Saturday, 11 July 2020

Part 3 of cardigan reconstruction

Chilly Botty cardi, part 3


step 1, I cut 2 sleeve templates from a light voile like fabric that had originally been a lining in a skirt that had been cut out when I upcycled the outer layer a while back.

step 2, scraps and various bits and pieces were laid over the top of each lining template as I decided how to lay up the applique. When happy with the lay out, it was pinned and stitched down with the 3ZZ technique.

Heres a pic of my two sleeves

The stitched down pieces were trimmed back and neatened to make sure they matched the sleeve  pattern piece.

step 3, sew the sleeve underarm seams, 3ZZ. Its a bit tricky sewing down the sleeve tube, easier to start from the wider shoulder end.

step 4, cut 2 rectangular pieces for cuffs. Sew short ends to form into loops, fold in half and sew the raw ends to the sleeves at wrist.

step 5, I wanted the bottom of the cardigan to be wider than what it would have been if sections kept being added as straight sided rectangles, so cut 2 long triangular gores to add the sides below where the sleeves fit.

step 6, match and sew the side seams.

step 7, insert, match and sew the sleeves in.

front of cardigan with sleeves added. I don't mind the left side front being longer than the other side, though this hadn't been intentional.

back of cardigan with sleeves added
The cardigan could be finished at this stage but my plan is to make it knee length.

In part 4 I'll describe how to add extra length to the bottom of the cardigan then finish off the front edges with plackets and add some buttons.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Hot botty 2

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Chill Botty cardi, part 2

Following on from my last blog post....

Cut off lower parts of the side fronts and the back. Cut them all different lengths. I hacked off that left sleeve unevenly, leaving an indent where a long sleeve is yet to be attached. It needs to be straight so I'll fix that by sewing a little patch in there.

This long cardigan will be unlined. Once the bottom sections are cut off we move from
de-constructing to putting it all back together. I'll be adding strips and squares of other fabrics using my quick overlay technique. For this the I use the widest 3 step zigzag stitch on my sewing machine (Janome 6600) which is 7mm. This stitch is commonly used for lingerie making as its a stretch stretch. Its necessary for this project because I'll be combining knits and woven fabrics and the 3 step stitch is going to prevent the stretch fabrics from distorting when sewed. It also facilitates not needing to line the garment as there won't be any seams on the underside.

In the instructions from now on I refer to the 3 step zigzag as 3ZZ

step 1, prepare the shoulders for where the sleeves will eventually be attached - cut 2 strips of  fabric 55cm long by 8cm wide. Centre middle of the strip over the shoulder seams and overlaying the fabrics sew with 3ZZ.

Above you can see where the strips are sewed to the shoulders.

step 2, on the left front I sewed a patch pocket. At the bottom I sewed 2 strips of fabric. All these just had the raw edges overlaid less than 1cm and sewed 3ZZ. On the right front I sewed a little triangle patch and at the bottom a large section I'd cut off another cardigan I'm upcycling. That section is flared wider at the bottom. To get the left and right side fronts matching I sewed a long narrow triangle of fabric to the front edge of the left front so it flares wider and matches the measurements of the other side.

step 3, above is a picture of the back. On the top part I've sewed more purely decorative patches, picked from my scrap bag. The lower part of the back has a long wide strip sewed to it, the full length. The side fronts are hanging lower because I need to add more stuff to the back to equal the same length.

Not counting the time I'm putting into documenting this project, the whole alteration has taken about 1.5 hours.

So at this stage the garment could potentially be a nice little sleeveless vest. To do that it would need a bit more length on the back so the side seams can be sewed up. Then I'd add plackets to the raw edges of the side fronts, so it can button up. The cap sleeves could be bound or hemmed.
Voila! a sweet button up vest.

However, in the next blog, Part 3, I'll show how to make and attach long sleeves.
Part 4 will show how to add about 50cm to the lower part to make it a knee length cardigan.

I intend to use up all the pieces that were cut off the original jumper in this reconstruction process so that 100% of it is upcycled. Because the jumper is polyester/acrylic when I adopted it into my wardrobe I pledged to take responsibility for it for the rest of its life. It needs to be worn at least 100 times or used in another form for at least 20 years before the resources that were invested in its creation can be environmentally justified.

Monday, 6 July 2020

Project to warm the chill botty

The Malpa Project mentors Aboriginal kids to become strong leaders in their communities & beyond. Can you help us employ a full-time Indigenous mentor to nurture & inspire the kids in our program?


Today I'm going to start a step by step project showing how I alter a jumper into a cardigan coat.

Reading one of my favourite sewist blogs this morning
I fell in love with Lara's coat. At this coldest part of Winter here in Australia cardigans of all lengths are incredibly practical. It's a layering piece that can be put on or off as required. I especially like a calf length cardi because it's such an elegant length and keeps my chill bottom warm. you like my foot artfully posed in the picture? I'm wearing my new home made boots.

