Sunday, 31 July 2011

Giant Celtic Dress

A bunch of you have been asking me if I've finished the Nuno Felted garment I made at Pam De Groot's masterclass in Dingle...Would you believe the answer is still 'not yet!' I'm chomping at the bit to finish it, but am short on time. In the meantime, here's a sneak preview. Do bear in mind that it's in the pre-felt stage, and based on about 40% shrinkage hereafter. The story so far...

Using the finest materials of pure silk and wool, practically everything started out white...and our first day was spent in the dye kitchen, concocting and dipping, binding and clamping. All new to me. It harks back to the tie-dyeing of the 70's, but has evolved into the more sophisticated 'Shibori' techniques. In an earlier post I pondered our weird and wonderful materials list for the workshop, well, mystery unveiled, these were all objects for use in resist dyeing. I'm more of a wooden clothes pegs and conkers kind of girl, though I did also use mini Cd's to create the effect you see above in the green silk line-drying. Love it! We ducked in and out to the clothes line, between showers. A great bunch of women to create amongst, with a warm-hearted trading of materials and ideas.

Our second day was spent making sheets of pre-felt. To cut these up and re assemble them with hand stitching, in the spirit of Pam's mosaic felting technique
seemed a novel idea to me. It would have been lovely to get into that therapeutic space of sewing carefully but alas, speed stitching was the order of the day ; ) I used different threads in different places, Pam saying it could be removed afterwards or not. I've come to love the folk art style of visible stitching so I plan to leave mine. Pam's pieces of wearable art that she brought to share with students were absolutely awe-inspiring. I was especially struck by the natural dyeing she'd done using her native eucalyptus. She hails from Austrailia and was teaching feltmakers dotted around Europe for six weeks. We were honoured indeed. All thanks to Sharon of Handmade Sessions.
Somehow we managed to burn the midnight oil despite minimal sleep, as the youth at our hostel partied into the wee hours, and beyond! I felt as though I was making a patchwork dress for some celtic giantess. Difficult to imagine how a couple of days hard labour will transform it into a tunic that fits...but every now and then whilst stitching, I got glimpses of a dream-like garment one could float around the landscape in : )

And now the work of felting begins. And if I wasn't daunted before, I sure am now! But I will be back, hopefully wearing this.

Thank you for reading, and thanks to my dear Aunt Marth for taking these later photos. Can I say how lovely it was to have a visitor who was so genuinely interested in the work, who wanted to savour every detail and as you can see, she did : )


  1. Wow, I just know it's going to be utterly splendid Mia. The colours are fabulous, I wish I'd been able to come, I've always wanted to have a go at dying. (Is that right?) You will look stunning in it too.

  2. Can't wait to see it done!!! ;) x

  3. Thanks lassies, hopefully we'll get a chance to do some Shibori dyeing together at the Woolly Gatherings next year x

  4. this is already incredibly beautiful ! what a tapestry of a dress

  5. Sooooo your colors and style! Looks fab....can't wait to see it on the catwalk! Franci