Natural Dyeing and Flax Processing Workshop

30 November 2022

Students from across the Fashion Design section participated in a workshop with freelance Garment Technologist Kirsteen McGregor.

On Wednesday 23 November, Manchester Fashion Institute hosted a Natural Dyeing and Flax Processing workshop. The workshop was organised to promote the aspect of natural dyeing on textiles. Students from across BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Technology, BA (Hons) Fashion, and MA Fashion Design and Technology joined the workshop.

Kirsteen McGregor, freelance Garment Technology and advocate of natural dyeing delivered two workshops. Kirsteen has vast experience in natural dyeing and the promotion of sustainable methods to colour textiles.

Each session was split into two parts: Natural Dyeing Textiles and Homegrown/Homespun project.

Natural Dyeing Textiles

Historically, the dyeing of textiles used natural sources to colour textiles. From food to plant-based products, these were the source of inspiration. However, the introduction of chemical-based dyes was the cheaper option to colour textiles due to the production of rich colours and colourfastness.
Through the workshop, students were made aware of the need to change their design practice and think more sustainably. The workshop introduced the students to natural dyes and their comparison to synthetic dyes.

Students understood how to prepare the fabric, mordanting and dye processes through practical activities. During the practical session, students were able to prepare textile samples to be dyed. The dyes on offer were Turmeric and red cabbage. Samples were scrunched, folded, swirled, secured with elastic bands, and placed in a bath of colourants for an hour. This technique is known as resist dyeing. After an hour, the students were able to undo their materials to see the effects.

Homegrown Homespun Project

Students were also introduced to a project called ‘Homegrown Homespun’ developing a regenerative textile system in Northwest England.

The Homegrown Homespun project is a collaboration between Justine Aldersey-Williams of The Wild Dyery and Northwest England Fibreshed (NWEF), designer and judge on the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, Patrick Grant, also of social enterprise Community Clothing and arts commissioning organisation, The Super Slow Way who run the British Textile Biennial. It is supported by a team of local volunteers.

The idea was initiated when Justine founded the NWEF in March 2020. To raise awareness of the Fibershed organisation and regenerative textiles, she suggested a collaboration to her friend Patrick (a well-known advocate of sustainable British fashion) just a few hundred yards from where the project was subsequently to take root.

Find out more here

This part of the workshop allowed students to extract flax fibre through traditional methods.
Both workshops were a fantastic opportunity for students to learn new techniques, helping to enhance their creative portfolio work.

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