Saturday, 29 August 2020

Ear me, ear me

In Murrurundi as the last 2 days of August slip into the abyss of history Winter is gradually seguing into Spring. Blossom has been appearing on the many Prunus trees around town. The mornings are still chilly with below zero frosts but the days warm up pleasantly to around 22C in the afternoons.

This is a quick touching base to show the two beaded earring designs I've published as instructions and kits in my Etsy shop this week.

As many long time blog followers will be aware I've been worn down with anxiety after 2 years of having my art to wear designs stolen and faked by China based mass manufacturer ChicV. Its hard to feel the enthusiasm and joy I used to have when working on a new piece of textile art with the overhanging dread that as soon as I show a picture of it a few weeks later ChicV will be faking it and selling it on the internet for $34.95!!!

So for the forseeable future I'll be making adornments and publishing patterns and kits for making them.

Samaria earrings instructions  

Samaria earrings instructions and kit



Another colour version of the Kumaruka earrings.

Kumaruka earrings instructions

Kumaruka earrings instructions and kit


Now I'm going outside to let the chickens out to free range. Then I'll put my gumboots on and spend the day weeding and cleaning up at the bottom of the garden.

Have a beautiful day everybody.



Monday, 24 August 2020

Let us roam

 

Listen to Vivienne!

Rock Dollar

We are old wrinkly and disparaged but been around long enough to understand how the world works.


New statement for Pearls Manifesto

On Refugees, Nationalism and the poison propaganda of politicians

Humans should be allowed to roam anywhere we want on our planet. 

Settle, live and work anywhere we choose. Move on to any place when we want to. We have always been a free roaming species until the ideology of nationalism created fake bullshit that borders needed to be designated creating boundaries to confine where roaming must stop. “Borders” designate lines that delineate where one lot of people have to stay and where others cannot cross over, unless granted special permission. 

Political powers that be (the whole gamut, democracies to authoritarians) create all sorts of propaganda and nonsense to maintain this situation. The people inside the borders get convinced they are being kept safe from dangerous violent others who want to hurt us and steal all our possessions. More often than not, the people who are described as others/illegal migrants leave where they have been living less than voluntarily to seek safety and dignity and flee oppression. I include so called “economic” refugees as having an authentic reason to migrate. People like these who are eager to work and gain rewards like better housing and education for their children are highly motivated and desirable citizens.

Realising taking down nationalism doesn't mean stopping naming territories or countries, or denying “national" identities. The end of nationalism means making borders meaningless as a literal barrier because they wouldn’t serve to stop movements of people in or out. Kind of like a European Union concept expanded to encompass the whole planet, to become an "Earth Union"

The consequence of this is that govts would be made accountable to the citizens they serve. The most important resource of all is contented and flourishing citizens. If people move away from the places where they get exploited and harmed by their govts those “countries” are barely able to function going into the future. The most professional and highly educated people always have the ability to flee bad govt first, because their professions are what their wealth is invested in. The less mobile people are the ones who labour physically or provide services. Its not so much their lack of wealth that means they can't move away more readily its the hardships and cruelty of trying to negotiate the borders and "immigration" systems that serve to take away their power to go to safer places.

In a world without borders functioning as walls, in the places where govts function for the benefit of citizens by providing quality housing, work, health care, education and social benefits for the vulnerable, humans would flock to where they can live their lives in safety and dignity -  and those places would thrive. 





Above is Zelda, another of my PDF sewing patterns.


Friday, 21 August 2020

Manifesto for the true Fashion Radical

 This is a great newsletter to sign up to for educating yourself about current issues in sustainable and ethical fashion.

The Wardrobe Crisis

It is written by Clare Press who is Australia Vogue Magazine’ “Sustainability Editor”. 

This morning I listened to her interview with Simone Cipriani who works for the UN promoting and educating about the “Ethical Fashion Initiative”. It caused me to roll my eyes up and bang my head on the wall. Press acknowledges only “getting it” about sustainable and ethical fashion since 2014. 

