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.

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