Question

Can you recommend a source for natural wool batting and down-proof ticking? I am an interior designer.

Asked by Valerie Betz
Harrisburg, PA

I read and enjoyed your article about green upholstery materials.

Answer

Kirsten Flynn

Answered by Kirsten Flynn

Palo Alto, CA

Sustainable Home

April 16, 2012

Valerie,

Thanks for your follow up question. I am always happy to share information to help people reupholster their furniture using natural and healthy materials.

Sources for wool batting

The wool that I use is local to me. I buy from Shepherds Dream in Northern California. I decided to use local wool for a couple of reasons.

  • I like supporting my local economy, especially the small family farmers that raise sheep on the west coast.
  • I also know that New Zealand wool is fumigated for insects when it is imported into the United States.

I agree that this is needed, it is easy to import pests that then have no local predator to keep them in check in their new environment. However in a minimally processed product like natural wool batting, I worry that some pesticide residue would remain on my wool.

Your design business is located on the Eastern Seaboard. I wonder if you could also find some local source for wool.

  • I know that Heart of Vermont sells wool batts, for quilting, I believe. You might ask them where they source their wool.
  • Both Maine and Vermont have many small wool producers.
  • It is a matter of finding someone that has a product suitable for upholstery. 

Ticking

I use the organic cotton sateen from Near Sea Naturals as my ticking layer.

Wool fibers can travel out through the looser upholstery fabrics, so I found that a ticking was helpful to minimize this, and to keep the wool in place.

  • However wool is not as much of a problem as the feather shafts on down/feather upholstery, so I do not use a true down-proof ticking.
  • So far this works well, but I am always learning.

The double wide fabric from Near Sea Naturals, 117", also requires almost no seaming for most projects. You might find that Near Sea also carries some affordable heavier weight fabrics suitable for upholstery. Their prices are reasonable for organics, which helps make green upholstery affordable.

California's Proposition 65

I also wanted to mention that one of the the Halogenated Flame Retardants, which are the prime category of chemicals that I am trying to avoid when doing natural upholstery, recently were listed as a cancer causing chemical in California.

  • The listing, under California's Proposition 65, does not ban the chemical, Chlorinated Tris, but does require that products containing it have warning labels.
  • I think that this is an important milestone.
  • You can read more about it here and here.

Currently I take extraordinary steps to create upholstered goods that do not contain chemicals that are known to have health effects. The market does not offer me products that are free of these chemicals, so I have to make my own.

I think that these warning labels will have an effect on public awareness of fire retardant chemicals in upholstery foam, and hopefully will create change in the marketplace.

In the mean time, it sounds like you are a knowledgable resource for your design clients. I hope the sources reference above are helpful to you in your practice.  

Tagged In: green upholstery

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