Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sew 334 – Cotton with sustainable values

Georgie Somerset wears upcycledAustralian cotton industry focus on continual improvement of environmental production and safety measures is the basis of a great Sue Neales yarn For cotton, the big noise is about sustainability in The Australian this weekend.

Sue quotes cotton grower Simon Corish from Goondiwindi saying “consumers worldwide now want to know that the cotton they wear and use has been grown by farmers who do things environmentally well, and the big retailers are responding to that and saying they will only source in the future cotton that has been sustainably produced”.

The Australian industry has made great strides in reducing water use by 40 per cent and chemical use by 95 per cent in recent years – as discussed in an earlier Sew it Again post – and Sue’s story reports industry has now signed on for a five-year improved sustainability plan. “It requires Australia’s cotton growers to track their own – as well as the industry’s – ongoing performance against 45 key criteria linked to water efficiency, reduced chemical use, carbon footprint, biodiversity, farm productivity and work-related safety.”  Continue reading

Sew 333 – Sewing at The Edge

glasses caseThe sewing adventure of today was being inducted into using sewing machines at the State Library’s Fabrications Laboratory in what is a fabulous facility known as The Edge. Here’s my glasses case, right, made with guidance from Emma Constance.

After being inducted, one is then eligible to use the machines (solid old Berninas) when the lab is open for bookings during several free sessions each week. It is a maker space, or as the website says: “The Fabrication Lab, in The Edge basement, is a creative space with a host of resources for you to bring your creative visions to life.” Fabulous initiative which helps extend opportunities to sew, which is a life-skill just like home cooking.

In a collaboration with QUT, the Fabrication Lab is also home to a Kombucha experiment growing sustainable clothing by adding bacteria and yeast to sweet tea which then ferments to form a flexible curd on its surface that is moulded into garments and bags, see photos belowContinue reading

Sew 332 – Valuing textile waste

Stan wears upcycledClothing that is no longer being worn represents an incredible textile resource that could be fully recycled if we lived in a circular economy and re-used resources rather than burying them in landfill.

Some commercial recycling processes are being developed as The Guardian reported in this article about a Swedish company producing recycled cotton, and other examples include the Pharrell William’s inspired RAW for the Oceans denim made from recycled ocean plastic.

Hopefully the business opportunities in large-scale recycling of the 69.7 million tonnes of fibre apparel consumed every year will emerge in future –  but in the meantime there are micro-opportunities for individual upcycling to create unique #selfstyle clothing to suit one’s own budget and shape.  Continue reading

Sew 331 – A white washout

Nina wears upcycledVery quick post tonight after terrible storms in Brisbane and being caught in hail and howling winds on Coronation Drive. Scary, but pleased to arrive home safely – only to find my studio saturated as the storm had pushed open the windows and it rained all over my machines. And no power in the neighbourhood. I’m sure there are many worse off, so won’t moan too much.

Son Casey (electrical engineer) says if I dry the machines out well (with hair dryer) they should live again. Fortunately I have a few restyles up my sleeve, so the 365-day postings continue regardless – just another obstacle to be overcome.

Sew 331 is Nina’s restyle from Tuesday, which was a cotton dress brought back from India by a family member that was not now being worn.  Continue reading

Sew 330 – Straps make the difference

Straps for securityFor yesterday’s Restyle Party, I asked the girls to bring garments from the back of their wardrobes (ie not being worn) so we could restyle them for a fresh go at life.

Frankie arrived with these lovely pants bought new which had not quite worked out as she hoped. By experimenting, she’d found that instead of wearing them as pants they worked better pulled up with the shirring elastic across her chest. The only trouble then was feeling the need to keep pulling them up for modesty reasons.

The only thing we’re taking credit for in Sew 330 is the addition of some simple straps making something unworn more wearable for Frankie.  Continue reading

Sew 329 – Reshaping the future

Billie wears upcycled with styleFun today hosting a Restyle Party in the Textile Beat studio with four enthusiastic young women keen to learn how they can refresh existing clothes to suit themselves and their needs.

I’ll be posting refashions by Nina, Frankie, Billie and Stan over the next few days and certainly it is fabulous to be able to engage with thoughtful young people interested in making ethical, sustainable, individual, creative and affordable clothing choices.

Also exciting to see the amazing Flourish Festival: Design the Future event in Sydney this weekend with its focus on Fashion vs Nature defining the intersection between desire and ecological health, and the impact everyday lifestyle choices have on the long-term health of the planet. Great to see Fashion Revolution Day involved in the event and that creative reuse of existing clothing featuring in many workshops. The Refashion Revolution has arrived!  Continue reading

Sew 328 – Wearing a unique story

Upcycled corporate wearQuestion everything, never assume, use what you have differently. These are handy thinking habits when it comes to work – and dressing for corporate work, sans black suit.

Although you don’t want to leave it until the last minute before you are due to rush out the door, one of the simplest ways to upcycle is to play creatively with clothing you already own to see how it might work in ways other than how it originally appeared.

This white and brown jacket has a conventional fold-down collar (see photo below) which I’ve turned upwards to create a much more interesting (my perspective) and angular look. I bought the jacket at a Paddington second-hand shop a few years ago although I swear it had never been worn. There is an incredible amount of pre-loved clothing available (who knew we annually export 70,000+ tonnes of pre-loved clothes see pg 7), I wonder how it is possible to justify buying new unless for a very special occasion?  Continue reading

Sew 327 – Mullum refashion

Jane Milburn wears upcycled sarongWe had a quick trip across the border yesterday to enjoy one day of the Mullum Music Festival at Mullumbimby in New South Wales and found a relaxed funky spirit that encompasses the entire community, as well as an amazingly creative, sustainable dress scene.

Highlights included seeing Darren Percival at the Civic Hall, a great dinner at The Middle Pub and chatting with Andrew Nichols from Mullum Glassery. While I’m trying to be non-consumerist this year, in support of creative reuse I bought two glasses from Andrew which he refashions from spent wine bottles (see photos below).  Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

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