On the left above is a picture of a jumper I've worn a lot. I bought it at Vinnies 2 years ago and its 100% polyester/acrylic. Unlike some wealthy and snobby women I don't have a problem upcycling synthetic fabrics. In fact, I think its a highly ethical and sustainable thing to do. If you still buy new clothes and fabrics and want to do the right thing - don't buy synthetics. Buy cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo and silk.

This garment had already been discarded by its original buyer. If I, or somebody else, hadn't bought it it probably would have gone into a huge bale of used clothes to get shipped off to the global south. Sending our reject clothes to poorer countries isn't a virtuous thing to do. Receivers of our first world discards buy the bales by weight and sell the individual garments for pennies.

This model has disrupted the businesses of their own local based clothing makers. Most local makers had been women working from home. The exported garments are sold cheaper than the clothes produced by local workers and this competition drives down the income of the cottage workers. 

The western style clothes often seem more desirable to local people too. Many of the cottage workers would have made clothes based on long term popular regional or traditional styles. They may have used locally woven fabrics, ribbons, embroideries and decorative features and these become supplanted by the clothes made in western fabrics, prints and styling.

Back to why I don't turn up my nose at recycling synthetic fabrics. These clothes already exist in the world. If we don't take responsibility for them they could end up in somebody elses country doing damage to their local economy. Alternatively if it goes to landfill it won't biodegrade for a 1000 years. If it gets incinerated then horrible chemicals get released into the atmosphere.

So if you see and love a garment that is synthetic in a thrift shop don't feel you must refuse it because its made from bad, evil plastic stuff. The condition is - before you adopt it you have to pledge yourself to take responsibility for it forevermore. That means wearing it to death and never putting it back into the waste stream again. If you stop wearing it in 5 years time then make a cushion out it or cut it up into cleaning rags. A million other possibilities....

Step number one, I've cut the jumper down the middle front, from hem through the cowl neck. I knew this would make the collar open out beautifully.

Step number two, cut both the sleeves off, straight up and down in line with side seams, not worrying about the half disc of the sleeve cap that is still there. The original sleeves won't be left in because they're too narrow.

Step number three, undo or cut open the side seams.

Get yourself an old jumper and follow along if you like. I'll be back in a couple of days explaining what to do next.

Friday, 3 July 2020

still got mileage

I'm back. New set of tyres on the old jalopy.

This picture made me laugh. The first car I owned was a Fiat 500 Bambina that I bought for $450 in 1983. It had to be push started by rolling it down a slope. I'd put my shoulder into the door frame, hang onto the steering wheel with my left hand and push to get it rolling down the slope. When it got sufficient momentum I'd jump into the driver seat, pedal the accelerator like crazy and start the engine.

Another old jalopy I got crash started yesterday was to revive my "Get Stitched" online newsletter and publish a new one. That had been out in the weather rusting on the street for a few years too. I'll be writing a new one monthly.

The subscription button is on the right side bar if you'd like to check it out.

A couple of nights ago I was on local Newcastle NBN TV. Talking about how I use fabrics and clothes sourced from thrift shops to alter and remake into my unique art to wear clothes.

Pearl on NBN TV

Now talk about clapped can clearly see my days of running downhill pushing a Bambina are well and truly behind me.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Cyber trolls slashing my tyres

I know people have been trying to communicate with me for 3 days.

My laptop has crashed again under cyber attack. Same as a few months ago when I said some unkind things about China. I have a techy person working hard to pump the tires up again.

I'll be back soon as I can....

new version of cloth boots I'm working on

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Can I say this...?

Now that I’ve reverted to addressing Aja Barber by her name on my blog I hope she’ll do the same and let her 150,000 followers know my name is Pearl Red Moon. I hope she didn’t delete the comment I made on her Patreon so they can make up their own minds whether it deserved the half hour tirade I got served up on Instagram video. If my comment was deleted and they want to know what bought on such outrage, I’ll publish it here.

This was my comment….
Sometimes I wonder why we need to have "work clothes" and "home clothes". This expectation works well for capitalism because we feel compelled to spend more money maintaining 2 separate wardrobe styles. Do all cultures operate like that? Plus I think more costs are put on women to maintain a professional wardrobe compared to what males spend. Men seem to have cleverly worked out that they can limit their professional work clothing choices within a small range of conventionally styled suits, shirts, trousers, coats, that don't change annually with each "season". This allows them to present at work garbed in acceptable choices rotating the same clothes for years for significantly less expenditure than what most women are enticed to spend.
(In that video she makes a little self deprecating observation referring to people making fun of her name. Boy, do I get that, same here! I legally changed my name in 1987 when I lived in Sydney. Over decades I’ve had people insinuate it might be a cultural appropriation from American Indian or Asian cultures. For a really long time I was completely baffled why they would think that. Perhaps the reality that I’m old, fat, white and greyhaired doesn’t quite match what they were assuming?)


