Preservation of the natural environment continues to inspire me to recycle fabrics to prevent more landfill and less waste of water.
All unique garments are made exclusively from recycled fabrics carefully chosen from the plethora of good clothes in the charity or 'thrift' outlets which proliferate in the UK high streets, which is important to keep out of landfill.
Patchwork robes and dresses show how well combined colours and prints of recycled fabrics can be transformed into beautiful clothes, worthy and robust . Every garment I make is unique, governed by the limited supply of printed fabric components available for each garment, usually at least three, and up to seven different fabrics create the patchwork.
Up-cycled patchwork couture better describes my craft, as each garment is very carefully hand made from scratch, using cut up recycled clothes. My casual women’s wear: dresses, jackets, skirts, dressing gowns, coat-dresses, pinafore dresses and robes are real ‘slow’ fashion; unique one-off garments.
Design process is one of being inspired by the groupings of fabrics into colourways, weights and textures. These are collected as spotted adaptable with existing colourway collections, adding to the ‘colour baskets’ of many ‘ladies-in-waiting’.
Silk Painted panels with designs from natural forms are incorporated as panels in most garments. Some examples below.
Motivating factor for recycling is also linked to awareness of other pollution in the environment from the use of chemicals: crop growing pesticides, fracking, fabric manufacture, industrial dyestuffs.
Jeans, T-shirts and the Cotton Problem - a staple diet of fashion since 1960s. However, the growing and processing of cotton requires a lot of water. In wealthier western nations, there has been a ground swell of interest in organic cotton; grown without pesticide use, as more people become aware of soil contamination. Fertilizers [Link Monsanto Glyphosate Roundup] are expensive for farmers in poorer countries, making crops less profitable. Whilst organic cotton is all the rage, cotton itself requires so much water to grow and process, that in the long run it's not sustainable. It takes 8,500 litres to make enough cotton for a pair of jeans. [Link video] This is clearly unsustainable, even immoral, when many areas of the world suffer drought. The Aral Sea has dried up due to the over use of its water for Uzbekistan cotton growing.
Good quality cotton, linen, viscose and silk for dresses can last many years. Linens are useful as one pair of trousers, cut open, provides large pieces, as does a flared skirt. Dresses and blouses often in viscose, provide prints and lace. I Previously I wouldn't work with polyester due to the chemicals used in manufacturing, and the issue that it never biodegrades, however, now to save some from landfill, I have started using new almost un worn polyester fabrics with nice prints as lining for dresses and gowns.
The only fabric which will not wear well are mixtures with acrylic as the acrylic polymer threads always 'catch' and ruck up bobbly after wear and washing, making a garment surface look 'worn out' and certainly undesirable.
Synthetic fibres like polyester are one of the worst inventions ever, and its use was increasing exponentially in recent years! It doesn't biodegrade for hundreds of years and eventually leaches chemicals out beneath landfill sites
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Reduce - Reuse - Recycle
For these reasons I believe more businesses will take on this challenge; to produce textile products from recycled fabrics, that customers will want just as much as new. Up-cycled Clothing has become mainstream, with increasing numbers of inspired fashion designers making clothes from UP-CYCLED and VINTAGE fabrics and sharing their ideas on Pinterest and selling on ETSY. One of the best things everyone can do is to stop buying more new stuff and redesign what we already have.
Five garments may go into one new garment, giving a basic materials cost of £15 – £40 on average: not a cheap option, which needs appreciating when considering final garment costs, but the new creation process is nevertheless very satisfying.
All fabrics are washed at 60 degrees, to prevent shrinkage at variable rates. 40 degree wash thereafter is recommended.
Detailed information about the designing process, cutting and sewing, are often uploaded to this site during making and when a garment is finally finished. There is sometimes a delay between finishing blog and garment appearing in ETSY shop, but all enquiries welcome by email
This blog site is to be a portfolio of garments made and sold, (plus the dye processes). Newer garments will appear on a new site layout. I started selling at local craft events, and have and some garments are available in my ETSY shop. ( Online Shop currently under re-construction. ) Half of the garments on the website shop are now sold, but they stay as an example of making, to inspire others, and as a guide to what commissions may be possible.