Tag Archives: fashion revolution

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 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 110 – Make social media statement

upcycled lookYou can plop any old statement into social media, be it good, bad or ugly. Social media shapes your public identity, it reflects who you are.

Social media gives us an amazing opportunity to publish and become shape-shifters, just as it influences us in return. But we need to remember, that our online self is only a fraction of our true self at any given time.

As journalist Kylie Lang said in her TEDx Noosa talk, we can connect with up to two billion people. That gives us the potential to change the world for the better.

With so many global problems facing the world today, Kylie quotes the OECD saying we need solutions from independent thinkers who skillfully use technology, engage empathetically with others and act autonomously.   View her talk there.

Continue reading

Sew 108 – Resewing existing clothing

upcycled silk and wool lookWeird, eccentric, alternative, unusual, different, unique, junky, ragged, rustic, rough, bodgie, wasted, original, rad, scrappy, yuck, quirky, bespoke, creative … adjectives describing various results from taking scissors to existing clothes and resewing them.

There are professional designers creating cutting-edge clothing from upcycled materials all over the world, with the best collated by New York-based academic Sass Brown in her latest book Refashioned and website Eco Fashion Talk.

I’m an amateur, learning by doing, having a go with what I have, resewing rejected natural fibre clothing using home-sewing techniques and posting results on sewitagain.com every day this year.

One doesn’t have to look far to see evidence of clothing waste, millions of tonnes of it every year. Americans throw out 30kg of textiles per person per year, according to Elizabeth Cline in Overdressed: the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.  And at least half of donated clothing ends up being shipped overseas to African countries, according to Beverly Gordon in her book Textiles: The Whole StoryContinue reading

Sew 104 – Bring on the Sew Change

upcycled cotton lookIt doesn’t cost the earth to save the planet. If we all make small changes and different choices, the collective impact can be huge.

My contribution this year is demonstrating how changing existing clothing by resewing – doing a sew change – can bring new life to natural resources that for various reasons are not being worn.

My inspiration is natural beauty, such as this mushroom cum toadstool which has sprung up in our local bush after recent rain.

toadstool treasurePossessing a wardrobe bulging with clothing alongside a feeling of having nothing to wear is a common refrain in advanced economies. Consumer culture encourages buying new as the solution.

There’s little economic imperative to reuse, resew, refashion what we already have because the machine of consumption and global supply chains mean new clothing is so cheap. Whether the purchase represents best value is another matter.

This year I’m working off-trend, sewing upstream against the tide by demonstrating how the application of a few simple sewing skills, some time and creativity we can (if so inclined) revive what we already have as an alternative to buying new.

My Sew it Again campaign comes on the back of leadership study last year and concern for the squandering of limited resources in the form of natural fibre clothing which I continue to observe within my own environment.

Working my way through 365-days of wearable upcycling, I am inspired by fabulous change happening around the world. There’s TRAIDremade in the United Kingdom, Redressed in Hong Kong and the global Fashion Revolution movement which is turning fashion into a force for good.

Today’s Sew 104 is a refashion of a hand-printed cotton garment that is a friend’s reject. No doubt lovely in its day, the waistline frill added unnecessary bulk that is unflattering for all but the slimmest. I removed the frill, turned the waistline over and inserted thin elastic to minimise bulk and provide flexible fit. I cut-up the bodice and used the printed mid-riff part to form a collar-effect on a simple cream wool-blend top. A red stain on one end of the collar is hidden underneath and it is held in place using the press-studs that were already there from its past life. I trimmed loose threads from the cut edge which had frayed after washing.

upcycled cotton look


Sew 99 – Upcycling for green thrift

Upcycled denim jeans/skirt and shirtGreen thrift describes the action of upcycling old stuff for ecological and financial health … and wellbeing.

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. That’s what I’m doing right here, right now, using a few traditional sewing skills to adapt found clothing to demonstrate how we can all join the Fashion Revolution by upcycling.

Refashioning clothing that already exists makes good sense. The hard work has been done (zips, buttons, hems already in place), resources expended (cotton grown and spun, fabric woven and dyed) and dollars already spent when items were newly purchased.  Continue reading

Sew 86 – Valuing others’ work

upcycled wool and linen

Respecting time, effort and resources of others’ creations is part of today’s upcycle which includes the waistband of a knitted garment now featuring as a loose collar.

Thinking of others is key to the inspiring story told at the Rural Press Club by Danielle Crismani about her leadership journey during the 2011 Queensland floods when a simple act of baking muffins for volunteers sparked an outpouring of baked relief at this time of community crisis.

By giving to others Danielle has achieved many things, including being able to opening dispense her recipe for overcoming depression – which is show gratitude, sleep, be kind to yourself and help others. There were many great pearls of wisdom in Danielle’s speech, which you can get a taste of by reading ABC Landline Pip Courtney’s twitter feed.  Continue reading

Sew 67 – Dressed to frill

Purple frill dressThis was a long shift dress to which I added rows of salvaged silk and repositioned the hem as a collar.

On this International Women’s Day it’s troubling to read the statistics of women still living in difficult circumstances and disempowered, enslaved or subjugated.

Oxfam International says women perform 66% of the work, produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income & own 1% of the property.

The Women’s Agenda highlights these statistics along with the stunning Oscar speech of 12 Years a Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o in which she said: “it doesn’t escape me for a moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s”.

As I reuse existing clothing I’m valuing the hard work that has gone before and rejecting exploitation exposed by the Rana Plaza fire that has sparked a Fashion RevolutionContinue reading

Sew 30 – Library full of knowledge

tablecloth turned skirtThis garment was upcycled by Jane Milburn of Textile Beat. It is part of the Sew it Again project to demonstrate a different way of dressing by repurposing exiting clothing for pleasure, reward and sustainability.

That’s my job this year because I’m stepping up. As Rachael Robertson says in her book Leading on the Edge … ‘if you have the expertise or knowledge, speak out and step up into leadership, regardless of your position’.

The current propensity for endless, almost mindless, consumption means our world is bulging with cast-off clothing which we don’t know what to do with because home-sewing skills are now as rare as hen’s teeth.

Perhaps we are at a turning point. The fashion industry is recognizing the need for change after last year’s Rana Plaza fire in Bangladesh exposed exploitation and a fashion revolution is underway.  Continue reading