Its mind boggling to realise a whole bunch of Gen XYZ are just getting WOKE. They think sustainable and ethical fashion is a new social justice and environmental issue discovered by them.

Sigh….duuhhhh-ohhh….see this elderly crone waving from over here! Been doing it for 40 years!

One of the British designers Cipriani has connections with is Vivienne Westwood. He facilitates her getting some product made through workers of the Initiative. Westwood is my generation, in fact she’s nearly 20 years older than me.

Vivienne Westwood

My ears pricked up to hear Westwood being mentioned. The great British icon is now 79 years old and was putting her first collections down the runway in the 1980s when I was launching my own micro clothing business. After the contemporary Japanese designers of that era she was a huge influence on me. Not so much her style but for being a radical deconstructer of the bullshit fashion likes to dissimulate about itself. Throughout her career a great deal of what she creates is outright satire, poking fun at the pompous notions of style and taste that the fashion arbiters pretend is their self ascribed genius.


Westwoods "penis shoes" are hilarious. From the 1990s she has continued every season to design a line of penis referenced clothes and goods. This is my kind of deeply vulgar feminism. 

Hearing her referred to in the podcast got me doing a bit of research on what she is up to today I was thrilled to find she is not one iota less the radical she was 50 years ago.

I am in love with her all over again. Still attracted more to the politics and activism rather than the clothes.

Go to her home page and listen to these podcasts!!! There are links for each of them, descending from the current #23, published only a few days ago, if you scroll downward. They are only short, 2-3 minutes generally. 




And I'm still in lockstep with her about capitalism, patriarchy and climate change....

Vivienne Westwoods Climate Revolution Manifesto


I’m glad to say, like Westwood, my inner radical punk hasn't mellowed either. In fact, the passing of decades and witnessing whats happening in our world today only confirms that the awful things which were predicted in the 80s and 90s are unfolding.


If I could get enough time away from needing to make things to sell this is a few broad points of what would be in Pearls Manifesto:


FASHION

1     *  Its obscure to young people that the globalised fast fashion model of production has only entrenched itself in the last 50 years. It wasn’t always so. The world worked fine for 1000s of years with local industry, dressmaker artisans/tailors or family women making clothes. Everybody had something to wear, just a lot less items that they valued more and wore for longer.

C   *  Clothes produced by the fast fashion model aren’t true “fashion”. Successful marketing propaganda of the producers sells the idea that individuals gain status and respect by dressing in certain clothes that signal on trend and cool. Of course, those right clothes change 3 times a year and every year. This is an unsustainable illusion preying on the anxiety of consumers that has normalised a generation to be addicted to constant change and accumulation.

 Don’t buy jewellery with precious metals or gems. This is a status symbol for the elites to display their imagined superiority. Wearing these objects indicates hoarding excess wealth invested in decorative objects while ignoring humans suffering from exploitation and lack of resources. Having items of personal adornment is fun and pleasure but only buy things handmade by artisans made from unpretentious materials that are sustainable and recyclable – wood, shell, clay, cloth, glass, brass, fibre, etc

*  Smash the global fast fashion production model. Return clothes making to primarily a local industry. Encourage and celebrate artisan makers. For people who don’t sew, knit or have other skills to make their own clothes there should be local networks putting them in contact with dressmakers and tailors. Educate consumers about the beauty and artistry of handmade clothes and to appreciate the skills/time it takes to do. Don’t put unwanted clothes into the waste stream - create a market for keeping handmade clothes passed on to wearers who will wear, maintain and value them.

 

POLITICS

*  World govt is inevitable or we'll become extinct as a species. It’s the only way humans will be able to work together in unison to sustain a healthy liveable environment for everybody, everywhere. Clinging to nationalism and its false stories that humans are divided and separated by constructs about patriotism, race and ethnicity will destroy us all. We have to work out how to work together, for the good of all.

 *  Nationalism is a harmful ideology that enables unscrupulous politicians/dictators to create scary propaganda that the citizens already living there “own” the land and that if others were allowed inside the borders they would take “our” land and rights away. The people "outside" are no less our brothers and sisters, just begging our help to have dignity and safety to live their lives to the fullest.

