Lifestyles of simplicity – Dr Nicola Smith

During 2016, The Slow Clothing Project published 40 stories of people who make items of clothing for themselves to wear. It is fabulous to be able to conclude with a story from someone who has both personal and academic insights into our desire to make and create.

After five years of research into creativity and DIY, and many years of ‘hands on’ engagement with design-build projects, Dr Nicola Dawn Smith from Yallingup in Western Australia said her experience indicates the enormous personal and environmental value in becoming a bricoleur.

Dr Nicola Smith wears a comfortable and buttonless top made in her own style for The Slow Clothing Project.

Dr Nicola Smith wears her comforable and buttonless top made in her style for The Slow Clothing Project.

“A bricoleur (as interpreted in my study) is someone who uses whatever is to hand (not buying more tools/materials) with whatever skills they have (and can learn); someone who becomes immersed in the moment, the practice, the doing,” Nicola said.

Continue Reading →

A campaign of Jane Milburn’s making

wearing Textile Beat

There’s nothing like fresh perspective to recalibrate what is important in your life, how best to invest energy and utilise  talents to achieve something for the greater good.

Studying last year for a Graduate Certificate in Australian Rural Leadership through James Cook University and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation helped crystallise things and this year bring it all together with a creative campaign of my own.

I’m an agricultural scientist by training and my first professional job was as ABC rural reporter working in radio and television in Victoria and Queensland. Now I’m on a 365-day journey with the Sew it Again project to inspire creative upcycling of natural fibre garments and help revive home-sewing as a life-skill akin to cooking. Continue Reading →

Decorative cheer for years and years

Christmas swag web Christmas often involves conspicuous consumption of one sort or another because it creates wonderful opportunities to share, care and spread goodwill to all.
Everyone’s approach oscillates on time and energy available to invest in preparations and ages of children in your circle at the time.
One of the easiest decorations to store and restore each year is the Christmas wreath, traditionally circular in shape to represent eternity, the unending circle of life and unity.

The wreath we’ve had for decades is actually swag-shaped and I love giving it a fluff up each year by adding or subtracting cones, ribbons, bells or other shapes to achieve a creative invitation for the spirit of Christmas to enter our home and bring good luck.  Continue Reading →

Reframing memories by upcycling

2 webThis treasure cushion is a gesture of respect for generations past that transforms sentimental garment into thoughtful, useful gift.

When elderly friend Wendy gave us this blue dress for upcycling, the story emerged about how long she had treasured it as her mother’s gown worn to a Singleton Ball and saved from the rag bag over the years.

The fabric is marked, the fashion changed and former glory lost, but a Textile Beat transformation repositions it from back of wardrobe to centre stage as memory cushion on favourite chair.

We honour memories by creating heirlooms that can transfer through generations and genders as functional items evoking sentiment of familial love and respect.  Continue Reading →

Nurturing creativity through upcycling

nurturing creativity column for webThe clothes you wear are statements about your personality, values and perspective. Every day you make choices on what to wear but unless you or friends and family are empowered with simple sewing and design skills, you are a slave to current fashion in-store and online.

Constantly seeking new clothes can be time-consuming, expensive and overwhelming. The alternative is to become more inventive and reuse, repurpose, and recreate existing pieces in your wardrobe.

As an agricultural scientist, I value the resources, effort and cost that go into producing natural fibres. That’s what led me to find creative ways to rescue garments made from wool, linen, cotton or silk, and recast them for a second life.

