Photo: What makes a wedding dress eco-friendly?

This tulle ballgown is made of 75 per cent organic cotton inside and American milled tulle and cotton silk sateen, outside. Ballgown by Patty Nayel of Pure Magnolia (Credit: Simply Rose).

Nothing "green" about my wedding dress, although I hope to repurpose it and the veil. It cost 150 bucks and I could walk to get alterations.

I asked Patty Nayel of Pure Magnolia about shopping for eco-friendly wedding dresses because she makes them!

Where's the dress made?

Local is best. Dresses labelled "Made in the U.S." or Europe may actually originate somewhere else and just get shipped to the claimed location for "finishing"— a label sewn in or a button added.

Eco-friendly companies show the whole process, from rolls of fabric through assembly, and introduce you to the people who do the work. Buying online? Most designers send pictures of the dress as it is being made

Upcycle—take an old dress in good condition, wet clean it, and find a seamstress to update the style. Check consignment and vintage wedding dress stores, or the Smart Bride Boutique. Find a seamstress, a dress can be shortened or dyed and worn again.

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What's it made of?

Stick with organic cotton, silk, hemp, linen, and vintage laces (easiest to reuse). Hemp and linen are great eco-fibres, but best blended with silk because they don't make pretty dresses on their own. Look for organic cotton grown and milled in the U.S. Wild silk from northern India is also a sustainable option. (If sales people say it's silk, make sure that's 100 per cent and not mixed with polyester and other synthetics.)

Are there different types of silk?

Silk is made of silkworm cocoons. For Peace Silks, the most sustainable option, the moth leaves its cocoon and lives out the last five days of its 70-day life cycle. The silk is collected and woven on hand looms, mostly in northern India.

Many small villagers still harvest wild silks to use in traditional fabrics and in textiles sent all over the world. These are often left their natural golden colour.

Standard factory silk is the most processed. Worms are hatched inside large warehouses and fed mulberry leaves. Once the cocoons are complete—before the moths escape—they are boiled. The silk filament is unwound and processed to get rid of the gum (which makes the cocoon stick together), bleached, and woven into silk threads and fabric. Until it's shipped, this "natural fibre" never sees the light of day.

Look for silks that are less processed (rougher in texture) or unbleached.

Was/is yours a "green" wedding gown?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

January 9, 2012

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Feb 18, 2012
3:28 AM

That dress is gorgeous, I am sure that photo has swayed a few brides to jump on the green bandwagon! Wedding Marketing

Jan 09, 2012
6:23 PM

What a beautiful dress and model!

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