*  The idea borders are necessary to keep bad people out is more propaganda. Borders function to do 2 things. Keep the citizens inside that are needed to provide production and labour. They keep out the people political systems want to define as “others” and “not us”. Getting people to believe there are “good” (inside the country) and “bad” humans is a false and divisive narrative.

*  Universal Basic Income (UBI) will free us from the yoke of the oppressors, whether its capitalists, dictators, communists, fascists or whatever they like to style themselves.


 

Above is my PDF sewing pattern "The Two Pegs". Link to Shopify shop on the right side bar.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

The nags name is context and intersectionality


This is a picture of me in 1987, taken a year after moving to Australia from New Zealand. Sitting in front of my industrial sewing machine I’m working in the garage of the house I rented in Sydney. I still own and use that same industrial sewing machine and the lamp over it. I made and designed that black and white polka dot dress I’m wearing.


I taught myself how to sew in the early 1980s because I wanted to make clothes that appealed to me. Clothes that were outside of mainstream “fashion” that couldn’t easily be found in conventional clothing shops. In 1984 I went to Auckland Technical Institute and attained a certification as a qualified Patternmaker and Sample Machinist. I still use my skill as a patternmaker today to earn income selling PDF sewing patterns in my Etsy shop.

Pearl Red Moon Etsy Shop

Before getting qualified as a patternmaker I had a small business selling my handmade clothes. Many older New Zealanders will remember the fabulous Cook Street Markets in Auckland. I was a stallholder there for 3 years selling clothes I designed, stenciled, dyed and sewed. I also put some of the high art clothes I made in exhibitions – nearly 40 years ago! – and was a finalist in the Benson and Hedges Fashion Awards 1985, in the leisure/casual wear section with a garment called "Aviator". Well known NZ fashion designer Susan Holmes was my mentor and I worked in her studio as a sewist.


Contextualising myself and the horse I've ridden in on

A year ago, in the brief minutes that I was signed on to follow her IG, Aja Barber wrote this to me “nobody knows you, nobody listens, nobody cares”. Then she deleted comments I’d made and has blocked me ever since.

Her words are true. I am an international nobody and quite comfortable with it. I’m just a textile artist with 9 sewing machines who tries to make a living selling the clothes I make with my hands. She is a hugely successful social media influencer whose business is to grow her following and keep producing content to feed the consumers.


coat made 2019. Upcycled fabrics, stenciled, free painting, patchwork. The design is my "Zambeesi" PDF sewing pattern

The picture is a jacket made 2019. 100% upcycled fabrics. Patched, stenciled, free painted. The garment is my "Zambeesi" PDF sewing pattern.


I started this blog 11 years ago to talk about my life and art. It’s a public diary I share with others. The most important function it serves for me is to document my art making contextualising myself as an artist in contemporary society and how I interact with current social mores, politics and trends. Its an archive I hope will survive my physical existence that might be interesting to artisans of the future.

Many blog posts discuss my anxiety over climate change and environmental degradation and how I’ve consequently adapted my art practise trying be an ethical and sustainable textile worker. I wrote about my distress for the Rana Plaza disaster when it happened. Various posts over the years outline my awareness of the exploitation of the fast fashion industry related to globalization. Recorded here are my radical leftie anti-capitalist political views. I talk about how being a person on the autistic spectrum affects my life and art. Lots of discussion how other issues in society impact my day to day art practise, such as the cultural appropriation of technique, imagery and costume from other races and cultures.

When I entered the discourse regarding how non-Japanese use the word “kimono” some people automatically assumed I must be an angry white supremacist old Karen blowing fart wind at BIPOC peeps because I hate non-white skin. (I am one of the few “whiteys” in my family. More of my relatives are Maori than Pakeha). I totally reject being “white” invalidates having integrity to comment and to outline a view. Some people will still think that is a racist view too…..

A lot of people who’ve criticized my input to the “kimono” debate are actively striving to reduce me to this….

Simply a racist Karen. Just that. End of story. Shut up and go away.



