Category Archives: innovation

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 306 – Jasmyn jumps into refashion

Jasmyn in upcycled t-shirts as Sew 306Social media is a powerful tool that enables us to self-publish, share, connect, engage and conduct business with others around the globe in ways that were barely possible 15 years ago.

I wrote my first story about the internet when I was Queensland correspondent for Australian Campus Review Weekly newspaper back in the mid-1990s. Obviously Campus Review is now itself online – and this reflection of change prompted me to search for a brief history of social media

I’ve been online everyday this year with the Sew it Again project and yet I still marvel at the fact that I can read through social media (Twitter) about the first Refashion Day which is planned for 26th November at Somerset House on The Strand in London on the other side of the world.   Continue reading

Sew 305 – Future Beauty inspiration

The amazing Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion exhibition is now open at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane and thanks to my artist friend Leigh Wagner I had the privilege of being at last night’s official opening.

It was inspiring to see the shapes and construction techniques in the photos below – with Leigh below left – and to meet local creatives such as the gorgeous Mary Dickinson (photographed with me bottom right below, in Sew 285).

Future Beauty images

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Sew 288 – The rest of the cotton story

Veronica wears upcycled skirtAustralian cotton has a great story to tell about its reduced use of pesticides and water, as outlined in yesterday’s post. What has enabled those efficiencies is that cotton plants have been genetically modified to resist insect attack by heliothis pests.

Additionally, cotton growers routinely engage agronomists to check the crop several times a week to oversee the level of beneficial insects and decide when irrigation needs to be scheduled for best effect.

Cotton plants not only produce fibre, but also food in the form of cotton seed which is used as animal feed – with the ratio being two tonne of cotton seed for every one tonne of fibre produced.  Continue reading

Sew 287 – Great story of Aussie cotton

The Australian cotton industry has a cracking story to tell about its sustainability credentials, with pesticide use down by 95 per cent and water use down by 40 per cent according to Cotton Australia’s CEO Adam Kay.

Speaking at the Rural Press Club of Queensland in Brisbane today, Mr Kay said telling the story of Australian cotton to clients and customers enables the industry to take its place as a sustainable source of natural fibres – and face-down creeping competition from synthetic fibres such as polyester which is derived from petroleum.

Having begun its Best Management Practice program in 1997 along with environmental auditing, water-use efficiency measures and more recently the Better Cotton Initiative, the Australian industry is now sharing its story with global customers interested in sustainable natural fibres. View Mr Kay’s talk below.

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Sew 256 – Lucy works T-shirt magic

Lucy models t-shirt upcycleWow – look what Lucy whipped together from a bunch of reject t-shirts and t-offcuts? I was impressed to see how Lucy selected colours and textures from the pile of bits and pieces. She played with them for a while before heading home with a promise to send through photos of her modelling the refashioned results.

I met Lucy at today’s Whites Hill State College fun day in Camp Hill after being invited by my friend Kerryn to run a T-shirts Reworked workshop. It is always good to chat with locals about how they engage with clothes and most have some concern about the declining quality leading to increasing waste as we adopt what amounts to a disposable clothing culture.  Continue reading

Sew 246 – Reusing what already exists

Upcycled linen coat dressThe coming to consciousness about what we wear on our bodies is being driven along by many factors – including popular culture icons engaging their profile and influence for greater good.

Pharrell Williams, of ‘Happy’ fame, is one such musician involved in a fashion initiative that is turning plastic and ocean waste into desirable clothing under the G-Star RAW for the Oceans collection launching this month. Read more in this 1 Million Women article by Bronte Hogarth.

Another popular musician is stepping out too, in sharply tailored suits made by Coca-Cola funded reuse initiative Ekocycle with fabric created from recycled plastic bottles, as reported by Ecouterre magazine and in the video below.  Continue reading

Sew 227 – Refashioning op-shop wool

Jane Milburn wears op shop woolNatural resources are finite and it is great to see Sweden announcing that it has created technology to recycle all materials that contain cellulose, as reported in The Guardian recently.

Apparently old cotton clothes are brought into a factory where they are shredded and mulched into porridge-like goop from which the non-recyclable pieces like zips and buttons are removed. The goop is then further broken down before being turned into a fibre substance which become threads and then rayon-like fabric. Reconstituted fabric is a mechanical way to reuse the mountain of waste clothing generated by fast fashion.

A creative way of reusing natural fibres is by individual refashion – cutting and resewing existing clothing to suit your own needs. This is what I’m doing every day this year with Sew it Again and Sew 227 is a refashion of wool garments from various op shop excursions.  Continue reading

Sew 219 – Jumper-skirt for Ekka

Jane Milburn wears upcycled cotton jumper-skirtThe Rural Press Club breakfast is the opening event at the Ekka, Queensland’s annual show, and a great time to catch up with rural friends and associates from around the state.

Guest speaker this year was Jason Strong, CEO of Australian Agricultural Company – talking about beef of course – but I was seated with central Queensland cotton grower Charlie Wilson.  As a former chair of Cotton Australia, Charlie has good insight into cotton production, how it sits in the textile world in relation to inputs (water and chemicals) required to grow the crop and the challenge from synthetic fibres. He runs a family enterprise producing about 4000 bales of cotton as well as organic beef and dryland cropping of wheat and chickpeas. Although he plans to grow organic wheat in future, he says it is not possible to grow fully organic cotton in Australia because of the insect pest problems. Continue reading