Monthly Archives: February 2014

Sew 59 – A striking silk suit

upcycled silk suitThis striking green silk was a short collarless jacket and long skirt, upcycled by cropping skirt and attaching offcut as a double collar.

Upcycling is a way of valuing natural fibres as precious resources and this year I’m demonstrating simple ways this can be achieved by resewing at home with my Sew it Again project.

I’m enjoying reading London journalist and environmentalist Lucy Siegle’s book To die for: is fashion wearing out the world – an authoritative and entertaining read.

As Siegle says, silkworms die so their silk cocoons can become fabric (1500 little critters for each metre of silk) – which is why it’s doubly worthwhile refashioning silk garments for a second/third life until they’re worn out.

On March 30, Siegle will be in Australia as part of the All about Women festival and speaking at Sydney Opera House on the topic Is fashion wearing out the world?  Continue reading

Sew 58 – A suit of sorts

upcycled linen wool suitA long blue linen jacket is updated by shortening and adding the top part of a jumper as collar, with the jumper bottom becoming skirt.

Making simple changes that transform existing garments into something fresh is creative upcycling as I’m doing every day this year with my Sew it Again campaign.

My purpose is to empower individuals to reimagine and recreate their own wardrobe collection by resewing at home.

Home sewing is a lost art overtaken by cheap fast fashion, just as fast food did with home cooking. In recent years we’ve rediscovered home cooking and food production as nourishing and pleasurable activities. My aim is to see home sewing revalued as a life skill, in the same way as home cooking.

This message found a receptive audience at the Carindale Community Forum last night, which included LNP Member for Chatsworth Steve Minnikin as well as Labor’s Paul Keene and the Greens’ David Nelson.

Jane Milburn and Glenn MillarIt was great fun engaging with mindful Brisbane people interested in where clothing comes from and rethinking the way we dress and live in this fast-paced world. They were also interested to hear about Fashion Revolution Day on April 24.

Thanks to the fabulous Gen Robey for taking this photo with her co-convenor and good sport Glenn Millar demonstrating one of six skirt-to-dress garment surgery conversions performed this month with Sew it Again. I found the men just as interested, so I’m thinking of ways to include them in some future upcycling projects.

This skirt-to-dress garment surgery will be the theme for a workshop this Sunday at Jewel West’s home. If you are interested in hosting a workshop, please get in touch via email or mobile – Jane Milburn contacts hereContinue reading

Sew 57 – Upcycling goes on forever

history skirt upcycledThis history skirt made from oddments a few years ago is further upcycled with a t-shirt to become a dress that works with matching woolly jumper, which has button feature patching a hole.

In addition to sewing every day for the 365-day Sew it Again campaign to demonstrate creative ways of reusing existing clothing, I’ve been weaving together my story about upcycling natural fibres.

Tonight I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to tell it for the first time at Carindale Community Forum at the Pacific Golf Club on Brisbane’s southside, at which all are welcome.

As there is rising interest in home cooking and food growing for health and wellbeing, there is a pressing need to rethink our approach to textiles and fashion.  My model includes empowering individuals to reimagine and recreate their wardrobe collection by resewing at home. Continue reading

Sew 56 – Fashion Revolution coming

silk jumper to skirt and scarfThis was a knit fit for refashion. You know those long jumpers that were fashionable in the ‘90s? This was one of them that I chopped and changed into a skirt and scarf.

The story of your clothes – where they come from, who made them and what from – suddenly became relevant all over the world after fashion’s footprint was set alight by the devastating Rana Plaza fire in which 1129 people died on 24 April last year.

This year on April 24, Fashion Revolution Day will remember those workers lost for the sake of fast fashion at cheap price.

A Choice magazine article on ethical fashion, Australians spend $2288 on clothing and footwear this year – but it’s almost impossible to discover the clothing supply chain of its origins.  Continue reading

Sew 55 – Wool jumper to skirt

jumper to skirtRefashion a jumper to become a skirt and scarf that utilises the beautiful drape of wool knits.

