Sew 292 – Restyle with a bow

Maree wears upcycled dressThe choices we make when we dress each day influence the kind of world we live in. The greenest clothes are those that already exist in the world, mountains of which are readily accessible from your own wardrobes, through op-shops, friends cast-offs or clothing swaps and can then be refashioned.

Having a few sewing skills is empowering. It gives you choice, because you are not restricted to what is newly available for purchase at any particular time. You can choose fabrics you like in colours and styles that flatter your style. And you can be uniquely original – and never run into someone wearing your style. And best of all, by reusing natural fibre clothing you can help save it from prematurely ending up in landfill.

It was great to chat upcycling with Fairholme College fashion and textile students recently and their teacher Mrs Clare Greenhill set them a classroom challenge to work in teams to refashion some unworn garments I’d brought to the class. Maree’s team worked on a pretty soft cotton turquoise and silver ribbon skirt. They considered a range of options for turning the skirt into a dress, including adding straps or wearing it as a one-shouldered style. Ultimately they decided to refashion the skirt into a dress by strategically sewing some silver ribbon (from the classroom to the sideseams to cinch it at the waist with a bow. Well done girls, looking good Maree.

Refashioned skirt becomes shift

Pin It

Sew 291 – Re-learning care for clothes

Sophie wears upcycledThe study of home economics has disappeared from some Australian schools entirely and is considered a lightweight in others – yet it teaches important life-skills about food and nutrition, sewing and textiles, and consumer citizenship.

Lack of knowledge about food and food preparation is no doubt contributing to obesity while absence of simple sewing and laundering skills leads to many clothing being discarded prematurely.

Recent United States research discussed in this Ecouterre article found that young people there have little idea of how to care for clothes.  Textiles and Apparel Professor Pamela Norum from the University of Missouri-Columbia surveyed hundreds of American baby boomers and millennials about clothing consumption and found the ability to sew, hem, repair, and launder diminished across generations.  Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 290 – Sewing in the 21st century

Hayley wears upcycled white linenEveryone has a unique journey through life. Good things and bad things happen to each of us – and all we can do is make the most of the opportunities that come our way.

My opportunity this year is to spend time every day refashioning and upcycling existing clothing – demonstrating a creative way of dressing that doesn’t involve always buying new stuff. I’m working through my stash of op-shop found natural-fibre clothing, playing with ideas to reshape and resew them.

I’m not trying to become a clothing designer and I don’t pretend to have fashion qualifications – I’m coming at this from the perspective of conserving natural resources in our finite world. I believe refashioning existing clothing also enables sewing – a dying art in most communities – to be a useful life-skill for the 21st century now that it is uneconomic for women in developed nations to sew clothing from scratch.  Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 289 – Refashioning at Fairholme

Tamie in refashioned ramie shiftSo exciting today to be part of the first-ever Westpac Fairholme Fashion Week in Toowoomba.

Coordinator Mrs Clare Greenhill says senior fashion and textile students focus on sustainable fashion and issues that underpin rampant consumerism in contemporary society.

As Head of Home Economics Department Mrs Greenhill invited me to present an Upcycling talk yesterday and then work with three classes – Year 10, 11 and 12 classes at Fairholme College today.

The Year 10 class this morning had a half-hour challenge to form teams and refashion four different natural fibre garments I’d gathered from various op shops over time.  Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 288 – The rest of the cotton story

Veronica wears upcycled skirtAustralian cotton has a great story to tell about its reduced use of pesticides and water, as outlined in yesterday’s post. What has enabled those efficiencies is that cotton plants have been genetically modified to resist insect attack by heliothis pests.

Additionally, cotton growers routinely engage agronomists to check the crop several times a week to oversee the level of beneficial insects and decide when irrigation needs to be scheduled for best effect.

Cotton plants not only produce fibre, but also food in the form of cotton seed which is used as animal feed – with the ratio being two tonne of cotton seed for every one tonne of fibre produced.  Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 287 – Great story of Aussie cotton

The Australian cotton industry has a cracking story to tell about its sustainability credentials, with pesticide use down by 95 per cent and water use down by 40 per cent according to Cotton Australia’s CEO Adam Kay.

Speaking at the Rural Press Club of Queensland in Brisbane today, Mr Kay said telling the story of Australian cotton to clients and customers enables the industry to take its place as a sustainable source of natural fibres – and face-down creeping competition from synthetic fibres such as polyester which is derived from petroleum.

Having begun its Best Management Practice program in 1997 along with environmental auditing, water-use efficiency measures and more recently the Better Cotton Initiative, the Australian industry is now sharing its story with global customers interested in sustainable natural fibres. View Mr Kay’s talk below.

Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 286 – Going green in Brisbane

Madi wears upcycledA lot of interesting, green and thrifty people come to the Green Heart Fair. They come to pick up their free trees from Brisbane City Council, to see Peppa Pig and to gather ideas on how to live more sustainably.

Green Heart Fair values are in alignment with Textile Beat and Sew it Again values. As my rough-hewn signage says, Sew it Again values are creative, mindful, ethical, original, thrifty, eco-friendly, sustainable, unique and zero waste.

Thanks to my friends Neroli Roocke and Leanne McKnoulty for helping out, and the many interested folk who stopped by the Textile Beat activity tent.  Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 285 – White shirt skirt

Jane Milburn wears refashioned white shirt skirtSo much fun at Undress Brisbane seeing sustainable fashion showcased in a glamorous West End warehouse presented by the amazing Edda Hamar and the #undress14 team. I loved meeting refashioner Kim Bailey from East of Grey and seeing Sinerji and Melanie Childs (a New Zealand upcycler) designs on the runway.

I was wearing my white-shirt skirt created from white shirts – with the sleeves being left-over for another upcycle (in incubation). I picked up these eight shirts (most cotton, one linen, one cotton-polyester) over time from various op-shops because they were such good value and I admired their front features.   Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 284 – Green Heart is fair

Jo wears Sew 284It is great to live in a city that invests in a sustainability ethos by hosting the free Green Heart Fair twice every year as a community and sustainability festival, promoting innovative green living in a fun, family-friendly way.

The Green Heart Fair website says “more than 100 of our leading sustainability organisations, community groups, artisans, foodies, green-thumbs, conservationists, businesses and eco experts will be sharing information and knowledge with visitors on how to live more sustainably and offering vital tips to reduce rising cost of living pressures”.

Textile Beat will be there with some Sew it Again garments on display and running a free T-shirts Reworked workshop.  Continue reading

Pin It

Sew 283 – Creating a hemline curve

Jane Milburn wears upcycledThe innovative Undress Runways is back in Brisbane tomorrow and I’m looking forward to seeing upcycled looks on the runway.

Undress Runways supports ethical and environmentally-friendly sustainable fashion – including ‘no-waste’ collections, ethical production, ‘food dyed’ garments, natural fibres, and unique pieces made from off-cuts.

The Undress Runways website has these simple tips on how to be sustainable:

  • Consume less, use what you have
  • Upcycle old garments you no longer wear
  • Choose garments of organic/recycled fabrics  Continue reading
Pin It