There is a delightful variety of hand woven fabrics created in different corners of the world. The more researching and exploring I do, the more I realize how much more exploration is begging to be done. For a creative colour and pattern-lover like myself, hand-woven fabrics have provided me with a wealth of creative inspiration for designing classic, modern wearables. The fabric comes first, the designs come later. No doubt we will expand our range of hand woven fabrics as I do more exploration of the different corners of my favourite regions, however our first series of skirts and dressers are designed in cotton and silk fabrics from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Uzbekistan and Guatemala. I also have a collection of fabrics for our next series already, some of which I am still figuring out designs and colour combinations for them to look their best.
Indian cotton kalamkari
Indian hand-woven and hand-printed kalamkari cotton fabric is generally available in a range of neutral to subtily bold colours, with patterns comprising of entertwined flowers and leaves flowing across the material. I just love the intricate patterns and muted colours of this style of fabric, and it is divinely soft to touch. The dyes used in our kalamkari fabrics are all natural, and I have chosen a range of bolder and more neutral colour combinations for our designs. We have a number of simple summer dresses, and fun casual skirts in our first åcollection.
Indian hand woven cotton kalamkari print fabric
Indian silk dupioni
Indian hand-woven silk dupioni fabrics comes in a gorgeous kaleidoscope of colours, some of which are iridescent and Bollywood bright, while others elegantly vibrant, or classically neutral. The colours chosen for our first series are my absolutely favourite colours from my source’s selection and are elegantly vibrant. Handwoven silk dupioni has a more textured weave than factory-made dupioni, giving it much more personality. Silk dupioni is most frequently used in very formal wear such as wedding gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses, however it’s a shame for such gorgeous fabric to be hidden in cupboards except for just a few special occasions each year. My intention is to design smart-casual to semi-formal dresses and skirts to enable silk dupioni to get out and be appreciated more often. I have also used Indian dupioni as waist-bands and trim for our Uzbekistan ikat skirt collection, to add some complementary colour-pop to these designs. Silk dupioni can be gently hand washed, and takes on a softer, less stiffly-formal drape and appearance.
Indian hand woven silk dupioni skirt
Cambodian hoi silk
Cambodian hoi silk is dyed and woven in the ikat style, and is commonly used for traditional long skirts for very formal occasions. This is a finely woven, heavier silk fabric, and can be found in a wide variety of colours and patterns of varying intricacy. I have chosen fabrics with bigger, bolder patterns for skirts, so that they can be seen and appreciated from a distance! This fabric is simply divine, and will certainly be on my list to collect each time I visit this region.
Cambodian hoi silk in many stunning colours of our Cambodian hoi silk tango skirt collection
Cambodian fine silk
Cambodian fine silk is a taffeta-like fabric that is light weight and a little stiff. It can be found as very thin, and slightly thicker fabric and is also commonly used for scarves. On my first visit to Cambodia in 2004, the range of colours this fabric was available in was mind-blowing. My intention was to purchase just a few pieces in pretty colours for dresses and pants, and I had to come back a day later after being blown away by the colour choice on my first to the fabric shops. However nowadays there are much fewer colours to choose from, perhaps the demand is less? In our first series, I have designed a lovely fitted crumple dresses in brown and emerald green from the thicker silk, and a lovely full, knee-length formal skirt in sage green from the thinner Cambodian fine silk. This fabric too is going to be a constant in our collection, I just need to think of lots more fun designs!
Woodland Fairy Cambodian fine silk skirt
Vietnamese silk brocade
Vietnamese silk brocade is simply divine, and I’ve never found it outside of the country, or even outside of the region it is from. This fabric is nothing like the stiff, thick Indian brocade silk. There are basically two variations, one is super soft, billowy and somewhat fragile, and the other is a little thicker, less billowy and a little stronger. The colours are generally two-toned, either contrasting such as black and red, or complementary such as slightly different shades of the same colour. I’ve used the super soft Vietnamese silk brocade from my collection in our first series, and designed three different cocktail dresses in antique rose, sage, and a gorgeous dark red. All three fabrics are from a business that employs and trains disabled locals in skills compatible with their physical abilities, including weaving, metalworking, waitressing, shop assisting and pottery making.
Vietnamese silk brocade used for our Red Lantern, Mystic Sage and Antique Rose cocktail dresses
Thai hand dyed fine silk
Thailand has an absolute wealth of weaving traditions, however I have only used one style of fabric in our first series. Many more will follow, I have some very different Thai fabric in my collection ready to go for our next series. I discovered some absolutely gorgeous, super-light weight hand woven and hand-dyed patterned silk on my travels, and thought it would be just perfect for super-light weight summer dresses. The fabric is sourced from a small family business run by two sisters. These are our Secret Garden silk dresses, in a range of different colours. I didn’t purchase very much fabric on my last trip, however this was a trial run to see if the fabric was suitable for my dress design.
Thai hand woven, hand dyed fine silk – Secret Garden Dress
Uzbekistan silk and cotton ikat
Absolutely stunning ikat fabric is made by Uzbekistan weavers, which once discovered absolutely had to be included in our collection! The fabric is commonly very narrow, so the challenge is to use the fabrics for garments that suit narrow fabrics, with bold patterns. Uzbek ikat is found in a range of cotton, cotton/silk, and pure silk combinations, in a broad range of colours. Colours range from subtle and neutral to crazy-bold, and are so fun to figure out how to best design garments from. In our first series we have a number of skirts available, in different prints and in three different designs.
Uzbekistan silk/cotton ikat fabric used in our Uzbek ikat skirt collection
Guatemalan hand woven stripy cotton fabrics
Guatemala is in one of my absolutely favourite regions (Central America), where the weaving tradition appears to be flourishing. Weaving villages create cotton fabrics in a variety of weights, from canvas-thick to super-light and summery. For our first series, I have selected a range of mid-weight finely-woven cottons in mostly bold colour combinations for simple 1960’s style skirts and dresses. Watch this space, there will be many more designs to come in different styles of fabrics from this region, the colours, and travel memories make me so happy!
Guatemalan hand woven stripy cotton fabrics used in our Guatemalan skirt and dress collection
The colours of fabrics in our first series inspired my choice of photo shoot locations, being the tropical forests of far north Queensland, and the red sandy Simpson Desert literally in the center of Australia. I’m soul-happiest living in a place where I wake up to a wilderness environment. My loved ones are discovering that the longer I am cooped up with wings clipped due to excessive commitments in a big city, the further I…
Last November I travelled to Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand on a mission to collect fabrics for my Monsoon Rags designs. First I went to Hoi An in Vietnam to find some gorgeous silk brocade made by weavers at a favourite ethical business that employs and trains people with physical disabilities, then I visited Phnom Penh in Cambodia to source hoi silk, fine silk, raw silk and scarves, and finally I headed to…