Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sew 273 – Cut frills from silk rejects

Jane Milburn wears upcycledRefashioning clothing you already have instead of buying new is what I, Jane Milburn, am doing every day this year as a mindful, resourceful and purposeful project demonstrating sustainable ways to dress by upcycling unworn natural-fibre garments.

To create Sew 273, I took a plain black silk skirt with frill hem and randomly altered the hemline before embellishing it with fringing cut from two butter-cup yellow unworn silk garments – a jacket and a striped shirt.

To begin, I cut on the diagonal across the bottom of the skirt to create a more interesting sloping hemline. I cut the bottom frill from the offcut and stitched it to the new hemline.  I then cut a strip from all the finished edges (including buttons, button-holes, collar) of the silk jacket to create a long and continuous hemmed silk length which is about 4cm wide, and zigzagged it in place above the bottom black frill.  Continue reading

Sew 272 – Sew it Again interview

Jane Milburn at ABC666 Canberra studioOne of the affirming outcomes of my recent trip to Canberra was the opportunity to be interviewed by Afternoons broadcaster at ABC 666 Alex Sloan.

During the interview, I felt Alex’s active interest in Sew it Again as a values-based project and now that I’ve learned we have a shared career history as ABC rural reporters, I understand that. Thanks so much Alex for your life-affirming interest in my endeavours to bring attention to the sustainable and ethical clothing choices we all can make.  Continue reading

Sew 271 – My tribute to Teena

Former ABC executive producer Teena Girdis came into my life six years ago and now she is gone. Although we didn’t spend a lot of time together, it always felt good to be in her beautiful, calm, capable company whenever our circles overlapped.

Teena and I had things in common – we each have three children, a sense of social justice, and we both had a brush with breast cancer.  We came together for Rural Press Club events and relevant news stories from the rural and health sectors.

Teena Girdis and Jane Milburn

I knew things were not sounding so good for Teena this year because we talked several times and she cancelled a planned meeting in April due to medical complications. I thought of her often, hoping to catch up when her health improved, only to learn that opportunity will never come. I will miss you my friend. Thank you for the buttons you bought me in New York, I will put them to good use before this Sew it Again year is out.  View the ABC 730 tribute to Teena  Continue reading

Sew 270 – Gemma upcycles shorts

Gemma wears upcycledIt was great to have my friend Georgie Somerset staying the other night, this time with her daughter Gemma who is studying textiles at Fairholme College in Toowomba (which has its own Fairholme Fashion Week in October).

Gemma was a willing candidate for an upcycling project. We had a rummage in the cupboard and found this pair of orange cotton romper shorts suitable for a quick restyle and a green top that needed a few buttons replaced.

Buttons often fall off clothes these days, so knowing how to replace them is a useful life-skill. From the button stash, Gemma found four matching buttons of the required size and sewed them in place.  Continue reading

Sew 269 – Eske upcycles old treasure

Eske wears upcycled TThere are certain clothes, memories and treasure that money can never buy. This look created by Canberra teenager Eske, is one of those – it being the refashion of an old T-shirt (not just any old T-shirt) to create something totally unique.

The blue cotton shirt began life as a uniform worn by those privileged to be part of the Main Press Centre at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. It was well-worn by Eske’s Dad, Tim Gavel OAM – an ABC Sports commentator extraordinaire and community philanthropist. It had a good run in Tim’s wardrobe, until it developed a hole in the back and stains under the arms – as happens with active wear!  Continue reading

Sew 268 – Refashion makes Great Hall

Jane Milburn wears upcycled at Great Hall Parliament HouseThe 2014 National RIRDC Rural Women’s Award dinner is done and dusted, with environmental advocate and grazier Pip Job from New South Wales named the winner and Jackie Jarvis from Western Australia the runner-up.

It is such a privilege to be invited to this prestigious award that celebrates Australia’s inspirational rural women, after having been a bit player in 2010 as Queensland runner-up.

My current Sew it Again is a continuation of the journey that began with RIRDC (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation) and the Australian Rural Leadership Program as I learned to bring together my skills and knowledge in a meaningful way.

So of course, I had to sew something original to wear to this black tie event – turning an old blue men’s wool jumper into a skirt to anchor a flash of purple silk. Jenny from Coolah in New South Wales gave me this beautiful purple shot-silk outfit for upcycling and I’ve been reflecting for a while on how best to utilize it.  Continue reading

Sew 267 – Maintaining your clothes

Jane Milburn wears upcycled woolWhat is good for us, is good for the environment. That’s the message from Waste Less, Live More Week in the United Kingdom and the Be Resourceful Challenge. The week (Sept 22-28) is about reconnecting with our belongings, making things last longer, wasting less and living more. It is a project demonstrating how to improve our environment, supporting people to live in ways that help reduce natural resource use and waste, and addressing issues together. How fantastic – what a great initiative to follow.

I discovered this in a Be Resourceful post by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion which in turn links to another great UK initiative Love your Clothes that is raising awareness about the value of clothes and encouraging more thinking about the way we purchase, use and dispose of clothes. This Love your Clothes platform provides easy and practical tips to: make your clothes last longer; reduce the environmental impact of laundering your clothes: deal with unwanted clothes and make the most of your wardrobe. Fabulous ideas, thank you!  Continue reading

Sew 266 – Adding sparkle to black

Add trimmings to enliven plain skirtThe future is not a destination, it is a journey made up of small steps. We need courage to design our future with purpose and deliberation, to be the change we want to see.

I’m in Canberra and reflecting on these words articulated by Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan in a Charters Towers speech last week at the QRRRWN conference. Cathy referred to visionary garden designer Capability Brown who created landscape legacies in the United Kingdom with instructions for 200 years into the future. Cathy challenged us to project ourselves into the future, to get involved, put up our hands for leadership and influence outcomes.  Continue reading

Sew 265 – Entering upcycle countdown

Fiona Lake wears Textile Beat upcycledThere are only 100 days left in the year. Sew 265 heralds 99 refashions remaining in my Sew it Again journey of upcycling every day during 2014 for pleasure, reward and sustainability.

Individual action in our own backyards to reduce resource use and minimise environmental impact is the best way we can help the sustainability cause. Although Sew it Again is raising awareness about textile use/reuse/waste, that is just one element of choosing to live in a way that does not harm people, places or planets.

My Townsville friend, veteran bush photographer Fiona Lake, has solar power, chooks and recycles green waste. She washes clothes in cold water, doesn’t iron linen, and wears vintage clothing that belonged to her mum.  Continue reading

Sew 264 – Buttons carry memories

Fiona Lake wears Textile Beat upcycledAre you a hoarder or a thrower? There is always a balance between holding on to materials with memories of the past, and clearing the decks so new things can come into your life.

I have hoarder tendencies. After ‘rescuing’ a lot of natural fibres and found stuff from op shops during the past two years to add to my existing collection, I’m going through a shedding process during this Sew it Again year.

My friend Fiona Lake also has hoarder tendencies – and during the past few days while in her company many treasures have emerged, including her mother’s button stash. I enjoyed sorting the shell buttons into a smaller container to display very special treasure. Then Fiona produced this amazing little babies top, with shell buttons in situ where they would have been used to attach bloomers, which would have been from her grandmother’s era before zips and press studs. Continue reading