Nina Murden - The Lewes Seamstress

harmful toxins


Working on alterations to a pair of trousers for an electrical engineer soon to be working on the wind farms being built off Brighton .  Interesting very tough cotton drill fabric, registered as ‘Cordura fabric’, and registered as an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 – a uniform standard of testing and certification at all stages of production,  ensuring  as I have discovered that the materials and the dyes used and other treatments of fabrics does not exceed the maximum allowed content values of harmful substances. So an acknowledgement that clothing production methods and substances potentially do harm the makers of, and the eventual wearer of the garment. “The certification covers multiple human-ecological attributes, including harmful substances which are prohibited or regulated by law, OEKO-TEX GARMENT2chemicals which are known to be harmful to health, but are not officially forbidden, and parameters which are included as a precautionary measure to safeguard health.”

Toxic Fabric Conditioners


Some of the clothes that I get to work with can be heavily scented with fabric conditioners/washing powders.  I have to say that I have to open the windows to get some fresh air circulating when working on them, as I consider these products harmful.  The overpowering perfumes used in fabric conditioners are there apparently partially to ‘define the brand’ but also to disguise all the other toxic chemicals in the mix. These include:

  • · Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
  • · Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
  • · Ethanol: On theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s(EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  • · A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • · Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
  • · Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
  • · Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • · Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • · Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled.

Today my wooden workshop is being buffetted by storm Isobel; plenty of fresh air swirling around out there – so how about hanging your laundry in the garden (if you are lucky enough to have one that is), like our grandmothers used to? Maybe not today – it might end up miles away. But drying your clothes outside,  imparts a truly ‘fresh’ smell to your clothes, and you’re not harming yourself and others around you in the process, let alone not using yet more electricity when the sun and the wind, free to all of us,  can do such a good job anyway.