Tag Archives: Sew it Again

Eco fashion rising in Australia

You know the eco tagline is truly authentic when upcycled garments are included on the runway, as they will be at Eco Fashion Week Australia on November 23-27.

Sceptics might think eco fashion is a branding exercise, another way to sell you things you don’t really need, because fashion is by definition the latest fad or trend – ever-changing and therefore by implication unsustainable.

Eco is short for ecology, ecosystem or environment – so upcycling garments that already exist (another 10 billion* new garments are added to the supply chain each year) lends credibility to this inaugural eco fashion event in Fremantle.

ecofashion photos

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Valuing sewing skills – Cath Jarvis

Cath Jarvis is a busy sonographer and mother of three who with partner Kevin runs a sheep property at Tottenham in central New South Wales. When growing up in the country a few decades ago, Cath’s Mum encouraged her and two sisters to step away from learning ‘domestic’ tasks and get more into professional and untraditional work. This meant Cath only learned to sew later in life when she realised these skills were useful for sustainable living.

Cath Jarvis wears the pinny she created from discarded jeans and work shorts

Cath Jarvis wears the pinny she created for The Slow Clothing Project from discarded jeans and work shorts

“We all rode motorbikes and horses, and generally mucked around on the farm, we might have been a bit wild. Then when we went off to high school we were sent to an agricultural high school and these subjects weren’t offered. I didn’t ever think it was a great loss until my late 30s when I realised being able to sew could be very handy.

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Repurpose, instead of buying more

Repurposing workshopsAmid society which celebrates constant consumption of new stuff, a small community in the geographic heart of New South Wales is planning an event to embrace the repurposing of old.

Tottenham has chosen repurpose as the theme of its community expo on 14 March 2015, with upcycling workshops planned for March 12-13, a Waste to Art competition and the Sew it Again portable exhibition to illustrate creative reuse opportunities.

Through a series of five workshops, Brisbane-based upcycler Jane Milburn will guide locals in the discovery and exploration of their creative potential through the medium of under-utilised natural fibres.

“There are more clothes in the world now than at any time in our history. Because they seem to be so plentiful and relatively cheap to buy new, they’re often treated as disposable and only worn once or twice before being cast aside,” Ms Milburn said.

“What we’ll be doing at the Tottenham workshops is taking a second look at existing clothing, textiles and old kitchen linen – then using simple techniques like home-sewing, cutting and eco-dyeing to repair, restyle or repurpose them for another go at life.

“I upcycled every day last year with the 365-day Sew it Again project www.sewitagain.com. I’m looking forward to sharing ideas with resourceful country people who are not (geographically) in a position to run off to the shops and appreciate the value of our natural resources.

“Upcycling can be as simple as taking up a hem, cutting off the sleeves or neckline and replacing buttons. Just as we’ve rediscovered the value of traditional home-cooking for health and nutrition, home-sewing and repair skills enable us to dress with conscience and story.”

Ms Milburn is an agricultural scientist who values sustainable resource use, champions natural fibres and believes in slow-fashion awareness of who made your clothes and what from.

“When you buy cheap new clothes you are often buying into a global supply chain that is exploiting people and the environment. When you buy synthetic fibres (which 2/3 of new clothing is) be aware these fibres are derived from petroleum, coal or gas and shed microplastic particles into the wastewater stream every time they are washed,” she said.

“When you repurpose natural-fibre clothing resources that aren’t used in their current form you are engaging in conscious, individual and affordable dress. You also have a good story to tell about what you wear – it is sustainable, zero footprint, organic and the ultimate in green.”

Tottenham Community Expo is run by Tottenham Welfare Council and is providing upcycling workshops on March 12-13 with a grant from the Regional Arts NSW Country Arts Support Program. For more information about the workshops, contact Catherine Jarvis on 02 6892 8210.

Mindful conversations about clothing

Every day we eat and we dress. We are now more conscious of our food – it is time to be more conscious of our clothing.

Jane Milburn was immersed in slow fashion for 365 days during 2014 with a personal undertaking to upcycle existing natural fibre garments for the Sew it Again project. It proved to be a lesson in contemporary dress culture, making Jane more aware of how little we know about the back story of garments that wrap our bodies 24/7.

This awakening informs a reshaped future for Textile Beat. What began as a simple textile upcycling initiative now evolves into a more holistic approach to dressing. Jane dreams of making every garment story a good one – good for the wearer, society and planet.

There are many ways for individuals to dress with conscience. It begins with knowing more than what is visible from the outside. The art of dressing well is embodied in the character of what you wear, not just the look. Your options for mindful dressing might encompass the following characteristics: local, quality, pre-loved, handmade, good and fair, repair and care, zero textile waste, know your style, natural fibres, sentimental, upcycled or classic. Dress well to live well.

