Grow a Garment was a project we ran (and continue to run in reduced form) in 2014-15. After a few years of experimenting with flax growing our idea was to try to grow, process, design and make a garment in London, something that hadn’t been done for well over a century. We collaborated with Seeds of Fashion, a project run by Zoe Burt.
We got community gardens, schools, individuals, the London College of Fashion (LCF) and a city farm to sow and harvest flax, the plant that becomes linen. After the harvest, we organised community, college and school workshops to process the flax (involving ancient methods such as retting, rippling, breaking, heckling and spinning). We finally handed over the thread we’d produced to the LCF knitting technicians in January 2015, who turned it into a jumper.
In all we reckon about 500 people took part in making the garment and we think that the stripy variations in the lengths of thread made by different groups reflect the number and diversity of the people involved – as well as representing all the threads that bind us. The top is currently in a textiles exhibition at the Hackney Museum.
We continue with our community flax growing and processing and run community string-making workshops.
In 2017 we’ll be collaborating with the Chelsea Physic Garden and their ‘Weaves and Leaves’ year of growing fibres – including flax, of course.
Send us an email to request information about or help with growing your own thread. We can send you seeds and instructions – and when it comes to processing we can help with that, too.