Sew 245 – Crushed linen ankle-skirt

upcycled linen ankle-skirtEvery end is the beginning of something else: a beautiful quote from M L Stedman’s book The Light Between Oceans which I’ve just finished reading ahead of book club dinner next week. Although the book’s about right and wrong, love and loss, I reckon there’s an upcycling analogy in that quote. The life of my linen trousers has come to an end, but they have a new beginning as a skirt.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a crush on linen and almost never iron it. Apart from saving effort and power, my view is the crush makes a statement about what is a beautiful. long-lasting, and sustainable natural fibre (it is grown with fewer inputs than other crops). Linen stands out as a fibre and I love chatting to women I see wearing it. Although it is a relatively uncommon and more expensive fibre, I did notice affordable linen shirts making a comeback at stores like Uniqlo when I visited them in KL a while back.

Anyway, Sew 245 is an upcycle of some linen wide-leg trousers which I’ve turned into an ankle-length skirt (similar to Sew 212). The fabric is a fine weave check in three colours – beige, light blue and cream – which has faded a little with washing but still with lots of life left in it. (I found a scarf I’d made with a strip of the same fabric that has not been washed, so I can see the difference.)

To create the skirt, I cut the leg centre-seams open and pinned them flat (so the curves remain as an upcycled feature) and stitched in place using zigzag in a darker thread. To create some interest in the hemline, I arbitrarily cut a curve along the skirt bottom, removing 2/3 of the hemline and zigzagging cut edges to prevent fraying. I then used the offcut to form a side-hem-feature (which fills about half the cropped section) by making random pleats and zigzagging it in place on top of the cut edge. The linen falls well, it swings when you walk . I like the result but it is an individual, creative thing. The look is worn with a bargain $2 opshop merino-wool top.

upcycle trousers to skirt


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Sew 244 – Year is two-thirds stitched!

Katy wears upcycled history skirtAt the beginning of 2014, I set a big goal to upcycle every day this year in an eco-social project demonstrating creative ways to reuse and refashion existing clothing instead of buying new.

Postgraduate study last year affirmed my impression that textile consumption was accelerating at an unsustainable rate, with UN Food and Agriculture Organization figures indicating annual per person usage rose from 7kg in 1992 to 11kg in 2010 – and most of the increase was in synthetic fibres made from petroleum.

There are 7 billion people in the world to feed and clothe, yet a United Kingdom report indicates nearly one-third of clothing ends up in landfill. When I considered that waste of resources and what I, as one little person living in Australia could do to make a difference, I felt compelled to act.  Continue reading

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Sew 243 – Opshop finds need no-sew

Katy wears opshop uncutLast year National Op Shop Week came and went without much of a ripple – in contrast to this year when there has been an incredible media response, including from New Corp HQ.

Hats off the Jon Dee from Do Something Near You and the National Association for Charitable Recycling Organisations for raising the profile of the important role op shops play in our society and highlighting how we can contribute by donating, buying and volunteering. 

News Corp Australia became involved as part of its 1 Degree environmental sustainability initiative, which is about the small steps we can all take that add up to big change and lead to a sustainable future.  That’s so aligned with my Sew it Again project, refashioning existing clothing.  Continue reading

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Sew 242 – Op shop uncut

Keri wears opshop uncutIndividual tastes and preferences in the clothes we chose to wear each day are what set us apart. For those who want to be on-trend followers of fashion, there’s a $1.7 trillion global fashion industry catering to their needs.

But in the past two decades as the world has become saturated with perfectly good clothing that no one is wearing – creative ways of sourcing pre-loved clothing have emerged including swaps and swishes, online resale, markets, vintage shops and of course charity/opportunity/thrift shops.

The beauty of op shops is we can donate clothes to them when they no longer suit our needs – and make a financial and sustainability contribution by buying clothes from them to create unique looks combining random finds that work together.  Continue reading

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Sew 241 – Little black dress lives on

Keri wears upcycledGreat to have more of my New Zealand family involved in the Sew it Again project, with cousin Keri being the latest to upcycle and wear a Textile Beat refashion as Sew 241.

