I rescue natural fibres. I already have many, yet I bought a $2 wool blanket with holes at an RSPCA op shop recently. It has no label, just remnants of blanket-stitched edges. I know it is wool by the feel of the fibres which glow in the sunlight after I wash it. I admire the texture and beauty of the old woven threads. There is life there. I will upcycle this ‘dog blanket’ into a garment with a story to tell about how it came to be.
All my clothes are handmade or secondhand and they feel good on many levels. My clothes are imprinted with individual spirit, my kansei. I refashion existing garments to suit my body shape, or completely transform discarded resources into something of my own making. I buy almost nothing new, except underwear and shoes.
Even though I have bought secondhand on and off forever, I did not talk about it. There was a stigma of poverty, of less than, in secondhand although vintage was OK if slightly quirky.
That was before I stepped up, before I did leadership study and learned about self-actualisation, before I upcycled my career as a rural advocate and communications manager to found a start-up called Textile Beat in 2013. Now I champion slow clothing, raise awareness of textile waste and the potential for upcycling old natural fibres into new.
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Below is original script from Jane Milburn’s TEDxQUT talk on April 8, 2017.
This suitcase weighs 23kgs – it’s overweight if you’re flying. And it represents the amount of leather and textiles that each Australian sends to landfill every year.
Every one of us … every year.
We know about food waste and that a third of food is never eaten – clothing waste runs parallel to that.
Every day we eat and dress to survive and thrive.
Our clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside. They warm and protect our body – and influence the way we feel. Continue Reading →
Slow clothing is a grassroots response to fast fashion that considers the ethics and sustainability of garments, values provenance and artisan skills while focusing on timeless style, comfort and connection.
Brisbane-based textile artisan Jenny Jackett is the latest maker to feature as part of The Slow Clothing Project and she knows all about slow making! Jenny spins natural fibres, dyes with natural dyes and hand-weaves her own and purchased yarns on a foot-powered loom to make unique handmade creations – such as this spectacular coat of many colours made from offcuts.
Textile artisan Jenny Jacket wears her coat of many colours handmade as part of The Slow Clothing Project.
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After more than a decade of ‘disposable’ fast fashion, there’s growing interest in ethical and sustainable clothing with a good story to tell.
The Slow Clothing Project is about people choosing to make or upcycle their own clothes – read our maker stories here.
The Slow Clothing Project aims to spark a national conversation about clothing use and reuse by creating a digital collection of stories and garments handmade by local makers. The focus is on natural fibres, textile reuse and making our own, where possible. The garments – made between February to November – each tell a different story about mindful and sustainable resource. These stories reflect 10 actions to enable us to thrive in a material world. Continue Reading →
Did you know that synthetic fibres derived from petroleum now dominate the clothing market at a time when research finds these plastic clothes each shed 1900 microplastic particles into the ecosystem with every wash?
The trend towards cheaper synthetic materials accelerated during the past two decades with biodegradable natural fibres making up half of global fibre apparel consumption in 1992 then declining to about one-third by 2013.
A troubling consequence of the rise of synthetics is 2011 shoreline research at 18 sites across the planet led by ecologist Dr Mark Browne which found the majority of accumulated plastic pollution was microplastic fibres that matched the materials found in synthetic clothing.
Clothing consumption figures collated from the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Fibre Report (see graph below) show in 1992 natural fibre consumption of 22 million tonnes from a global apparel fibre total of 39 million tonnes – compared with 2013 and 32 million tonnes of natural fibres from the global total consumption of 92 million tonnes. These figures reflect in increasingly bulging wardrobes, with average individual consumption rising from 7kg/person in 1992 compared with 13kg/person in 2013.
Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn was invited to present a WOW Bite session at the recent Women of the World Festival in Brisbane. Below is an extract from her speech.
Today you are either wearing natural-fibre clothes – or more likely plastic clothes derived from petroleum or coal. Only 1/3 of new clothing is natural and 2/3 is synthetic, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation figures. It’s changed from half and half two decades ago. I’m wearing natural fibres that I’ve refashioned – turning a $4 wool blanket from the opshop into a poncho. This is my style of slow fashion – there are many other ways.
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Article by Ali Francis
Queensland Country Life newspaper 25/7/2013
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