Image source, Homegrown Homespun Image caption, Fashion designer Patrick Grant helped lead the project to grow flax in Blackburn and turn it into flax
In April, a team of around 30 volunteers started working on a big plan: to grow their own clothes.
On an unused plot of land in the Lancashire Town of Blackburn, they planted the seeds of two crops - the linen and pastel.
Fast forward to startAugust and they harvested the little field next to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Flax has since been broken, scutched, combed, spun and woven to create the linen fabric.
During this time, the pastel sheets were heated and then cooled in l 'water to create a natural indigo dye to color the linen blue.
Image source, Homegrown Homespun Image caption, Flax was harvested in August
This Saturday, some of the linen will be on display at the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery.
This takes place as part of UK Fabric and other production's British Textile Biennial 2021, which will be held at 13 locations across eastern Lancashire.
Linen and pastel were grown and made into linen and dye by a fashion collaboration called Homegrown Homespun.
This compromises the clothing community, a fashion business and a social business that manufacturesthat all of its manufacture in the United Kingdom; North West England Fibreshed, an association of textile professionals; and The Super Slow Way, the organizers of the aforementioned textile festival.
Blackburn, Manchester, and Lancashire in general were once at the center of global textile manufacturing. But after World War II, the industry experienced a sharp decline as production shifted overseas to countries with cheaper manufacturing facilities.
Image source, Kirsty McDougall Image caption, Part of the first cloth of Homegrown Homespun, pictured, will be made into overalls this weekend
Homegrown Homespun is hoping to help revamp the Blackburn textile industry, producing linen clothing locally - from the culture from flax to clothing.
"The idea with Homegrown Homespun is to rebuild the entire supply chain " says Patrick Grant, fashion designer and founder of Community Clothing, who is also a judge on the longtime Hfrance.fr TV show Great British Sewing Bee.
"In this country we were completelyself-sufficient in clothing. Most of the clothing was made of linen or wool, and linen was cultivated throughout the UK. "In fact, in the 16th century, the law required every landowner to devote part of his land to the cultivation of flax.
Flax is sometimes called "the forgotten culture of the Great -Brittany". He is considered to have d 'first cultivated in the British Isles for the production of flax in the Bronze Age - some 4000 years ago.
In the 18th century, around 50 million meters of flax were produced in the UK, but in the 19th century it was replaced by imported cotton and flax production plummeted.
Flax is still grown commercially in the UK to produce seeds flaxseed, which you can eat, and linseed oil, which is used as a wood treatment and in paint. However, flax n 'has not been commercially cultivated for the fiber of the plant since the 1950s.
"We want to see if it is possible to rebuild the UK flax and flax industry " , says Grant.
"So we can have locally grown fiber in our clothes for the first time in a long time. We want to demonstrate that flax can be sustainably grown, for flax, in the UK. "
Image source, Image caption, Flax plants have blue flowers
Justine Aldersey-Williams, founder of North West England Fibreshed, says flax is a good crop to grow in the UK because it's so hardy - it doesn't require watering, pesticides or fertilizer.
The only downside, she says, is that harvesting and processing into flax is labor intensive, making it more expensive than imported cotton.
"There are no mechanized flax processing facilities in the Kingdom "United, so we learn from our pre-industrial ancestors and do it all by hand," she said.
Despite this handmade scale at the present time, adds Mr. Grant: " More and more conSummers buy flax because of its environmental benefits. They know it's good for the planet. "
T his contrasts with global cotton production, which the World Wildlife Fund describes as " ecologically unsustainable ".
Cultivate more linen in the UK to make linen garments made in the UK would also reduce carbon emissions and the costs of shipping and transporting finished fabrics and garments within the country.
There is one fabric for clothing that the UK has no shortage of - sheep's wool.
Babs Behan runs the Bristol Cloth Project, which sells scarves, fabrics and yarns knitting bags made from wool sourced from farms within 15 miles of town She and her team color the wool with dyes made from locally picked plants.
Image source, Kasia Kiliszek Image caption, Bristol Cloth Project uses local wool to make its scarves, pictured here worn by a model
"It 'ssimple, "she said. " We have to do less, do it right, and make it last. We need to make sure that the things we bring into our lives - and our wardrobes - are enjoyed, cared for, and returned to the ground as food, not poison. "
Oxfordshire-based fashion designer Justine Tabak also uses a lot of British wool, especially Yorkshire sheep, in her eponymous clothing business.
Additionally , she buys Irish-made linen, cotton lace woven in Nottingham, and also uses "dead fabric " - discarded roll ends from other manufacturers and designers.
“This partly helps to limit overconsumption, ” she says. “My clothes don't come cheap, but I know my customers wear them over and over again for many years, which means the price per garment is low. "
Image source, Justine Tabak Image caption, Designer Justine Tabak and her daughter Daisy model clothes she made from fabric that may otherwise have gone to waste
Almost half of UK consumersnow consciously buy local products to try to be more sustainable, a report from the Deloitte accounting group found earlier this year.
This matches what Kate Hills saw in her home from the Made It British organization, which promotes British brands and helping companies get their products made in the UK.
"The majority of our members had their best year in 2020 [despite the pandemic] " she said. "People were looking for something that wasn 't made in China.
" [And] when you fly products all over the world, you make a big carbon footprint. "
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Returning to Blackburn, Homegrown Homespun aims to transition to commercial production by 2023.
This year they have harvested enough flax to make flax samples, but Mr. Grant says there ishas plenty of other abandoned land in Blackburn that they plan to plant.
"We want to create and maintain jobs in areas [like Blackburn] that really need them ", he said. "[And] we want to show that there is a better way to produce clothes.