OK, here it is. The outfit I've been working on all year that is 100% sourced from my local corner of Western Australia.
Also known as 'Pocahontas goes on a winter holiday'.
The only part that is not locally sourced is the boots and the, er, underwear.
This challenge was dreamt up by the quirky and creative Nicki. We had one year to create an outfit that had been 100% sourced from our local area. People from around the world have taken part including a small and enthusiastic group from Perth, Western Australia (WA), consisting of me, Carolyn, Sue and Nicki. I have to say, I could not have completed this project without the help and support of these lovely ladies. Together we have investigated local sources of fibres and textiles, experimented and learned new techniques, played with natural dyes, hand stretched silk cocoons and endlessly discussed our outfits over cups of tea and coffee. It has been stimulating, cathartic, exhausting at times (try rubbing and rolling huge pieces of felt by hand!) and always incredibly good fun.
At the beginning of the challenge we made a list of the fibres, textiles and other things, like zips, buttons etc. available in south west WA. Here is the list:
We did discuss harvesting roadkill, but abandoned the idea fairly quickly. We were going to have to get creative with Eucalyptus leaves or resort to using wool from sheep or alpacas. Fortunately wool is pretty fantastic and can be used in many ways. I used knitting and felting for the majority of my outfit and incorporated the natural colours of the wool into the design.
Let's start with the cardigan.
I began with a Nikki Gabriel pattern for a jumper made of knitted triangles that were sewn together. I am not a knitter, so thought triangles would be do-able. I used three colours of wool from Corriedale sheep. I knitted a few triangles and was pleased. I knitted some more and was bored. I forced myself to knit even more. I knitted throughout a tropical Singapore holiday, on the plane, in the hotel, even at Universal Studios. By this point I was about halfway through the triangles and decided that if I had to knit another one I would go stark raving mad. Then I suddenly had the brainwave to fill in the gaps with felted triangles. Felting! So much quicker than knitting...until you decide to blanket stitch all the edges before sewing the triangles together. At least it was a change from the interminable knitting. I gradually pieced the triangles together in a random mixture of colour, knitted and felted and it evolved into this cardigan.
I finished the edges with a felted strip of mid-brown wool and black splotches of Truffle (dog) fur.
The cardi is rustic to say the least. I think it is a bit much worn with the rest of the outfit, but I do quite like it and it might look ok with jeans or something else less, well, woolen. The different textures are kind of cool and some of the felt looks almost like leather.
I've mentioned before about the ombre felted skirt. Sue was a huge help with the felting and, after the first session, she discovered that her car polisher sped up the soapy water rubbing process no end. I used Sue's polisher to felt my skirt into a tube shape.
Truffle inspected the dog fur splotches in the skirt and gave them a woof of approval.
Sue also helped me knit a waistband for the skirt on her knitting machine. I say 'helped' when what I really mean is 'did it for me while I drank tea'. Sue is a legend!
The top is a piece of white felt that I cut to shape using a pattern and I now can't remember which one. I didn't have quite enough for the sides, so I sewed on some felted circles that I had originally intended as embellishment.
The neckline and armholes are blanket stitched for stability. The darts and shoulder seams are dry felted together with a felting needle.
I'm quite pleased with the top and skirt. I'm not sure if I'll actually wear them, but they do feel light and cosy.
I finished it off with two little felt flowers.
But wait, the necklace is not wool! It is made from Neptune Balls, which are balls of WA seaweed, Posidonia oceanica, that I collected from a beach south of Perth and strung together with wool.
I also made a little felt dog for Truff to thank him for donating his fur to the project.
So there we are. One Year One Outfit. Locally sourced and the height of fashion.
OK, the latter claim is pushing it, but I am still very proud of my outfit. After all, it's not just an outfit, it's the culmination of a whole process of researching, gathering materials, experimenting, learning and creating. It's also a reminder to look at what is on your doorstep, unleash its potential and consider the environment and the mass production factories in the process.
I loved this year. Thank you to my OYOO friends for all the fun, help and inspiration, to the sheep and the wool spinners and to Truff and my lovely family for their support and fur donations.
Gosh, I look hilarious!
To see the other stunning outfits of our merry Perth band, have a look here for Carolyn's and here for Sue's. You won't regret it. Nicki's is coming soon, so keep checking her blog.