We went op-shopping in Brisbane during National Op Shop Week, as you do, and Keri found a little black dress of dated style with good potential because of its viscose fabric and pretty neckline.

After washing it, Keri grooved-up the hemline by cutting it into a modern curve and cropped off the puffy sleeves. When teamed with a red top and tights (from my stash) this is ideal work-wear for Keri whose management role within childcare centres straddles the office (add a black jacket) and occasional hands-on involvement.  Continue reading

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Sew 240 – Snip and tie shoulder straps

Olivia wears upcycled TOp shopping is such an adventure and much more fun than shopping for new stuff because you get to make discoveries.

This is a quote from my young New Zealand visitor Olivia after we called into a few op shops during National Op Shop Week, in-between the usual sightseeing and conventional shopping.

What a great insight from a nine-year-old, right, modelling one of her finds. The I Love Aus singlet was perfect, apart from being too long in the shoulders. All we had to do was snip each shoulder on the diagonal and tie a knot to shorten and prevent the shoulders slipping off (see photos below). Olivia then teamed it with op-shop-found shorts to suit her young athletic style.  Continue reading

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Sew 239 – Small tuck revives castoff

Olivia wears upcycledIt was great to have a reason to head to Byron Bay yesterday, playing tour guide around the lighthouse and Wategos for my New Zealand cousin Keri and her offspring Olivia and Liam.

Although I didn’t buy anything, I took the opportunity to chat with Glen Casey who owns the new Patagonia – Byron store and learn about the company’s impressive environmental and social commitment.

The integrity of Patagonia products is reflected right through the company and includes the Common Threads Partnership to encourage recycling and reducing consumption by creating products that last a long time. The partnership is fostering a culture of reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and reimagine to lower our collective environmental impact. A fabulous ethos underpinning a great clothing company.  Continue reading

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Sew 238 – Op-shop lace treasure

Kate wears vintage laceThis is a truly beautiful cotton lace vintage-style top which is embellished with pretty pansy and daisy flowers, and fastened with shell buttons.

It is fun discovering beautifully-made items like this top at op shops and creating an original outfit by teaming them with a skirt such as this linen one worn by Katy, right, or just blue jeans, below.

From a broader perspective, supporting op shops through National Op Shop Week is a means of raising raise awareness of the important role these charity shops play in our community.  This week aims to:

  • boost donations of quality clothing and household goods to charity op shops
  • boost charity op shop sales
  • recognise the tremendous work of the volunteers and staff of charity op shops.  Continue reading
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Sew 237 – Kate wears opshop crochet

Kate wears op shop crochetHere’s my gorgeous niece Kate wearing an earth-toned crocheted wool vest with a silk top and two strands of indigenous beads made from seeds and wood.

All of these items were found in op shops and with it being National Op Shop Week  from August 24 to Sunday 31, Kate is modelling a series of outfits styled from charity shop finds that only require a wash and go. 

Although Kate now works in a pharmacy, she spent several years managing a clothing store so knows how the fashion business works to flatter individual features and bring outfits together.  Continue reading

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Sew 236 – Upcycled opshop cashmere

Jane wears upcycledNational Op Shop Week begins today and will bring focus to the role of opportunity shops in extending the useful life of consumer goods. By donating to, or purchasing from, op shops we tangibly make a social, ethical and sustainable contribution to society.

Most of us have much more clothing than we need in our wardrobes and It makes sense to shift things we no longer need or want – or have never worn.

I’m such a big supporter of op shops that I’ve accumulated more than I need, particularly seeking out natural-fibre clothing made of linen, wool, cashmere, silk and cotton. Only one-third of modern clothing is made from natural fibres, with the majority two-thirds being made from synthetic fibres or petroleum.  Continue reading

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