That done, I move on with a heavy heart to react to another thing Ms Barber accused me of.

She said I use my neuro-diversity (Aspergers) as a free pass to get out being held accountable for saying offensive things to people or for holding offensive views.

I feel sick and shaky just writing that. It’s not only a slur on me personally but to all neurodivergent people. I could only bear watching the video once but somehow the way I use that free pass also got described as “manipulative”
This is a bit of background to my story.
I was born with non typical neurons in my brain. Being autistic didn’t happen because I got a brain injury, nor is it something medical I can take a pill to cure, nor is it aberrant behaviours I can be trained out of. Bit like being born with blue eyes or melanin bleached skin.

 I had so many problem behaviours as a child my parents took me to psychiatrist who said I was “hyperactive” – that was the early 1960s word that later morphed into ADHD. I was strongly aware from starting school that I needed to watch and model the behaviours of other girls or I lived in a world of perpetual trouble. My first school report says I need to learn how to get on nicely with the other kids. I was born the eldest in my family but fortunately I had a neuro typical sister 2 years younger whom I could model. As a teenager I worked out how to negotiate the world minimising trouble.

Things got considerably trickier after leaving school because I don’t like being around people, I’m super sensitive to sound and I struggle to interpret verbal and physical communications. Keeping jobs didn’t work well at all. I’m so super pedantic about rules and regulations, seldom make friends and never joined the workplace cliques. In many jobs I was bullied to the point of having breakdowns and doing self destructive behaviour like taking overdoses.

Making art had always been a thing I loved to do so in my early 40s I enrolled to do a Visual Art degree at an Australian University. This became incredibly challenging because of the huge throngs of people, over full auditoriums, canteens where the noise level was probably 90 decibels. I was obsessing over not being able to get a car parking space, all sorts of things like that were leading to me having crazy shite emotional melt downs. I went to a campus psychologist to work out what was wrong with me and how could I fix it. He told me I was probably still suffering from PTSD from the 1987 rape and the equally traumatic events of the criminal trial that resulted from that over most of 1992, plus I was probably also on the autistic spectrum.

I didn’t get the official test until about 6 years ago. A psychologist and a clinical psychologist saw me regularly over a few months and that was their diagnosis.

So what does Aja mean when she says I use my neuro diversity not be accountable? Firstly I want to clarify that I don’t have an intellectual disability. It doesn’t necessarily follow for all on the spectrum – think Einstein and Greta Thunberg. Though I sometimes have fun with people who know in advance, but when they meet me for the first time they speak loud, slow and use simple words.

By saying that Aja implies I don’t have integrity. She thinks I just like to say stuff (stupid and wrong stuff by her estimation) to intentionally hurt and harm people. She says that is what I’ve done to her and her friends. Maliciously and spitefully sought to harm them and then run back to my padded cell and say I’m too nuts to be held responsible.

That is completely untrue and makes me feel nauseous. I don’t want to hurt/harm her or her friends. As a textile artist, as a clothing pattern publisher, I wanted to take a stand over an assertion I didn’t agree with. I had no idea that quoting stuff they had written on public platforms was an insult and a personal attack. I honestly thought I was debating.

Well, I’m obviously more daft than I ever realised and creeping back into the padded cell is looking quite the sanctuary at the moment.

gut punch

“Stalker” is a provocative and terrifying word for women.

Aja Barber has publicly stated that I’m stalking her. Go see her Instagram video.

 Stalker is big trigger word for me.

I’m going to describe my own personal experience of stalking.

In 1987 I paid $500 to join a dating service. A year earlier I’d emigrated from New Zealand with my 5 year old son to live in Australia and was lonely. I was a 27 year old single mother in a new country working from home. I had no friends to socialise with which is why I’d gone to a reputable dating agency. The third date the agency arranged for me was with a man who took me to dinner. He picked me up from my home and we went out in his car for a meal and around 11pm I asked him to take me home. Instead he drove me to a squat house and raped me with his 2 friends who were waiting.
In the latter part of the assault, which involved having a knife put to my throat, I managed to jump out a window and ran down the street finding safety at the third house where I’d pounded on the door screaming for help while one of the rapists pursued me and tried to drag me back.

The next day was a nightmare of hospital examinations, rape crisis counsellors and making statements to the Police. It wasn’t hard to find the assailant as the dating agency had everything from coloured photos, to height, weight and home address.

The men who had assaulted me were Pacific Islanders, from Tonga. The Police couldn’t find them because their close knit Sydney community hid them. Within a day of coming home from hospital I started getting harassing phone calls. Over about 6 months I’d get 2-20 most days. Most of the time they would just hang up. Sometimes they would threaten to kill me or my son. I had to answer the phone because I did contract outwork sewing and that was how I organised getting and dropping off my work. In 1987 there were no mobile phones so there was no caller ID or ability to block numbers. The house I rented was broken into and burgled 3 times.

