and rashes after wearing one of their bras.  The lawsuit snowballed and there is now a class action suit against Victoria’s Secret.  I’m not sure that this is really a “fair” lawsuit, since you’d very likely find the same chemicals in bras purchased from the mall or any *mart store.  Additionally, some people are very sensitive to certain chemicals, while others may wear the same garment for years without issue.

All that being said, even if formaldehyde is harmless at low levels and can be removed with a few good washings, do you really want it in your underwear?  You may not be chemically sensitive, but… yuck!  Let’s not get all gloomy now, though.  FaeriesDance.com quite happily offers more than 3 dozen panty options and 2 dozen bras all sans formaldehyde.  Now that’s something to dance about.

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QUICK FACT: Is hemp illegal to grow in the USA?

Hemp is not technically illegal to grow in the USA. It can be grown with a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Rumor has it however, that farmers are never actually given permits. So for all intents and purposes, it is illegal. Industrial hemp is in the same family as marijuana and was banned for its similar look. You can’t get high on hemp though, as the mind-altering drug THC found in marijuana is nearly absent in industrial hemp.
On August 5 of this year, Oregon passed a bill to make hemp farming legal in that state. They are the 17th state to pass some sort of pro-hemp legislation in the past 3 years. The states are also lobbying to have the DEA permit issue removed and allow state-control of hemp production. At the moment, all of our hemp fabric for clothing is imported and US farmers would like to change that.
A really interesting tidbit is that in 1619 at Jamestown Colony in Virginia it was mandatory for farmers to grow hemp because there was such a shortage. …You must grow it, you can’t grow, oh the confusion over one little plant…
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Win a Classic Bikini Panty

Cleverly hidden at the bottom of the last post is a contest to win a Classic Bikini (or other panty of your choice) if you provide us some feedback on our “What constitutes Made in America” question.  To win you need to post a comment on the PREVIOUS post (not this one).  However, we just learned that the comment function wasn’t working with the settings we had chosen.  So… just a quick note to let you all know that you can now leave comments to enter the drawing.  🙂 

Sorry about the confusion and good luck.

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Which Organic Clothes are Made in America?

This is a question we get often so I’d like to clarify the answer.  We have many lines with tags that say “Made in the USA” on them.  But legally speaking, that only means that the final garment was sewn in the USA.  There are essentially 3 steps to making a piece of clothing (organic or otherwise). 

  1. The base material (cotton, hemp, bamboo, pine tree, whatever) has to be grown somewhere. 
  2. The base material has to be soaked, spun, woven or otherwise turned into fabric for cutting or yarn for knitting/crocheting.
  3. The garment has to be sewn (or knit or crocheted).

While there are always exceptions to every rule, we have found that in the vast majority of cases #1 and #2 are done in the same region.  It’s too expensive to grow cotton in one country, send the raw material to another country to make fabric and then send the fabric to a 3rd country for cutting and sewing.  Most raw material is turned into fabric or yarn local to where it is grown.  However, it is very common to produce fabric in one country and then ship the finished fabric off to another country to have it sewn.

The tag on this adorable Overall Dress on the left states Made in the USA.  But the Hemp/Tencel blended fabric is imported.  We do our very best to track down exactly where our products are imported from.  We try to list both where an item is sewn and where it’s grown along with working conditions for both.

As we mentioned in our last Quick Fact, the USA does not grow enough organic cotton to meet our own eco-fashion needs.  Thus organic cotton is often imported.  Hemp is still illegal to grow in most of the USA (more on this in an upcoming Quick Fact), so it is almost always imported as well.

I’ve thought about putting together a separate category of just Made in America items, but I’m uncertain about where to draw the line.  If the tag says Made in the USA (i.e. sewn) but the fabric comes from China, should it be listed as Made in America?  Or does Made in America only mean sewn and grown end-to-end here somewhere in the USA?  There are still a few manufacturers who grow and sew end-to-end completely in the USA.  For example, SOS From Texas grows, spins, weaves and sews completely in the USA. 

What about America-first policies?  Bgreen, maker of our most popular panties, the Classic Bikini (shown right), sews right here in California and gets as much organic cotton as they can from US farmers.  When they’ve purchased all that is available, they look to Turkey to fill in their raw organic cotton needs and import just the raw material, which they add to their US-grown cotton and turn into organic fabric in their California warehouse.  Does this “count” as Made in America?
Please give us your feedback.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you consider Made in America.  What would you want to see in a category called Made in America if you were perusing for something?  To encourage participation in this topic, we’re giving away 1 pair of our Classic Bikinis (they come in 7 colors and sizes S – XL) to one person who leaves a comment about their Made in America thoughts. 

TO ENTER THIS CONTEST:  Leave a comment on THIS blog post (comments on facebook or through e-mail will not count) and we will randomly draw one name from all comments posted by 8am PT this Friday, September 18, to receive one free Classic Bikini (or any other of the $10 value panties that bgreen offers: String Bikini, Hi Cut Brief or String Thong).

Good Luck!

