Bristol first with non-toxic textile

THE Bristol-based natural dye studio, Botanical Inks, is launching the Bristol Cloth – a textile which will be the first locally-sourced and regenerative material produced in the UK.

A crowd funder raised more than £7000 in its first week, and dyeing is due to start on 20th November, with weaving beginning in January 2019.

The wool is sourced from Fernhill, an eco-farm a few miles outside Bristol. They mimic natural grazing patterns to ensure that nutrients go back into the soil and give the plants and soil time to regrow and regenerate. This captures the carbon from the air and locks it back into the soil.

Botanical Inks will dye the wool using non- toxic organic plant dyes. The dyed material will then pass to Bristol Weaving Mill, the first weaving mill in the city for 100 years, where the cloth will be woven using a renovated 1985 Dornier loom.

Babs Behan, founder of the Bristol Cloth said, “Not only is it great to be producing the first Bristol Cloth from holistically farmed wool and organic plant dyes, but also that we are doing so in an area of Bristol which has a rich textile heritage.”

Both Botanical Inks and the Bristol Weaving Mill are based in the Barton Hill area where The Great Western Cotton Factory was established in 1838. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the factory employed 1000 people, many of them women, by the turn of the century.

Unlike the textiles produced in Barton Hill during the Victorian period, the Bristol Cloth will be made without any harmful chemicals and is therefore safe to go back into the ground at the end of its life cycle.

Babs says: “What’s missing from the fashion industry is a locally-sourced and manufactured cloth, which isn’t having a huge negative impact on the planet. We’re trying to give designers something to work with that is not only helping to maintain Britain’s artisanal heritage, but is also regenerating our land and natural resources.”

For more information about crowdfunding the Bristol Cloth, visit

Pictured: Juliet Bailey operating the industrial Dornier loom.