Tag Archives: Australian Rural Leadership Program

Sew 357 – Leadership is an action

Liz Jumelet upcyclesFive 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

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 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 178 – Upcycled punjabi dress

Jane Milburn in Sew 178Seeing Indian women in colourful saree and punjabi are joyous sights I remember well from our Australian Rural Leadership Program trip to India in 2009 and of course many of us brought one or two of the traditional garments home. I purchased two silk punjabi kits at a craft market in Hyderabad, made them up when I got home and wore them on appropriate occasions. I have admiration for the way Indian women make wearing the scarf so easy whereas I found it needed constant adjustment. To make one of my outfits easier to wear, I refashioned it as Sew 178 and sewed the scarf to the neckline so it is attached in place. I wore it out and about in KL today with my aunt Kate McLachlan as we enjoyed seeing the full range of textile construction techniques and national costumes on display at Malaysia’s fantastic National Textile Museum, see photos below.  Continue reading

Sew 122 – Leading with heart

upcycled pink pig leather jacketThe Power of Bones is the incredible story of Keelen Mailman’s life journey to date and it was a privilege to be on country at Mt Tabor for the book launch at sunset last night. Mt Tabor is a long way from the coast and about two hours from Augathella in western Queensland, but Georgie Somerset and I made the trek because we are so proud of Keelen as a fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Keelen and I were Spiritual Travellers in the Kimberley and it was from her I learned about leading from the heart and trusting your instincts.

As the first Aboriginal women to run a cattle station in Australia, Keelen has shown incredible courage and love for her Bidjara ancestors, culture and country. I will write more on this tomorrow. Continue reading

Sew 94 – Repair rather than toss

Repair wool socksBeing mindful about consumption – of food, energy, clothing, technology, sweet stuff – leads to outcomes that are best for our selves and our world.

A recent Rabobank calculation found that every minute there are 158 new mouths to feed (and dress) in the world and that by 2050, on current trends, there will be just 0.5 hectares of land per person on the planet.

From my own research last year, this graph (below) from a FAO World Apparel Fibre Consumption Survey visually demonstrates the rate of fibre use increasing by 80 percent in two decades. The report is written from a consumption perspective on recession impacts but I interpret it as an overall warning because per capita consumption between 1992 and 2010 increased from 7 to 11kgs per person per year. Continue reading

Sew 47 – Refashion your own

upcycled linen skirtmakerI refashioned this op shop shirtmaker by removing sleeves and collar, turning back to front and draping a scarf at neckline.

Another day, another great read – this time Eco chic: The savvy shoppers guide to ethical fashion by Matilda Lee, who in 2007 when it was published in the United Kingdom was editor of the Green Pages of the Ecologist magazine.

Naturally Lee does a fantastic job of canvassing all the issues, and I loved the way she introduced the book with a quote from Coco Chanel: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

There is so much quality information in Lee’s book about the science behind fibres, fabrics and fashion and the stories behind the clothes we wear.  Books like this get me thinking about where I fit in the scheme of things, on my 365-day mission to reposition home-sewing as a life skill akin to home-cooking.  Continue reading

Sew 25 – Back to front makeover

upcycling shirtmaker dressJazz up a shirtmaker linen dress by turning it back to front, cutting off collar, adding scarf and resewing collar in reverse.

This upcycle marks day 25 of my Sew it Again campaign in which I am on a journey that aligns my values, personal and professional background, skills, instinctive creativity, love of nature and interest in pioneering new opportunities.

It springs from study last year with the Australian Rural Leadership Program in which I identified as a post-conventional leader working at individualist and strategist levels.

According to Rooke and Torbert in Harvard Business Review April 2005, strategists typically have socially conscious business ideas that are carried out in a highly collaborative manner. They seek to weave together idealist visions with pragmatic, timely initiatives and principled actions. Rooke and Torbert’s leadership model outlines a step-wise, logical evolution in leadership capacity built through experience and self-awareness.

Another insight I gained from study was I am an INFP. And thanks to my Twitter friend Lisa Claessen, I was inspired to read via this website that INFP-character traits defined as:

  • Introverted: composed, self-reliant, reserved and thoughtful
  • Intuitive: creative, imaginative, idealistic and innovative
  • Feeling: empathetic, sensitive, ethical and authentic
  • Perceiving: flexible, accepting, tolerant and open-minded

Truity says INFPs are imaginative idealists, guided by their own core values and beliefs. They see potential for a better future, and pursue truth and meaning with their own individual flair.

Individualistic and non-judgmental, INFPs enjoy spending time exploring their own ideas and values are creative and often artistic; they enjoy finding new outlets for self-expression.

INFPs value authenticity and want to be original and individual in what they do. They are often concerned with a search for meaning and truth within themselves. Following tradition holds little appeal for the INFP; they prefer to do their own exploration of values and ideas, and decide for themselves what seems right. INFPs are often offbeat and unconventional, but they feel no desire to conform. The INFP would rather be true to themselves than try to fit in with the crowd.

The INFP may react strongly if they feel their own values are being violated, and they want an open, supportive exchange of ideas.

INFPs engage themselves in a lifelong quest for meaning and authenticity. They often have a special affection for the arts, especially the avant garde, as they love experiencing new concepts in self-expression. (Find your type here.)

Well that explains it!  For all of the above reasons, I’m spending 2014 on a values-based creative quest to demonstrate a different way of dressing that is sustainable, unique and rewarding.

This shirtmaker dress has intrinsic value for its lovely linen and shell buttons, but the style was dated. I cut off the collar, added a scarf to the neckline leaving the loose ends to tie in a knot at the buttoned back of the dress (which had been the front). I then sewed the collar on the front of the dress (which had been the back). In reality, the dress can be worn either way around – so it now has a second and third life!

how to update shirtmaker dress