Eventually I was able to afford to move out of that house and changed my phone number. I legally changed my name as a way of hiding from the stalkers. Over thirty years later, despite changing my name, I still don’t register myself on public electoral lists because I’m afraid of being stalked.
That’s my experience of being stalked.

So when Aja Barber sits on her comfy lounge in London, England and calls me a terrifying stalker it leaves me aghast. Somehow or other she thinks only Black women know about violence and stalking. Only Black women know genuine suffering because my privilege as a “white” woman somehow makes me so not-human that I can’t relate to the humanity of other women. I’m an unfeeling white monster.

I find the “stalking” accusation deeply offensive, not just to myself, but for all women who’ve lived through the reality. To suggest my actions – a challenge issued on twitter (well sheesh, who knew twitter was a forum for kindly salutes!) has any parallel to the real anguish and literal physical danger that women are placed in daily from real life stalkers, is to demean and degrade the real gravity of what that word describes.

I have not stalked Aja. Shes not in the slightest danger from me unless she feels people who express differing opinions as a punch in the face. A year ago I tried to engage her and 2 other women to query their assertion that describing a modern garment as a kimono was a cultural appropriation. All the things I questioned referred to comments they had made on open public forums. I had a naïve assumption that if you make claims like that in public then you should be available to defend the proposition.

Ms Barbers suggestion that by joining her platform as a paying contributor I was somehow insulting her is absurd. As an advocate for numerous social justice issues she supposedly welcomes patronage. I submitted a comment to a discussion thread she had started that was in no way personal, it was 100% entirely addressing only the topic. Her unnecessary reaction was to make it very personal.

Regrettably I think I’m too much of an inquisitive and curious person for Aja to tolerate. Her mode of educating is by edict and anyone with the temerity to question will be ruthlessly thrown out the room.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Delivering another boot

Despite many distractions of late – as in, the wheels falling off the world as we knew it – I’m still trying to do creative work. I was about to publish this pattern but decided to shelve it a while as I’m already getting flack that it resembles a kimono too much…wtf??!!

  Last time I looked this was a kimono.

I hope the same people who so readily monitor and criticise me also have the same vigour in pursuing, outing and shaming Gudrun Sjoden.

My pdf pattern sales have quite suddenly trended downward from a couple of weeks ago so I suspect I may be on a blacklist somewhere. As an aspergers person who takes medication for anxiety and suffers from degrees of paranoia due to decades of bullying in workplaces, the irony is just worrying that either might be the case (blacklist?/paranoia?) ramps up anxiety…

So I decided to step away from clothes patterns for a bit and have started work on a pattern for a cloth boot. In Australia we are in mid Winter so my feet are freezing all the time. I have poor circulation and chronically low blood pressure so frostbitten hands and feet are a constant until daily temps go up above 20C. My old Ugg boots have been worn to death so I mailordered 2 new pair – 2 months ago! 

Unfortunately the Australian factory that makes them in Melbourne (using local workers and Australian grown genuine sheepskin) is inundated with orders and their production line is slower than usual due to the pandemic social distancing protocols instigated in the workplace. I am making do with thick socks and various slippers and even if my toes drop off I refuse to go to nearby Kmart or Target shops and buy a pair of fake fur imitation Uggs made in China. That China based manufacturing companies flood the international market with cheap imitation Ugg boots cannot be a cultural appropriation, of course. God forbid, as PoC its inconceivable they might have some racist, cultural or unethical business practices.

I must publish the pattern quickly as possible too, now that I've shown these pictures on the blog, as China based mass manufacturing businesses constantly monitor my blog to steal pictures I show of  things I've designed and made (acknowledging I'm not the only small time artisan who gets their images stolen). They illegally appropriate the images to put in their online shops pretending its the article they're selling. Tens of thousands of innocent people internationally buy these items and are fleeced of their money when a cheap and shoddy fake imitation of the genuine item is received. The China based companies won't accept returns, Paypal won't refund despite the outright fraud, Facebook and Instagram won't stop these companies doing fraudulent advertising by stopping the illegally appropriated photographs being promoted on their platforms.

Whenever I've been on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest for the last 18 months I see photographs of my textile art scrolling by, advertised for sale at ridiculously low prices, like US$49. Often it'll be an item I worked on for 3-7 days and many times struggled to sell that same original item for $200.

There doesn't seem to be any outrage or public outing of this practice by the same advocates who get infuriated by my puny voice. One of the biggest China based companies who operate this business model, ChicV, based in Guangdong has made profits of millions of dollars. They also use Uighur slave labour and workers from North Korea whose wages are taken by the Kim Jong Il regime....however, none of that seems to compare with my monstrous sins. 

