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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 July, 2004, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Student shows off nettle knickers
Alex Dear
The underwear is modelled by the designer
A set of underwear made from stinging nettles has been designed by a university student as part of a new research project.

It is hoped the "nettle knickers" is the first step towards a commercial application for the plants.

Leicester's De Montfort University's "Sting" project is researching potential for nettle fibre as a crop and market.

The research is funded by Defra; and the Central Science Laboratory, in York, is also involved in the project.

Textile design student Alex Dear, 23, from Cambridge, wrote a dissertation on nettle fibre as part of a three-year textile design and production degree.

She has been modelling the camisole and knickers, which she designed herself.

She said: "I investigated and tested the fibres and had the yarn made up.

It is a slightly hairy fibre
Alex Dear
"Just for fun I made the lingerie, which I called Nettle Knickers."

Nettle yarn was used to make rucksacks for soldiers in the First World War.

Ms Dear said: "It's not terribly comfortable when it's next to your skin, so anything you made from it would probably have to be lined.

"It is a slightly hairy fibre."

Ray Harwood, Professor of Textile Engineering at De Montfort University, said nettles had great potential.

"I am sure it would find a place in corporate clothing, workwear and the like."

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