Jess Collins: Teen makes 1,400-mango gown to highlight food waste

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Jess Collins: Teen makes 1,400-mango gown to highlight food waste
Jess Collins: Teen makes 1,400-mango gown to highlight food waste

It was growing up on a farm in far north Queensland that inspired Jessica Collins to make her stunning, full-length ball gown made of mango seeds.

The teenager from Dimbulah, on the Atherton Tablelands, completed year 12 at Sydney’s Abbotsleigh boarding school this week.

She sewed the dress, which weighs about five kilograms, for her design and technology class.

“I worked in the packhouse of a mango farm, so I always saw all the waste that came through the shed,” she said.

“It was quite the process.

“I was at home for a very long time due to lockdown so I had plenty of free hours to sew mango seeds.

“I got there in the end, but I was called ‘crazy’ a couple of times.”

It took Ms Collins about four months to make the dress.

“First, I cut all the flesh off the mango seeds,” she said.

“I would take them over to dad’s pressure cleaner and clean the rest of the flesh off, so they’d be nice and clean and no animals would eat them.

“Then I would take them home, dry them, and then sew them onto the dress.”

She said her family’s love of fishing also helped inspire the design.

“I thought they looked like fish scales,” she said.

“Dad will be happy.”

Heading home for picking

Ms Collins has not been able to return home to Queensland for five months due to border restrictions, but is finally returning next week — just in time for mango picking season.

She hoped to study nursing, but said fashion could be an option.

“I’ve wanted to do nursing since I was about six … but if something comes up in the fashion industry I’d love to do that as well,” she said.

“In the future I’d love to see mango seeds used as a fibre like cotton, and just raise awareness in the community to show that there is waste and we can do something with it.”

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