The skills of shoe making are quite familiar to me. Forty years ago as a single Mum I made a comfortable income for 4 years making crotcheted sandals to sell at markets. I’m greatly bemused to see that exactly the same sandals are still being made today. Though sadly the woman artisans live in Indonesia and their product is resold in Australia by middle people who take the larger share of the profits.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Poked the bear bit

"Lucy Illuminata" a digital image by Pearl Red Moon, 2014

I am such a clumsy dickhead.

I try to have a voice in the online community of people who work to raise awareness about the unethical and unsustainable practices of the international garment manufacturing industry. Through Patreon I make monthly ongoing donations to a range of individual artists and organisations I support. Some of the people I give money to are ones I’ve offended. Last night I blew my cover by posting a reply on a discussion thread a campaigner had started. The person, (whom I won’t name as I’ve taken on board the feedback that its regarded as insulting) I’ll call XYZ. I thought I had a relevant comment to make (about the issue, not one iota of it was personal) but XYZ didn’t have anything to say about that, she only focused on her outrage at finding me lurking around on her platform.

I find it bizarre to keep getting told I need to listen and learn. I seem to be the dumbest person in the room who would benefit the most from hearing her conversation, but when my ear was found pressed to the door I got ejected. Through Patreon I was more than happy to pay for the privilege of being educated, because there is real work invested in advocacy. Apparently the message can only be shared with selected right thinking people.

Why is the message so fragile it can’t stand up to a bit of scrutiny? If I ask a question, or - heaven forbid - indicate I think differently why is it such an outrage?

Of course, there are lots of zingy comebacks to justify keeping me distanced, such as – “centering myself” “white woman privilege” “grabbing the mic” “argumentative, defensive racist” ……

XYZ says things that can’t be challenged. Her position is she is always categorically right. I am always totally wrong. If my teensy, weensy little voice pops up saying “what about….?” or “maybe this….?” she says I’m attacking her as a person and never responds directly to the issues I raise.

Despite paying to listen to XYZ I still got kicked out because apparently it is disrespectful. Did it feel like I was trying to bust into the clubhouse? I’ve spent most of my life banished to the naughty corner because of not wearing pink and not playing nice. Club houses are foreign places for me. Ya ya, stay out big blabber mouth.

XYZ said I owed her an apology so I wrote this before ending my Patreon contribution and pulling the ejector seat lever to get off her platform.

XYZ, I am really heartfeltly genuinely sorry we have ended up in this awful slanging match. I truly respect and are grateful for the advocacy you do both for ethics in the clothing industry and for anti-racism. Your voice is powerful, articulate, authentic and I admire you immensely. I regret having caused so much offense to you and other BIPOC voices. Understanding that you feel my paying presence on your platform is still disrespectful and unwelcome I’ve just deleted myself. So sorry and ashamed.

I'm saying it here again for my blog readers.This statement is true. Its not a contradiction that I can apologise to XYZ and still have a disagreement with her. I am ashamed that the situation became fearful and scary for both of us. I am ashamed that I can’t present my person in a way that doesn’t get interpreted as a threat. My message, my words, my advocacy has been obscured because I struggle to dress it all up in pink with a satin bow in the correct way, in the only particular way that is read as acceptable. 

Well fuck it, I take responsibility for a lot of the shit fight becoming more ugly than necessary because my approach seemed very confrontational. Sheeesh! Fancy saying something that wasn't in agreement! 

Mostly I just feel sad to have gotten so off side with somebody I probably have more in common with than disagreement.

A dress made in 2015 from one of textile designs, printed by Spoonflower on cotton jersey knit

Finishing up with a note of good news. Tomorrow I'm having NBN TV from Newcastle (Australia) interview me in my Murrurundi studio. Its a wonderful opportunity to advocate for sustainability. I'll be showing them the remaining coats from my Thirty Coats exhibition and explaining how they're all made from used, thrifted fabrics.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Not pearls of wisdom

Lovely blog readers, over the next week or 2 I'm going to write a series of posts here reflecting on who I am. Before eyeballs roll up in exasperation be reassured I'm gradually working my way back to focussing on my art. If you find the navel gazing and politicking all boring and tedious I get it. Hang in there a bit and I'll shake the bee out of my bonnet...Will provide some pretty pictures so if the writing is all too shite to plough through there is some light relief.

"Ethnic Icon 2"mixed media canvas from 2012.  48x65cm. Applique, machine embroidery, felting

In my last blog I explained why I ditched Instagram.

This blog is the place where I’m entitled to say whatever I want, including any, all or some of my contrarian views. If you disagree please understand I strive to make this a safe place where I’m not demanding or expecting you’re here just to provide the passive applause soundtrack. If you feel inclined to comment, to disagree with anything I’ve said, I welcome it. 

