Thursday, 23 April 2020

Fashion Revolution Week 2020: fashion isn't rubbish!

If you're an anxious person like me, I’m sure your brain will be continually reminding you that we are in the middle of not one, but two, global crises. The COVID-19 pandemic, and irreversible climate change. While this global health crisis has had plenty of negative effects on our lives, we can’t simply go back to the way things were before once it’s medically safe to do so. Our current system is destroying the planet and leaving hundreds of millions of people in poverty. The fast fashion industry has shown its true colours during this pandemic, putting profit above the wellbeing and lives of its workers. We can’t go on with business as usual. 



The fast fashion industry is inherently unsustainable - garment workers spend punishingly long hours making huge numbers of clothes that might never even be worn - the whims of brands and the obsession with new micro-trends appearing every couple of weeks mean some clothes will probably go directly from a shop floor or a fulfilment warehouse into the incinerator without even being tried on by a customer. Marketing that pushes the idea of always having something new as normal means that a lot of clothes will only be worn a few times before being discarded. Charity shops often can’t sell hastily made clothes that would only cost a few pounds when bought brand new, so these clothes have to be downcycled or disposed of.



The problem starts with the patterns that most of our clothes are cut from. As today’s first piece of wearable art, 15% Fabric Waste shows, traditional pattern pieces don’t tessellate perfectly together, and so cutting out the garment generates waste. The fabric pieces that adorn this plain shirt are from a jacket I made for myself, using the fabric as carefully as I could, but using a pattern that I hadn’t designed to minimise fabric waste. In factories making clothes for multinational brands, thousands of garments will be cut out at once, creating huge amounts of fabric waste. Making this piece made me realise that I need to rethink my approach to pattern cutting to make it less wasteful. Developing zero-waste patterns that look interesting and flattering is a challenge that fashion brands are going to have to take up too if they want to become more sustainable in the long run. 



Brands from H&M to Burberry have been found to be incinerating or destroying unsold stock, and unfortunately it’s fairly safe to assume that unless a big brand has made a point of saying they don’t do this, they probably have at some point. The wastefulness of this action boils my blood - we are polluting water, destroying the environment, condemning people to miserable working conditions only to throw away the final product without ever using it? Brands have to stop producing so much. We don’t need to buy from a shop that is filled to the rafters with clothing. We need to accept that we can’t all expect to be able to buy the same t-shirt. To be a creative, dynamic and sustainable industry, fashion needs more variation and less volume.



We also have to remember that we aren’t the end point in the garment supply chain. When we buy clothing, we need to think about what will happen to it in the long run. My clothes get downgraded through my wardrobe long before I think about getting rid of them: smart -> casual -> at home -> cleaning/gardening -> rags for dusting -> textile recycling! Clothing donations to charity shops have to be of good enough quality that you yourself would be happy to spend money on them. If we all just throw our unwanted clothes in the bin, we end up with the problem illustrated in my second art piece - 80% Fabric Waste. This piece is made up of scraps left over from upcycling and refashioning projects - the trimmings that are too small or awkwardly shaped to be used for a new project and would otherwise end up in textile recycling, or the bin.



We have been slow to develop textile recycling technology - at the moment it’s hard to separate mixed fibres, and recycled fibres end up shorter and more difficult to weave into fabric so have to be mixed with “virgin” fibres. But we can’t just continue to throw things away - there is no “away”. That’s why campaigns like Fashion Revolution have been encouraging a slower, more thoughtful approach to fashion; buying clothes you really love and keeping them for longer, washing them less often and at lower temperatures to prevent fabric degradation and mending them to give them another lease of life. We have an individual responsibility to care for our own clothes, but the fashion industry also has a responsibility to manufacture and sell clothing in a less wasteful way, and to make clothes that are long-lasting and recyclable.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Fashion Revolution Week 2020: What's In My Clothes?

I’m surprised more horror stories aren’t written about clothing. Maybe because it looks so benign, hanging there in neat rows in a shop, arriving on your doorstep carefully wrapped, or sitting inert in your wardrobe. Or maybe it’s because we don’t like to scratch at fashion’s shiny facade. As well as horrifying tales of garment worker exploitation, there’s the environmental destruction to think about. After all, have you ever really considered what’s in your clothes?



