Sew 326 – Slow refashion flexibility

Jane Milburn wears refashionPersonal empowerment is one of the best things about having a few simple sewing skills. You are never dependent on what is currently available for purchase because you can craft something that suits your need and preference.

Own-style ticks all the slow fashion boxes of individual, creative, sustainable, ethical, natural, known provenance, comfortable – and is simply a matter of investing time and applying skills to magic something wearable out of not much.

Now on the home stretch of this Sew it Again year, I’m applying effort to refashion some loose, comfortable shifts for summer as the weather hots up in the Southern Hemisphere.

I found this long-sleeved Indian cotton top in my op-shop stash and teamed it with a piece of checked linen/cotton gingham I had in my fabric stash. After cutting off/neatening the sleeves and sewing closed the side slit, I attached a piece of the gingham cut on the bias using pinking shears. I guesstimated the length and width, and just overlapped the extra width instead of trying to make an exact join. I stitched the sleeve offcuts together as a hair tie. It took about an hour, no new purchasing and brought engagement with pet cat and chooks in the process.

refashion top and fabric into dress

Sew 325 – Clothes last for decades

Jane Milburn wears upcycledWhat is a reasonable lifespan for clothing? We know that food is perishable and has a shelf-life, but what about our clothes? Fashion has a contrived shelf-life of one season (or less) but what about classic and simple garments that don’t go out of date?

The variables to consider are – the quality of fabric and construction, how often you wash and wear them, whether your shape or needs change, and whether your taste and style moves on.

The act of throwing out clothing because it has literally worn out has become old-fashioned. How many know the experience of garments moving through the stiff-new beginning to become soft-with-age comfortable and rich with memories from many wears?  Continue reading

Sew 324 – Existing clothes revisited

upcycled opshop findsThis opshop-found skirt is made from linen-silk blend fabric but had three issues working against it from my perspective. It was too long, too wide and had an old-fashioned, uncomfortable interfaced waistband.

I solved the length and waistband issues by simply cutting off the fixed band (including across the top of the zip). With the band removed, I reduced the girth of the skirt by taking a slice out of it along an existing seam (start from the bottom so the pleats sit neatly). Returning to the waist, I turned the cut edge over twice to make a casing for elastic. The zip now works, in conjunction with the elastic. This compromise method may horrify traditional dressmakers and neat people, but it is a practical workable solution that enables something unwearable to now be worn in a comfortable and viable form.  Continue reading

Sew 323 – A bauble from waste

Christmas bauble from upcycled T-shirt ribbonThe festive season brings saturation marketing of many material things which most don’t need and obligatory rehashed Christmas news stories about more binge spending and consuming.

How refreshing to see the 1 Million Women campaign promoting a No Waste Festive Season and encouraging a focus on moments rather than things.

At our house, we’ve been trying to minimise Christmas fuss and waste for years.  We’ve used the same fabric wrapping (secured with safety pins) and ribbons for a decade and they are still going strong and looking good.

This year the 365-day Sew it Again project adds another imperative to reduce waste. With the 12 days of Christmas rapidly approaching, here’s an upcycled decoration made from waste. Continue reading

Sew 322 – Doily linen cushion

Upcycled linen cushionTravelled back across Australia from Perth to Brisbane so today’s upcycle is one I had in reserve for a difficult day such as this.

Sew 322 utilises some beautiful doilys gathered from a Dubbo opshop which are stitched to linen cushions.

If you buy Sheridan linen sheets and pillowcases (my favourite), they come in linen pouches secured with coconut shell buttons. It takes a little effort to unpick and remove the labels but once that’s done, you can decorate with doilys to make pretty cushions. I created the pillow insert by using stuffing from an old pillow inside a pillowcase cut down to suit the required size.  Continue reading

Sew 321 – Suiting yourself

Jo wears upcycledTelevision presenter Karl Stefanovic wore the same suit every day for a year to make a statement regarding the way female presenters are judged on appearance and dress.

A fringe benefit of Stefanovic’s experiment is he demonstrated how long clothing lasts and how little we need for utilitarian purposes.

An average suit weighs about 1kg – yet the global average consumption of clothing is 11kg/person/year (up 80% from 7kg/person/yr in 1992) according to the UN Food and Agriculture global apparel fibre survey (pg 2).

Imagine the sheer volume of clothing that is sitting in wardrobes, cast aside after one or two wears, shed into charity shops or dumped into landfill? Tens of thousands of tonnes of clothing every year.  Continue reading

Sew 320 – Greed before need

Jane Milburn wears upcycled at Cottesloe BeachGreed before need is the headline on David Penberthy’s column in Western Australia’s Sunday Times newspaper today about the level of unnecessary consumption in our society.

This unnecessary consumption leads to 70,000 tonnes (70 million kgs) of cast-off clothing being shipped from Australia to developing nations each year and sparked this 365-day Sew it Again project, which is reusing and refashioning pre-loved clothing as an alternative to always buying new.

Penberthy was writing about phone upgrades and said many of us have convinced ourselves that luxuries are necessities.

“We have embraced a big-bang approach to shopping which is a world away from the gradual acquisition which marked more frugal and disciplined past generations … The basics for a young couple starting out are not defined by shelter, transport and utilities but have been extended to include a television which simply must be 40 inches across and web-ready, the latest phone for every member of the family, and three meals out a week because of the rapidly dying art of peeling a carrot or a spud.”  Continue reading

Sew 319 – Climate change front + centre

Jo wears upcycled clothingUnited States President Barack Obama said combating climate change cannot be the work of governments alone – we all have the power to imagine a new future, get involved and make a difference.

Obama issued a challenge for nations to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a memorable speech at The University of Queensland ahead of the G20 Summit in Brisbane saying ‘we cannot forget the need to lead on the global fight against climate change’.

Obama said Australia and the United States are big greenhouse gas emitters – and both countries have to step up. Failure to act would mean increasing temperatures, more extreme and frequent storms, longer droughts, more wildfires and threaten the natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef.  ”This past summer worldwide was the hottest on record – no nation is immune and every nation has a responsibility to do its part,” he said.

Continue reading

Sew 318 – I believe

Jane Milburn wears upcycledI believe in creative, individual dress that doesn’t exploit people or the environment.

I believe we can extend the useful life of existing natural fibre clothing by mending, adapting and refashioning them to suit ourselves.

And I’m living what I believe every day this year by posting resewing, repair and refashion projects as a way of demonstrating ways we can individually reduce our clothing footprint.

Today was difficult because my sister Jo and I finalised our late brother Paul’s estate – including his Mercedes Sprinter Van, right. Thank you to those who have helped along the way. Losing a much-loved younger sibling makes us think a lot about our purpose in life and how best to spend the limited time we have on Earth.  Continue reading

Sew 317 – National Recycling Week

Jane Milburn wears upcycledIt is National Recycling Week – a Planet Ark initiative developed to bring focus to the environmental benefits of recycling and stimulate behaviour change by individuals and communities.

There are many recycling events planned including some clothing swap parties. It is likely that textile recycling will come further onto the radar in future as society comes to grips with the extent of waste and pollution generated by current clothing habits.

With the Sew it Again project this year, we are demonstrating ways that existing clothing can be recycled through refashion.  Continue reading