I’m not a great all knowing Buddha sitting on my lotus throne dispensing pearls of wisdom. I won’t be shocked or outraged if you rush up and kick my halo off and jump on it (although I hope you’ll refrain from spitting on it). I actually concede, like other adults in the room, I don’t have all the answers, I’m not always right (possibly even seldom). My views are always conditioned because they arise from the circumstances in which my identity has been formed…. but I try to express what I think coming from an understanding that my lifetime is a continuum of learning, revision and striving to find an ethical way of living within flexible orthodoxies. 

"Ethnic Icon 1" mixed media canvas, 2012. 39x62cm.Applique, machine embroidery, acrylic paint

Above all, I always aspire to work from an orthodoxy that is cosmopolitan, flexible to be re-evaluated and inclusive. I want to be a member of the human race, not somebody confined to having a voice limited by "race", nationality, culture, religious beliefs (none) or gender.

That all sounds pretty virtuous and high minded so I’ll acknowledge it’s a never ending project to keep that inclusivity open to people I judge as tribal and dogmatic. As soon as I say to myself “this is my position” in my head I’ll start formulating and running the opposing view and feel compelled to allow that that idea has authenticity too. It is a paradox of holding a cosmopolitan attitude that if its applied with due integrity you have to allow that diverging opinions and world views, arising from individual subjectivity, identity and multiple intersectionalities, are no less authentic than our own.

Born in 1959, so I’m now 61, I’ve lived through a fascinating era. The second wave of feminism, that I was too young to understand or be involved in, made irrevocable changes to how my life has panned out. Political and social changes wrought by “Womens Liberation” meant my life was no longer going to be confined to the world of domesticity. My own mother had to leave her job when she got married. As her firstborn child I grew up with the expectation I’d work outside “home”, have the option of tertiary education and quite possibly even have a professional career. I had access to what was quaintly termed “birth control” which allowed me to engage in out of marriage sexual relationships without the consequence of an unwanted pregnancy. In 1971 after my mother got divorced she couldn’t get a mortgage from the bank to buy a house because of not having a husband. She had to persist and fight just to get a loan to buy a car. 60 years later all this must be virtually inconceivable to young women.

Penelope, a necklace I made from 2016 (the face image is 18thC historical and out of copyright)

Thursday, 18 June 2020

A nicer place sans me

I want to acknowledge the terrible and unnecessary death of aboriginal man David Dungay. Mr Dungay died in a police cell at Long Bay Jail on December 29, 2015. He is one of 430+ indigenous people who died in police custody in Australia since 1991. If you want to know more, and find out how you can act to support indigenous activists, click on his name to go to this Guardian newspaper article. Follow up on the many great links at the bottom of the item.

Copwatch is an app that aboriginal youth can put on their phones. Follow that link to go to a website where young blak people can find out what their legal rights are to record any police harassment they might get involved in.

my pdf sewing pattern "Serenade Skirt"

Closed my Instagram Account

Two days ago I closed my Instagram account @pearlredmoonart. Its not just temporarily disabled but deleted. When it was deleted I didn’t take the option to save the pictures and commentary that had been collected so I have no archive of what was posted there over 8 months (? Not even sure if that was the length of time) However I’m aware that some people, as one person described it have “screenshotted the hell”, out of selected things I wrote and no doubt some of that will be circling around cyber space for years.

On my blog, roughly a couple of years ago, I naively inserted myself into the debate about whether describing a sewing pattern as a kimono was a cultural appropriation. I now describe that as “naïve” because I stupidly thought it was an issue open for discussion. Further, I believed I was a legitimate stakeholder in such a discussion and had an entitlement to say what I thought coming from my particular background of knowledge and experiences.

This is a round up of why I thought I was a stakeholder entitled to make a credible contribution:
·         I’m an independent clothing designer publishing pdf sewing patterns to sell.
·         I’ve written a blog for 11 years that’s mainly about my textile art making and clothing designs 
·         Over those 11 years I’ve joined innumerable Facebook sewist groups, visited websites, followed the blogs of other sewists and made 100s of comments in those places. I’m a member of the international online sewing fraternity.
·         I’ve been making my own clothes for 40 years so are an accomplished seamstress.
·         I have a trade industry qualification as a sample machinist and patternmaker, gained at Auckland Technical Institute in New Zealand in 1984.
·         I’m a self proclaimed textile artist who advocates for sustainability, ethics and transparency in the international sewing industry.
·         In my art and production of clothes to sell I operate within a fairly radical self imposed code of ethics and transparency.

For months I blathered away on my blog hearing only my own voice soaking into the walls of my padded cell. I got no feedback from the activists who had called out other sewing pattern businesses for using kimono. Without feedback I felt strangely untethered and it was easy to wander down some lesser visited avenues, knocking on all sorts of doors hoping someone was home.

another version of the Serenade Skirt, one colour with red overlocked seams on the outside.

Months into my monologue somebody finally sent a private email elucidating me that cultural appropriation isn’t an intellectual idea up for debate.

They told me my disagreement was seen as quite simply a racist rant.