We all think of cotton as a traditional, natural fibre. But cotton’s dark history of human exploitation and misery also started to include ecocide in the mid 20th century as DDT was sprayed onto cotton crops to kill the bollworm. Rachel Carson chronicled the devastating effect on wildlife in her book Silent Spring in the early 60s. Cotton is also an incredibly thirsty crop, and attempts to divert rivers to irrigate large cotton fields in Uzbekistan have transformed the Aral Sea, once the world’s largest inland sea and a thriving location for nature, fishing and tourism, into little more than a salty dust bowl.



A fact that really shocked me is the amount of water it takes to make one cotton garment, so much so that I had to emblazon it on one of my works of wearable art - 2700 Litres. On this shirt, every sequin represents one litre of water. That figure includes water for irrigating the cotton, processing the fibre, dyeing and finishing the garment, but that’s a lot of water. XR Hammersmith and Fulham also illustrated this beautifully during their Boycott Fashion event in Lyric Square - with nine rainbow-coloured bathtubs. Unfortunately I don’t have room for nine bathtubs in my hallway, so it had to be something small but visually arresting instead. 





Since clothes started to be mass produced in the mid 19th Century, we haven’t managed to do a great job of dyeing them safely. Fortunately we’ve stopped using arsenic as a green dye, but research carried out by Greenpeace as part of their Detox Fashion campaign, published in 2012, showed that brands were using azo dyes that contain cancer-causing carcinogens. Other tests revealed nonylphenol ethoxylates or NPEs in water systems, which are widely used in cleaning and dyeing processes. These chemical compounds are toxic to aquatic life, persist in the environment and biomagnify. Commercial fabric dyes contain mercury, cadmium and lead, and in many textile manufacturing areas around the world, the rivers running past dye houses and tanneries are the only source of water for drinking and washing for local people. 

Stories of dangerous dyes from days past inspired this horror-themed blog post a while back, and the creation of an arsenic-victim Halloween costume. But it’s a horror story that persists to this day and affects millions of people worldwide. 




Polyester clothing now accounts for over 60% of garments made worldwide. What many of the owners of those garments might not know is that polyester is made from plastic, a product of the petrochemical industry. The carbon footprint of a piece of polyester clothing is more than twice that of a similar piece of cotton clothing. And polyester clothing is also creating a global water crisis of its own - microfibre pollution.

When we think of plastic in our oceans, we might be thinking of the images we’ve seen in Blue Planet 2 - plastic bottles and containers bobbing about, bags or fishing lines caught around sea birds and turtles, or the scraps of broken-down plastic in an unfortunate fish’s stomach. But there is another hidden problem - the microfibres that are shed from synthetic garments every time we wash them. Too small to be trapped by filter systems in water treatment plants, they end up in the oceans where they add to the plasticky soup being consumed by sea creatures and eventually, us too.




Again, the figures are mind-boggling, as emblazoned on my second piece, 700,000 Fibres. Individually, these microfibres are far too small to see. But when you start to think of the amount of polyester clothing each of us owns and how often we wash those clothes, it starts to become a global problem. Research by Friends of the Earth has shown that 83% of water contains microplastics. That includes bottled water and drinking water as well as rivers and oceans.



I wish I could tell you that there is a quick fix for all these problems - a perfect fabric with no environmental impact, a magical dye that leaves no chemical residue but is colourfast and never fades. Unfortunately we live in a complicated, messy world and there are no quick fixes. Sustainability-minded manufacturers are gradually starting to switch to fabrics, dyes and processing that have less of an impact on the environment, but once again we need to keep asking the big brands to change. If we all ask #whatsinmyclothes we’ll hopefully end up in a situation where no one has to worry if they are drinking the residue from some freshly-dyed fabric, or scraps of the yoga pants they washed a while back.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Fashion Revolution Week 2020: get your fashion fix!

Refashioning, upcycling and mending have been some of my favourite topics to blog about, and if you look back through my blog you’ll find a variety of projects, from adding pockets to turning skirts into trousers. I love that Fashion Revolution’s campaigns also cover our responsibility as part of the fashion supply chain - as wearers of clothes, and the people who determine a garment’s fate once it’s been bought, the way we care for our clothes can reduce our environmental impact. Being able to mend clothes, or refashion them if they no longer suit our body shape or personal style, reduces the amount of new clothes we buy and keeps wearable but well-loved clothes out of landfill.



While more and more people are embracing this new mending revolution, there are sadly still plenty of people who think of sewing as old-fashioned, and refashioning as unfashionable. To try to dispel some preconceptions I’ve selected four examples to showcase for Fashion Revolution Week, to show that there are minimalist, flamboyant, practical and even silly ways to get your fashion fix on.


