In January, I decided to enter the 2015 International Design and Make Challenge for Cambrian Mountains Wool, a challenge to design a product (either garments, accessories, furniture, art... anything really), made with their lovely Welsh wool, with sustainability and quality at the heart of it. I designed a crochet bomber jacket, and was selected from "an exceptionally high calibre of applications as one of the items to be made and showcased". As part of this process, I have been asked to write a bit about my making process, so here goes....
The Design Process and Fabric Development
All my projects start with design and fabric development. The drawing and creation of fabrics go hand-in-hand - each informs the other and this helps me develop the design idea. Then tension trials find the balance between getting a good handle and ensuring that the garment won’t pill too quickly or stretch too much.
Next, I plan and size the garment to create the technical outline. For this jacket, I wanted to make the most of the crochet, and this meant letting it dictate the length and shaping as much as possible.
Crocheting a Jacket
The first step in making the jacket was the crochet. I joined the crocheted motifs as I made them, so the shaping took place at the same time. The sleeves were the most complex - it was a case of trial and error, making and re-doing! I fitted and adjusted the jacket on a mannequin and myself at each stage (one of my favourite parts!).
I hand-knitted all the trims directly into the crochet to make the jacket as seamless as possible. Then the back of the zip was covered with strapping knitted on my V-bed machine, as a finer gauge was needed in order to avoid it being too bulky.
Finishing Processes for a Hand Made Jacket
After the crochet and knitting was finished and all the ends sewn in, the jacket was washed and pressed. Pressing has been crucial at each stage, for working out sizing and crochet placement, and after the wash to finish.
Lastly I put the zip in, and gave it a final press!
This has been an exciting project for me, and a slightly daunting one as it is the first time I have created one of my own designs for Collingwood-Norris. A lot of love has gone into this, and as a result I would now like to focus on creating a small collection of high quality, environmentally friendly knitwear that is ethically made in Scotland. Surely nothing could be so luxurious! So watch this space...
All the designs for the challenge will be exhibited at a number of locations over the next few months, and with such a huge range of ideas, they really show the wonderful possibilities of wool. I can't wait to see them all in person!