Sustainable Fabric?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mr Rcycled recently purchased a pair of Bamboo sports socks, ready for his monstrous 100k charity Oxfam Trail Walk he will be participating in tomorrow. Impressive Mr Recycled, a pat on the back.

Bamboo fibre is considered a more sustainable fabric than most textile fibres, which has been growing in popularity in recent years.

Image c/o we heart it

With so many of us striving to reduce our carbon footprint, is bamboo fibre the answer to our sustainable clothing needs?

"Bamboo owns a unique antimicrobial bio-agent called "bamboo kun." Textiles made of bamboo have natural antibacterial, antifungal and odor resistant properties, even after multiple washings."*

From an environmental view point, bamboo textile tends to be a chosen fabric over cotton, as bamboo does not require large amounts of pesticides that cotton does.

Bamboo grows at an incredible rate, with one species recorded growing three feet in a single day, which means it can be quick to cultivate, and due to being a natural fibre (as opposed to synthetic fabric such as polyester), its cultivation, apparently, results in a decrease in green house gases.*wikipedia
Bamboo fabric sounds fabulous doesn't it? Coincidentally, however, I stumbled upon an article written by ecosalon last week; Bamboo We Hardly Know Ye written by Kelly Drennan, which questions our ultimate green fabric's true sustainability:

"Bamboo seemed like a miracle fiber – and in a sense, it is. It’s turning it into fabric that’s the more complicated issue."

"Bamboo fabric can be made in one of two ways – chemically or mechanically. The chemical process has been met with much resistance from sustainable fashion experts because this process requires toxic chemicals. These chemicals, sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide, change the genetic structure of natural bamboo, turning it into rayon. But the disposal of these chemicals can lead to soil and water contamination."

"Mechanically processed bamboo is also considered sustainable. Rather than extracting fiber, as in the case with regenerated cellulose, mechanical processing involves the separation and extraction of fibers directly from the bamboo shoots. However, it is a multi-step process that is more costly, and therefore is not commonly practiced."

Read more here. I am all for mechanically processed bamboo, but wonder if there is such a thing as a sustainable, affordable fabric? Alternatives include:


The registered trade name for Lyocell; a biodegradable fabric made from wood pulp cellulose, which claims the fabric to be environmentally friendly and a good choice for people with sensitive skin, however it is difficult to dye the fabric without treatment with a number of different chemicals. Currently, Tencel® is fairly expensive to purchase. *


Hemp grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent, more mildew-resistant, and more insulative than cotton. This means that hemp will keep you warmer in winter and cooler in summer than cotton. Hemp is more effective at blocking the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. The nature of hemp fibers makes them more absorbent to dyes, which coupled with hemp's ability to better screen out ultraviolet rays.

Hemp has a deep root system that helps to prevent soil erosion, removes toxins, provides a disease break, and aerates the soil to the benefit of future crops. *

Mountains of the Moon Eco-Fashion, sell beautiful dresses made with sustainable fabric, including

The Coco Dress: Black Hemp/Tencel

Organic cotton

Organic cotton is generally understood as cotton and is grown in subtropical countries such as America and India, from non genetically modified plants, that is to be grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. Its production also promotes and enhances biodiversity and biological cycles. * wikipedia

Samurai Owl Organic Cotton Men/Unisex Tee, printed with eco-ink

Samurai Owl - Organic Cotton Men/Unisex Tee, printed with ECO ink on dijon
US$28 from ironspider

Eco-fi kunin felt (formally known as Ecospun)

A polyester fibre made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles. Used mainly for craft use, rather than clothing.

Kunin Eco Fi Classic Rainbow Felt Sheets

Kunin Eco Fi Classic Rainbow 9x12 Felt Sheet Blues 8 Colors 16 Sheets

Garments made with sustainable fabrics would be the way to go when choosing to purchase new clothing, my personal choice however, would be to choose garments and fabric already in existence; second-hand fashion, and unwanted fabric then restyle, and refashion into 'new'.

An outstanding dilemma though; which socks or underwear does one choose to buy, when second-hand is simply out of the question?

Wordless Wednesday; Blue Dress Refashion

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dress, parish op shop, $1.75


Worn on Self Stitched Sept, Day 25

New Op Shop Tour 16th April

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I am excited to announce a brand new op shop tour route that I have designed for Melbourne Op Shop Tours Portfolio; Bayside Brighton.

On Saturday 16th April, I shall be leading the first ever Bayside Brighton Melbourne Op Shop Tour, taking in six op shops over the course of the day, with a refuel lunch stop in Hampton!

We will be visiting some fabulous op shops including some I have previously blogged about in Sandringham, Hampton, and of course Brighton.

Storehouse Op Shop, 519 Hampton Street, Hampton

Brighton is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, just 12 km south-east from Melbourne's central business district. Brighton houses some of the wealthiest citizens in Melbourne with grand homes, and the development of large residential blocks of land. *Wikipedia

You can only imagine the quality of goods found in Brighton's wonderful op shops!