Visible Mending

Darning is a traditional skill but it’s having a bit of a moment right now, thanks to visible mending artists like Celia Pym and Tom of Holland. This old cardigan was one of my first visible mending projects, thanks to its popularity with clothes moths, and I’ve recently had to mend another couple of holes in the sleeve. I love the contrast of the bright yellow darning wool with the dark stripes of the knit, and I couldn’t resist embroidering antennae and legs, adding another couple of beetles to the swarm on this cardi! 

Upcycling

My sister grabbed this silk blouse as an upcycling project for me from a sample sale - the sleeves were unhemmed and were very tight and ill-fitting but the rest of the blouse looked quite nice. I removed the sleeves, then used some fabric left over from a dress I’d made for a friend to create some frills in a contrast colour. The blouse still looks neat and smart, but the pop of colour makes it unique and eye catching.




Refashioning

I’ve featured this blouse on the blog before, but I think it’s a good example of a “minimalist” refashion/upcycle and also illustrates an important point about the relationship between our bodies and our clothes. This blouse used to be a dress, but over the years since I bought it I’ve put on some weight on my hips and the bottom half of the dress had become uncomfortably tight. The top half still fitted well though, so I simply chopped it off at the waist and hemmed it, creating a boxy blouse that looks great with trousers or a skirt. Refashioning or upcycling doesn’t have to be about adding new features, it can be about taking something away, particularly if you prefer a minimalist style. I think it’s also important to remember that we should be altering our clothes to fit our bodies, not altering our bodies to fit our clothes. 





Invisible Mending



This jumpsuit is an example of invisible mending, which is something I get asked about when clothes have ripped around the crotch! I got the jumpsuit at a clothes swap, and when I tried it on at home I noticed there was a hole at the bottom of the zip where the fabric had frayed away - right on the butt. The key to invisible mending is to patch the hole from the back, then catch down any frayed fabric or loose threads with lots and lots of tiny stitches. It’s fiddly, and you’ll probably discover you need glasses, but it’s worth it when you get a smart garment looking as good as new. 




I’ve loved learning how to sew and constantly improving over the years, and I also love teaching people to sew in a creative, relaxed way - no one is going to want to learn something if it feels like a chore. The key to getting good at sewing is practice - try out ideas on old clothes that are heading for textile recycling anyway, or master a technique on a piece of scrap fabric first before making the real thing. Your projects can be flamboyant or practical, depending on your personal style and clothing requirements. I find sewing calming and meditative, especially when my anxious brain wants me to keep endlessly scrolling on my phone. If you feel like you might need a new lockdown hobby, grab some fabric, thread and a sewing needle and see where your imagination might take you.

Fashion Revolution Week 2020: Wo Made My Clothes?

Clothing is big business. The garment industry directly and indirectly employs over 300 million people worldwide, and high street fashion has turned a handful of men into billionaires, knocking oligarchs and royalty off the top of the Forbes Rich List. It’s going to take a lot of consumer pressure to change the industry when the people at the top have such a vested interest in the status quo, but for the survival and safety of so many others, we have to try our hardest.



Fashion Revolution’s Who Made My Clothes? campaign is a simple and non-threatening way to become an activist - snap a picture of your favourite high street garment with the label showing, and post it on social media, tagging the brand and using the hashtag #whomademyclothes. As the campaign has grown year on year, brands are gradually becoming more transparent, disclosing some (but not yet all) of their suppliers. This transparency is important; it makes it harder for brands to deny responsibility if there is an accident at the factory or workers report mistreatment, while making it easier for auditors or NGOs to link bad practice with specific brands. Seeing replies from the more reputable and ethical brands (usually showing garment workers holding a sign reading “I Made Your Clothes”) helps to remind all of us that there are humans, not machines, making every piece of clothing we buy.



Earlier this year I gave a talk to a conference of public health registrars about the impact of the garment industry on global public health. I had read out a lot of statistics, big numbers and generalisations and I wanted to bring home the reality of the life of a garment worker to my audience. The next two paragraphs are from my talk, I hope they are a good indicator of why this campaign is so important.

