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This airy long-sleeve shirt is made from a cotton and silk blend gauze handwoven at our training program workshop in Dimen village. The silk was raised in the homes of nearby villagers, and the naturally organic cotton was grown locally.

Due to the delicate fine thread and gentle touch required to maintain its lightweight hand, it will take an entire day to weave 3 meters of narrow-width fabric (40 cm wide). It took seven days to weave enough fabric for one shirt.  The fabric was then boiled in water and washed with a mineral finish to gives a dry feel — that also happens to be naturally mosquito-repellant.

The villagers usually produce durable fabrics, so it is unusual for them to produce such fine and lightweight silk blends. Being able to control every stop of the fabric-weaving process enabled us to experiment with fiber blends like this and create new modern qualities.

These cinched-waist wide-legged pants is made from silk hand-woven by Miao grandmothers in eastern Guizhou. The time-consuming process of weaving silk threads on a hand-loom is now only found in the province’s most remote villages. Their silk worms are raised during the months of April to June, when they can be fed the fresh leaves of the local mulberry trees.

The entire process is done inside each family’s home: raising silk worms, spinning the thread, weaving on the handloom, and finishing the fabric in boiled water. The silk thread is so fine that only 10 centimeters of narrow-width fabric (38 cm wide) can be woven in one day. It took five weeks just to weave enough fabric for this pair of pants.

The whiten the fabric, it was placed in the sun to dry. (Horse dung was traditionally used to bleach fabrics, but we passed on that option.) Then, it was washed with a mineral powder that gives a dry feel and naturally repels mosquitos.

This delicate cross-stitch panel features flower, grain, and water iconography that are used as story-telling tools to pass-down the oral history of their people. The hand-embroidery took one week to complete.

IMG_0004 thumbAbove look credits:   Sunny Lee (photographer), Yi Guo (stylist)

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