I’m following the heart on a creative journey to inspire novel ways of upcycling discarded natural fibre garments found in your wardrobe, cast off by your friends or harvested in opportunity shops. Continue Reading →

What’s old is new again on Jane’s beat

By Kristian Silva, Brisbane Times

Jane Milburn photo by Alison FrancisThrough her social enterprise Textile Beat, Jane Milburn turns old jumpers into new skirts, old jeans into rara skirts, alters men’s shirts to fit ladies, and re-works 1980s jackets with shoulder pads to suit modern tastes.
Jane will be showcasing Textile Beat’s work – and passing on a few skills of her own – during the Green Heart Fair in Carindale on Sunday October 13.
“Sewing has gone a bit by the wayside,” she said. “It’s not something people think they can do anymore. Knitting is back in vogue but sewing isn’t.”
Jane says the pieces created by Textile Beat are an example of “upcycling” – adding value to an existing piece of clothing by transforming it into something new. In some cases this means four different fabrics are stitched together to create a single item.
“It’s creative – to me it’s artistic. It’s a bit of a statement about sustainability. They do look unusual, but that’s part of their attraction,” she said.
In a consumer-driven world, Jane and her Textile Beat colleague, Ele Cook, believe their project provides an alternative.
They hope to run upcycling workshops in Queensland and New South Wales over the coming year.
“In op shops, there are a lot of garments that just need a little mend, a button replaced, or the hem altered … there is so much opportunity in op shops.”

Lisa Curry wears Textile Beat

Lisa Curry wears Textile BeatAs the fabulous Lisa Curry stepped into Blackall Cultural Centre on her Aussie road trip inspiring health and wellbeing, Textile Beat can report her attention was immediately captured by our statement skirts.

While Lisa’s eyes were drawn to its colour and creativity, her decision to purchase this upcycled natural fibre garment demonstrates support for slow fashion as one small way to boost ecological health and reduce our carbon footprint.

Lisa’s Orange and Avocado History Skirt has a story to tell. It was handcrafted by Jane Milburn from at least 10 upcycled fabric sources including an Italian linen dress, silk shirt and tie, rayon vest, cotton scarf, floral cotton from Nana’s fabric box, vintage buttons and more.

History skirts are an original design and concept by Jane Milburn and Ele Cook of Textile Beat in Brisbane, Australia in 2013. Working with integrity, creativity and purpose, Textile Beat is inspiring the upcycling of natural fibres for pleasure, reward and sustainability.

Col Jackson from Blues Country Magazine happened to capture this image of Lisa and Jane at the QRRRWN annual conference held in Blackall.

History Skirt to benefit Hear and Say

Dimity Dornan in History Skirt for webThe gorgeous 2013 Queensland Great Dimity Dornan is well-recognised for her outstanding work in setting up the Hear and Say Centre.

The Centre has been so successful helping the hearing impaired that it’s outgrown its premises at Auchenflower in Brisbane and is fundraising for a bigger home nearby.

At the upcoming Hear and Say annual fundraising ball to celebrate 21 years, one of the silent auction items will be this Blue Butterfly History Skirt donated by Textile Beat.

Textile Beat is proud to support such a great cause. Find out how you can donate here.

Rural leaders stitch together

Article by Ali Francis

Queensland Country Life newspaper 25/7/2013

Jane and Ele with heartstone

As a guest of Jane Milburn and Ele Cook at Brisbane’s TextileBeat studio, it is safe to say their passion for “upcycling” is infectious.

After being personally instructed on how to transform a slouchy old jumper into (a totally wearable) skirt, the two vivacious women behind this marvellous concept outlined their appreciation for nature, agriculture, sewing and holistic living.

Intrinsically connected through a genuine concern for rural Australia, these soul sisters met through the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, were both recipients of the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, and are now “study buddies” for their leadership courses through James Cook University.

In a freakish coincidence, further reflecting their grounded love for nature, both Jane and Ele are avid collectors of heart stones that have been perfectly shaped by nature. Read more here

Creative ways to cherish and value natural fibres

Textile Beat studioIn a finite world, we need to treasure our limited natural resources … beautiful things made from fibres, wood, leather, stone and shells.

Instead of tossing them away when they have fallen out of favour, we are exploring creative ways to repurpose them for a second life.

The mountain of textile cast-offs is growing by the year as our consumer society chases bigger, brighter, newer … rather than utilising and valuing the resource they represent.

At the TextileBeat studio, in Brisbane Australia, we are upcycling natural fibres, fabrics and found objects … and following the heart on a creative journey. In so doing, we are combining wellbeing and passion for creativity with social enterprise.