The documentaries “China Blue” and “The True Cost” both follow a garment worker and tell her story. While 23-year-old Shima’s story is shocking, the mundane yet punishing schedule that makes up the working life of 16-year-old Jasmine seems equally unimaginable to those of us used to the European Working Time Directive. Jasmine has left her rural home for the Lifeng factory in Canton. Her working day starts at 8am and ends at 7pm… and then the compulsory overtime begins. This can last until 2 or 3am, and then it’s back to the dormitory she shares with eleven other girls. This is also where they eat their meals, as the factory does not have a canteen. It does deduct room and board from its workers, but don’t worry, each dorm room has its own cold tap! Best not to drink too much water though, as only two bathroom breaks are permitted per shift. Workers at the Lifeng factory work seven days a week, often for months at a time to fulfill overseas orders. To keep herself awake during 18 hour shifts, Jasmine and her friends clip their eyelids open with clothes pegs. Supervisors are issued with long screwdrivers to poke workers who look like they are falling asleep. The factory owner is incensed at the insinuation that he treats his workers harshly - “we give them a free snack at midnight!” He huffs indignantly. When Jasmine goes to collect her first paycheck, several weeks late, she discovers it is being kept as a “deposit”, to deter her from leaving. As the factory shuts down temporarily for New Year, many of the workers head home to see their families, but not Jasmine - she cannot afford the train fare. 


Shima lives in Bangladesh and works in a garment factory in Dhaka. Along with some of her coworkers, she formed a union and brought a list of demands to the factory owners. Later that day, she and her fellow organisers were beaten up by men hired by her bosses at the factory. Shima has a young daughter, Nadia, but in the slum near the garment district, the only place Shima can afford to live, there is nowhere for Nadia to go to school. Shima makes the decision to take Nadia back to the village where she used to live. Surrounded by friends and relatives, Nadia can get an education and won’t be alone, but Shima will only be able to visit her once or twice a year. Shima hopes that her decision will mean a future for Nadia that doesn’t involve garment work, and she gives a tearful interview to camera, saying “there is no limit to the struggle of Bangladeshi workers… I believe these clothes are produced by our blood.”



Garment workers face worsening conditions as big brands cancel or refuse to pay for orders due to COVID-19, forcing factories to close. Many of these orders have already been made and even shipped, leaving factories in low-income countries out of pocket, as the factory owners pay the wages of the workers and for the fabric. Indulge me for a moment - scroll back up to the top of this blog post and read the first paragraph again. Furious? You should be! You can sign a petition urging brands to pay up here, or urge brands to pay their suppliers as soon as possible using the hashtag #PayUp. You can also use Fashion Revolution’s template letter to express your concern - just enter the name of the brand you want to contact and sign with your name and email, activism has never been easier!

I don’t buy clothes from the high street any more, but I still have plenty of clothes in my wardrobe from brands that I believe have questions to answer. I’ll be asking #whomademyclothes throughout the day on Twitter, and gently reminding brands not to forget to pay their suppliers for all that fast fashion they have ordered. Join me, and join the Fashion Revolution!

Monday, 20 April 2020

Fashion Revolution Week 2020: the fast fashion supply chain is endangering lives during a global pandemic

It’s the first day of Fashion Revolution Week 2020, and despite a global pandemic and self-isolation restrictions in many participating countries, this vital week of action is still going ahead, raising awareness of the problems with the fashion industry and encouraging everyone who loves clothes to call for change.




Cheap fashion might seem like a harmless indulgence when the COVID-19 virus has altered our day-to-day life so drastically, but fast fashion brands are needlessly endangering lives in a number of different ways during this health crisis, and Fashion Revolution Week was actually started in response to a tragic loss of life for which the fashion industry was wholly responsible.

On the 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1138 people and injuring around 2500. The factory had been manufacturing clothing for many global fashion brands, and workers had raised concerns about the structural integrity of the building but were ordered to continue working or face losing a month’s salary. Most major fashion brands have outsourced production of their clothing to middle- or low-income countries: that's what makes fast fashion so cheap. But workers are barely paid enough to live on, and as well as dangerous working conditions they also face harassment and bullying from managers, who are under pressure from big brands to deliver garments faster and cheaper than ever before. 




Another danger they face is the insecure and precarious nature of their employment, and without union recognition every garment worker is vulnerable to losing their job at short notice. And that’s exactly what’s happened as a result of COVID-19; as non-essential businesses across the US and Europe were ordered to close to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, fast fashion brands started cancelling orders, without paying their suppliers. Many factories had finished making the garments, but with brands refusing to pay and no new orders coming in, factory bosses had to start laying off their workers. Garment work offers no opportunities for saving money, and without the safety net of a welfare state many garment workers now face starvation. 