Above is a fairly typical message regularly received from people who think I’m stalking Aja. 

There is an “ugly racist attack” narrative she is actively trying to construct about me to make sure nobody listens to the more complex and nuanced discourse I want to make about fast fashion, capitalism, appropriation and exploitation of clothing workers in the globalized manufacturing system.

Her business is producing content to grow her platform followers and gain income from that. From the amount of IG platforms that have sprung into existence lately monetising outrage against racist white supremacy and simultaneously capitalizing on white shame it is apparently a top earner to be spruiking.

My daily occupation is making clothes to sell. I’ll keep on doing it today and tomorrow and won’t be shutting up putting my commentary out there. I can be and are getting censored on IG. But no matter how many furious people run after me with gaffer tape I'll keep on writing whateverthefuck I want on this blog.

My views aren’t simplistic slogans or reductionist critique that clothing industry exploitation is all just a racist issue. The true story is incredibly complicated, and racism does comprise a part of it, but the meta narrative encompasses way more complexity. In modernism followers prefer their advocates to serve up easily digestible bite sized chunks of meme. Life is busy and hard, I can understand that.





Monday, 17 August 2020

How to crush somebody that just pisses you off


 I am a clothing worker.



This is the workroom of my studio/shop where I work most days.




This is one of my stashes of thrift sourced fabrics that are the resource I use for making the upcycled clothes I sell.


  

This is the retail area of my studio. It is adjacent to the workroom so when I'm sewing the front door can be open for people to come in and see what I do. Sometimes they find something they like so much they buy it. 

Above the rack of clothes there are some cloth figures. This was an art form I was doing about 20 years ago.



This coat is last item of clothing I made about a week ago. It is for sale for Aus$180, including postage to wherever the buyer lives. Paypal only accepted.





How to crush somebody that just pisses you off

So after yesterdays blog some people might be thinking….oooohhhaaahhhh, that Pearl Moon really is an obsessive stalker, there she is going on about Aja Barber again. Batshit crazy....ooohhh aahhh

I hope some of you checked out the half hour of character assassination delivered up by the aforementioned. That is the problem, barely a word of that tirade actually mentioned the issue of cultural appropriation that I sought to discuss over a year ago. That video is a deeply, pointedly personal attack on my character. Not saying my name, something she’ll be careful never to do, gives plausible deniability that its personal. But her bagging me for being aspergers and mentioning the dreaded kimono signals to those who know.

It is a demonstration of power intended to intimidate me into shamed silence, not a constructive engagement about ideas. A capsule of dismissive contempt for my wrong thinking. She justifies this blatant bullying because she is an oppressed black woman and I’m a privileged racist white supremacist. Is there something familiar about this “us and them” polarisation? This seems the twisted justification of a self righteous bully nominating me a sub human who deserves to be trashed. Being a bully isn't something connected to the DNA of melanin.

I think she is an awful advocate. In the brief time before I was purged from polluting her platform I was amazed at how she rudely talks down to her followers. Herding and directing them like an unruly bunch of meerkats. So ungracious. The especially thick white people get served double excoriations becos they seldom have appropriate gratitude for her enormous beneficence in tolerating them.

Where are the groups where women come together feeling solidarity and sisterhood advocating against the fast fashion model? Together BIPOC and white women love clothes and style. As consumers our money is all the same. BIPOC and white women both work in the fast fashion industry. Why are some social media groups/people striving to divide us by saying we should only care about the 80% BIPOC? Why is there indifference and dismissal towards the 20% of melanin lackers?

Being anti-fashion isn’t just a racist issue. It is a womans, a feminist and a human rights issue.

We will get the work done of smashing patriarchy>capitalism more efficiently by chopping off the head of the beast instead of hacking at a limb.


Being a racist anti-racist or the new anti-racism is being anti-white

There are anti-fast fashion advocates who are mixing their message by saying it’s all just a racist issue. By that logic, lets “fix” racism first then maybe later on we can refocus on patriarchy>capitalism. My view is that this is to put the cart before the horse. Patriarchy is the root of all oppressive systems, including racism.