For anyone that may have missed it, check out our recent TV filming of Melbourne Op Shop Tours last week for Coxys Big Break (Travel Show) on Channel 7.

Would you like to join me on Saturday 16th April? We will commence at 9.45am in Sandringham. You can book here. I hope you can make it!

Hem and Haw Refashioned Doily Pocket Dress

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This is the story of a little white dress with tiny little black dots, purchased sometime last year from Salvos for $5, labeled Hem & Haw, which is not a brand I am familiar with, nor one that I am able to research on the net?

With an elasticated waistline, she fit so well, except for her nasty sleeve elastic - far too tight, and very uncomfortable. Gone are the days where I bid farewell to an outfit from an op-shop because it does not fit, I knew I could sort out her sleeves somehow.

Firstly, I unpicked those sleeves and ditched them, replacing with my own DIY sleeves, made with fabric from my stash, using alternative fabric inside for a different look.

New sleeve, without elastic

New sleeves

Hem & Haw dress does not have any pockets. This is fine, but really, a Mum needs at least one dump the car keys in whilst getting sprout in and out the car, or mobile phone whilst running around the park, that kind of thing. Inspired by clever crafter and blogger Wipster and her doily pocket that's exactly what I've included on Hem & Haw dress. A pocket made from an embroidered doily I purchased from the op shop for 70c:

Ok so its a little bit "Little House on the Prairie" ....

Image c/o Almighty Dad

::Doily Pocket Dress :: 

Diary of a TV shoot

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A week and a half ago, Coxy's Big Break (TV Travel Show) approached Melbourne Op Shop Tours to film an op shop tour in action. I was asked to step in as the tour guide for the day. Whilst appearing on TV is not something I am familiar with, it sounded challenging, but exciting.

An early start, and off to Newmarket Train Station, I met my fellow op shoppers for the day; Lara of Wardrobe Wonderland, Leeyong of Style Wilderness, Vicky of Dogstar Bazaar, and Jerome and his daughter from Meltours, all of which are avid op shoppers.

We met our camera crew, producer Pip, and presenter for the day; not Coxy this time, but the gorgeously glamorous Lucy McIntosh (the face of 2010 Melbourne Spring Fashion Week)

Leading a tour and talking about op shopping is a completely different ballgame when doing so on camera. Filming a TV show requires a lot of patience. One must not look into the camera, otherwise the shoot must start again. Reflections in shop windows and op shop changing room mirrors, require all of us to maneuver to a small spot where camera crew reflections cannot be seen. Trying to fit all of us, plus a TV crew, in small op shops can be tricky! Three or four takes are required of the same conversation, all of which are filmed on different angles. A mobile phone ringing, a tram screeching past, a truck driving by, or a background conversation all interfere with filming, and will require shooting to start again.

Image c/o we heart it

The purpose of the day was not only to cover Melbourne Op Shop Tours, but to dress our stunning presenter Lucy in an op shop outfit, which we did successfully; she wore a brown dress, with a Roxy summer hat, together with vintage accessories - a silver belt, necklace and faux croc skin clutch bag. Lucy looked amazing, although I suspect she would look good in just about anything!

Unfortunately, being too wrapped up in filming, I did not take any photographs, but if you'd like to see the show on TV, it will be aired Saturday 30th April, 2010 on channel 7. You'll spot me, the tour guide, talking about op shops, wearing my handmade dollar tunic dress, and looking about 2" tall next to beautiful Lucy.

I will be running the next Melbourne Op Shop Tour, Bayside Brighton route, on Saturday 16th April (without film crew!) Join me?

*UPDATE* Leeyong over at Style Wilderness posted some photos from yesterday, here are some snaps:

Presenter Lucy in her Roxy op shop hat

Lara telling the camera all the best things about op shopping

That's me, searching for something suitable for Lucy!

The lovely Leeyong, isn't she glam? Her entire outfit is thrifted and refashioned. She picked up this black leather bag

Free Fashion Challenge

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Could you go without buying any new clothes for an entire year? No shop, no eBay, or thrift purchased garments, no underwear, socks, or even fabric to make clothes, and not accepting gifts of any new garments. No bags, shoes, belts, etc.. for one year.

Fashion addicts from around the world, are taking part in the Free Fashion Challenge, in an agreement to stop buying new clothes for one year.

"The ‘fashion addicts’ are a mix of fashion students and fashion professionals. Every fortnight they will share their experiences on this website, based on assignments. Some participants will get their own assignments, as going cold turkey on a fashion addiction is not the same for everyone"

"Over the last few decades fashion has become more and more about consumption. Fashion became fast fashion and clothes have become disposable. Generations are growing up believing that a t-shirt truly can be made for 50 cents. With the Free Fashion Challenge we want to find out what the meaning of consumption is within the definition of fashion."

I have to be honest, I don't know if I could do this! Op shops, garage sales, markets etc are all too tempting.

Could you stop purchasing any garments for one entire year? You too can join in the challenge if you want to by signing up here. Big respect you if you do!