Even here in the UK fast fashion brands are putting their employees at risk. Many brands are still trading online, but their fulfilment warehouses are not being run in a way that makes it possible for workers to remain an appropriate distance apart. This non-essential service is potentially increasing transmission of the virus. Again, workers are being forced to choose between their jobs (and the money they need to pay their bills and feed their families) and their health and safety. 




None of this is acceptable. The pursuit of profit at any cost during a global pandemic is a new low even for the fashion industry, which tends to treat its employees as expendable at the best of times. Fashion Revolution is calling on everyone who loves clothes but finds this behaviour appalling to act with them: to demand transparency from their favourite brands and a better life for all our fellow humans who make our clothes. 

You can join in by taking a photo of your favourite clothes with the label showing, then post it on social media, tagging the brand and asking #WhoMadeMyClothes ? The more pressure from customers, the more brands are likely to feel compelled to change. You can also send a letter to a brand expressing your concerns - Fashion Revolution has a template on their website.




I was looking forward to attending as many Fashion Revolution Week events as I could, but self-isolation rules mean I’m staying at home, with nothing but a huge haberdashery cabinet of fabrics and old clothes to keep me company. Since I can’t go to any exhibitions, I decided to create my own, in my hallway. I’ve created five works of wearable art, each of them illustrating problems with the fashion industry. The first, Supply Chain, is the garment illustrating this blog post. I wanted to name (some of) the problems with fast fashion and their consequences - the outsourcing and cost-cutting that has led to exploitation and misery for workers. These problems link together to trap garment workers in modern slavery - it’s impossible to simply “find a better job” if you have no savings, are dependent on your place of employment for accommodation and food, or if the only jobs going are the same, or worse, than the one you have. Currently, garment workers only receive 1-4% of the total cost of a garment, and the owners of several fast fashion brands are billionaires. The fashion industry can afford to pay its workers a fair wage, but it’s up to us to demand that it does.

Supply Chain is made from leftover fabric from one of the layers of my sister’s wedding dress, secondhand embroidery thread, and an unraveled sweater.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Climate Change Action: let's hold big brands to account


Are you the proud owner of a reusable coffee cup and water bottle? From work colleagues to strangers on the train, I’m seeing more and more people trying to live more sustainably, and to use less single-use plastic. But multinational brands like Coca Cola, whose current business model relies on high demand for drinks in single use bottles, see things very differently. They claim that there is still huge consumer demand for plastic bottles, so they are going to carry on making them. So when consumers go to the supermarket and only have the option to buy a drink in a plastic bottle, they’ll buy it, and the cycle goes on.

I vehemently reject the nihilism of the people who use “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism” as an excuse to make the world burn faster. A lot of us can afford to slow down our pursuit of instant gratification through shopping, make fewer, more considered purchases and support ethical brands even when they are not the cheapest option. But when brands whose turnover is equal to the GDP of sizeable countries won’t change their current polluting methods of manufacture, we’re going to find ourselves fighting a painful uphill battle. It’s a battle that excludes disabled people and those on lower incomes, and gives unwarranted moral superiority to those with the disposable income to buy “better” goods and services.

I know this is a departure from my usual blogs about sustainable fashion, but I felt compelled to write something after watching myself being interviewed on BBC London about living a sustainable life. I happily agreed to the interview, the filming process was enjoyable and I have no problems with how I was portrayed in the final edit. However, I was disappointed that a really important point that I was desperate to make wasn’t part of the broadcast. When I was asked what advice I would give to people who wanted to reduce their carbon footprint, I emphasised the importance of consumer power in urging brands to make changes to their products. I suggested contacting supermarkets about reducing single-use plastic or offering more reusable or non-packaged options. 

As a single woman with no dependents I get to spend my disposable income how I want, and I genuinely do want to spend it on ethical and sustainable products. Plenty of people don’t have this luxury. I am far from perfect, especially when it comes to food packaging, when life prevents me from going to a farmers market or zero waste shop. Again, this isn’t even going to be an option for many people. The message that “everyone can do their bit” is positive in that it reminds us that there are alternatives to our current consumer habits, but what happens when these alternatives are inaccessible to us? People feel powerless in the face of something as massive as climate change, and I don’t think a cloth bag is going to be enough to turn things around. 

So what can you do to hold brands to account? Writing to them is always a great option, whether it’s on social media, or by email to their head office. Sending unwanted packaging back to head office also seems to work; when thousands of people started sending empty crisp packets back to Walkers because they couldn’t be recycled, the company quickly announced plans to introduce biodegradable packaging. 

