Creative Craft Challenge: DIY Vintage Biba
Our latest collection offers the opportunity to get crafting. We challenge you to make something original, from a selection of vintage textiles with a unique story.
This DIY Vintage Biba collection combines vintage provenance and sustainable style. The pieces of fabric are also something of a curiosity. They previously belonged to Carol Jones (above), an avid fan of Biba and collector of the brand’s pieces from its Kensington Church Street days and - in various incarnations - until the early 2000s.
A mystery surrounds why so many of her items of Biba clothing were unpicked, and the labels removed. We believe the clothes were deconstructed because they no longer fitted Carol, and she intended to alter them or re-make in a larger size, but never got around to it.
The fabrics date from the late 1960s and early 1970s, and some are identifiable from photographs or past exhibitions - like the psychedelic cloud printed heavy cotton twill (below), and the vibrantly coloured animal style print (above).
Some garments are also more complete than others. There’s a striped jersey suit where the top is almost intact, minus just one button, but the skirt has been taken apart.
And a typically Biba-shaped dress, with puffy, padded shoulders and trademark skinny sleeves, which has had the collar removed. The geometric design textile in question can be seen in photographs of Big Biba – but as an upholstery fabric on the sofas, and as a carpet. We know there is a velour version of this print, but the dress is made in a soft cotton mix, rather like brushed Viyella.
We wondered what we could do with the fabrics. Should we fashion them into a quilt? Or try to patch together the original garments? In some cases, small pieces of material are missing, so this may not be possible. Finally, we decided to sell these iconic vintage Biba textiles as DIY kits.
Once you have purchased your fabric, you can be as curiously creative as you like. You may wish to attempt to remake the original item, or create something totally new by upcycling the fabric into a tote bag, a cushion, or a children’s toy. This is a great opportunity to not only invest in a piece of fashion history, but to also recycle the past through contemporary handicraft.
Each textile bundle will also be supplied with a vintage Biba label. We have carried out extensive research, but are still not precisely sure of the exact dates of all of the fabrics. As the label is not 100% guaranteed to correspond with the garment, we are happy to swap the label for an alternative if you can verify its match with the date of the fabric.
10% of all proceeds from the sales of these vintage textiles will go to Cancer Research UK in memory of their former owner, shown here wearing a dress whose fabric appears in our collection.
Oh, and please send images or social media links (hashtag #ishopcuriously) of your completed DIY designs to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, as we’d love to feature them.