By Mia Stratmann

I AM a year 12 VCE student at Newhaven College.
One of my subjects is Unit 3 and 4 Product Design and Technology.
This an amazing course which has both a wood and textiles division.
For the entire year, we must create a product to satisfy the needs of an end user.
Because I am involved with textiles product design, this incorporates using fabrics, materials, weaving, sewing, felting and any other tactile work with fibres, either natural or synthetic.
I am a very naturalistic person who is conscious of the environment and habitats around us.
I decided that my final piece would centre around sustainability and using waste materials.
By creating a hypothetical end user – which was actually myself – I have been able to explore a range of creative and alternative techniques.
Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, I delved into making my own material out of the by-product which results from making fermented tea, Kombucha.
Other aspects to my design include using marine debris from Phillip Island beaches which were supplied to me by the Nature Parks, dried pig intestines, single-use plastic bags and scrap fabric.
My final garment was called the ‘Sea Mermaid’ and it incorporated a handmade couture dress, intestine shawl and SCOBY bacteria removable overskirt.
The dress used blue and green coloured marine debris randomly machine embroidered onto the bodice as well as a hand ruffled plastic bag skirt.
The entire dress was lined with vintage scrap lining and used a corset-style back fastening with can tabs.
The overskirt used marine debris fishing net layered with individually grown SCOBY bacteria circles, each hand dyed with organic cabbage dye I made myself.
Through my project, I hoped to demonstrate to others the possible beauty of materials we throw out on a daily basis.
I want people to turn to alternate ways of using waste materials and open their minds to a more sustainable way of living.
My other wish was that my piece inspired others to be creative, think outside of the box and to push themselves to the limits. Although at first it seems scary, the possibilities, outcomes and benefits are endless.