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Last Chance Item: Eat Organic Bikinis

We’ve been e-mailed a few times after something has gone out of stock from disappointed customers who had an item on their wishlist.  So I’ve decided to add this “Last Chance Item” post as a permanent feature to the blog when very popular items start running low.  First up are the Eat Organic Bikinis.

These adorable organic cotton hipster panties have been a popular staple at FaeriesDance.com for the last 3 years.  Unfortunately, they were manufactured through HTNaturals, who closed their apparel division this summer.  As of this morning we have decent stock left in size Medium, but only 2 Small left, both in Cherry and 2 Large left, both in Kiwi.  Once the few Smalls and Larges go, we will also have to start substituting them out of the Bikini Sampler Gift Set.  So if that’s been on your wish list for a while, now’s the time to get it.  These panties make amusing gifts for the winter holidays, Valentine’s day and wedding showers, too.

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One more hosting challenge – Almost done

Well, after 4 years with great website performance we’re finally changing hosting companies.  Our old hosting company has been bought out and our performance has been less than stellar since the transition.  Sadly, we’ve had more downtime in the last month than we’ve had in the last 2 years combined. 

The happy news is that we’re upgrading to a better host with more bandwidth.  However, as we transition to the new host, some outages are possible.  We apologize for any inconvenience and expect the whole process should be completed some time tomorrow (Thursday) late afternoon.

In the mean time, checkout our facebook page to for a chance to win this free bamboo polo shirt.

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QUICK FACT: Where does organic cotton come from?

For years Turkey has held the record for growing the largest amount of certified organic cotton.  But according to the Organic Trade Association, last year India increased its production of organically grown cotton by 292% to become the number one grower.  India alone now produces nearly half the world’s supply of organic cotton.

The USA produces a mere 2.1% of the world’s supply of organic cotton and does not produce enough to meet the country’s demand.  So a lot of organic cotton is imported by necessity.  We hope the increasing demand for chemical-free, organically grown cotton will encourage more US farmers to go organic.

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All About Dyes

There is so much confusion on what goes into dyes that I thought I’d help clarify a little. There are a large number of variations within categories of dyes, but for now we’ll stick to gross categories to get oriented. Here is my take on the overall dye process and the eco-friendliness of different dyes.


What most people hear about these days are low-impact dyes, azo-free dyes or fiber-reactive dyes. These are a category of synthetic, chemical-based dyes that are absorbed more easily into clothing than conventional dyes. Low-impact dyes are substantially better for the environment than conventional dyes because:

  • The higher absorption rate (greater than 70%) means less chemical and grey water runoff.
  • They do not include azo-dyes, a family of dye groups that can contain anything from toxic compounds such as chlorine bleach to known carcinogens such as carcinogenic aryl amines.
  • Low-impact dyes do not contain heavy metals

Still while low-impact dyes are better for the environment than conventional dyes, that doesn’t specifically mean they are good for the environment. Also, many people with multiple chemical sensitivities have reactions to low-impact dyes.

Going one small step further, some textiles are Oeko-Tek or Control Union (formerly SKAL) certified. These certifications do not focus solely on the dye, but are end-to-end process and final textile safety certifications. The dyes used in the final fabric must be at least as good as low-impact dyes and are specifically tested for skin-safety. The only problem with both of these certifications is that they are European-based and neither is widely used here in the USA. (Though Control Union is more common.) There are many legitimate, eco-friendly companies that are still using US-specific fiber certifications along with low-impact dyes. For example SOS From Texas grows cotton that meets all US Department of Agriculture Organic Standards and is certified organic by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Their final textiles would likely pass either of the above mentioned certifications, so the lack thereof for a US company is not necessarily telling in any way.

Getting away from synthetic dyes altogether, low-impact or otherwise, there is a class of natural dyes that are higher up on the eco-scale. Clay-dyes are dyes that are literally made from natural earth muds and clays. They are mixed with water and often little else. The colors are softer, but the dye stays put and they tend to work for people with chemical sensitives. Earth Creations has been offering clay-dyed clothing since 1996. Similarly, there are herbal and tea dyes which are created from plants. The range of colors is limited, but lovely and again, these dyes tend to work for chemically sensitive folks. The biggest downside of herbal dyes is the price. Faerie’s Dance has seen some lovely tea dyed pieces, but so far we’ve balked at the higher costs. We will have some herbal dyed items in 2010 to test the market desire.

Of course the overall least impact to the environment is not to dye clothing at all. So undyed is at the top of our eco-friendly list. But for those who may be tired of “natural” colored items, there is an alternative. There are several strains of cotton that are grown in colors. The colors are somewhat muted, but there is a lovely camel brown and soft green generally referred to as Colorgrown cottons. You can see the depth of color in the undyed brown sock in the center versus the traditional natural colored cotton socks on the ends. Take a look at this undyed Peasant Dress in camel brown.

In summary, the best way to get truly vibrant purples and reds is to use low-impact dyes. We all need a few fashion pieces that really make a statement. But if we fill in the closet with clay-dyed, herbal dyed, Colorgrown and undyed items, we’ll have a lighter impact on the planet and a healthier wardrobe all around.

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