My idea of making a living dress leaves me with lots of questions to answer – my mindmap asked the questions, hopefully sampling will answer them …
My key questions are:
- How do I weave a waterproof fabric (or at least a fabric that copes with being watered along with the plants …)?
- How will I encourage living plants to grow in/on a dress?
- What should I grow on/in my dress?
How do I weave a waterproof/water-tolerant fabric?
Making a fabric waterproof is all about reducing the size of the gaps between the woven threads until they are too small to let water droplets through. Waterproof fabrics are traditionally stiff both because of their dense/tight weave and the addition of a waterproof coating e.g. rubber, wax, or nowadays PVC.
I want the fabric of the dress to directly relate to my concept, a dystopian world 50 years in the future where plants are precious. If plants are precious then natural yarns would also be precious (plant fibre or fibres from animals fed on plants). It is more likely that yarns would be scavenged/recycled – what about weaving with yarn made from plastic bags? This gives rise to more questions: which type of plastic bags would weave best? How thick should I make my yarn? Would heat pressing the fabric make it waterproof? What yarn should I use for the warp?
I chose a plastic raffia for the warp, made some yarn and started weaving samples.
How will I encourage living plants to grow in/on a dress?
Options I am considering are pockets or rows of plants – rows are more easy to weave into fabric using a double cloth structure. I have found gardening tubing that I can fit into the woven tubes.
What should I grow on/in my dress?
I love the idea of using Mexican Flea Bane but it is slow and tricky to grow. I need a plant that is quick and easy to grow – remembering primary school cress-heads, I investigated and found the world of microgreens.
Microgreens are ‘the shoots of salad vegetables such as rocket, celery, beetroot, etc., picked just after the first leaves have developed’ (Google definition). Microgreens are super-nutritous proportionally containing more nutrients than the full grown plants, grow in high density and are ready to harvest in 2 to 4 weeks. I bought a few packets of different seeds and tested them out for growth rates and their looks.