Ask The Allergista: Help, I'm allergic to polyester thread!


I've known I have an allergy to polyester, nylon, and acrylic, actually any synthetic fiber, for most of my life.  Until recently I was able to get away with wearing clothing stitched with polyester threads, but now have such severe reactions that I worry I could go into anaphylactic shock. I sew, so I can make most of my clothing, but have never attempted making underwear and bras.  It is overwhelming to the point where I want to give up and stay home in a mu-mu, eating home-made ice cream (I have to watch what I eat too, but that's a minor problem). I have been dividing my time between sewing, searching for ready-made clothing I can wear and sewing supplies, and trying to live a normal life, but it is hard to live a normal life when one wears odd clothing.  I would love to keep my sanity and look stylish.  Can you really help?


First of all, BRAVO on making your own stuff! On another note, I'm sorry to hear you've been dealing with such severe reactions to polyester threads! :-( My heart goes out to you. I can only imagine how difficult and aggravating this has been for you. Synthetic thread is EVERYWHERE. . It's been hard enough for me to find cotton clothing, much less clothing that's specifically made with 100% cotton thread to stitch the pieces together!!

I really think making your own stuff is the way you should go. Especially since it's not worth the risk of having a severe reaction. I have a zillion cotton products posted in my pinterest boards, but unfortunately I have no clue whether or not the thread to sew them together is cotton :-(  I've thought about sewing my own stuff before, but am skeptical about the metal on the machines due to my severe nickel allergy

I've seen some REALLY cute patterns in McCall's "Vogue" collection, though. Like.... REALLY cute. And the patterns won't break the bank!

Searching on Etsy is definitely worthwhile – especially since you can contact the seller directly and ask them questions. In my experience, they always get back to me pretty quickly. Check out this store. She uses a lot of cotton. Here's another one. You might even be able to commission a set just for you if you're willing to pony up a little extra money to offer. Cottonique is also a great company that makes elastic-free under-things. There's a chance they might have what you're looking for.

Regarding your skin reactions, other than avoiding my allergens, this is what I do when my skin freaks out. And THIS is the cream I use. It's the only thing other than steroid ointment (which is bad for you) that actually works for me!

I hope I've been of some help and if you find a company that actually uses 100% cotton thread, please come back and share!


The Allergista


** Here's an update from the original poster!:

I have tried the web sites you suggested.  Cottonique uses polyester thread. Their customer service representative tried to explain to me that cotton thread beaks easily, causing delays in production. Dharma is the only company (so far) that I have found that uses cotton thread. I got a T shirt and a dress that I am using for a slip. Everything is white, so I am  planning to dye them, using natural dyes. I had someone who makes bras make one for me, but she had no experience working with cotton. The bra feels like a cross between an iron maiden and a straight jacket. So, I made my own and learned a lot in the process (Kwik Sew pattern). It's not a great bra, but better than nothing. I've started a notebook to keep track of where to buy sewing supplies, like metal rings (which would not be good for you, I suppose) and the hooks and eyes sewn onto cotton instead of nylon, so I don't have to sew them by hand. I think the biggest change has been in my attitude.  So I only have one bra, two pair of underwear, and one pair of pants (shirts are worn inside-out).  It could be worse, and worrying will just break me out in hives. I am counting my blessings.  I know how to sew, and I have a sewing machine. I can crochet, and I can learn to knit.  The real trick will be finding balance between making clothes, and the rest of my life. Anyway, check out If something is sewn with polyester thread, it is usually labeled, and the customer feedback clues you in to how sizes run and things to look out for.