Being aggrieved can be a profitable business model on social media. Some advocates see a business opportunity in selling the equivalent of Catholic “favours” to white people who feel guilt stricken to be told they’re racist.

Join up <here>!!! to expiate your racist sins and those of your fathers and possibly be dispensed forgiveness. Buy yourself a cleansing ritual whipping as a penitent ex white supremacist!!!

White people love these platforms. They flock there to enjoy safety in numbers and to learn the correct anti-racist incantations to recite when required. The Church of Saintly Performative Allyship.

Meantime I need to get to my sewing machine and make things I hope I can sell. Sitting at my Janome stitching or leaning over the garment cutting table I feel sisterhood with all the women doing clothing industry work today and every day. I don't feel more sympathy for the 80% who are BIPOC and doing the same work and less for the 20% whitey.




Sunday, 16 August 2020

Resist dehumanising

In further acknowledgement of VP Day (Victory in the Pacific) and the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2 this morning I listened to this great podcast on Australias Radio National. I'm an avid fan of host James Carleton and his weekly program God Forbid. 

PODCAST

After WW2 - grief, loss and change

The price of love is grief, and the price of grief in war is especially high. For those who lost loved ones in the WWII conflict, how did they come to terms with the loss and grief that ensued?

______________________________________________________________________________


Below is a link from another Radio National podcast from the Religion and Philosophy show. This dovetails neatly into why and how our species can hate on each other to the extent of justifying all out war. The violence and aggression we do to each other is a spectrum starting from low level bullying to murder on an industrial scale. David Livingstone Smith addresses climate change, the international rise of authoritarian politics, reflects on the current president of the USA and how "dehumanisation" is a weapon of propaganda that disinhibits groups of people and gives permission to identify others as less than human.

PODCAST

Inhumanity

Radio National podcast. Host David Rutledge interviews philosopher and writer Professor David Livingstone Smith discussing his new book.

THE BOOK

On Humanity: on dehumanisation and how to resist it.


I had to buy the book of course!

_______________________________________________________________________________
  
Something old, something new





This is a coat I upcyled a few years ago. It was a plain black polyester $6 jacket from Vinnies. As ever, I had to open the side seams to be able to work on the surface flat and this was tricky because the jacket was lined and had a drawstring cord at the waist. Direct painted and stenciled onto the surface. Stenciled and stitched on on offcut fragment of yellow teeshirt knit. That fabric was cut into various size patches there were sewed on. 

The jacket is displayed over one of my PDF sewing patterns - The Rings of Saturn

I made the bead necklace too.







________________________________________________________________________________

How not to do intersectional feminism

I shared in a blog a couple of weeks ago how I'd signed up to be a Patreon for fashion influencer/advocate Aja Barber. In that closed group I made a comment on a discussion thread she started and when she saw my name appear she was angry to find I'd joined and asked me to go away. So I did. First, she demanded an apology from me because of how I've offended her and I did so in writing immediately. 

Being excluded is very hurtful to me as she is one of the highest profile anti-fast fashion advocates internationally and that is a community I feel I have a place in.

She was so outraged at my attempt to be involved and to add my voice to the conversation that she made a video condemnation describing my unacceptable behaviour and attitudes publicly available for her nearly 200,000 followers to see. So far its been seen by 42,000+ people. Many 100s of comments were made agreeing that I'm a terrible person. A racist. A stalker who intends to harm Ms Barber. I read them all and the one that really still stabs me in the gut is that I'm "vile". I've only watched the video once. Its been on her Instagram page for 6 weeks.

At some time in the future I might be able to watch it again and make some dispassionate analysis why she thought it was necessary. About 5 minutes into watching it my brain kind of fogged up, body went jelly and I was shaking all over and nearly vomiting. The only sensible response I had that I can recall before fuzzing out was being confounded by her saying that my behaviour was exactly as if I'd come into the lounge room of her home and rudely insulted her. I really don't get the parallel how an advocate with 100s of 1000s of followers, who asks for people to support their work on Patreon, whose daily work is devoted to advocating for rights for clothing workers - feels that her audience must be strictly controlled to only people who listen, not question. Don't ask anything nuanced or too hard for a cookie cutter answer....or maybe you'll get subjected to a similar hatchet job?