If you think that badgering brands about plastic packaging is going to be about as useful as yelling into the void, then here’s a positive story that will hopefully change your mind. Activist and campaigner Ella Daish has been on a mission to remove plastic from menstrual products. Her tireless campaigning is producing real results, with several supermarkets planning to make changes to their own-brand towels and tampons. She’s proof that we do have the power to force brands to make a change, and you can support her campaign here

Joining social media campaigns might seem frivolous at first glance, but there is power in numbers. The minute brands see that planet-friendly packaging is something that most consumers want, rather than just being a fringe issue that’s only important to fanatical environmentalists, they will realise they could lose customers and money if they don’t make some changes.

Yes, we can all do our bit. But big brands can, and must, do a lot more. 


Sunday, 22 December 2019

Take It Up Wear It Out in 2020



You might have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here recently. After two years of blogging fairly consistently, Take It Up Wear It Out unfortunately had to take a bit of a backseat in 2019. I moved house at the end of 2018, so unpacking, making new soft furnishings and decorating took up a lot of time and energy. I also wanted to work on other sewing projects, like improving my embroidery skills, and creating my first work of wearable textile art, Worn Out.

 Political events meant that my mental health took a bit of a battering - the reluctance of the government to act on the advice they were given by the Environmental Audit Committee to reduce the worst impacts of the fast fashion industry frustrated me, and the increasingly aggressive policing of peaceful Extinction Rebellion protests made me very anxious. Brexit loomed; a constant threat to jobs, trade, the supply of medicines, human rights and even our toilet paper supply as we discovered how woefully unprepared the government was and how little they seemed to care. And then the selfish, lying opportunists won an election and think they can do whatever they want.

Although I’ve spent a few days feeling hopeless, I’ve also realised I’ve learned a lot from a year of reading, speaking with and listening to other activists, taking part in anti-fast-fashion actions with Extinction Rebellion, running sewing workshops and generally observing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to helping people to make more environmentally friendly choices. I’ve got exciting plans for 2020, so here’s a little sneak peek at what you can expect from Take It Up Wear It Out in the first few months next year.


The Twelve Days of Fix-mas 
I’ve realised I have a backlog of alterations, upcycles and other sewing projects that I’ve finished but haven’t mentioned anywhere, so they’ll be going up on my Instagram and as a series of mini blog posts between Christmas and the 6th January.

Fix It February
January always begins with a relentless onslaught of pressure to improve every aspect of our lives. It’s impossible to make every resolution stick at once, so it’s all too easy to feel like a failure before the year has even properly begun. So I’m giving everyone a month before I start my Instagram challenge to encourage everyone to get stuck in to that pile of alterations and repairs that we’re all saving “for later”. It’s still cold and dark outside, so what better time of year to snuggle up with some sewing?

Workshops
I’ll be assisting my amazingly talented artist friend CL Gamble with their ongoing project, Blanket Fort. This collaborative art project will involve making “achievement” patches that serve as a reminder to act in solidarity against the pressures of capitalism, neoliberalism and individualism. More details about the workshop on 4th Jan are available here.

I’ll also be running a sewing workshop as part of Swish and Style in Enfield, in partnership with Wise Up To Waste. Learn some simple embroidery stitches, and make a patch to customise or repair a favourite item of clothing. More details about the event are available here.


Ongoing blog series: Fashion Isn’t Rubbish!
I’m planning a monthly blog post about fashion that is being made from recycled and reclaimed materials. I’d love to feature a really diverse array of garments and accessories, so if there’s a brand you think I ought to know about, or you’re a brand doing innovative things, give me a shout! I’m looking for anything involving deadstock fabrics, recycled fabrics or yarns, post-industry or post-consumer waste or scaleable upcycling.

Ongoing holiday plans - Britain’s textile history
I travelled up to Burnley in October for the British Textile Biennial and visited the Queen Street Mill, after finding out that my grandmother’s family had been employed in Burnley’s textile mills. Britain’s textile history is complex and fascinating, and I’m planning to visit as many museums, historic factories and mills as possible before they are lost to developers or lack of funding. As well as personal family threads, I’m curious to follow the thread that leads from the Industrial Revolution to our current global fashion system, and hopefully I’ll be blogging about my travels! Again, if you know any local hidden gems, do share them with me.

Thank you all for following Take It Up Wear It Out, chatting to me on social media and saying kind things about my writing! It’s important to me to act to improve the fashion industry by constantly learning and sharing existing skills and new information, so I hope you’ll keep reading.