A conscious maker – Paisley Park

Paisley Park was raised to be conscious of all that surrounds her, including food, clothing, impacts on people and the environment. As a child her clothes were either made by her mother, hand-me-downs or from charity shops. She was never been interested in fashion, and the idea of creating comfortable practical clothing that can be worn for years appeals greatly.

Paisley Park in the dress she created from cotton offcuts for The Slow Clothing Project

Paisley Park in the dress she created from organic cotton offcuts for The Slow Clothing Project. Photo by Jo Hammond.

“I am fascinated by neuropsychology and also its impact in regards to sociology so I could write a book on my perspective of consumerism. In short though, we need to be educating the younger generations and allowing them access to develop empathy over the way that things in our lives are created from growing food, to the production of our power, electronics and clothing to name a few,” Paisley said.

“I taught myself to sew when I came out of hospital in 2011. Since then I have become a full-time seamstress, sewing teacher and alongside my label (Pixie in the Park), I own a manufacturing business through which I design, pattern draft and manufacture bulk runs for other labels across the country. For a while, I managed a designer bridal-wear alterations shop and have worked altering Carla Zampatti pieces.

“I’ve sewn t-shirts, trousers, dresses, jackets, formal wear, children’s clothing, homewares, denim shorts and more. My wardrobe is nearly completely handmade, just working on underwear and ballet shoes patterns to top it off!

Paisley combo 2“It has been shown that people with hobbies, pets, faith and so-on have better mental health, which in turn impacts society positively; I also believe that by engaging people in a creative skill we can increase their desire to learn further about how items are created. The most common phrases I hear from my students are “I can’t believe how long it takes to make a [dress]” and “this is harder than I thought it would be”. I am often able to then open up communication about the fast fashion industry and will get people to look at the labels in their clothing and discuss with them the manufacturing conditions of their clothing. People are most often fascinated, disgusted and empathetic. This then helps people to become more resilient through learning ways to adapt to live within their means and reduce consumption, spending and debt.

 Jane Milburn and Paisley Park share ideas under a mango tree in South Daintree far north Queensland

Jane Milburn and Paisley Park share ideas under a mango tree in the Lower Daintree, far north Queensland

“Jane and I met earlier this year and discussed the project and my label. She asked if I could do something with the remnants from my organic cotton t-shirt line. As I specialise in woven fabrics and bright, bold prints this was a little uncomfortable at first but I was keen to explore creative options. I sketched a few ideas, followed by some sleepless nights. Nearly always I draft my own patterns, however I found an old garment that I started making in 2011 from a paper pattern. I knew that the pattern was perfect for the fabric. I drafted a new pattern using the rough shape from the paper pattern, increased the skirt to a full-circle and took the dress size down from a 14 to a 6 and then I didn’t create a toile. I started by making patchwork fabric in the general shape of the pattern pieces and made the dress. I added hemp panels to shoulders to prevent warping with the weight of the dress, and finished it with handmade cotton bias. I liked the dress the ‘right way’ and others liked it ‘inside out’ so it has now become a reversible dress.

Paisley makings


“Where I live (in far north Queensland), you cannot have more than a handful of garments due to the environment, so I have learnt to have two weeks’ worth of clothing and no more, this means that my clothing must be resilient, comfortable and very, very practical. For me, the idea that I can wear the same item of clothing repeatedly for years is exciting and I feel that my clothing is designed to not only be useful but also that each piece is a work of art in itself and I enjoy being able to share my art daily.

If you are interesting in learning to sew, what is Paisley’s advice? “Congratulations for finding such a rewarding new hobby. Jump in, see what you can create, learn about your machine and your fabrics and I highly recommend finding a one-on-one teacher or mentor, that you enjoy working with, to explain a few things that are harder to learn alone. Having someone to interact with, learn from and question can speed up your skill development exponentially and enable you to be more creative, quicker, which is even more rewarding.”

Paisley’s work is included in the April 7 RAW Artists Brisbane Signature event and available through her unique, sustainable clothing, designed and ethically made in Australia label Pixie on the Park.  More power to you Paisley and thanks for your great thoughts and contribution!

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