Tag Archives: cotton

Sew 360 – Thanks upcyclers, models

Steph wears upcycledToday I thank the many upcyclers and models I’ve had the opportunity to work with during this Sew it Again year.

Looking back at the 360 photos (to date) taken during the year pinned here on Pinterest is a great reminder of the breadth of both old and young who’ve been involved with the project.

Upcycling appeals across generations and of course was a practise routinely undertaken in earlier times when clothing was valued for the natural resources it represents. People refashioned and reshaped, mended and passed clothes along as hand-me-downs.

We’ve been reclaiming some of that conscious and conservative culture during 2014 – and I thank those who have been part of the journey by engaging in workshops at various locations or at the Textile Beat studio in Brisbane Australia.  Continue reading

Sew 359 – Upcycled White Christmas

Jane Milburn wears upcycledWhat 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

Sew 356 – Thanks for web support

Liz Jumelet wears upcycledKnowledge is power. And knowing people who know stuff, is pretty useful (and powerful) too. Today I thank the people who’ve given me website, social media and IT knowledge and support during this year – I couldn’t have done it without you.

Sew it Again is a labour of love run on ‘the smell of an oily rag’ for greater good, aided by volunteer effort. Technically speaking, you work from a place of good intention and the universe provides. There was that tricky spot halfway through the year though, when my laptop screen failed and it was a juggling act for a few weeks while my son Casey got my new laptop up and running. Obstacles, challenges and road blocks to get around.  Continue reading

Sew 353 – Fashion skills at the table

Linda Zucco wears tablecloth refashionThis year I’ve methodically worked on this 365-day Sew it Again eco-social project to inspire positive change in the way we engage with our clothes – to embrace slow fashion, upcycle natural fibre clothing and dress with conscience.

I’ve brought expertise and knowledge to the table after working in agriculture and communications – while declaring that my sewing and design skills are largely self-taught through creative action.

So it was with delight that my new best friend Linda Zucco came to play in the Textile Beat studio yesterday for eco-dyeing as Sew 352 and tablecloth refashion for Sew 353.  Continue reading

Sew 345 – Cool cotton restyle

Jane Milburn wears refashioned cottonSummer storms and Christmas drinks – it is that time of year in Australia. And how exciting to be posting Sew 345, which means only 20 upcycles to go before the Sew it Again year is complete!

I’ve learned so much by experimenting with creative restyling, reshaping and repurposing of existing clothing. Certainly it takes a little time and a few skills, but really it is not hard to breathe new life into clothes made from beautiful natural fibres by making simple changes.

Despite sewing most days, I don’t really think my sewing skills have improved that much. Perhaps it comes from working with existing clothes and random shapes – I don’t have any great expectation for neatness and perfection, being more interested in comfort and originality.  Continue reading

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 280 – Clothing has no use-by date

Overalls make a comebackUnlike food, clothing does not have a use-by date. Certainly some styles become dated but most clothing never gets a chance to wear out.

In the past we valued our clothing, bought quality, laundered with care, mended and maintained, handed down or passed on.

Engineer James Moody says it takes 10,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton, so we ought to treat cotton clothing with more respect – using, reusing, recycling or upcycling it – doing everything but put it in landfill.

Moody is CEO of online sharing platform Tu-Share and recently participated in a Rethinking Waste conversation with ABC Nightlife’s Tony Delroy along with National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations CEO Kerryn Caulfield. Listen to the fascinating podcast hereContinue reading

Sew 238 – Op-shop lace treasure

Kate wears vintage laceThis is a truly beautiful cotton lace vintage-style top which is embellished with pretty pansy and daisy flowers, and fastened with shell buttons.

It is fun discovering beautifully-made items like this top at op shops and creating an original outfit by teaming them with a skirt such as this linen one worn by Katy, right, or just blue jeans, below.

From a broader perspective, supporting op shops through National Op Shop Week is a means of raising raise awareness of the important role these charity shops play in our community.  This week aims to:

  • boost donations of quality clothing and household goods to charity op shops
  • boost charity op shop sales
  • recognise the tremendous work of the volunteers and staff of charity op shops.  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

Sew 207 – See old jumper sew skirt

Desirea wears upcycled jumper-skirtThis was an ordinary old cotton jumper that Helen transformed into a skirt, scarf, toggle and headband at the Textile Beat jumper-to-skirt workshop – and Desirea modelled at the gorgeous Abbey of the Roses in Warwick, Queensland.

Cotton farmers are paid about $500/bale (which is 227kg) for raw cotton or about $2/kg for the cotton in a standard jumper which weighs less than 500 gms. A lot of water, energy and other inputs (insect control, defoliant) go into producing this natural fibre. After being grown on farms, the fibres then go through ginning, spinning, colouring, knitting to turn it into garments which we buy so easily and cheaply in clothing stores because they are made en mass. Billions and billions of such garments are produced every year to clothe the world.  Continue reading