It’s been a while since I’d visited the rolling countryside area of Bath; Selvedge Magazine opened its doors to a room full of vibrant and colourful cloth merchants and artisanal makers on a fine Spring weekend. The Bath Assembly Rooms are an ornate and gorgeous Georgian dwelling and home to the Bath Fashion Museum which holds a world-class collection of contemporary and historic dress; just the place for discovering beautiful fabric remnants. On route to Bennett Street I spotted the glint of an open worked lace panel hanging in the window decorated with glass chandelier pendants.
On entry, the main room showcased a wonderfully diverse mix, the collection from clever pattern makers, Cambridge Imprint, (insta) was first to grab my attention with their striking duo toned patterned products, stationery, organisers and cards.
At Bleu Anglais’s stand, I found exquisite vintage off cuts in the form of vintage Japanese Indigo Kasuri pieces.
Amid a room full of incredible textiles, the sourced European folk clothing by Susie Petrou told an interesting story. Hanging amid a rail of one-off items were a pair of Transylvanian black wool gilets, the lustre of an ochre stitched satin trim caught my eye. I tried on both and fell in love with the utility of the simple and timeless hand-made tunics, opting for the red velvet trim version, as the fastenings worked and the fit felt bespoke made for my size. Susie kindly gave me the backstory of the garment; a cultural tale of a Saxony community living amid theTransylvanian mountains pre WWII, and how the garment fell into her hands after the departure of the Saxon population who abandoned many of their villages to return to Germany after the fall of the communist regime.
My maker spirit was thankful for this little handmade garment. Looking more closely it was made, worn and revived with such crafted detail, I shall delight in wearing and supporting it’s preservation.
Feeling better dressed! Yus, don’t you love a dress swap, last night’s Circular Fashion event at My Hotel in Brighton was a great evening, (did I mention the delights of discount cocktails). I came away with a little lilac halter top, the label reads, Traffic. It’s seen some action as the square sequins around the edging have started to fray and fall off.
It’s still a magical garment, someone once made it and someone has worn it and loved it !
I know what to do about the gorgeous sparkly-ness, the sequins themselves are very precious. Activism fish all wear eyewear and this little number has just what’s needed for remaking a woolly fish’s lids into disco-ball eyelids! Just to gently mention, whilst we talk disco; too much glitter is a bit of a cause for concern, but you know that, to avoid the aluminium coated with plastic stuff (bad glitter) then head to gulit-free ones instead like biodegradeable eco glitter.
Enough of this chat, I’ve got some reuse bling bling to hook up and happy to be reusing this irridesent beut.
A little fish is emerging, though this guppy is small she may be leading the shoal and taking her fishy fins in the direction of some gentle craftivism. With plastic pollution of the seas coming into wider focus recently, the disco activism fish has taken up Neptune’s pitchfork and wants ‘in’ on being part of the #beachclean change !
I’ve been getting to grips with making soft crochet eyes (as oppose to using the unnecessary plastic versions), the eyes of a goldfish suit our disco guppy.
Use the adjustable magic ring method to get started, ch2, then 8htr into the ring. Pull tight and cut. Super.
As a textile designer and reuse maker I like to work with a colour story that reflects a mood or season. I’ve been carrying around a very vibrant pallette for a while, (back in the gloomy winter months it was stashed in my wallet), it’s helped me to pick out and respond to rescue fabrics for up and coming projects.
It’s bright, like a fiesta you could say, these images have been a strong starting point for my soon to published DIY doable summer fiesta headdress class, crochet chilli’s are optional, but pompoms will of course be required !
I’ve assembled a range of #reuse jersey material, in the form of preloved t-shirts and have handmade yarn ready to use for the crochet, macrame and knotted working stages.
This is a bright backdrop of sample snippets, soon to follow – a summer festival, fabulous fiesta headdress !
As part of a small team of rescuer’s at the creative reuse group; Remade In Brighton, one of the delights is finding a new purpose for fabric remnants from the Huberdashery cupboard.
This wonderful floral fabric has a modern chintzy, furnishing fabric feel to it and it’s lovely for draping.
It’s almost been fully revived as a classic 1950’s style beach top, with just a few more tweaks to make with the straps and it’s ready !
The original chintz process of block printing by hand has long since migrated into modern, light, cotton glazed type fabrics of which ”Kensington” by Cowtan and Tout from 1982 is a wonderful example. This is a great palette range, looking at the Selvedge;
I’ll be on the rummage in the rescue section for more chintz selections, as I fancy reworking over motifs and floral scenes using Kantha embroidery techniques, to really bring out the gorgeous details within the fabric.
It was the full vibrancy of the Made in Mexico exhibition, where my handwoven, backstrap loom lust began, and fuelled a need to protect the beautiful raw edges.
Made in Mexico – *for a review of featured artists – http://ftmlondon.org/ftm-exhibitions/made-in-mexico-the-rebozo-in-art-culture-fashion/
Have you noticed too we have wandered into a trend-zone where the tassel is in full swing too? Fashion likes to spin us into gossamer webs – and this time of year it’s on a batwing journey into that layered, boho folky feeling.
