I collaborate on projects that tell stories of connection, origin and resilience so that we can begin to mend ourselves, our communities and the earth.
#1year1outfit 2016 Final Projects

Roll up, roll up it is time to get your #1year1outfit endeavours together and show us what you have got!   Leave a comment on this very blog post with a link to your projects so I can compile a visual feast for us all.  Partial completions and progress reports are very, very welcome. Closing date for this round will be March 15.

I am going to leave the project open and running with the same rules for 2017 and will do a final round up in December 2017 for anyone that missed this deadline.   I am going to keep pottering along in 2017 with a couple of items that I didn’t get to in 2016.

Thank you for your understanding and patience over the last few months.  You will be pleased to know that I am feeling healthy and recharged again thanks to the break.

xx  Nicki

The Cloth Hugger 

Welcome to the first edition of The Cloth Hugger. A hug of eco-dressmaking tidbits.


To Inspire..

..if you missed the Refashioners series you must check out the drool worth results of this year’s jeans refashion challenge.

..Slow fashion October led to lots of interesting conversations, like this one.

..if you find it hard to envision a modern dressmakers use of felt, here’s some wool felt inspiration

..hand woven artistry in a jacket

..the king of visible mending does a mighty fine job of invisible mending 


To use..

.. Zero Waste Fashion Design – New book by Holly McQuillan and zero waste patterns available on the download section of her site.

..Wool and the gang – the release of this recycled denim yarn really excited me as a promise of the new kind of products we may soon see

..Great Ocean Road Mill – are promising an all Australian Yarn in the coming months

..Natural Color – New book by Sasha Duerr

..Botanical Colour at your Fingertips- New book by Rebecca Desnos

To skill up..

..I have been researching the idea of painting with natural dyes and found this article on painting with indigo, something I thought was impossible.

..If you are interested at trying your hand at weaving, the Saori technique is such a accessible way to give it a go.

..Upcoming courses in Victoria in indigo dyeing, weaving, spinningfeltingCouture sewing 


To Read..

Interest in traditional permaculture for textiles and dyes led me to read The Oldest Foods on Earth and Dark Emu, two books that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in Aboriginal heritage and sophisticated permaculture techniques honed over tens of thousands of years.

To app..

Two apps for those that like some numbers behind their decision making:

..Making – designed by Nike (I know!) This app lets you compare the environmental impact of major textile types.  Definitely worth a poke around.  Only on  iTunes

.. My EP+L – Designed by Kering using their Environmental Profit and Loss approach, this app turns the impact of design choices into a dollar value (or euros more specifically). Currently quiet limited in its options and very European focused, but still an interesting approach and one to watch. On iTunes and Google Play

Today’s photos were bought to you by my fledgling dye garden which has wattle, bottle brush, rosemary, pomegranate, and baby native indigo. 

#1year1outfit West Australian Coatigan

I’ve done it, I have a gigantic oversized West Aussie hug to see me through the winters!

1y1o 2016

This coat is West Australian sourced, spun and made.  It has travelled from Roselea the alpaca to local spinning mill, and into to my hands.  The enormity of the task of turning this beautiful fibre into a woven garment was eased by the assistance of my certificate weaving teacher, Ilka White.

1y1o 2016

Whilst exploring the weaving options available to me during the course, I decided to focus on the shapes of eucalypt blossoms given that the natural colour of Roselea and her indigo overdye reminded me so much of the beautiful hues in the bark.  Weaving operates on a grid so I first tamed the shapes into a more rectangular formation.

1y1o 20161y1o 2016

This structure is called a double deflected weave and the scale of the pattern I could achieve made it particularly attractive.  The cloth was woven on a large floor loom, and I used the entire width, milking it for all it was worth! Once off the loom, the open weave and drape of the fabric gave me pause.  I had to re-imagine my original concept of a more structured coat to suit the fabric.

1y1o 2016

The coat was hand sewn with the very same alpaca yarn and I have largely left the edges as they came off the loom, as I felt it was a more genuine approach to the piece.  The collar was supported by a piece of merino felt left over from last years project.

1y1o 2016

So there you have it, the first part of my #1year1outfit project for this year.  Entirely West Australian with the small concession of using an imported biodynamic indigo powder as a starter seed to make the organic indigo vat, with local honey and lime.