I was told that I had no right to question the person who had declared using kimono was a cultural appropriation. Her Japanese heritage was her authority. Even if that person was born in the USA, had lived their whole life there and was an American citizen. If I was questioning why that person had the authority to speak for Japanese people then that was an argumentative and defiant attitude coming from my white woman privilege. Any disagreement, any begging to differ was an arrogant, violent expression of my racism.

I am still mad about that but I've reluctantly learned to shut up. They are so much more powerful than me. Of the two most significant Instagram influencers I infuriated one has 17,000+ followers and the other a staggering 150,000+. Until Tuesday I had 640. If they tell their followers I'm a racist bully no one is going to question it. 

As an Aspergers person Instagram was challenging to negotiate. The rules of engagement were even more baffling than successfully surviving face to face interactions in real life! Then there was the stress of seeing the clothes I've made and designed offered for sale by Chinese scam manufacturers, scrolling past on the screen.

I did clunky moves on Insta posting those comments that offended. Within 4 weeks I had several sustainability/ethical practice campaigners for the clothing industry and some anti-racist activists blocking me. Some went beyond just kicking me off and called me a white racist woman ignorant of my privilege, plus, some of the comments DM by their followers said - Liar. Bully. Accused me of trying to be a "victim". Said I intentionally stalked, terrified and hurt BIPOC people. Accused me of trying to use being neuro-divergent to get a free pass to be racist. Lots more.

That was all enormously distressing and I'm now living in this weird parallel universe where everything is upside down.

After those horrendous awkward blunders it was obviously best to get out of that toxic shouty world before more people noticed the she-devil was amongst them. Crosses and wreaths of garlic were being hurled to ward me off....sigh...

Tuesday was the day to cut and run and retreat back to the safe place of this blog. Having told this story from now on I'd like to get back to the core issues I care about -

This is my pdf pattern "Theodora Tunic" decorated with sewed on appliques.

textile art 

sewing our own clothes 

raising awareness of the exploitation of the international fashion industry to the environment and its workers,

understanding what is a sustainable and ethical way to chose your clothes

Upcycling, re-making, making do 

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Small Acts, Big Change

Last year I was asked by our local shire council, Scone, to join my home town campaign for a Tidy Town Award. Most Australians reading this will be aware of the decades old Tidy Towns movement.

With the support of council community coordinator Heather Ranclaud I joined 3 others in the sustainability category to make a submission about how we make a difference by recycling. When the judges visited my studio in November 2019 I showed them the garments I making for my "Thirty Coats" exhibition. They saw my collection of used clothes and textiles, all sourced inexpensively from thrift shops and garage sales and I showed them how I altered the fabrics with stenciling, applique and patchwork.

In late 2019 it was announced that Murrurundi won an award for our contribution to sustainability!

Keep Australia Beautiful - NSW Sustainable Communities.

As part of the recognition for that award I was asked to show my work for this small video

Small Acts, Big Change. Pearl Moon

Going forward, these are my ongoing commitments to sustainability and ethical making for the years 2020 & 2021 and into the forseeable future:

 1) Every garment I make will comprise at least 90%+ used clothes and fabrics. 
 2) Every garment I sell will be made completely by my own labours. I cut, embellish with paint and stitching and sew every garment. To date I've never employed outworker sewists and would acknowledge if I started to do so.
3) Every garment I make is unique, I don't do any sort of mass manufacture - small or (heaven forbid!) large scale.

"Hie Coat" 2019, by Pearl Red Moon. Made from thrifted remnants of cotton canvas, brushed cotton and cotton broadcloth. The garment was stenciled with my hand cut stencils, and the sewing techniques were primarily patchwork and applique.

In the book Thirty Coats that I published about the garments in the exhibition this is the statement on the poster....

" Using only second hand and discarded fabrics each coat is an example of how skill and re-imagining can transform and make valuable what was destined for landfill. Following in the tradition of re-make and make-do, such as Boro and patchwork, the artist has applied a wide range of technique to transform the mundane salvaged materials into beautiful and intriguing garments that transcend fast fashion and have the potential to be worn for decades"

Currently a lot makers and independent sewing pattern businesses are falling over themselves to get on lists identifying the good ally anti-racist people to buy from. I hope it fulfills the idealistic aspiration to raise the profile and sales of BIPOC owned and run businesses. Personally I'm ideologically opposed to getting myself on such a list. I am white and privileged (though also poor and autistic!) and in the current heightened consciousness over BLM issues I'm more comfortable staying out of the room and letting BIPOC have the mic. 

Though, quite honestly I suspect my stand on kimono has firmly branded me a racist white supremacist in some peoples estimation. I cannot help but notice I'm still blocked by various IG influencers I offended during that period when I disagreed that using kimono was an unacceptable cultural appropriation. That is list I never volunteered to be on and will most likely never get off for some people...! It's frustrating that I continue to be disdained over that issue when I believe my advocacy and activism for an ethical and sustainable clothing industry is far more relevant. 