Last night I was removed from IG @rememberwhomadethem as a Patreon and removed/blocked from the Instagram group. I joined the group 5 days ago and had posted one comment in the Patreon thread congratulating them on doing a great job investigating Loststock. 




What distressed me the most was getting this notice that my removal was due to BULLYING and HARASSMENT.

@rememberwhomadethem  is a great advocacy platform and they are entitled to keep out people they don't want to speak to. During the 5 days I was part of the group I listened to their 3 published podcasts and all were excellent. Their second podcast featured Aja Barber being interviewed and I wonder if she recommended they should eject me?

I recently became a Remake ambassador and now that it seems Aja has declared war on me I hope she doesn't use her influence to get me thrown out of there too. Remake has invited me to submit an article describing how my art to wear garments have been appropriated and mass manufactured by a China based company. I've already spent many hours researching and writing it up so it will be a blow if I lose the opportunity to use that platform to alert fashion consumers about another unethical fast fashion practise. 
 
This post is getting too long. Hardly anybody will have had the patience to get this far. 

I want to remind the women who are trying to silence me on social media of the words of Sojourner Truth. Think about why she said this. I think she was agonised by women dividing women into imagined categories of the more and less privileged and dismissing the integrity of a persons voice based on skin colour? 

Ain't I a woman?














Saturday, 15 August 2020

75th Anniversary of end of WW2 in the Pacific

Today, August 15, 2020 marks 75 years since World War II ended in the Pacific with Japan's surrender to a group of countries that included Australia and New Zealand.

75th anniversary of end of WW2 in Pacific

In Great Britain and Europe the end of WW2 is called VE day and is May 8. 

The Japanese fought on in the Pacific region after Nazi Germany surrendered until the Atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9th respectively convinced Emperor Hirohito that continuing the war would be met with catastrophic consequences. 

Outside of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Timor, Philipines, Indonesia and Papua Guinea, the other WW2 allies Europe, Great Britain and the Americans hardly acknowledge or have much awareness of the Pacific history and the role Australian and New Zealand armed forces had in fighting back the Japanese Imperial Army. As an ally of Nazi Germany the Japanese sought to aid Hitler win the war by dividing the hostilities into separate theatres. Advancing into the Pacific and capturing territory in the name of Emperor Hirohito fulfilled another political agenda that resources could be mined and exploited to modernise Japanese industry. This mid 20thC bid at colonisation of sovereign Pacific nations is never acknowledged by those who prefer the view that only "white" nations are aggressors.

The northern territory town of Darwin was attacked on May 2, 1943 by 242 Japanese bombers. Casualties were around 250 and were mainly seamen and a small number of Darwin civilians.


 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Still living memories in my town

I'd like to acknowledge today the war service of Ethel Haydon, a Murrurundi resident who lives across my back fence. Ethel turned 100 years old on June 16th. Sadly, due to the pandemic her birthday celebration had to be small and limited to only a small number of people in the room at a time. Ethel was a nurse aide working in Papua New Guinea 1942 - 44.

A second local resident to acknowledge today is Judy Dysart. Judys war service was at the Cowra Internment camp as a guard. She was working the night of the riot and breakout of the Japanese prisoners of war. The breakout occurred on 5 August 1944, when 1,104 Japanese prisoners attempted to escape from a camp near Cowra, a small regional town in New South Wales. Few Americans or Europeans know this but it was the largest prison escape of WW2, as well as one of the bloodiest. During the escape and ensuing manhunt, 4 Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese soldiers were killed. The remaining escapees were re-captured and imprisoned.

Judy left Murrurundi to live with relatives a few years ago but during the time I knew her she shared with me some of her ongoing psychological trauma from the violence of that night. 

