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.

We all have unused items in our wardrobes – ones we haven’t worn for years but can’t bear to toss. Repurposing is entirely possible. You just need courage and confidence to apply scissors to something old and then sew it into something new.

There is no gene for creativity. It is within us all and can be nurtured by observing, experimenting and playing. Being more creative involves loosening up, freeing oneself from rigid and conventional thinking. It involves activating your imagination and seeing things differently.

In his book Creative Ecologies, John Howkins says thinking is the piston of creativity. He says if you want to be good at something, you can learn from experience, from friends and colleagues, or from reading and talking and doing.

Creativity is individually driven and knows no bounds. With upcycling and any creative pursuit, the secret is to press on. There are no failures, only projects that require you to keep evolving them until you are satisfied with the result.

Upcycling pre-loved natural fibre garments enables you to enjoy multiple benefits through improved wellbeing and ecological health.

You can discover your unique style; develop skills in sewing and stitching; feel empowered with more clothing choices; gain affordable wardrobe options; keep your hands busy with productive habits; and value the environment with its limited natural resources.

As you begin your creative journey, claim a space where your sewing machine can stay set up and buy the very best scissors you can afford.

Let go of the idea that your creations need to be ‘perfect’ and instead derive satisfaction from having made them yourself. And look forward to the ultimate satisfaction of a fashion retailer asking where you got your skirt!

Read more in the Stitch in Time column which appeared in Smart Farmer magazine October 2013 issue  Stitch in Time column October 2013

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