Category Archives: repair and care

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 321 – Suiting yourself

Jo wears upcycledTelevision presenter Karl Stefanovic wore the same suit every day for a year to make a statement regarding the way female presenters are judged on appearance and dress.

A fringe benefit of Stefanovic’s experiment is he demonstrated how long clothing lasts and how little we need for utilitarian purposes.

An average suit weighs about 1kg – yet the global average consumption of clothing is 11kg/person/year (up 80% from 7kg/person/yr in 1992) according to the UN Food and Agriculture global apparel fibre survey (pg 2).

Imagine the sheer volume of clothing that is sitting in wardrobes, cast aside after one or two wears, shed into charity shops or dumped into landfill? Tens of thousands of tonnes of clothing every year.  Continue reading

Sew 318 – I believe

Jane Milburn wears upcycledI believe in creative, individual dress that doesn’t exploit people or the environment.

I believe we can extend the useful life of existing natural fibre clothing by mending, adapting and refashioning them to suit ourselves.

And I’m living what I believe every day this year by posting resewing, repair and refashion projects as a way of demonstrating ways we can individually reduce our clothing footprint.

Today was difficult because my sister Jo and I finalised our late brother Paul’s estate – including his Mercedes Sprinter Van, right. Thank you to those who have helped along the way. Losing a much-loved younger sibling makes us think a lot about our purpose in life and how best to spend the limited time we have on Earth.  Continue reading

Sew 303 – Favourites given new life

Dionne wears refashionIt is always good to hear repair and reuse stories on the airwaves because they run counter to the perpetual consumption messages so dominant in today’s throwaway society.

I enjoyed this 612ABC chat yesterday between Kelly Higgins Devine and Chrissy Keepence, who is singing from the same song-sheet as the Sew it Again project, about repurposing quality older clothing rather than buying newer cheap stuff.

Dionne – who features on the blog today as Sew 303 – hates waste, so yesterday she refashioned two garments from her wardrobe to extend their life. This look was created from a top and skirt that had fallen out of favour (because they had become shabby under the arms with wear) but with which she didn’t want to part.  Continue reading

Sew 300 – Celebrating thrifty repairs

Gemma upcycles old favouritesWe know that endless growth is impossible in a finite world. Therefore being thrifty, conserving resources, repurposing and repairing existing clothing are actions that contribute to the sustainability of life on Earth.

I find it interesting that some of the wealthiest people are also the thriftiest. Just because one can afford to go out and buy new clothing, doesn’t mean one does. I wrote about this in an earlier post and quoted UK design guru Kevin McCloud’s views on thrift “throw nothing away if you can help it and wear your clothes until they are rags – thrift is an admirable value that we have lost”.

Well-worn and cherished resources are often more comfortable, they have a story attached, and may even be of better quality than newer stuff. Thrift underpins this 365-day Sew it Again project which is valuing, reusing, repairing and refashioning natural-fibre clothing instead of always buying new.  Continue reading

Sew 297 – Silk worn across generations

Georgie Somerset wears upcycled silkWe have clothing, and then we have fashion clothing. Clothing withstands the passage of time, whereas fashion comes and goes.

Professor Kate Fletcher Sustainable Fashion and Textiles says fashion links us to time and space – and caters to emotional and social needs. Where the fashion sector and the clothing industry come together – in fashion clothes – our emotional needs are made manifest as garments. She says this overlaying of emotional needs on physical goods fuels resource consumption, generates waste and promotes short-term thinking. It also leaves us feeling dissatisfied and disempowered, because external physical possessions are unable to satisfy internal psychological and emotional needs, no matter how much new stuff we consume.  Continue reading

Sew 291 – Re-learning care for clothes

Sophie wears upcycledThe study of home economics has disappeared from some Australian schools entirely and is considered a lightweight in others – yet it teaches important life-skills about food and nutrition, sewing and textiles, and consumer citizenship.

Lack of knowledge about food and food preparation is no doubt contributing to obesity while absence of simple sewing and laundering skills leads to many clothing being discarded prematurely.

Recent United States research discussed in this Ecouterre article found that young people there have little idea of how to care for clothes.  Textiles and Apparel Professor Pamela Norum from the University of Missouri-Columbia surveyed hundreds of American baby boomers and millennials about clothing consumption and found the ability to sew, hem, repair, and launder diminished across generations.  Continue reading

Sew 276 – Finding treasure on Straddie

Jane Milburn in upcycled silk muumuuSuddenly we were off to Stradbroke Island and in the rush to catch the Straddie Flyer, I left my hat in the car. Arrive at Dunwich to discover St Marks Thrift Shop open for business – find suitable hat as well as two silk garments and a shell belt.

I’m trying to keep out of op shops because I’ve got too much treasure already, but I couldn’t resist $3.50 silk garments that just need a little mend.

So Sew 276 is a silk muumuu with a side seam mended by hand-sewing a little tear. The belt tie was created by stripping a piece from the hemline and resewing the hem by hand (see photos below).  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 254 – Silk restyle overcomes tear

Lisa in favourite upcycled silkClothes don’t last forever but when they have treasured memories attached, it is great to be able to extend their lifespan through restyle and repair.

My friend Lisa bought this gorgeous silk outfit about 12 years ago for a special occasion and it has served her well since, being hand-washed and worn at least a dozen times.

Recently when she was warmly hugging friends farewell at a function, Lisa felt the underarms rip in what she laughingly describes as a ‘blow out’ which left the delicate silk torn and frayed.

After umming and ahing over upcycle options and green tea, and seeing that Lisa had already hand-repaired the same area once before, we decided to remove the sleeves altogether.  Continue reading