Tag Archives: #dresswithconscience

Sew it Again an award-winner

Social Media Award winner Jane Milburn with co-ordinator Edwina Close and Rural Press Club president Brendan Egan

Jane Milburn with awards co-ordinator Edwina Close and Rural Press Club president Brendan Egan

It is fantastic to have this work recognised by journalistic peers. Sew it Again was judged Social Media category winner in the Excellence in Rural Journalism 2015 Awards run by the Rural Press Club of Queensland.

The judges comments were: Jane Milburn’s Sew It Again project engaged with the community, had a call to action and was transformative. It actually made a difference in the world.

I am a natural fibre champion and believe that dressing is an agricultural act, unless you prefer synthetic fibre clothing derived from petroleum, coal or gas.

My work has a clear connection to agriculture through its focus on natural-fibre clothing, which now only makes up 1/3 of apparel consumption (see table below). The other 2/3 of clothing are made of synthetic fibres, which 2011 research shows are shedding microplastic particles into the wastewater stream with every wash and these particles are entering the food chain.

This is the message I am now sharing at Textile Beat workshops and talks on slow fashion, natural fibres and dressing with conscience – consistent with my goal to travel the world inspiring creative upcycling of natural fibres.

World Apparel Fiber use

RPC journalism award winners with Minister Bill Byrne

Congratulations to the other award winners, photographed with Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne, including overall winner the ABC’s Marty McCarthy

Sew 365 – All stitched up!

Jane Milburn celebrates 365 days of upcycling natural fibresWhat an amazing experience. To do something repeatedly for a whole year and come out the other side with an entirely fresh perspective.

It has been challenging and lonely at times. The reward is the transformative journey of honouring the commitment I made in December last year to upcycle existing clothing every day. And daring to start a conversation about resewing clothing and textiles.

Hats off to the professional makers and designers of clothing which I admire from afar and I am proud to be part of the Fashion Revolution.

In the same way we have become conscious of food, it is time to become conscious about where clothing comes from and ask more questions about where, who and what it is made of, and consider the true cost of our clothing habits. My personal choice is to seek out pre-loved clothing from local op shops and use creative methods to adapt them to suit myself. That way, my clothes have a good story to tell about how they came to be.

Continue reading

Sew 354 – Countdown with gratitude

visits to sewitagain websiteThank you! We are at the pointy end of another year, and on a countdown of 365 days of the #sewitagain journey of discovery, learning, restyling existing clothing and daily posting.

No one achieves anything worthwhile on their own and I am deeply grateful to the many people who have helped me along the way.

Today, I thank the 7000+ people from around the world who have engaged with this eco-social project to shift thinking about how we choose and reuse clothing and textiles. My model includes empowering individuals to reimagine and recreate their own wardrobe collection by resewing at home.

As these Google Analytics screen captures show (right and below),  two-thirds of those engaging with the project are in Australia – and the others involved mainly being in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Germany. And people in my birth-country of New Zealand are also very engaged considering the relatively small population! 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 39 – Towards zero waste

upcycled silk suitTransformed from two jackets, this outfit is for tonight’s opening of the Love Up-cycled exhibition at Reverse Emporium in Brisbane, which includes Textile Beat’s Sew it Again.

Am looking forward to meeting upcyclers likely to have similar values to mine – integrity, creativity, autonomy and purpose.

I’m proud to live in a city with a sustainability agenda that includes a Towards Zero Waste Strategy, and events such as the bi-annual Green Heart Fair which I attended last year. Other cities with zero waste strategies include San Francisco (they’ve just introduced a textile waste program) in the US, Vancouver in Canada and Kaikoura in New Zealand.

Brisbane City Council’s says on its website: “Zero Waste is a goal, a process, a way of thinking that profoundly changes our approach to resources and production. Not only is Zero Waste about recycling and diverting materials from landfills, it is also about restructuring production and distribution systems to prevent waste from being created in the first place. Zero waste ensures that resources already in existence are used to their maximum potential.”  Continue reading

Sew 37 – Consumerism creates waste

upcycled cotton outfitAnother day, another outfit – and another amazing new book! The Sustainable Fashion Handbook, by Sandy Black – which was just waiting on the library shelf for me to find.

Today’s outfit is refashioned from items off the $2 op-shop rack, just one step away from becoming landfill yet barely worn. The shirt sleeves became a belt, extended by an offcut from skirt which helps blend the pink and beige stripe separates.

In her 2014 book, Professor Sandy Black says taken holistically the textile and clothing life cycles consume more energy and water than do the product lifecycles of any other industry except construction or agriculture – with cleaning, drying and ironing of clothes by consumers being especially costly. Continue reading

Sew 35 – Dress renovation

upcycled cotton dressThis op shop dress was done over by shortening it, taking pinking shears to the armholes then adding a knit-fabric collar cut from the bottom-half of an op shop vest.

Resewing existing clothing for a second life is creative, ethical, thrifty, sustainable – and fun. It takes is a little time (making that is the hard part), a simple sewing skills and imagination.

Society is now much more aware of where food comes from and its impact on our health and environment – and is gradually coming to consciousness about where clothing comes from and its equivalent impacts.

In her book Sew Eco, Ruth Singer says the textile and fashion industries are fraught with potential environmental and ethical issues. Some to consider are:  Continue reading

Sew 33 – Renewal by upcycling

upcycled silk outfitThis bias-cut silk skirt was shortened by cutting off the old waistline and replacing with thin elastic, then recasting the waistline offcut as a draped collar for a matching silk shirt.

My friend Robyn Sheptooha called in with a bag of surplus clothing the other day and we shared a cup of tea while she told me the story of each – how it came into her life and why it was going out – and being put to good use as garment fodder for my 365-day Sew it Again upcycling project.

We met ages ago with boys in Year 3 and meander in and out of each other’s lives, catching up when time permits.

Robyn SheptoohaI did so enjoy reading Nikki Gemmell’s column Swamped Again in The Weekend Australian Magazine yesterday because it took me back to those days on the whirligig, bringing up three children with little time to call your own.  Continue reading

Sew 32 – Ethical dressing

linen outfit with vintage buttonsThe beautiful buttons on this linen outfit are from my mother-in-law’s collection gathered over her lifetime in Cairns north Queensland and given to me in metal cake tin containers.

Quality, heritage and warmth are interwoven in my journey to revive traditional home-sewing skills and reuse natural resources for pleasure and purpose.

I’m also discovering a global ethical fashion community conscious of where clothes come from, how they are made and their ‘true cost’ to people and the environment.

Beautiful, informed people such as founder of manifeco.com Kate Black who wrote on Huff Post recently:

“Ethical fashion, also known as eco, green or sustainable fashion, can take many forms; it can be items that have been passed down (through family or from thrift and vintage shops), clothes from small-batch or local designers, even big brands are getting in the game with fair-trade certifications and using environmentally preferred fibres like organic cotton or tencel.”  Continue reading

Sew 27 – Resewing brings second life

linen dress upcycledThis favourite linen dress was in need of a makeover so I shortened the length, used the off-cut to make a long ribbon then sewed some to the neckline before replacing elastic.

Reinventing clothing that already exists in our own and others wardrobes is my purpose this year as I demonstrate a different way of dressing by resewing existing resources.

In our modern world, home sewing is in danger of becoming a lost art, having fallen off the radar as fast, cheap fashion replaced the need to do for ourselves – just as fast food did with home-cooking.

In the same way that we have rediscovered home-cooking as a nourishing and pleasurable activity, I believe home-sewing is being rediscovered as a life-skill of value and reward. Continue reading