The judges comments were: Jane Milburn’s Sew It Again project engaged with the community, had a call to action and was transformative. It actually made a difference in the world.
I am a natural fibre champion and believe that dressing is an agricultural act, unless you prefer synthetic fibre clothing derived from petroleum, coal or gas.
My work has a clear connection to agriculture through its focus on natural-fibre clothing, which now only makes up 1/3 of apparel consumption (see table below). The other 2/3 of clothing are made of synthetic fibres, which 2011 research shows are shedding microplastic particles into the wastewater stream with every wash and these particles are entering the food chain.
This is the message I am now sharing at Textile Beat workshops and talks on slow fashion, natural fibres and dressing with conscience – consistent with my goal to travel the world inspiring creative upcycling of natural fibres.
Congratulations to the other award winners, photographed with Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne, including overall winner the ABC’s Marty McCarthy
What an amazing experience. To do something repeatedly for a whole year and come out the other side with an entirely fresh perspective.
It has been challenging and lonely at times. The reward is the transformative journey of honouring the commitment I made in December last year to upcycle existing clothing every day. And daring to start a conversation about resewing clothing and textiles.
Hats off to the professional makers and designers of clothing which I admire from afar and I am proud to be part of the Fashion Revolution.
In the same way we have become conscious of food, it is time to become conscious about where clothing comes from and ask more questions about where, who and what it is made of, and consider the true cost of our clothing habits. My personal choice is to seek out pre-loved clothing from local op shops and use creative methods to adapt them to suit myself. That way, my clothes have a good story to tell about how they came to be.
Amazing to think this Sew it Again year of upcycling is nearly done, with only two days remaining in what has been an incredible journey of creativity, persistence and hard work, if I do say so myself!
Reflecting on learnings from the process of action research during the past 365 days, here are some thoughts of what upcycling means to individuals who chose to engage in it:
Creative – Upcycling is creative problem-solving, you need to envisage different ways of making cast-offs work and see mistakes as opportunities for experimental play.
Individual – Upcycling requires imagination, and the willingness to see and be individually creative rather than wanting sameness
Unconventional – Upcycling involves risk-taking, it is a disruptive, non-conformist approach which challenges the status quo and conventional ways of dressing
Limitless – Upcycling is an ongoing process in which clothing can be in a continual state of tweaking, adapting, mending, restyling. It was commonplace for earlier generations Continue reading →
What can I say? Even though it’s Christmas Day, it is a day like every other in 2014 when I’ve been upcycling and posting ways to reuse clothing that already exists rather than buying new.
Consumption often peaks at this time of year and it is great to see groups like 1 Million Women #nowaste and The Story of Stuff #buylesslivemore focusing on changing behaviour. Reading this poignant story from The Guardian exposes the uncomfortable truth and hidden cost of frivolous consumption. Be the change.
With a background in agriculture and interest in the material world of natural fibres, I’ve been fortunate to spend time re-creating clothing and learning more about the clothing footprint we (the collective 7-billion strong we) make on the world. My model for change includes empowering individuals to reimagine and recreate their own wardrobe collection by resewing at home to gain individual, conscious clothing. Continue reading →
When we think of creativity, most think of art with a capital A, when really it is about having a sense of festivity, fun and playfulness. One of my academic friends said the sense of play is what she most enjoys about Sew it Again because we need more creative play in our lives and workplaces.
In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron quotesStephen Nachmanovitch: “Creative work is play. It is free speculation using the materials of one’s chosen form” and C. G. Jung:“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” Continue reading →
Five years ago, I was down a dry gully in the remote Kimberley region on the Australian Rural Leadership Program when one of our spiritual travellers mentioned a quote which resonates with me to this day.
“Leadership is an action you take, not a position you hold”, was the quote repeated by my C16 team mate and attributed to Donald H. McGannon, an early American broadcasting executive who believed in the industry’s potential for good. The quote is powerful because it demonstrates a process for every one of us to influence outcomes, not just those with positional or assumed power.
I’ve been taking action every day this year on a 365-day campaign of my own making – refashioning existing clothing instead of buying new. This campaign is about dressing with conscience – reducing our clothing footprint on the world through reuse and choosing natural fibre clothing because it has less embodied energy than synthetics. And it is great to see the influential 1MillionWomen campaign for individual action against climate change pick up the Sew it Again story. Continue reading →
Nearly at the end of this crazybrave year dedicated to upcycling natural fibre clothing that already exists in the world. My aim? To model one way to dress with conscience in a society burdened by expanding resource use and dangerous climate change.
Melissa Breyer on the Treehugger website has put together some scary statistics on global fashion consumption habits and impacts along the clothing supply chain. Even though there are more than 7 billion people in the world, I believe small individual changes can ultimately make a big difference.
As I reflect on the people that made my Sew it Again upcycling year possible, today I thank the farmers who grow the natural fibres, the spinners who make the fabric, the designers and makers who magic it into clothing, the people who donate clothing then no longer want to charities and the volunteers who help run thrift shops – from where much of my clothing is sourced. Continue reading →
Thank you! We are at the pointy end of another year, and on a countdown of 365 days of the #sewitagain journey of discovery, learning, restyling existing clothing and daily posting.
No one achieves anything worthwhile on their own and I am deeply grateful to the many people who have helped me along the way.
Today, I thank the 7000+ people from around the world who have engaged with this eco-social project to shift thinking about how we choose and reuse clothing and textiles. My model includes empowering individuals to reimagine and recreate their own wardrobe collection by resewing at home.
As these Google Analytics screen captures show (right and below), two-thirds of those engaging with the project are in Australia – and the others involved mainly being in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Germany. And people in my birth-country of New Zealand are also very engaged considering the relatively small population! Continue reading →
Our tastes in clothing evolve over time so it is handy to have a few sewing skills and be able to lengthen or shorten hems and sleeves, without needing to replace garments.
Taking something from your wardrobe and making it work better for you is on the Guide to a Conscious Wardrobe created by Magnifeco which I came across yesterday and have included below because it is such a fabulous resource.
This 365-day Sew it Again project by Textile Beat aligns with Magnifeco’s guide because we mend, value the story, look for natural fibres, cherish second-hand, avoid fast fashion, use eco-dyes, read the labels and we make something better by resewing. Continue reading →
Global research shows synthetic clothing can shed microplastic fibres with every wash, and these fibres are then flushed into oceans to contaminate the food chain and the planet.
The research led by ecologist Mark Browne found clothing fibres to be abundant in habitats worldwide, and the problem is worsening. In his University of California Benign by Design presentation, Browne says ingested and inhaled fibers carry toxic materials and a third of the food we eat is contaminated with this material.
Environmental Science and Technology published the study in 2011 on Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Worldwide: sources and sinks: “Experiments sampling wastewater from domestic washing machines demonstrated that a single garment can produce >1900 fibers per wash. Continue reading →