Vintage Japanese Dresses

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vintage Japanese Stripes and Hearts Shirt Dress

Vintage Navy White Red Sepia Stripes n Hearts Pointy Collar Shirt Dress 1970s

"Fun and playful shirt dress from the 70s. Navy stripes with heart shapes print. Short sleeve. Pointy collar. Front button closure. Pleats at waist. Jersey knit material. Manufactured in Japan."
From tltvintage

Vintage Japanese god dress

Vintage Japanese god dress

"Amazing fitted dress with an awesome print of people working in an ancient Japanese setting."
From Frankiesunshine

Red & Black Chiffon Bamboo & Cherry Blossom Print Dress
(Formally a nightgown from the 1970's)

Vintage Japanese dress - Mango dress - Zara belt - Anthem shoes

"Believe it or not this was my mom’s vintage dress that was really a night gown from Tokyo, Japan back when she graduated college in 1979, She was 21 years old yet wise beyond her years to know that a dress like this deserved a parade."
Quote and dress worn by JoannaLadrido on Chictopia

Vintage style empire line dress made of Japanese chirimen.

Wing dress

Image c/o we heart it

Fashion Inspiration:Turquoise Vintage Rings

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DIY c/o Holy Craft
(including a tutorial to make your own wire wrapped rings with vintage buttons)

Cherries and ruffles

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I picked up a Westco Jeans cherry printed shirt in a Hampton op shop sometime last year, still with its shop bought tags, it cost me $4.

Cheery cherry print

The shirt was too big; I made it smaller. I forgot to take a photograph before I cut my shirt, this is the during photo, after I'd tried it on for re-size:

Here's how I re-sized my shirt:

1. Turned shirt inside out, button up, and pin the shirt using safety pins where it would fit better.

Safety pin for snug fit

2. Take off and mark a line with chalk where the safety pins were in place, take out safety pins then sew all the way down the chalk line - I didn't actually sew on the chalk line, I stitched about 1cm away from the chalk line.

chalk line ............. stitched line

3. Cut off the excess material, serged my seams together, and tried on for size (as seen in photo above in mirror)

Love my over-locker

It fit fine, but I found it a little boring, so, made some ruffles for the front of the shirt out of the two strips cut from the inside .. Yes I know readers, I too have jumped on the ruffle bandwagon, but ruffles are cute, aren't they?

H&M Sustainable Fast Fashion?

Friday, March 11, 2011

You only need to read articles here, here, here and here to confirm Swedish fast fashion retailer H&M does not have a reputation for being an ethically sound fashion outlet. Is this set to change with H&M's new Conscious Collection launching in April this year?

"The collection, which is for men and children is made from environmentally – adapted and greener materials such as organic cotton, Tencel® and recycled polyester."

H&M’s designers have been inspired by different shades of white, one of the most important colours this Spring. A minimalist, tailored look is combined with romantic lace, Broderie Anglaise, frills and draping."

“It’s not just about organic cotton any more, the possibilities for creating a complete fashion statement with eco smarter materials are huge now. By designing recurring Conscious Collections we have the opportunity to show in a variety of ways what’s possible using more sustainable fabrics,” says Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M Head of design. “Shades of white are the season’s biggest fashion trend and it feels right for this collection. White creates a romantic feeling with lace and Broderie Anglaise, but is also the basic colour in a sporty, relaxed style and in a preppy tailored look for men.”

*Quotes from H&M Conscious Collection press release

Recent Academy Award winner Natalie Portman wears a £29.95 dress from H&M Conscious Collection range to Vanity Fair's Campaign Hollywood event last month. Natalie chose a pure white smock dress with lace-sleeves, made from 100% recycled polyester.

I am sure this Portman-endorsed smock will be a sell out when it hits H&M stores when The Conscious Collection launches come 14th April, but what are your thoughts readers? Does H&M's new sustainable outlook take away the guilt of buying new fashion from one of the worlds largest growing clothing retailers, and pioneer of fast fashion?

Why I like my local op-shops

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some of my local op-shops sell damaged clothing, either torn, stained, or out of shape. Such garments would never reach the shop floor of your high street charity shop chain, where only the best wearable clothing is sold.

One of my local church based op shops has a plastic box in a room at the front of the store, labeled with an "everything 50c" hand written sign. Within the bargain box, I find a skirt with potential.

50c bargain skirt

White skirt. Labeled a size 14, but evidently not (shrunk?) with tiny little blotch marks all over it, which although cannot be seen in this photograph, would be noticeable if worn.

I still have a fair bit of dye leftover from my last jar dye experiment, so I'll give you three guesses as to what I decided to do with this little number?

Dye in a bucket

Progressing from jar dye to bucket dye, I went for a dip dye effect this time, firstly dunking the entire skirt into teal dyed water, then left the bottom 10cm or so in the bucket for around three hours. Rinsed, hung to dry, and ironed and here we go..

She isn't perfect, dunking didn't leave a perfect line, but she turned out pretty sweet, no?

Top; $3.50 church op shop
Shoes; $6 Family Life op shop

Psst. Join me on my next Melbourne Op Shop Tour (Bayside Route) Saturday 9th April

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