Qmilch -- a combination of quality and the German word for milk -- won the innovation award of Germany's Textile Research Association, which recognized it as a new, sustainable fiber that could revolutionize the clothing industry.
Currently, apparel depends heavily on byproducts from oil, or natural resources such as water
-- used in the thousands of liters (gallons) to produce just a bolt of cotton.
"We know that everything that is based on oil has a limit, that materials like cotton that take up a lot of land, water and chemicals are limited, so we need to think about how we in produce fabrics and textiles in the future," said Klaus Jansen, who heads the Textile Research Association.
"She has showed us how this can work."
Tatjana Berthold, a seamstress for Domaske's MCC fashion line has been cutting and sewing the fabric into dresses for the past year.
"At first I did not believe that it was made from milk, but when you work with it, you notice that it feels different from normal fabrics," said Berthold. She cast Domaske a sly sideways glance, then confessed to have privately made a pair of pajamas from a scrap she had been given.
"When you look it, you can't see such a big difference, but when you wear it, you feel the difference," Berthold said.
Domaske laughed, confessing that she, too, had sewn herself sleepwear from a sample of jersey fabric spun over the past year.
The quest for a natural, non-irritating fabric began after watching her stepfather suffer through terrible skin irritations while being treated for cancer. "There are so many people who really suffer just by wearing normal clothing. I wanted to find a way to help them."
She focused her research on milk protein, or casein. Although textiles made with milk fibers have been around since the 1930s, she said most of them relied heavily on acrylics.
"I thought it must be possible to make a fabric that is completely organic," said Domaske.
After two years of trial and error, working with a research lab, Domaske and her team of six finally landed on a process of reducing milk to a protein powder that is then boiled and pressed into strands that can be woven into a fabric.
The strands, she says, can be spun rougher for a heavier texture, or shiny smooth, to create a soft jersey that drapes and feels like silk.
She uses only organic milk that cannot be consumed because it has failed Germany's strict quality standards.