Growing Fabric in my Kitchen

After watching The Next Black – A film about the Future of Clothing and hearing Suzanne Lee talking about the process of growing a fabric with the help of yeast and bacteria I decided that I must try it myself.

I did some research and found out that the Kombucha culture which is used to grow fabric has endless possibilities – from brewing tea to making a snack. It is definitely worth investment  because it is renewable and once you obtained a scoby it can be reused many times.

The Kombucha mother culture scoby arrived today. I had all required ingredients (tea, water, sugar) so I placed the scoby in tea straight away after reading instructions.

Kombucha scoby in black tea

I am now planning to brew tea for a couple weeks until a new baby culture will develop and then separate them – just in case if something would go wrong, and then start experimenting with different shape containers, moulds and colorants.

Kombucha mats that grow and fill shape of the container need to be taken out and dried – the product then can be used to sew just like a fabric. Other way is to lay them slightly overlapping on an item that has desired shape and leave to dry – this way garment will have shape without any seams.

I believe that with further development of this technique and the culture itself it would open opportunities for quite extreme level of clothing customization.

One of the drawbacks of this material is that it is not water-resistant which means that it can not be used for everyday clothing. I will look for ways to make a water-proof coating or using this fabric for items that do not come into contact with water.

I will update in a couple of weeks on how my Kombucha culture is growing.

Suzanne Lee talking about growing clothes at Ted Talk


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