The last Australian hero I want to salute is the extraordinary nurse Vivian Bullwinkel. Vivian survived the torpedoing of her hospital ship along with a number of other nurses, soldiers, wounded and civilians. The initial war crime of bombing a hospital ship was compounded when the survivors were recaptured onshore. The soldiers, many of them who had been wounded patients being evacuated on the ship, were executed. The nurses were raped then marched into the sea and shot in the back.

Vivian Bullwinkel

Bangka Island Massacre

Sweatpants Forever

Bring on the sweatpants. 

No dismay from me that the global north "fashion" industry is teetering and going broke. I'm wallowing in the delightful schadenfraude. Makes me want to light up a big cuban cigar and drag on it in deep satisfaction (I stopped smoking 20 years ago).

New York Times - Sweatpants Forever

What I hope happens now that the COVID19 pandemic has exposed the chronic unsustainability of the whole BS fast fashion model is that consumers will have to fall back on the previous way the world functioned. Clothes made locally by local people.

More textile fibre will have to be grown and produced close to where its processed. Due to reduced international shipping a much bigger portion of garments will have to be made inside countries instead of imported. Local production will benefit the local economy by keeping cash circulating in small circles instead of being hooked out by overseas based businesses to enrich a privileged group of shareholders.

First world consumers will go through a fright period of readjustment to reality when they have to pay the real costs of local production. 

The current industrial model of producing clothing in low wage countries with poor record of worker rights, fair pay and industrial regulation was always unsustainable. A temporary cloud cuckoo land for global north consumers to frolic around in until the band stopped playing.

Hopefully, the ignorant and addictive consumerism which has led to the natural biological systems sustaining our environment being abused to breaking point will have to at least slow down, if not stop. Human activities that have debased and overtaken vast tracts of land, altering the balance of ecological systems and destroying the habitat and ranges of wild animals, is part of the reason why the COVID19 infection jumped its host species to a human.

The world simply cannot go on shitting in it's own nest without consequences.Too many consumers are just too stupid/selfish/entitled/deluded to change their destructive consumerist behaviours. As a consequence of not being able to do it consciously and voluntarily nature is exposing just how naked our Empress is. 

I was first radicalised in 1973 reading this book at age 14.   

Small is Beautiful  by German economist E F Schumacher

Before that there was this seminal warning written a decade earlier in 1962, from scientist Rachel Carson

Silent Spring

The End of Nature     Bill McKibben, the news was just getting worse in 1989

From the 1960s to now I'm living it and seeing it. Things are truly much, much worse now than they were in 1973. The Baby Boomer generation were the first to recognise the implications of the scientific data that human behaviours were locking us into a fatal pattern of ecological change. Change that will render the natural environment that our species has adapted to live in over millennia into something we can't adapt fast enough to survive in. Despite this awareness, research and monitoring over 50 years the warnings have never significantly altered that course.

Some people think/hope theres still time to pull back fast enough to avert the catastrophe. I don't share that optimism. I believe the Earth has entered into the Anthropocene era, meaning that the pollution generated by humans is the most influential factor on altering the balance of the climate.

____________________________________________________________________________


We pollute the planet because of burning fossil fuels to make the energy needed to keep producing consumer goods. Extracting resources and making stuff to sell is the foundation of Capitalism; the system of organising wealth, labour and resources that is predominant. It is a hierarchical system that has an elite group at the top who commandeer the labour of others to do the work of extracting and producing.

Sometimes feel a sense of despair that every next generation since the Boomers thinks they're the first discoverers of capitalist exploitation and the damage it does to living beings and the environment....

I am also personally embarrassed and ashamed that the Baby Boomer generation have been so useless in bringing about the real political change needed to stop our descent into irreversible and catastrophic climate change.







Saturday, 1 August 2020

hot stuff for Winter

The coldest part of Winter where I live is from now to the end of September. I hate the cold because poor circulation means my hands and feet are frozen like great blocks of ice and hurt a lot. I don't run any heating in my professional studio due to the enormous quantities of fabric stored there. The possibility of a thread or a little bit of fibre fluff falling into a heater and setting the whole place on fire is too real.

