What do you do with your empty seed sacks? Chantelle Reilly turned heads with hers. She made this stunning Flamenco dress out of three Luisetti seed sacks and fabric scraps from her Fabric Technology classroom. And best of all? The dress is completely functional! Chantelle enjoys Spanish dancing classes and has performed in her Luisetti dress.
“I’m most proud of the fact it’s a functional garment that creates a conversation around how we can be more sustainable,” said Chantelle.
She’s passionate about sustainability, and has used sacking for fashion before. In fact, in addition to Westlake Girls’ Technology Cup, Chantelle won an award at the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards last year with a 3-piece suit made from coffee sacks!
Chantelle’s Flamenco dress was inspired by her 6-month exchange in Spain last year. She wanted to bring the peace, tranquillity and welcome she felt into the colour palette, and focussed on white, blue and yellow instead of the traditional aggressive red. Chantelle also wanted to tie this Spanish-inspired dress to New Zealand, and turned to the material to create that link. She was looking for durable, reusable products, that had longevity… so she approached her teacher about giving some sacks a new lease on life. Luckily her teacher is Kate Luisetti, Head of the Technology Department at Westlake Girl’s High School in Auckland and Edward and Vincent’s sister! She soon hooked her up with some Luisetti sacks for her project.
“Chantelle is incredibly proactive,” said Kate, “but also highly skilled and creative. What’s impressive is her use of unconventional materials – she has to problem solve.”
There were plenty of challenges to overcome in the making of the dress. Chantelle had to create the pattern from scratch, and the stiffness of the polypropylene sacking meant she couldn’t heatpress the seams. She used a more traditional method instead – weight! Chantelle also had to hand-sew several elements of the dress.
“The biggest challenge was the amount the fabric frayed. I had to make sure every edge was overlocked and sewn to a high standard,” Chantelle said.
The dress will be graded as her Scholarship project, where it will be judged on looks, purpose, how it will be used, and how ethically it has been produced. Chantelle is also looking forward to wearing it in her next dance performance.
“If I did it again,” said Chantelle, “I’d like to make a matching men’s garment. We can wear them on stage together!”