Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Knitwear Patchworks

I was really intrigued by this Interview with Katherine Soucie of Sans Soucie. The designer uses hosiery discarded by department stores and textile factories as a "raw material" for clothing. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

Many department stores end up with bags of unsellable opened packages of nylon hosiery which they either toss away or try to donate to non-profit organizations, or if they're lucky someone will take them off their hands. But who would do that and why would they?

Back in 2002, while in the Textile Arts Program at Capilano College in North Vancouver, BC, Katherine Soucie was working on a project learning screen printing, "we were supposed to apply different printing processes and surface design techniques. At that point in time I was really into finding and working with materials that were discarded in the [textile] industry and that no one else was printing on," says Soucie. That led her to experiment with nylon hosiery to re-invent a strong and long-lasting material which was the beginning of her popular Polymer Series. This project won her two scholarships which allowed her to launch her business "Sans Soucie," French for 'without a care.'

Imagine pantyhose transformed into snag-free and long lasting form-fitting tops, skirts, and dresses. Soucie has achieved this by dyeing, cutting, and silk-screening regular grade nylon hosiery. Soucie's hosiery garments are machine washable, more abrasion-resistant and less likely to ruin or run.

You can see some of her knitwear designs at the San Soucie Etsy shop. Even when I was young and skinny, these dresses and blouses wouldn't have suited me, but I'm fascinated by the way she puts seams where seams "don't belong" on knitwear. Imagine nylon stocking tubes cut flat, then seamed together. Cut out garments from the resulting flat fabric using the seams as design elements. It shouldn't work, but the garments appear very wearable.

I've been saving knit fabric scraps for years hoping there was something useful to be done with them. I think I will "create" some knit patchwork fabric and see what I can do with it. A small project, such as underwear, seems feasible.

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