I’m excited to now have the Jumpers and Jazz Festival at Warwick Queensland in my calendar for July as this event aligns so well with what I’m doing. Stay tuned for info on the Jumper-to-skirt garment surgery workshop at Abbey of the Roses.

This quirky country Queensland festival is now in its 10th year and my connection with it was brought about by Sue Hamlet of Fledge Designs, who creates its brochures and is a regular Sew it Again supporter – thanks Sue for ongoing encouragement!

My 365-day Sew it Again project to demonstrate a different way of dressing by refashioning existing clothing emerged from study last year for a Graduate Certificate of Australian Rural Leadership. This James Cook University course run with the Australian Rural Leadership FoundationContinue reading

Sew 54 – Wool for winter comfort

wool knit upcycledThis plum outfit is from op shop wool separates linked by scarf pieces hand sewn with vintage buttons to dress up skirt.

Wool drapes beautifully, is comfortable and toasty warm in cold weather. Merino wool is particularly soft, with amazingly superfine wool being produced in cooler parts of the nation.

Athough Australia no longer rides on the sheep’s back, it still leads the world in wool production by supplying high-quality natural fibre for the world of high-fashion in Europe and the bourgeoning Chinese market.

The National Farmers Federation website says total production of wool in Australia was 368,330 tonnes (greasy) in 2011, with wool exports valued at $3.047 billion and major markets for Australian wool being China ($2.2 billion), India ($209 million) and Italy ($178 million). Continue reading

Sew 53 – Knitted scraps skirt

skirt made from knitted wool scrapsAn over-large vest knitted from op-shop wool/cotton scraps is resewn into a skirt and neck-warmer.

This 365-day upcycling journey I’m on during 2014 is demonstrating how everything old can be new again. It is a way of clearing out my cupboards, remaking, mending, refashioning and sharing ideas for a different way of dressing.

This vest was a series of three I knitted for myself when the boys were little – two decades ago. Back then, I used scraps of wool and cotton from op shops on round knitting needles and guesswork pattern.  I’ve definitely gone full-circle – back to the future op shopping and upcycling again two decades later!  Continue reading

Sew 52 – History Skirt from jumpers

history skirt from wool jumpersThis history skirt is refashioned from pieces of eight wool jumpers, with another jumper as waistband and hem.

Being winter in the northern hemisphere, I’m doing some woolly upcycles since there’s growing interest in from United Kingdom, Italy and United States.

Nothing is ever entirely original in this world it just evolves from something or somewhere. In his book Think! Before It’s Too Late, Edward De Bono says the human brain is designed to set up routine patterns and to use and follow these patterns.

He says all valuable creative ideas will be logical in hindsight. Creativity is not a mysterious gift or special talent – it is the behaviour of a self-organising information system that makes asymmetric patterns (the brain).  Continue reading

Sew 51 – Jeans to rara skirt

jeans to rara skirtLinen jeans becomes rara skirt by chopping below zip, extending skirt and adding frill made from off-cuts.

Reusing and resewing from existing clothing is an easy way to upgrade/revive/extend your wardrobe and I’m on a mission to do that for better or worse for 365 days this year.

Why? One reason is the ecological impacts of constant consumption. Society’s endless chase of new clothing consumes resources at the production end (water, energy, nutrients and/or petroleum) and results in pollution at the disposal end (dumps, leaching and/or methane).  Continue reading

Sew 50 – Chopping off hemlines

upcycled skirt suitA long bias-cut skirt is updated by cropping to knee-length then worn as is, or with hem-off-cut recast as collar or wrap.

Wikipedia defines fashion as a general term for a popular style or practice, and often refers to the newest creations of textile designers. As fashion trends emerge they’re unique and stunning – that’s the nature of fashion. But in time they tend to look and feel dated – like a planned obsolescence.

That’s where upcycling comes in. By resewing existing garments, you can recreate them for a second life using simple home-sewing techniques as I’m demonstrating with my 365 day Sew it Again upcycling campaign.

Upcycling is a greener way of recycling – finding a new purpose for unwanted stuff instead of moving it on.  This UK Upcycling website says “upcycling is all about taking disposable things and creating something useful from them.  Usually the only energy being used is your own and it can save you money too. Continue reading