1y1o 2016

To those of you also making local garments, I hope this gives you a little extra pep to keep at it.   I hope that I have something to wear under the jacket by the end of the year, if not, I am sure I can wrap this around enough…..

Alpaca: Windella Alpaca

Spinning: Fiber of the Gods

Dyeing:  Biodynamic organic indigo vat with local honey and lime

Weaving:  Double Deflected Weave, Self woven with the assistance of Ilka White

Sewing:  Hand sewn with alpaca and felt, self drafted.

Process Posts: #1year1outfit  

Worn with:  Naturally dyed Ginger Jeans and Wenona Bike Shirt

PhotographyBaker Photography

1y1o 2016 1y1o 2016

#1year1outfit Growing a Community

Look, look!  I made cloth.  Lots and lots of cloth!

Rosalea, the West Aussie alpaca, is finally starting to look like a garment after a lazy 40  hours or so at the giant floor loom in the Guild here in Melbourne.  I will write more on the process soon, but for now wanted to take this chance to soak in the achievement.


The Fibershed project has been getting a little attention lately in Melbourne thanks to the support of the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild.   In June,  I  teamed up with Fibershed Melbourne founder Rachel Bucknell and made a presentation at the Guild to a full house.  It was such a lovely, warm evening, and I was touched by all the support we received afterwards.   It was so successful that the Guild has invited us back to talk again on Sunday on August 28.  Click here for booking details.  If you are keen to know more, or are keen to host a separate event, you can read the press release or contact us on 1year1outfit (at) gmail.com

Rachel and I are slowly working on ways to build the Melbourne Fibershed community and are keen to hear from anyone that wants to get involved.    Excitingly, we have started processing local alpaca at a mini mill, as a trial of how group processing might work in the future.  A Melbourne Fibershed garment is in the making!

I am very keen to hear how everyone else is going with their outfits so far.   If you haven’t yet,  I am asking all new and old #1year1outfit participants to sign up using our new form:

#1year1outfit Sign Up

More soon!




#1year1outfit Rosalea the Alpaca

Rosalea, little does she know it, is going to take pride of place in my local outfit this year. Rosalea is a 4 year old alpaca with  a rose grey fleece, raised by Carolyn at Windella Alapacas keeps 60 alpacas in the south west.

Before I left Perth for Melbourne (yes,we’ve made the big move back) I visited Carolyn and her alpaca’s and had a great chat about local natural textiles.   I am very keen for my outfit to be sourced from Western Australia again this year and I knew I was missing one important ingredient, something to weave.


As you can see half of Rosalea’s fleece hit the indigo dye pot.  The next step was to find someone local to prepare the yarn for weaving.  Carolyn had some great leads but I was finding that my 750g was too much for the hand spinners and too little for the micro mills (1kg is a good starting point).


I eventually found a West Australian solution but while we wait for the yummy yarn to head my way I thought I would share my findings with you to in case you too have a Rosalea, or a Toby or a Merrilee or a Alfie that you need spun : )

Australian Alpaca Processing options:

There is a comprehensive list of Alpaca processors here, the few below are options I investigated further.

Western Australia

Paca Molino, Jenny Cornwall processes to roving for $65/kg, takes small amounts

Fiber of the Gods, Hazel, process to roving for $64/kg or yarn in 3,4,5,8 ply for $90-108/kg, takes small amounts

Hand Weavers Dyers and Spinners Guild list of local spinners who may be able to help with one off projects. Prefer roving and small amounts.


Fiber Naturally – Gail Herring, this service came highly recommended and it shows in the 5-6 months wait time, $120/kg  to yarn, will take single fleeces

Cashmere Connections – visited by Rachel, larger scale processing

Wool 2 Yarn – small runs possible, need to call


Adagio Mills – newly opened, $98-100.kg, min 5 kg, rovings or yarn.


Paddock to Ply, Suzette Sayer, in set up stage, keep watch for more soon.

There was also talk that the Bendigo woollen mill and Waverley mills in Tasmania may be considering starting boutique processing again.

Who did I choose?  Well, you’ll just have to wait.