I recommend following my slow fashion season journey to keep up with the political activism.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

All Living Under One Sun

Below are links to a couple of articles on Medium that really pushed my whitey buttons...

Performative Allyship is Deadly

by Holiday Phillips

I recommend to follow her on Instagram too, the link is with Medium article.

This next item is written by the amazing Ijeoma Oluo, author of "So You Want to Talk About Racism". Worth noting that this item was published in 2017 and isn't one iota less relevant.

Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed

And because I hope I'm more articulate with pictures than words, this is a mixed media work from 2012. Called "All Living Under One Sun". Those words are on the canvas to the right of the figure but too small to read in these images. It had been intended to go into my exhibition at Muswellbrook Gallery in 2013 but was sold in advance so I've never shown it on this blog before. I think the dimensions were around 46x 58cm.

"All Living Under One Sun" mixed media, Pearl Red Moon 2012

Monday, 8 June 2020

Good books and articles to read

Current reading list up to June 8, 2020

Cathy Park Hong  

Ibram X Kendi  last year I also read his first book “Stamped From the Beginning”

Ruby Hamad 

Matt Taibbi

Anne Applebaum  

Resist the Urge to Simplify the Story (June 4, 2020) article from Atlantic magazine

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Case for Reparations (2014)  article from Atlantic magazine

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Life in the time of the pandemic

It’s quite a while since I wrote a blog. I’ve thought about it every few days for months, but….honestly, kept feeling unable to say anything that doesn’t offend myself for sounding either too blithely mawkish or ridiculously bathos.

I’ve been working erratically, trying to distance myself not so much from people but from news of the endless litany of almost biblical ravages. 2020 is turning out a year unlike any other with the quantity of significant distractions piling up on each other in an avalanche of catastrophe. 

Starting on January 1st we had cataclysmic bushfires destroying vast swathes of the country to a degree never recorded since white colonization. Before that was over in late February the pandemic had arrived on our shores and started it’s own peculiar reign of devastation.

a collection of earrings I made in front of TV in May 2020. Some beaded, some cloth
a collection of earrings I made in front of TV during May 2020. Some beaded, some cloth

I am fortunate that my life has barely been affected. An aspect of my Aspergers is that I’m a very insular person who avoids friendships and social situations. Since I was able to leave my last workplace 4 years ago (due to the financial support of my husband) I’ve worked alone in my studio with great relief at not having to accommodate being around people with their constant inane chatter and the weird interactions they call “communication”... wtf!!! So you could describe me as a lifelong instinctive social distancer. That is my preferred comfortable place.

I’m an Aspergers person who was perplexed for 50 years why people thought solitary confinement in jail was a punishment. I honestly thought for decades that it was a privilege granted for good behaviour! In the past, sometimes when I’d had enough of the world I wondered if I should break the law to go to jail so I could get put in solitary confinement. Comforting to know the option is always there if required….

I’ve been working on digitizing the pattern for the loose, kimono style coat I used for almost all the coats in my “Thirty Coats” exhibition. It is very close to being ready for publication. If I could find 2 days when my eyeballs aren’t plastered to a screen watching the hideous person who is president of the USA bring that once noble (yes and flawed) country to its knees and final dismemberment….well, in those 48 hours I could finish up and publish….

Meantime, here's a preview, the pattern is called "Coat Thirty"

line diagrams. Coat Thirty as a 7/8 length coat, 3/4 length or hip length jacket

Lastly, if anyone would like to see the coats that were in my exhibition I've published a softcover book with photographs of all of them which is for sale in my Etsy shop

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Friday the 13th is coming

Two more coats to be seen in "Thirty Coats"

The exhibition opening night is Friday 13th next week... perhaps I should offer as an inducement to attend a free roll of toilet paper and facemask to everyone who comes? In the last few days the run on toilet paper has made it a valuable commodity. I am honestly gobsmacked over this. Stupidity is apparently as contagious as diarrhoea. BTW, for those who were late to stockpile and might be anxious what to do should they be caught in an awkward situation - I read with amazement in the latest issue of Peppermint magazine that you can buy "reusable toilet paper", see page 131 to order.

Perhaps I should have had less indifference to superstition and not scheduled the opening for Friday 13th....?

front of Romance is Lace coat by Pearl Red Moon 2020

back of Romance is Lace coat by Pearl Red Moon 2020

detail of Romance is Lace coat by Pearl Red Moon 2020

The image of the Japanese woman on the back of the coat is from a vintage 19thC postcard. I altered and enlarged it in Photoshop and sell the printed cloth by the yard/metre in my Spoonflower shop...there is a link to the on the right sidebar ....Boho Banjo Cloth
front of Spirogyra coat by Pearl Red Moon 2020

back of Spirogyra coat by Pearl Red Moon 2020

detail of print on Spirogyra coat