Wednesday, 11 March 2015

One Year One Outfit

Anyone know what this is?

It is a sustainable fabric with a zero carbon footprint and it has been completely sourced from my local area.

Here's a close up:

Still not sure? Here is another hint:

It's dog fur felt! Yes, I clip my dog on the kitchen bench. Don't judge!

Before you wonder if I've gone completely mad, let me explain. Nicki, of This is Moonlight, has challenged Perth sewing bloggers and anyone else from around the world to use 2015 to research local, sustainable fabrics and to produce one wearable outfit using these fabrics by the end of the year. We have been given the south west of Western Australia as the region from which our fabrics or materials can be sourced. Although this corner of WA is bigger than many entire countries, it is actually rather empty and fabrics made entirely from animals or plants in the area are very difficult to come by.

Natural dyeing using Australian Eucalyptus leaves by India Flint

So, our small, but enthusiastic, band of Perth Sewers, led by Nicki, have embarked on the 'One Year One Outfit' mission. The quest will involve excursions to sustainable farms and hidden wool shops. We will investigate unusual fibres like hemp and silk for their suitability and adherence to the criteria of the challenge. We will even congregate for a workshop in natural dyeing using leaves and flowers collected from the local bushland. It is all very interesting and exciting.

We would love you to join us using your own local area as your source for fabric. Contact me or Nicki for more information.

Anyway, back to the dog-fur felt and whether I should use it for my outfit.  The advantages are that it is local, free and I have an endless, if slow-growing, supply. The disadvantages are that it is a bit warm for our climate, is itchy and it falls to bits when handled. Either I need a new fabric source or a way to get the fur felt to hold together better.

Let me show you how I made it. Actually, it was my two boys who made it. First we clipped fur from Truffle the cavoodle (King Charles cavalier/poodle cross). From now on I shall refer to this fabric as 'truffoodle'. I don't know whether poodle-type fur makes different felt to non-poodle dog hair. Something for future experiments.

The fur was laid out on a piece of bubble wrap.

We then wet it with hot water and hand soap and patted it down flat. In retrospect we may have used too much water and soap.

The fur was rolled up in the bubble wrap and rolled back and forth, like a rolling pin, many times.

There were lots of oohs and ahhs when the bubble wrap was unrolled to reveal the exquisite truffoodle fabric.

Now before you get too worried about my future sewing direction, the truffoodle fabric was just a bit of fun. I won't subject you to pictures of me in a flaking, dog fur ensemble any time soon. However, it did turn out to be useful preparation for my first foray into wool felting.

Yesterday, the Perth one-year-one-outfitters met at Bilby Yarns for some local wool research. The wool and equipment in that shop was fascinating. I am not a knitter, so looked a bit blankly at the balls of wool, but once I spotted the unspun, West Australian wool in delicious, natural colours, the spinning wheels, the weaving looms and the beautiful felt samples, I was excited. The two ladies who run the shop were very generous with their time and knowledge. They talked us through the wool production, showed us how to use a spinning wheel and then gave a felting demo.

The felting, for me, was the most interesting, and achievable, method for producing purely WA sourced, sustainable fabric. This was the method we were shown:

Fibres of combed and washed wool were pulled out in clumps and laid on the table all in one direction.

A second layer was placed in a perpendicular direction then a third layer in the same direction as the first layer.

A small squirt of dishwashing liquid was added to a cupful of hot water. Olive oil soap can also be used for a more natural alternative. The soapy water was sprinkled over the wool to dampen it.

The water was incorporated into the wool and flattened using a scrunched-up plastic bag to avoid the wool fibres sticking to the hands.

At this stage, additional wool fibres in different colours can be added to create a design. The edges of this piece were folded in to make them straighter.

The whole thing was then popped into a plastic bag,

wrapped in bubble wrap and rolled back and forth many times.

The resulting felt was rinsed in water and rolled in a dishcloth before being dried.

Just try keeping your hands off the resulting felt!

After seeing all this, I felt (ha ha) that wool felt should form part of my sustainable, local outfit. There were many beautiful colours to choose from, but I eventually decided on this combination of three natural sheep colours. I bought 200g for $16, which I hope is enough for a skirt.

I can't wait to get started, especially after finding this inspiration on a Russian website:


Thank you Nicki, for inviting me to be part of this exciting adventure x


Anonymous said...

You've done a fabulous overview of the felting process, Megan, and I love that truffoodle felt. I can't wait to see your finished skirt. Actually... I can't wait to see my finished skirt!

MaciNic said...

Part of me really wanted to read that it was wombat butt fur rubbed off in your front yard... ;) I enjoyed reading your truffoodle report, it is a pity that dachshund fur is very short & coarse, I have ample amounts of it....
I'm really enjoying reading everyone's research and Nicky's project. I discovered that there was a knit fabric factory at the end of my street a few decades ago, not now however...

Aunty Maimu said...

My gran used to knit us socks from wool harvested from our dog Wylly, may he be happy over the rainbow. Gran made the yarn 50/50 with lamb wool. Best damn socks ever! I still have a pair that I keep for the future :)

Andrea F said...

Truffoodle. Love it! Do you think it will catch on in the fashion world?

SavageCoco said...

Does calico cat fur count? I could make the whole block matching hoodies and still have enough to lend WA a boat-load. Say the word and I'll call Cunard. Gorgeous kitchen BTW.

Megan O said...

Me too. I am so excited about this project!

Megan O said...

Ha ha! Maybe we should plan an Australian native animal outfit project for next year. Thank you for the support x

Megan O said...

That is the best thing I've heard for a long time. If that was me, I could never use the extra pair. I would probably frame them with a photo of the dog. I do believe you've convinced me to incorporate some Truff fur into my wool felt.

Megan O said...

It's only a matter of time. Mark my words!

Megan O said...

Cat fur hoodies? Bring em on! Cheers Cunard.

sew2pro said...

I knew exactly what that first picture was: I used to live with 3 wolfhounds (my landlady's). If only I'd started collecting then, I'd have my own fashion house by now.

I wonder what my nearest source of fabric is, and even what that fabric is. Essex linen?! It's worth investigating; I may be surprised and I'd love to jump on board.

P.S. Handsome boys!

Sew, Jean Margaret said...

Very interesting post Megan. I must say I am a little disappointed that you wont be making a dog fur ensemble any time soon. Lovely to see your little helpers so interested in the process too.

Megan O said...

You are awesome! Mind you, if I had Essex bloomin linen on my doorstep that would make things a lot easier! Welcome aboard. I'll be in touch x

Jill said...

Oh wow Megan, what an exciting and interesting challenge. Loved your experiment with the dog fur - and that you got your kids involved. I'll be sure to pop back and follow along your updates with this one!

Jill said...

Oh wow Megan, what an exciting and interesting challenge. Loved your experiment with the dog fur - and that you got your kids involved. I'll be sure to pop back and follow along your updates with this one!

Gail said...

OMG - I've been wasting my dog's beautiful red hair.


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