Distractive Garment – felt sculptural form

Design source

This exhibition piece is an un-wearable/wearable, a simple design which imparts unexpected sensory information.


Merino wool – DHF Merino cross wool tops (eco friendly products), Ramie – a Chinese nettle (lustrous vegetable fibre – similar lustre to silk but much cheaper), viscose, cellulose fibre – soft and silky, silk strands and Mulberry silk squares, white gauze and Cellophane film.

Process and Evaluation

A simple smock design with imperfections, patches (uneven and ragged – using new materials rather than old to give an impression of repair). Cellophane film which will have retained its ability to make noise after the felting process, stitched on a muslin base.

One side will have cellophane placed against the muslin and the other will have a layer of wool between the two. The difference will be evident when explored. White and pink to represent a child’s innocence, inspired by examination of a child’s dress made 800 AD in Egypt (patched and stitched from what was initially an adult garment) – The Whitworth Gallery.

The back of the garment looks more even, although shrinkage due to felting and the cellophane has distorted it beautifully. The muslin open weave allowed the cellophane to be cut and flattened where desired. The combination of materials adds depth and lustre to what is essentially a white garment. The front has been embellished with woven patches of pink viscose, pinklambs wool darned area, and silk filament provided in a ladder stitch to add to the patched effect. By placing wool over the gauze and then adding the cellophane a more varied texture has resulted. There is contrast between the two viscose pink patches and I am pleased with the ragged effect of the larger section. The patches were initially held in place with wool and silk stitches. The silk, Ramie and viscose fibres combined with merino add interest and have felted well with the gauze. Although the front of the garment is softer the noise of the cellophane is evident. Specific patterns could be created by fixing the cellophane in place during the layout and this is worth further investigation.

The bottom edge of the garment is not as ragged as envisaged. This could have been resolved by using more wool. I have used the same technique that I would have used to create a seamless vessel. For a neater edge on the inside, the gauze/muslin could have been overlapped and stitched, but overall, the exhibition felt would work as a garment with its even thickness throughout.

This piece has achieved my aims and will be used as an exhibition piece. To make a seamless garment which can be worn, measurements need to be calculated carefully, and the way the felt is rolled is critical, as this dictates evenness and shrinkage.

Extracted from 2010 files

3 Comment

  1. Emily says: Reply

    does the name ‘distractive garment’ have any meaning or concept behind it. And what was your aim when making this piece.

    1. Hi Emily,
      This was part of my ‘Sense of Felt’ exhibition in 2010. Each piece represented a tactile understanding of sensory distortion. This beautifully soft garment had hidden textures and the back was full of florists wrap which made a crinkle noise. The benefit to the front of the garment when the wrap was pulled out it left a wonderful bubble effect. All the materials are natural.

      Is this a garment which is meant to be worn?
      How does it feel?
      Is it what was expected?
      Has it surprised, puzzled, or offended?
      Can you imagine what your life would be like if you were hyper-sensitive to your clothing? If every seam felt stiff and unyielding, the fabric felt scratchy, and you could hear every rustle.

      The design is a simple seamless vest/smock garment including merino wool, DHF merino cross wool tops, ramie – a lustrous vegetable fibre – similar lustre to silk but much cheaper, viscose, cellulose fibre, silk strands and Mulberry silk squares, white gauze and cellophane film.

      I hope this is helpful,
      Regards, Moira

    2. Hi Emily
      Sorry for the delay in replying.
      The Distractive Garment was part of the Sense of Felt exhibition and was about using our sense of touch. This enabled visitors to understand how someone with a sensory deficit had a different way of experiencing the world around them. Inside the layers of wool was viscose wrap, this meant that the garment was not as soft as expected in some places and had a crinkle sound effect. The back of the garment on the inside also had a layer of wool missing so that an inner layer of muslin could be felt. The Onerous wrap had a rubber and metal inner over the shoulders and a rough inner section at the front. This meant the garment was heavier than expected and scratchy at the front. Overall this was wonderfully soft and silky otherwise.
      Hope this helps. Cheers, Moira

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