Slow fashion graphic

Upcycling 365 days, forever

Jane Milburn wears upcycledBrisbane-based upcycler Jane Milburn spent every day of 2014 restyling cast-off clothing and engaging others in the process of refashioning old into ‘new’ as part of the eco-social change project Sew it Again.

Using simple home-sewing skills to snip-and-tuck unworn textiles (mainly linen, cotton, wool and silk from op shops and friends) Jane then posted the upcycles at sewitagain.com to demonstrate ways to re-new rather than buy-new.

“Every day, we eat and we dress. We are now more conscious of our food and it is time to become conscious of our clothing and its footprint on the world. A global rethink about the way we dress is beginning, as people question where clothing is made and what from, is it ethical and sustainable, and does it exploit people or planet?” Jane said.

As an agricultural scientist turned creative, Jane is raising awareness about the ecological impacts of our cheap/disposable fashion culture that consumes finite resources and generates textile waste at an alarming rate. Continue reading

Clothing in a material world

Never at any time in our history have there been so many clothes in the world, and another 69.7m tonnes added every year. Some clothing is now so cheap it is considered disposable. The fact we don’t make time to value or care for clothes like we did in past generations is leading to textile waste on a massive scale, with millions of tonnes of clothing going prematurely to landfill.

The fastest-growing household waste in Australia is clothing, according to a Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia which said Australians sent $500 million of fashion clothing to the tip in 2013. It suggested this waste could be reduced if we removed spills quickly using baby wipes or sloshing with water to stop stains setting. And it said if we are like other Western countries, we only recycle 18 per cent of clothing compared to 55 per cent of paper and 63 per cent of metal.  Continue reading

Choosing to consume, or not

We humans are autonomous, we make our own decisions, or so we think. But watch this documentary The Men Who Made Us Spend and understand how our ‘free choice’ is easily manipulated by a few making lots of money while our environment is junked with unnecessary resource use and waste.

In The Men Who Made Us Spend, investigative journalist Jacques Peretti explains how planned obsolescence, the organised creation of dissatisfaction and computer-aided design cultivated competitive consumerism throughout capitalist societies.

The documentary includes an economist saying change during the past two decades has seen the average American’s clothing consumption double from 34 pieces of apparel per year to 67 – equating to a brand new item of clothing coming into their wardrobe every 5.4 days. Once the garments are no longer ‘socially valuable’ they either go into the waste stream or the global apparel trade. Such waste and indulgence is wrong.  Continue reading

Work life comes full circle

Jane Milburn wears upcycledAlbert Einstein said no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

Excess consumption of clothing grabbed Jane Milburn’s attention because FAO figures show it is has increased by 80 percent in the past two decades, from 7kg each in 1992 to 11kg, when global population only increased by 25 percent. Most of the increase is in cheap synthetic-fibre clothing, made from petroleum.

Jane’s consciousness was raised by recent personal experiences and postgraduate study that provided reflection on ways to bring her wide-ranging career and life experiences together in a creative and meaningful way.  Continue reading

Upcycling remodels wardrobe waste

Americans each throw away 30kg of textiles a year, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong about 13kg per person according to their environmental protection agencies – and Australian charities process about 5kg of donated clothing per person each year.

An Upcycling exhibition to help us get a handle on how fast-fashion consumes resources and creates waste is coming to Coolah this week with agricultural scientist and communications consultant Jane Milburn.

Jane is one-third through the 365-day Sew it Again project to inspire creative upcycling of existing clothing, demonstrate slow fashion and revive home-sewing as a life skill akin to home-cooking.

“I’m demonstrating refashioning on sewitagain.com, empowering others with upcycling skills and ideas through workshops, and shifting society’s thinking about ecological impacts of clothing choices,” Jane says.  Continue reading

Leadership study sparks sew change

Jane Milburn 7 photo by Patria Jannides webMost of us are materialistic by nature. We like stuff that is useful, pretty, holds memories, provides comfort, brings status, or appeals in some other way.

It is the ability to imagine how new things might change our lives that drives us to acquire them. New Scientist magazine’s March 29 feature The Meaning of Stuff described this as transformation expectation, imagining how it may enhance and somehow make things better.

But being more mindful about consumption – of food, energy, clothing, technology, sweet stuff – leads to better outcomes for ourselves and the planet. For example, use of apparel fibre has increased by 80 percent in the past two decades, three times the rate of population growth, according to the table below from a 2013 FAO World Apparel Fibre Consumption Survey. The report is written from a consumption perspective on recession impacts but can be interpreted as an overall warning because per capita consumption between 1992 and 2010 ballooned from 7kgs up to 11kgs of fibre per person per year.  This is unsustainable.  Continue reading