There is much evidence that our planet cannot continue to provide the resources for mass manufactured garments and that so much is wasted in oversupply. Textile enthusiast Elizabeth Kingston believes that if people can be educated to shift from being ‘in fashion’ to being ‘in style’ then the concept of what it means to have a new wardrobe every season can move sidewards.
Elizabeth Kingston wears her Frida Kahlo-inspired ensemble handmade and styled from existing resources
“For those of us who can make, it is vital that we continue to do so as these skills are becoming a dying art and an example needs to be set that it should be all about quality not quantity. For those who can’t/choose not to learn how to sew, then to support the artist/designer/creator of these handmade/limited creations through purchase is the next best option,” Elizabeth said.
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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 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.
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Slow clothing is way of life for Miriam Gillham. She says sewing is a wonderful means to express unique individual style, to create clothing that is considered, thoughtful, necessary and valuable. She’s made clothes for her family, altered men’s formal wear suits for a part-time job, designed and sewn special occasion gowns, dance and theatre costumes, curtains and soft furnishings. And she makes soft sculptures, textile art embellishment pieces and soft corsets which are embellished with embroidery, beading and fabric manipulation.
Miriam Gillham with the supersized dress she repurposed for her daughter and The Slow Clothing Project
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Fiona Saunders’ life has always included handmade, recycled and repurposed clothes. From a very early age her Mum taught Fiona to sew, sitting at the table with her, cutting out dolls clothes from scraps, using a needle and thread to sew them up. “When I was about eight, Mum she started to teach me how to use her new Pfaff machine with its decorative stitches. I have now started teaching my granddaughter to sew. She is only three but loves sitting next to me at the machine, passing me pins and sewing small scraps with a needle and thread into lovely lumps!,” Fiona said.
Fiona Saunders wears upcycled silk and lace garment she created for The Slow Clothing Project
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Dr Libby Woodhams began making clothes because she couldn’t buy anything she found sufficiently colourful and different. She doesn’t consider herself a dressmaker because she mostly sews straight lines and lacks patience for tailoring. Libby buys patterns with simple shapes and finds Kwik Sew patterns suit her skills and provide a good canvas for appliqué or fabric painting.
Dr Libby Woodhams created this reversible wrap skirt for The Slow Clothing Project
Some of Libby’s staple ‘makes’ are a patchwork skirt with elastic waistband and patchwork coats. “I like making them because coats cover a multitude of sins and the clothes underneath can be very simple and timeless. I try to wear as much merino as possible because I think wool is the best fabric for sub-tropical climates. I buy them as manufactured garments when I see something different that I like. These merino garments are a ‘walking teaching aide’ for the promotion of wool. At least 80% of my wardrobe is merino tops and skirts bought over the years. The fabric is so long-lasting that I don’t need to buy more but sometimes I just feel like something ‘new’ – whether I buy it new new or in an op shop,“ Libby said. Continue Reading →
Classic elegance is never out of fashion and Annabelle Brayley loves the idea of well-constructed clothes made out of natural fibres that last and last. In reality though, she is rarely out of jeans and polo shirts (which she doesn’t make) living in outback Queensland and writing books like Nurses of the Outback, Outback Vets and her new one, Our Vietnam Nurses, to be published by Penguin in May.
Annabelle Brayley renovated a handmade favourite linen jacket for The Slow Clothing Project
Outback storyteller and author Annabelle makes or remakes most of her own ‘good clothes’ and for The Slow Clothing Project, she has chosen to renovate a linen jacket she made 15 years ago because she doesn’t like throwing things out, especially beautiful old clothes that have life in them yet. “It’s so easy to repair and/or remodel well-made clothes and most vintage garments are made out of beautiful, good quality, natural-fibre fabric. I love seeing them rejuvenated and given a new lease of life. I love that saying, ‘In a world of Kardashians, be Audrey’,” she said. Continue Reading →
Neroli Roocke knows the satisfaction of wearing or using something that she’s put thought, time and physical effort into. She believes the story behind the garment or item adds to its value and that being surrounded by a richness of stories brings wellbeing and connectedness.
Maker Neroli Roocke wears a skirt she created from vintage curtains for The Slow Clothing Project
Neroli lives in Brisbane Australia in a household of makers and doers. “My husband and both of my boys are willing to take on projects to build or make something that they want – researching techniques online and using the workshop and tools and sewing machine to achieve what they set out to do. We have made bows and replica medieval arrow bags, detailed and accurate Star Wars and anime cosplay costumes, mock weapons, helmets and armour,” she said.
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Julie Hillier finds such pleasure in making things that she has turned it into her life’s work – creating the Ministry of Handmade as a family business to share skills and the joy of making.
She has sewn just about everything … jeans, pants, dresses, tops, coats, children’s clothes, bow ties, men’s shirts, men’s trousers, quilts, curtains, doona covers, pillows, tents, hats, bags. She’s recovered lounge chairs, dining chairs and worked on other upholstery projects.
“As a sewing teacher I am very one-eyed about sewing! I view it as a basic life skill like cooking, knowing how to hang a picture on a wall, how to grow things in the garden and make simple repairs to household items that are broken. As someone who has never followed fads and trends, I have always set my own style with my clothing and tried to minimise what I spend on my wardrobe by being a maker,” said Julie, who is based in Brisbane Queensland. Continue Reading →
Jane Milburn in eco-dyed t-shirt dress. Photo by Darcy Milburn at South Mossman River in north Queensland
Clothing is as essential as food for our health and wellbeing because clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside – they nourish, warm, and engage body and soul. What we choose to wear impacts how we feel and how we present to the world.
As conscious eaters are now aware of sourcing fresh whole food and returning to the kitchen – conscious dressers are engaging in the process of learning where and how their clothes are made. Our choices have profound influence – yet sometimes we are too busy to think much about them.
Fast, processed food has had a dramatic impact on health across the population in recent decades and similarly the transformational shift to fast, manufactured clothing is having impacts we are only now coming to understand.
Without doubt there are thousands of wonderful designers and billions of beautiful clothes available for purchase through the trillion dollar global garment industry. Yet this industry flourishes through the hard work of garment workers in developing countries who may, or may not, be paid appropriately for their efforts. Read about the global garment industry here from Clean Clothes Campaign.
Meanwhile in Australia and other developed nations, two generations have largely missed the opportunity to learn to sew and 70% of millennials don’t even know how to sew on a button. Continue Reading →
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 →