Exploring the Potential: vegan leather

One of the most interesting things I did in 2017 was a project with Jane Wood, a textile technologist from Manchester Metropolitan University. Jane’s research concerns the development of sustainable bio-fabrics and I got the opportunity to experiment with sheets of vegetable leather she had grown in vats of kombucha tea.

It was so exciting to be working with a new material particularly because it is grown and therefore has a very low environmental impact in its manufacture. Not only is 100% bio-degradable but can also ‘come back to life’ if submerged back in the vat and fed!

I happily spent hours applying the principals of millinery; steaming, stretching and blocking to see how this wonder fabric behaved. Out of this a workshop session was born and we offered the general public the chance to have a go at Hat Works Museum as part of Manchester Science Festival. And the participants did not disappoint! They really embraced the element of play to explore exactly how this fabric could be manipulated and created some amazing sculptural headpieces and brooches.

The general feeling among the milliners who attended was that this fabric definitely has potential as an alternative to traditional millinery materials – I can’t wait to do more on this.

Follow Jane on Twitter: @fashfutures

 

 

Fun with Fabric Flowers

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It was another great day of learning new millinery skills at Hat Works on Saturday 20th June. This time we were getting to grips with fabric flowers. The worksheets on the table were a little daunting, with origami style diagrams that I find difficult at the best of times. But as always Sue and Marie were on hand, with their unwavering patience and encouragement to help us persevere. I made two (and a half) flowers and covered two other techniques – it might not look like a lot but the good thing is that I feel confident to practice these techniques on my own now. This week at the studio I’ve been trying these techniques on a smaller scale and using a range of fabrics to see how I could incorporate this into my work. I’m looking forward to the veiling workshop now on the 4th of July.

Feathers Find Me Out

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Anyone who has been on a millinery workshop or course with me will know that I have a totally irrational fear of trimming hats. I have no idea where this comes from – I think I love the simplicity of blocked shapes so much that it feels unnecessary to adorn with an added extra (millinery sacrilege to some I know). I am starting to gradually get over this thanks to the courses in different trimming techniques I have been attending at Hat Works. Last month’s 1 day course on feathers was fantastic and has really opened my eyes up to the range of techniques and qualities of different kinds of feathers to create stunning shapes and lines that would not act as a mere adornment but totally ‘make’ the hat or headpiece.

The day covered so much, we studied a vast array of feather types, learned their names, qualities / uses, looked at stunning images of couture creations, we got to handle hats from the museum collection, all on top of making our own feather corsage. There was even time for additional experimentation with feather flowers, feather curling, use of wire and beads.

Bring on the next session on the 20th June – Fabric Flowers, I can’t wait!