Tag Archives: denim

Sew 361 – Creating opportunities

Jenna wears upcycled jeans skirtWhile I’ve not resorted to singing and dancing, I have been spruiking at every opportunity this year about ways to resew  and restyle unworn clothing into something fresh.

I’m grateful to those who created those opportunities to present talks and workshops in three Australian states and raise awareness about ways to dress with conscience and reduce our clothing footprint on the world. 

There’s a global rethink happening about the way we dress, as people begin to ask more questions about where clothing is made and what from, and there’s a trend back to local and handmade.  Continue reading

Sew 258 – Creativity in Charters Towers

Fiona uses upcycled denimIt is my pleasure this week to be in Charters Towers where the regional council is working to nurture and develop an artist culture and build a creative economy.

I was invited to present a Purposeful Passion workshop as the first of a series of Regional Arts Development Fund workshops to help foster emerging and existing artisans by providing tools, information and connections.

On the way to the Towers, it was fun to stop at the mighty Burdekin River just east of the city – where my friend, pioneering bush photographer Fiona Lake, agreed to model Sew 258, a denim bag upcycled from a girl’s denim skirt. Thanks for the lift Fiona! Making the bag was just a matter of sewing the bottom of the skirt together, then using denim leg offcuts (from earlier project) to create a strap that is sewn either side. Continue reading

Sew 250 – Denim cum cushion covers

Denim jackets double as cushion coversI loved seeing denim jackets multi-tasking as cushion covers when visiting my friend Cazza yesterday.

It’s great to have others involved in upcycling as together we rethink our relationship with clothing and its impact on our environment.

In the same way we appreciate the influence food has on our health and well-being, we are coming to consciousness about clothing impacts on ecological health and sustainability.

It is admirable to see Levi Strauss quantifying the life-cycle assessment of denim jeans as part of the company’s sustainability agenda. And as consumers of clothing products, we can also make a difference by washing less, using cold water, line drying, and finding alternative homes or uses for clothing when we’re not wearing them because they’re too big/small, out of vogue or season.

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Sew 168 – Creative metamorphosis

Upcycled cotton skirtTo draw an analogy from nature, when you apply right-brained creative thinking to traditional sewing skills it is like undergoing metamorphosis. You can transform yourself and mediocre garments into something bespoke.

What I most enjoyed about the Biloela upcycling workshop was enabling willing and able women to make a chop of faith and change their garments – and in some ways themselves – forever more.

It is not particularly hard or risky when you use reject and unworn clothing that isn’t working for you any more as it was anyway. And once your creative right-brain switches on to the potential of upcycling, there’s no end to what you can do when you invest time and energy in a mindfully creative way.  Continue reading

Sew 163 – Pinny from upcycled jeans

Danielle in upcycled jeans apron Great to enable undomestic goddesses to join the refashioning revolution today with Danielle Crismani aka Digella, Sally Gardner, Alison Triffett and friends of #bakedrelief recreating aprons from reject jeans at a workshop in the Textile Beat studio.

As i introduce others to upcycling, I’m learning more about the stumbling blocks to sewing, how people missed out on learning these life skills, and why others were turned off by previous experience or simply don’t have access to a sewing machine.

Sewing is a reasonably straight-forward process but you need to problem solve because things never go smoothly – particularly when you are working with random, irregular and different resources such as reject clothing and fabric offcuts. Ingenuity, persistence and creative solutions are the order of the day. But it is fun, and you can magic something useful out of not much – as these great ladies did today making aprons from jeans and offcuts.  Continue reading

Sew 160 – Domestic goddess ex-jeans

Upcycled domestic goddess jeans apronThis denim apron idea came via Danielle Crismani aka Digella and Sally Gardner from #Baked Relief after they visited Toowoomba Quilters Club and posted a photo on Facebook.

We’re having an apron workshop later this week so Sew 160 is a test-drive of what’s possible when you refashion denim shorts (left over from Heather’s jeans project yesterday).

I cut out the zip (it will be used in a future project) and trimmed the bottom edge. The back pockets were already embellished and make a pretty feature on the front of the apron. From my material stash (friend-donated offcuts), I found a piece of fabric which had a complementary pattern and colour. I cut one 5cm wide strip (selvage to selvage), sewed right sides together, then turned right-side out, and it becomes a tie belt for the apron. I cut another 2cm wide strip and Heather used this to neaten the bottom edge of the apron.  Continue reading

Sew 159 – Op-shop-chop chic

Upcycled silk skirtI’m swimming against the tide this year with the Sew it Again project by demonstrating how we can reduce consumption of clothing and reuse and reshape that which already exists rather than buying new.

It is therefore affirming to find people who get what it’s about – such as friend and colleague Heather Grant-Campbell who spent the morning sewing in the Textile Beat studio after we caught up recently at the Green Heart Fair.

Refashioning waste and reject clothing into something you can wear is mindful, creative, thrilling, satisfying, rewarding, sustainable and enlightening. My methods of chopping up garments and roughly stitching back together again are different to traditional tailor/seamstress techniques. I look for unconventional, quick and simple solutions – and Heather and I joked about how “Mrs Davis” her high-school sewing teacher would not have approved! But we got results for Heather – turning 2x$2 jeans into a wrap skirt – and getting her inspired to create more at home when time allows.  Continue reading

Sew 144 – Seeing resewing results

Diagonal jeans skirtWe all bobble along in the world, making the best of what we have and contributing where we can to make a difference. I’m assiduously working away this year on the Sew it Again project, supported by my family and friends to demonstrate ways of upcycling existing clothing to conserve and revive natural fibre resources instead of buying new.

And it is exciting when others catch the ball and run with it! Star pupil from the Coolah workshops Jacki sent me this update: ‘Had a great day – mended two dresses, patched some work jeans that had holes and upcycled a hoodie top into jeans, bag and scarf with little pockets to keep hands warm. That outfit was for an 8-year-old girl, the daughter of a friend. When I gave her the clothes she said “Look Mum the jeans aren’t ugly anymore”. See below for Jacki’s photos of the second-life she created for her unworn hoodie. Continue reading

Sew 141 – The ripple effect

Upcycled jeans to skirtWhen you throw a rock in the pond, ripples emerge as a result of that action. This Sew it Again project is not exactly a rock, rather a deliberate and sustained action that is demonstrating the multitude of ways we can reclaim our wardrobes by resewing.

Over the past few decades as women relished long-denied educational and workplace opportunities, we readily outsourced our clothing requirements. Home-made was considered old-fashioned and we embraced easy (and cheap) opportunities to buy off the rack.

The more we bought into the fashion thing, the more we lost the skills and confidence to ‘do for ourselves’ thereby becoming disempowered and dependent on fashion houses and clothing supply chains.

In the same way the food revolution reclaimed the freedom, pleasure and nourishment enabled by home-cooking and baking skills, we are poised to revive home-sewing skills as part of the fashion revolution.  Continue reading

Sew 113 – Jean genie

Jean jenie Jeans are produced in their millions annually and an average pair weighs at least half a kilogram. That’s a huge resource in terms of cotton farmed, fibre spun, fabric woven, dyed, sewn, finished and marketed.

It is enthralling – and appalling – to think that 253 tons of clothing is thrown away by Hong Kong residents on the average day, according to their Environmental Protection Department.

Redress is a Hong-Kong based NGO with a mission to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. 

The 5-metre high mountain of second-hand clothing, photographed below, was designed as part of the Get Redressed campaign to illustrate the Chinese territory’s textile waste and is just the tip of a precipice because it represents only 7.5 tons of textiles, or 3% of the daily dumping of clothing.   Continue reading