Trending now: recycled clothing, a small task with a big impact

We are all guilty of throwing away clothing just because the stitching has come loose in the hem or the pattern and design has gone out of fashion. But what if we could fix that stitching or repurpose that old pattern into something new and not throw away so much?

Australians are the second biggest consumers of textiles and leathers in the world, we are also one of the biggest wasters. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we buy up to 27 kilograms of new textiles a year and then dispose of nearly 80% of that into landfill. That’s approximately 500, 000 tons of waste. The majority of these materials are synthetic textiles which take decades to breakdown and can have a significantly negative impact on our environment.

Being aware of how much we waste may help us to be more mindful of what we are discarding and whether it could be recycled instead.

We caught up with textile artist and fashion designer Catherine Thurstan for her thoughts on all things recycling and fashion.

“I began dressmaking at the age of 7. I use to watch my Gran sew, she made everything.”

“When I went to university I studied fashion design and textiles and developed a real fascination for anything white. That was when I began making wedding dresses and getting into embroidery.”

“I also became interested in fabric waste and how this was becoming a real environmental issue. I wrote my honours thesis on this topic.”

“We throw away too much. Often we discard an item of clothing just because the hem has simply come loose, there is a tear in the fabric or the pattern is out of date.  These things can be easily fixed or repurposed. It’s a small task for us that could have a big positive impact on our environment.”

“I love the idea of mending and repurposing clothing. I want to empower people with the skills to fix things for themselves. So they can save money, save a perfectly good pair of trousers and save the environment.”

We asked Catherine what tools we would need to make your own alterations.

  • Sewing machine.
  • Quality iron and ironing board.
  • Thread, needles and pins
  • Quality pair of scissors.

“Looking after your clothes is also really important to sustain their lifespan. Follow the care instructions on the label, don’t wash it if it doesn’t need it and don’t use too much detergent.”

Catherine will be teaching Basic alternations and mending and Art embroidery short courses from Semester 2, 2017.

Catherine Thurstan is a professional fashion designer and textile artist with over 20 years’ experience. Her passion is for designing wedding dress focusing particularly on embroidery. She’s also a bit of an environmentalist and believes in recycling and repurposing fashion.

For more interesting reads, check out our other articles.


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