Indigo Fermentation Vats Top Tips

When we last talked Indigo I was wondering why my native indigo fermentation vat had carked it.

Since then I have been testing out a few theories and approaches in the hope that I could get a local vat recipe that was more reliable. This kind of vat is worth the effort, as it is devoid of harsh chemicals and can be disposed of safely.

I was very lucky to have the help of two very useful people in this mission, Trudi Pollard, of local natural dyeing studio Pollard Designs, and Tracey from One Thing at a Time, whose chemistry brain has been invaluable.

indigo dip day trudi

We tried the honey lime recipe on all the indigo varieties we could get our hands on:

  • French indigo powder
  • Japanese Powdered
  • Japanese slurry ryukyu
  • Dried local Japanese indigo leaves
  • Dried native indigo or indigofera australis
  • Organic powder from Kraft Kolour

Fermentation vats are no difficult to set up but do take a little patience to get right for your local area and products.  So far, the 1-2-3 ratio has not worked for me, but I have used that as a starting point for considering potential quantities.

indigo dip day trudi

Local Water Quality

Here in Perth our mains water can vary greatly in composition season to season, so to avoid this we used rainwater.  That said, even the rainwater used varied from a pH of 5 to a pH of 8 from different tanks.  The lesson here is to test your water pH first and foremost.

Sourcing Lime

If you are looking to source lime for an indigo vat, you need to find calcium hydroxide or Ca(OH)2.  Most lime products on the market are for building and may contain a combination of calcium carbonate and surfactants, neither of which you want in your vat.  Go straight to a chemical supplier and ask for the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) , and ask specifically about surfactants.

The lime I would recommend for Perth is from Lime Industries, 43 Hector St, Osborne Park. The lime putty or the envirolime will work in an indigo vat, and are wholly WA made.

Lime Solubility

Be aware that the form of your lime will lead to it reacting different in your vat.  We sourced a liquid form of lime called lime putty, and it needed a lot less lime for the same result in comparison to powder. Pellets again will be a different story.

Indigo Forms

Indigo can be fermented fresh, dried, powdered or from a slurry.  Typical recipes are for powdered indigo so do not be afraid to increase the amounts for other types of indigo accordingly.   Other forms of indigo may also need 4-10 days to ferment so allow your vat time to mature.



I chose honey as a base for my vat, which, whilst more expensive, was more predictable in behaviour.  That said, even honey can vary in pH widely depending on the location of the hive, the pollen and the time of the year.  Given this, fermented fruit may not be as bad as I thought!

Balancing the Vat

The ultimate aim is to balance the vat using your honey and lime to get to a pH of between 9-11.  Depending on your starting pH and what you are adding in, your quantities can vary widely.  So my number one piece of advice is to take it slow, and test at each stage.  I think stopping when the pH reaches 9 and waiting half an hour is a good approach too.

Fold in the Egg Whites

Tracey suggests that you use a method similar to folding batter into egg whites when adding the lime.  Take a little out of the vat, dilute the lime mixture, slowly add it back in.

Start out Small

Making a small trial vat wont hurt anyone, and if you get it right, you can add it to a large vat later.  Because, after all, indigo is liquid gold.

indigo dip day trudi

If you have never used indigo, I hope the pretty pictures entice you a little!

Has anyone else got any top tips for making a fermentation vat? Did you have similar problems pop up or widely different?

#1year1outfit 2015 Europe Finale

Have you been inspired by all the local garments so far? If not, I’ll leave you with these tantalising tidbits from Europe!

I believe that all the European participants were surprised, firstly, at how difficult it was to find locally made textiles.  And secondly, with a bit of persistence and digging, at the diversity of niche local textiles available.  Charlotte is constantly adding to her fantastic list of resources here:

Some of the must read posts:


The wonderfully local completed garments so far:

Charlotte from English Girl at Home

Charlotte had started natural dyeing before she came to the project, and the diversity of her colour palette really reflects that experience.  I am absolutely in awe of the local silk that she sourced for her dress!  For Charlotte, buying local has become the norm and the full list of British garments she made can be seen here.

