Part Two: Zero Waste and Eucalyptus – A Match Made in Heaven!FrancescaPalange
In my last blog post, I hinted that I was exploring a new development in my eco fashions. I have a small stash of felted and/or damaged knitwear which I thought had possibilities! Their original purpose was to cut them up to make ‘tattered’ key hangers. I made a lot of these hangers over several years, but felt it was time to move on from that, even though I still had the raw materials.
Having started to design a zero waste range of winter clothing using beautiful blanket remnants from Waverley Woollen Mills (est. 1847), it was a natural progression to incorporate upcycled knit fabrics from deconstructed knitwear.
I began by cutting up the knitwear into separate pieces along the seam lines. If they weren’t felted enough, I threw them into the washing machine for a hot and rough wash. Some of them needed to be badly treated in this manner 2 or 3 times to get them to felt densely enough! After they dried, I pressed them with a hot iron.
Before beginning the eco printing process, I soaked the knitwear pieces for about 10 minutes in a solution of roughly 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. After squeezing out the excess liquid with my hands, I arranged freshly harvested eucalyptus leaves from our property on their surfaces, along with rusty nails and washers from my collection. The next step was to roll up the individual pieces around either pvc pipe or rusty trampoline springs and tie them tightly with string.
I used steam to ‘cook’ the bundles (either in my electric vegetable steamer, or on a rack over boiling water in one of my large pans). Two hours is my usual steaming time for wool, and then I leave the bundles to cure and cool before unwrapping (usually overnight).
Every time I unroll a bundle, I am excited – it’s a feeling that never goes away, even though I have been experimenting with this process for about 10 years! You never quite know what the results will be, and I was very happy with how they turned out.
The next phase of development was to play around with the eco printed pieces. I pinned them onto a mannequin, with the aim of using the shapes as they were with minimal trimming or cutting. My zero waste policy meant that I ended up with some really interesting new designs – quite funky in fact!
I completely handstitched each garment – they are truly slow fashion to the ‘nth’ degree. Some featured a crochet edging; embroidery and upcycled buttons also came into play. The whole process was a real delight and made me happy. (I’m sure I’m easier to live with when I’ve got some handstitching on the go. It puts me into a different zone every time.)
I also eco printed several blanket remnants that I had previously eco dyed but hadn’t quite worked. So I layered and steamed them too, as described above. They were transformed! One of them became a vest, combined with an eco printed leftover alpaca blanket remnant for the collar.
In keeping with my zero waste approach, the armholes became a little wallet. My nephew like it so much he bought it!
Two other vintage blanket pieces became asymmetrical ponchos, similar to the one described in my previous blog post. I added hand stitching in an intuitive way, as before. One of them sold online almost immediately; the other is awaiting its new home.
I was also given a long piece of very fine knitting in wool and linen. I wasn’t sure how well the eucalyptus leaves would print because of the linen content, but I needn’t have worried.
I finished the edges with hand crochet using a lovely variegated perle cotton to turn it into a beautiful scarf. I loved it, and so did someone else, because it sold within a short time.
Probably the most challenging garment to make (from an upcycled pullover) was a tunic, or rather a tabard. I pinned and re-pinned this one several times and took a long time over the design process. In the end, it came together really well. (Note the dahlia flower eco prints, gifts from a friend’s garden.)
Another project, a vest, also required a lot of thought. In the end, the result was very pleasing, with an unusual collar feature at the back which made it unique. Its new owner almost lives in it!
I think the most unusual garment I made was a shrug created from a partially unravelled handspun jumper (shown pinned together earlier in this blog post). After cutting it up and felting it in the washing machine, I used the front and back for the sleeves, and cut the single sleeve that was left into two pieces lengthwise.
I wondered if it might be too way out, but after stitching it altogether (again by hand), it sold to a very happy customer.
There is one garment that is waiting to be sewn up, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s looking so far. I incorporated some eco printed silk noile into the back and collar sections, and will both hand and machine stitch this one.
I’m now thinking about how to develop a lightweight range of clothing for summer. Just last week, I began eco dyeing some cotton fabrics, upcycled from a pillowcase and vintage table linen.
For more images view original post.
© Rita Summers 2018
Get in touch with Rita:
Shop – gonerustic.com
Blog – gonerusticstudio.com/blog
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