Hangings of all kinds are larger too – edges seem to be extending, with things dangling from woody branches; bringing the outdoors indoors is a feral format I approve of.
I envisage using sticks for things inside as a functional and decorative emblems – the utility of the wild will always be with us, when you’re next foraging in the woods, bring home a branch.
Staying with hand finished edges; I so admired last Autumn’s collection from VOZ; who embody so well the long fringe left by skilled artisans in their handcrafted garments. I wonder what gorgeous depths of garment durability and function they will continue to craft for us?
Deep cuts and long strands are the way, I’ve been putting lengths into pieces and keeping a raw, unfinished salvage – embracing the zero waste philosophy of sustainable textiles – my recent handmade collar is crafted in reclaimed yarn (unravelled by hand) with Birch grey organic linen from a range by Quince and Co, with reclaimed hematite beading, made to reflect a slow swagger of a Boho mood.
A new batch of wholesome and solid bangles are shaping up – these are reworked with bold fabric prints and reclaimed gemstones of malachite and turquoise. I’ve incorporated vintage jewel pieces too. Using wool; one has ribbed lining and another a hand-knitted merino lining, made with comfort in mind.
I have been getting in a twist recently, developing new ways of working with strips of cotton fibre.
My coiled basket making approach is based loosely, and in part, on textile traditions, though I am using an experimental, recycled starting point with materials.
There are many approaches to basket making, I’ve discovered the work of Dough Johnston through the Sight Unseen blog, his work is based on working with cotton rope combined with the aid of an industrial sewing machine.
I realise that coiling something into a basket will look different to Doug’s very accomplished and masterful pieces. Though I have some novel approaches too.
I am using material, commonly available, to the point that a huge bulk of it ends up in landfill in the UK.
I’m working with the cotton t-shirt. I can’t really process the enormity of some of the statistics, but there is certainly alot of unwanted, discarded clothing around. Just take a rummage at the back of your wardrobe as a starting point.
Here’s one such statistic from ecoexpo.com;
Cambridge University shows that “on average, UK consumers send 30kg of clothing and textiles per capita to landfill each year”. An environmental select committee found that textile waste at landfill sites rose from
seven to 30 per cent in the last five years.
From Sustainable Fashion and Textiles, published in 2008, by Kate Fletcher;
‘ Only around a quarter of all waste textiles in the UK are reclaimed, with 13 percent going to material recovery and 13 percent to incineration. The remainder (30kg per person per year) goes to landfill, where textiles contribute to the overall environmental impact of these sites, including production of methane emissions to air and pollution of groundwater through toxic leachate.’
What am I wishing to achieve, with this recovery process?
I want to demonstrate that an everyday garment, one as unsophisticated as a worn cotton t-shirt has potential re-use value, that allows its lifespan to flourish again. My aim is to rescue a humble t-shirt from the short-sighted, linear route, that currently points to destination landfill.
It’s a humble enough starting point, one that I envisage will make a small contribution to hopefully solving a large problem. Using worn, charity shop t-shirts, I start with cutting the garment, looping the strips together to make balls of recycled, chunky cotton yarn.
On the market is Zpagetti by Hoooked a ‘branded’ cotton yarn product – Hoooked are based in Australia. I have been curious to read about the company history of their yarn, they don’t specify too much on the website, but I appreciate they embrace zero waste, by using surplus cotton in the cutting process for their chunky yarn. I think it’s fair to say that Hoooked are tackling a waste management issue, arising out of the cotton salvage, that falls to the factory floor.
It’s a recycling of raw materials.
In that sense, I think my efforts run in parallel, with the added effort of re-making by hand, a new product, keeping cotton textiles useful in a re-used form for as long as possible.
Here’s something from Hoooked:
‘Zpagetti expresses our belief that re-using and recycling materials could contribute to a more sustainable society. We also try to keep Zpagetti affordable so that everyone can enjoy the pleasure of creating their own craft items’.
It’s also offer free patterns via their website.
I like their macrame plant hanger pattern and the floor pebble cushions.
Using t-shirts from high-street labels such as Topshop, George, French Connection and Marks and Spencer (a nicer cotton than the others).
Now in chunky, recycled yarn form – the t-shirts look like this; a fabulous, colourful craft resource!
Here are some excellent thoughts, linking the skill of preparing yarn to a rejuvenation, from the blog of the textile arts centre:
‘Recently, I’ve been reading a really interesting textile history book, where the pro-union and early feminist historian, Louise Lamprey, delves into the history of spinning, and how it’s always been something that women did…never men:
“Spinning was so important a part of women’s work that one may say they spun their way into history. Girls learned to spin so early that they hardly remembered when they did not know how. They went on spinning, laying up store of thread if they had thrifty mothers, to be woven into their wedding outfit of linen, blankets, and coverlets. Spinster to this day means an unmarried woman.”
And since before the industrial revolution, machines have taken their place. In the past girls would spin raw material into thread to create textiles for their family and home. In this modern world exploding at the seams with overproduction and massive waste, I think it’s time to open all of our eyes to the inherent beauty in everything that surrounds us, and use our innate ability of love and creation to rejuvenate ourselves, our loved ones and our world.’