Monthly Archives: December 2013

Sew 1 – adding value to cast-offs

history skirtA new day, a new year and a new creative, sustainable and unique way of dressing in upcycled natural fibre garments.

You are what you repeatedly do. During 2014 I’m following my heart on a creative journey through this values-based Sew it Again project which has evolved from study with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

The project is inspiring upcycling of natural fibres through daily posting of repurposed garments, such as this History Skirt, right, created for bright university student Belinda in my Textile Beat studio from pieces of discarded cotton dresses and shirts. Continue reading

Planning a year of sewing and creativity

Jane studio webAs I relax in my beautiful light-filled studio anticipating a year-long campaign upcycling natural fibre clothing in what amounts to a zero-waste commitment to textiles, I am enjoying Kevin McCloud’s 43 Principles of Home.

Principle 40 in this book is: ‘Zero waste is not fairy tale pie in the sky. With proper municipal waste programs, thrift and prudence, it is possible’.

Reading books and online research has led me to follow my heart on a creative journey woven from the threads of childhood, education, work and family interspersed with a love of nature, natural fibres, simplicity and resourcefulness.

My research during 2013 confirmed an instinctive belief that we are churning through textiles at an unsustainable rate – global consumption of textiles has grown three-times faster than the world’s population.

According to recent figures*, world apparel fibre consumption grew from 39 million tons in 1992 to 70 million tons in 2010 – an 80 per cent increase in fibre consumption over an 18-year period, with most of the growth being in synthetic (non-cellulosic) fibres. During that same period, the global population rose 25 per cent, from 5.5 billion in 1992 to 6.9 billion in 2010.

Our Earth has finite resources so this escalating growth in consumption of fibres seems a kind of madness driven by unconscious greed, look-at-me fast fashion and a churning desire for newer, brighter and supposedly ‘better’ clothing.

Kevin McCloud says throw nothing away if you can help it and wear your clothes until they are rags – thrift is an admirable value that we have lost.

Of course we all enjoy new clothes and dressing well but like fast food, fast fashion is leading to over-consumption for the wrong reasons which may include chasing trends, wanting to fit in, retail therapy and stress relief.

I’ve been rescuing discarded natural-fibre clothing from op shops and other sources for years because I value them as natural resources. These wool, silk, linen and cotton garments may sometimes be out-of-date, in need of a stitch or a nip and tuck, but I see their beauty.

That’s why I plan to make a daily ritual of upcycling garments from my own and others’ wardrobes as a way of creating and sharing a different way of dressing that is mindful of the Earth’s finite resources.

It is a commitment I hope to meet, even while I am travelling to various locations in Australia – around my state of Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory – and perhaps overseas as well – inspiring upcycling wherever I am.

I’m used to running campaigns for others, but now Sew it Again 2014 is a campaign of my own making based on ecological health and wellbeing. I hope you will share my journey with creativity, resourcefulness and a love for nature.

*FAO/ICAC World Apparel Fibre Consumption Survey July 2013 FAO-ICAC-Survey-2013-Update-and-2011-Text

**Kevin McCloud’s 43 Principles of Home: Enjoying Life in the 21st Century, Harper Collins Publishers, 2010

A 365-day eco-fashion project for 2014

These days few people know how to mend or sew a simple garment, yet this is a life skill akin to cooking. Fast fashion, like fast food, has taken over with an endless stream of cheap, disposable clothing – but at what price?

Not only is this exploitative and wasteful of resources, it’s taken away the simple pleasure of creating something of our very own to wear. Something unique that is crafted by our own skilled hands through imagination and energy.

While sewing from scratch can be expensive and sometimes disappointing, there is a seemingly endless supply of upcycling material languishing in wardrobes and opportunity shops.

Sew it Again is a 2014 project which aims to revive home sewing to be:
•   empowered – wear unique garments in colours you like that suit your shape
•   sustainable – create eco-fashion, reuse natural fibres and reduce waste
•   thrifty – enjoy affordable, natural, one-off outfits that won’t break the bank

For years, Jane Milburn has been stockpiling clothing made of natural fibres such as silk, linen, wool and cotton by rescuing garments from op shops and friends. Five wardrobes later, something has to give.

Through 2014, Jane will refashion 365 garments for a second life as part of a creative journey inspiring upcycling of natural fibres. Please revisit this site after 1 January 2014 to see the results.

Why does this matter?

Global textile use is growing at a rate three times faster than the population. Since 1992, the world’s population has increased 25 per cent while textile consumption has increased 80 per cent. Read more in the World Apparel Fiber Consumption Survey July 2013 FAO-ICAC-Survey-2013-Update-and-2011-Text

In her book Overdressed: The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion, Elizabeth L. Cline said: Every year, Americans throw away 12.7 million tons, or 68 pounds of textiles per person, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

But all is not lost, because Cline also said: According to Time magazine, there were approximately 35 million sewing hobbyists in the United States in 2006, up from 30 million in 2000. And the number is growing as more people tap back into the pleasure of making something themselves.