Oscar the maltese terrier appreciates a nice fire too


So with the cold weather and social distancing requirements of the pandemic I've been able to justify staying home for months huddling by the warmth of the wood heater in the lounge room and watching back to back Netflix. 

Just watched the whole 5 seasons of the "The Bureau" in the last couple of weeks and what a great series that was. Unfortunately it is made in France so was subtitled in english meaning I had to watch the screen almost all the time to keep up with the story. That was "unfortunate" in the sense that it was hard to do any small lap size craft projects because of needing to watch what to do. 

Nevertheless, I persevered to make cloth beads for this necklace.





The round beads are formed by scrunching a tuft of fibre fill (salvaged from an old pillow) and winding yarn around it. When its the desired size I either embroider directly onto the surface with stranded embroidery thread - as in the black and white bead at top left, or wind fragments of cloth onto the bead, sew them place and then embroider the details - as with second and third beads down on the left side.

The tube beads are made with a length of the stick from an earbud in the centre. If you pull the cotton buds off the end they are usually a rigid plastic tube with a tiny 2mm hole down the middle (sometimes they are cardboard or solid plastic). I wind thick quilt batting around that, then the outer cloth and embroider onto that. The hole in the middle of the earbud stick may or may not be useful when you come to string the beads. Its main purpose is to simply keep the bead straight and rigid. The beads tend to be too soft and bendy without the support otherwise.




When the beads were strung I liked the juxtaposition of using them with some brass metal beads and some bone. The white beads with black streaks on them and the smaller ones with spots on them are carved from horn. I bought these from an Etsy shop along with some other amazing beads made by people in the country of Mali. I only use them for special projects. 




Above is a close up of earrings I made on the same day. I bought the superbly detailed glass parrot beads from another Etsy shop. I love parrots because there are real ones in my backyard that come in for a feed every day. Some of them have become so tame they come in the windows and walk around the house! Below is an Australian King Parrot sitting on my lounge room window sill.




To finish off today heres a picture of another cloth and embroidered necklace and earrings made last year. I still really like the shape of the earrings so plan to make another in colours.







Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The coat is finished

Chilly Botty cardi, part 4


Today is part 4 and the last guidelines for how to finish the long line cardigan. The diagram below shows how the skirt was patched together.



 The picture below shows how I laid up the patch pieces on my worktable, deciding how to arrange them, before sewing together. Note how the diagram above specified to cut the patches in a slightly trapezoid shape – narrow at top and wider at the bottom. This will cause the skirt to take up a curved shape so that when its attached to the upper part the coat it will have what is described in dressmaking as an “A” line shape. This silhouette is fitting at the shoulders and wider at the hem.



patches laid up on work table while deciding how to arrange them

When the skirt was long enough to match the length of the top it was overlaid and sewed on 3ZZ.
The front edges were finished with long placket strips extending from the hem to the collar.
I like to add an edging along the hem line. This does several things - a) adds weight, so that the hem swings better b) it provides an aesthetically pleasing horizontal line differentiating the edge c) it stabilises the hem edge to prevent stretching d) it adds more durability. Usually I sew a woven cotton tape 15mm - 20mm wide along the hem, sewing with zigzag or 3ZZ along each side of the tape. But I had in the studio a neat decorative braid bought from Darn Cheap Fabrics in Melbourne a couple of years ago. The picture shows the tape laid on the hem before it was sewed on.





Here is the finished coat. I sewed four upcycled buttons onto the placket so it can be buttoned up.

Front of upcycled coat


back of upcycled coat

On each side of the collar I sewed some little motifs. On the right is a small applique flower and on the left a crotcheted flower.

Top of coat, showing plackets along the collar edge, buttons and motifs on collar

Oscar the maltese terrier knows what this coat is good for



And heres me modelling the coat






Saturday, 11 July 2020

Part 3 of cardigan reconstruction

Chilly Botty cardi, part 3

Sleeves

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

Pay the Rent

This is an organisation I make a recurring payment to.

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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?

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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.




...do 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 out....you can clearly see my days of running downhill pushing a Bambina are well and truly behind me.