Avid sewer and sustainable fashion advocate Jane Milburn’s Sew It Again project turns old clothes into new, eco-friendly designs.
What’s old is new again in Milburn’s wardrobe as she makes her way through garments in a 365 day mission of sustainability.
“What I’m doing with Sew It Again is not just about resewing – it’s values-based leadership because leadership is action, not position,” she says.
“It is rewarding to breathe second-life into perfectly good clothing that shouldn’t become landfill.”
In 2013, Milburn undertook a Graduate Certificate in Australian Rural Leadership which included research into textile consumption trends.
This research revealed global fibre consumption growing at three times the rate of global population growth. Fast fashion, cheap clothes make in developing nations by people paid very low wages, is driving excessive consumption that is wasteful of resources and increasing waste.
Deciding to take action, the former agricultural scientist created Sew it Again as a project of Textile Beat, through which she set out to inspire people to recreate and repurpose garments, demonstrate the benefits of ‘slow fashion’ and revive interest home sewing skills.
“Sew it Again is a 365-day eco-clothing project to inspire creative upcycling of natural fibres through a daily posting of repurposed garments, with photos on ‘how to’ and words on ‘why it matters’,” she says.
“I’m demonstrating a different way of dressing that is ethical, sustainable, creative, original and thrifty – based on resewing existing clothing rather than always buying new.”
Milburn teaches others to upcycle through Textile Beat and says there are many people who share her passion for anti-consumption.
“I’m finding a lot of enthusiasm for refashioning clothes – people just need skills and confidence to chop and change. That’s the beauty of reworking existing clothing. Sewing garments from scratch can be expensive, time-consuming and disappointing when things don’t work out as planned. Resewing gives a head start because the hard work and cost of inputs have already been expended.
“Nearly a quarter of Sew it Again followers are overseas – in the United Kingdom and the United States. They are more advanced with upcycling – there are businesses such as the UK’s Junky Styling who have been refashioning suits for 10 years.
“After the Rana Plaza fire in Bangladesh last April, people are becoming conscious of where their clothing comes from and looking for alternative ways of dressing that aren’t exploitative.”
Follow Jane’s project at www.sewitagain.com