Tag Archives: Textile Beat

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 362 – Handmade ministrations

Julie wears upcycled linenExciting to collaborate with Julie Hillier from Ministry of Handmade, when she popped over to the Textile Beat studio today as part of the final countdown of the 2014 Sew it Again project.

Julie has been developing Ministry of Handmade over the past three years to teach handmade skills with a contemporary twist. From her studio on Brisbane’s northside, Julie encourages people to slow down and take time to embrace the joy that comes from making something by hand. It was fascinating to talk with Julie about her workshops (which include lampshades, ottomans, cushions and picnic frocks) and how she engages people in the process of making, not just the end results. Sew wonderful to spend time with someone who has shared values, and who also believes home-sewing as a life skill just like home-cooking!  Continue reading

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 351 – Batik sees light of day

Jane Milburn wears refashionWe’re hurtling towards the end of the year and the completion of this 365-day Sew it Again project. It has been a relentless commitment, refashioning and posting every day without fail. It has also been transformational.

In documenting progress and learning, I’ve recognised the project is more than just upcycling natural fibre garments. It is about bringing heart, conscience and individual creativity to our wardrobes.

In the same way we are now more aware of the production integrity and nutritional value of our food (and the impact of processed food on our health), we are becoming conscious of the impacts of our clothing choices – on ourselves, on society and the planet.  Continue reading

Sew 335 – Sewing is a life skill

Changing buttons for fresh lookToday’s upcycle is simply about changing buttons – as my friend and wool producer Carol Watson has done to personalise a beautiful linen jacket for Sew 335 of 365 (see photos below).

It seems we’ve just blinked and now we’re at the beginning of the last month of the year, reflecting on 2014 and considering what might be up next.

The storms last week had a silver lining – they forced a tidy-up of the Textile Beat studio (for those following the details, I’m still drying out my machines under the overhead fan and have not tried to plug in yet – hence hand-sew projects).

One useful rediscovery during the tidy-up was my seven-point note-to-self written during study last year that provides some homespun perspective and direction for day-to-day actions and reactions. The points are: 1. Being is enough  2. Follow the heart  3. Live and work to your values  4. Make health a daily priority  5. Stay connected  6. Respect process and planning 7. Give/ask for help, and keep learning. I’ve mostly stuck to that philosophy this year, with just a few deviations.  Continue reading

Sew 332 – Valuing textile waste

Stan wears upcycledClothing that is no longer being worn represents an incredible textile resource that could be fully recycled if we lived in a circular economy and re-used resources rather than burying them in landfill.

Some commercial recycling processes are being developed as The Guardian reported in this article about a Swedish company producing recycled cotton, and other examples include the Pharrell William’s inspired RAW for the Oceans denim made from recycled ocean plastic.

Hopefully the business opportunities in large-scale recycling of the 69.7 million tonnes of fibre apparel consumed every year will emerge in future –  but in the meantime there are micro-opportunities for individual upcycling to create unique #selfstyle clothing to suit one’s own budget and shape.  Continue reading

Sew 265 – Entering upcycle countdown

Fiona Lake wears Textile Beat upcycledThere are only 100 days left in the year. Sew 265 heralds 99 refashions remaining in my Sew it Again journey of upcycling every day during 2014 for pleasure, reward and sustainability.

Individual action in our own backyards to reduce resource use and minimise environmental impact is the best way we can help the sustainability cause. Although Sew it Again is raising awareness about textile use/reuse/waste, that is just one element of choosing to live in a way that does not harm people, places or planets.

My Townsville friend, veteran bush photographer Fiona Lake, has solar power, chooks and recycles green waste. She washes clothes in cold water, doesn’t iron linen, and wears vintage clothing that belonged to her mum.  Continue reading

Sew 188 – ARLF farewell honours

Dr Lesley Fitzpatrick wears upcycledIt was an honour to be commissioned to create a unique, relevant farewell gift for Dr Lesley Fitzpatrick who led the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation as CEO for seven years.

The ARLF’s flagship program is the Australian Rural Leadership Program which provides a rare opportunity to enrich, enlighten and empower selected individuals – and I was fortunate to be sponsored through the program in 2009 thanks to the Fairfax Agricultural Media scholarship.

One of Lesley’s achievements as CEO was securing Graduate Certificate status for ARLP through James Cook University. I found the Grad Cert transformative because It led me on a creative journey into eco-leadership, reusing natural fibres to reduce waste and help shift the way we think about fashion and clothing.  Continue reading

Sew 169 – Gorgeous zero-waste skirt

Creative reuse of waste garmentsAt a global level people are beginning to question the way we dress, where clothing comes from, and whether it is made with ethical and sustainable processes.

As there is rising interest in home cooking and food growing for health and wellbeing, there is a pressing need to rethink our approach to textiles and fashion. Fast food and fast fashion are convenient – but not necessarily sustainable or good for us and our planet.

My model for a social and environmental shift includes empowering individuals to reimagine and recreate their own wardrobe collection by creatively chopping and changing existing clothing to suit themselves.

Instead of global generic bland brand dressing, this shift involves local, individual unfashionistas branding themselves through sustainable, ethical eco-clothing as part of a REfashion Revolution turning waste and reject clothing into something to wear with pride. 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