” Thanks to #1year1outfit, local (which in my case means British) fibres have become a real passion. The project led me to really question and explore exactly what fabrics and fibres are produced in Britain… Exploring currently available British textiles also led me to give greater consideration to the historic textile industry, both to celebrate the beautiful things produced and the skill required to produce them, but also to be aware of the conditions many of these textiles were produced under. In Britain that included child labour, serious health risks for workers, long hours for low pay, and exploitation of the Empire.”

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit


Steely Seamstress

Also from the UK, the Steely Seamstress has been giving tantalising glimpses of her almost complete outfit.   She is working on a naturally dyed silk top, linen pants complete with ceramic buttons and a tweed hacking jacket. She talks openly about all of the choices and compromises she has had to make along the way, making it a fascinating story.

Jacket on hanger

Fly shield revealed

Ute from Germany

Ute, like me, began 2015 with next to zero knitting skills.  Her commitment to mastering this skills shows in her final outfit, complete with linen dress dyed with avocado pits.

“Sourcing yarn was the easiest, learning to make my own knitting pattern and knitting such a complex piece the hardest part. I had only knit scarves and shawls before.

Sourcing all German made fabric was quite difficult. Germany used to be an important producer of linen, but there are only a few mills left and most flax comes from European neighbouring countries or even China. Hemp and nettle fabric used to be manufactured in Germany as well, but only come from China and even Tibet now. I finally found a shop that sells German organic linen and used this for my dress.”


See the Australian and NZ local outfits here, and the US outfits here.


A very humble thank you to all of those who have joined me on this journey, I look forward to the 2016 adventure!  I will also share more completed outfit stories with you throughout the year as other participants finish their outfits.

If you want to follow along and are unsure how, follow our One Year One Outfit Fibreshed Affiliate Facebook Page or follow my blog via email or WordPress by clicking the little cross at the bottom of this page.

#1year1outfit 2015 USA Finale

Next up, we have Mari, Jess, Helen and Tasha from the USA.   Thanks to the hard work of individuals like Rebecca Burgess and Natalie Chanin, the local fiber movement is gaining serious momentum in the US.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at this map of Fibershed affiliates!

The participants made great lists of local fabric suppliers, which, whilst niche, do exist:

Not all areas of the US have locally processed cotton fabric in their area, but wool and alpaca were relatively easy to come by.  There is also a flourishing natural dye industry.

Some of the must read posts from the US participants:

I proudly present the talented three that completed garments in 2015. Click the images to follow their stories in more detail.  I am very excited at the number of US participants signed up for 2016, and look forward to that number growing even more due to the hard work done by the pioneers in this area.

Mari from Gather and Grow

Following Mari’s progress this year was an honour.  I think that making from the earth is in her bones.  Mari was one of two participants that managed to both spin her fiber and then knit it within the year.  Quite the feat!  Her outfit is made from local alpaca and organic cotton, and I recommend dedicating some time to thumbing through her blog, or possibly peruse her boutique locally sourced naturally dyed yarns.


Jess from Wardrobe Ecology

Jess produced a whooping 5 handknit garments as part of the project this year.  She focused on making garments that her wardrobe needed rather than an outfit and plans to continue into 2016.  I really wish I could raid her closet and snuggle into all these gorgeous knits!

Her summary report is a great resource for those looking for US made yarns.  Jess said, “one summary post for all these projects hardly does justice to how much I love these pieces, how much I learned making them, and how knitting with local materials has deepened my connection to my local landscape and community.”




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Tasha from Stale Bread into French Toast

Tasha spoke to my heart when she passionately explained why she was joining the project mid year 2015.  Tasha printed with natural dyes to make her skirt truly original.  I look forward to seeing where she takes the project in 2016.

“So there you go, my finished project!  Since I joined the #1year1outfit challenge late, I knew I wouldn’t make a whole outfit by the end of the year, but I really wanted to see how I could integrate making more conscious choices about the new fabrics I buy with what I already do.  And in that sense I succeeded!  I’m wearing my skirt below with things I previously made from secondhand garments (this shirt and this camisole if you’re curious), a scarf woven by my grandma, and mended socks.”

1year1outfit skirt 2


Helen from Helen Trejo

Helen is from the North Carolina Fibershed, and amazing spun all of the fiber for this wonderful dress!

