The making of: Hellen van Rees at Sustainable Thinking

For the Sustainable Thinking exhibition at the Museum Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence we were asked to design a creation with regard to the theme sustainable thinking. To develop the creation a sketch was made and the color scheme was decided, so the weaving process with a magnified mistake (see our pervious post), could start in collaboration with Enschede Textielstad.

Creating new yarns (to use for weaving/knitting) from recycled post-consumer textile waste is a challenge, because the shorter fibers in recycled yarn, it gives a weaker yarn. Thus, has to be combined with virgin material. The aim is to have an as high as possible percentage recycled fibers while maintaining an excellent quality. We’d like to thank Annemieke at Enschede Textielstad for the collaboration in creating the main textile for this piece.

After the weaving of the textile some alternations took place to improve the transition in the middle line and the seams.

The hem for the skirt was made from handmade ‘tweed’ textile which is a signature technique we apply in many of our pieces.

And after the placement tests, seam allowances were reinforced with silk organza, stitching together the middle part with the gradient and making the tweed hemline, the elastic waistband was placed and the final result of the skirt was there.

There’s also a felt material made from shredded post-consumer textile waste. The bird/fish panel in the top of the outfit is made from this. It’s inspired by M.C. Escher’s drawings of matching fish and birds that are actually symmetric and repeating, leaving no gaps in between. These animals that we often see in the news as the innocent victims of our industry and consumer behavior.

With modern laser cutting technology it’s possible to cut any complex shape, so we’ve used this to cut the pieces in leaving no space in between to go to waste in this process. Later in the process the felt panels were attached to the top; birds flying out on the front and fish scattered on the back of the final piece.

The main parts of the top are cut out of a double layer of 100% silk georgette, having the fold at the hem, so no other hem finish is needed. The sleeve is a semi-raglan sleeve with an extra seam on the shoulder, for a more pointed shape. We’ve decided to knit the collar with a blue and black gradient and then attached it to the neckline.

After all these steps a timeless, creative and artistic piece was born. To see the final piece, check our next post, or visit the exhibit Sustainable Thinking at the Museum Salvatore Ferragamo of course!