“This was my first time making a garment entirely out of my hand-spun yarns, and it took a lot of determination and patience. I was motivated to work on it even though it was very labor intensive (over 800 yards of yarn plus hand-knitting!) because I was able to visit the fiber farms and meet the farmers that take care of them.”


Stay tuned for the European contingent..

(If you missed the Australia and NZ post see it here.)

#1year1outfit 2015 Australia and NZ Finale

I am overwhelmed with pride of all those who took part in the challenge to make a locally sourced outfit as part of #1year1outfit in 2015.

It is difficult to adequately represent the effort and creativity required to complete each outfit in one post, and have decided to dedicate a post to each broad region  as the challenges each faced were unique.

Let’s Begin at Home – Australia and New Zealand.


The participants from Oceania, all found the same thing, wool as a raw resource, is plentiful, but processing mills that were in existence have all but shut down in recent decades in favour of overseas processing.   In addition to wool, we found small niche producers of silk, barramundi leather and alpaca.

Despite the mills of old having all but closed, there are signs that small, local, niche mills are on the rise.  These small businesses are in their infancy and need our support if they are to thrive.  My list of South West Australian suppliers is here and Rachel’s map of Victorian suppliers is here.  For New Zealand, check out Libby’s podcasts for some great interviews with local suppliers.

The challenge became about making fabric from what was available, which was either the raw wool product, roving or yarn.   Each of us used the skills of local spinners to varying degrees and made fabric by some combination of knitting, felting or weaving.  As there was no Australian local thread or notions available the next challenge was to work out how to turn that fabric into outfits sans sewing machine.

All of us posted about the challenges of this process throughout the year, and I thought it was worth highlighting some of the most interesting posts:

Without further ado, I am proud to introduce the proud owners of locally sourced and made outfits!  Much cheering!! Thank you all for joining me on this crazy journey!

Megan from Meggipeg

“After all, it’s not just an outfit, it’s the culmination of a whole process of researching, gathering materials, experimenting, learning and creating. It’s also a reminder to look at what is on your doorstep, unleash its potential and consider the environment and the mass production factories in the process.”

Sue from Fadanista

Sue’s final outfit is a lesson is ways to manipulate wool!  Sue’s outfit included 8 pieces, shoes, underwear and bag included. Sue’s commitment to the project was incredible, with her motto being, if at first you don’t suceed, try and try again.


Sue also made her husband this stunning jumper, courtesy of Molly the Alpaca.


Handmade By Carolyn

Carolyn made her entire outfit – cardigan, dress, bag, shoes and under things – from West Australian wool, alpaca and timber.   The details of this outfit are outstanding,  and I urge you to take a stroll through her blog to read all about her leanings and techniques, and to drool over the embroidered details of her dress.   In her own words “This has been one exceedingly amazing ride, has blown my mind more than any other dressmaking challenge I’ve ever done, and really pushed my creativity to the limit.”


Raquel from Margarite and Rosa

Raquel has a fledgling business in northern NSW growing dye plants and I cannot wait to see where it heads in the coming years.   Raquel made this gorgeous adult sized alpaca poncho with the help of local spinners who came to her aid when she fell ill this year.  I wish her a year full of health and flowers in 2016!



Rachel from Reduce Reuse Recycle

Rachel’s participation in this project has been invaluable. Rachel is yet to make an outfit, but has systematically and methodically been research all the aspects of textile production in her area.  As a result her blog has become a fantastic resource if you want to know anything about wool production in Australia and the processing plants that still operate in Melbourne.  She has gone on several site visits and her posts are always thought provoking.

If you live in Melbourne, you need to join her Facebook Group, Fibershed Melbourne, dedicated to finding local textile suppliers and talent in Victoria.

Libby from Truly Myrtle

Libby is a New Zealand based knitwear designer who is dedicated to using local yarns.  She designs specifically to local yarn providers, and as part of this project has designed a sweater using a Romney yarn.   She is yet to publish the final sweater, but this sneak peek has me drooling!


Nicki from This is Moonlight

And just for completion, my outfit is here too.

1y1o reveal 2015

Read on to ….

See the European local outfits here

And the US local outfits here.