We receive fabulous stories on a regular basis from people who have made our 4KT Elephants and gifted them to friends and loved ones.
Those who make elephants for us to donate to local children's charities can also feel that they are making a difference now that the first collection of elephants have been recently delivered to Tedz 4 Kidz!
Here's the wonderful letter we received in response:
We will be continuing to run workshops, and encouraging home sewists, to keep the pachyderms coming, as we head towards our goal of four thousand! It is heart warming to think of all the homes and hearts these will help to brighten.
We are always delighted to have people pop in to Stitch Kitchen and access our amazing 'pantry' of fabrics, notions, patterns and assorted textile-related oddments! At our first major FABRIC SALE back in May, we realised there was fun to be had in pulling out ALL the boxes which usually get tucked away in the day-to-day running of the studio, and giving people the full Aladdin-esque experience of our own cave of wonders.
Beside the fun had last time, we have two serious reasons to hold another Studio Sale now:
The first being the abundance of amazing donations we have been receiving; including vintage patterns, wool samplers woven at Roslyn Mill, merino wool knit fabrics, and velvet galore... all of which is taking up room where there wasn't room available to take up (fabricaholics among you will know exactly what I mean)! Plus, there's nothing like inviting people to visit to motivate spring cleaning and getting things in order.
The second reason is an invitation we received to share about our work at this year's Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand national conference, in Nelson, and the need for funds to get there.
Last year's conference was held in Dunedin, and Fiona (Clements), Desi, and I (Fiona Jenkin) greatly enjoyed awakening our inner academics; learning about wide ranging topics of past research and future development; and most of all, meeting and sharing discussions with the other delegates and presenters.
When we learned that the theme for this year's conference was "A Common Thread", we put forward an abstract to present our work: 'Stitch Kitchen: recipe for building community', about our projects, and our vision for enhancing community, through creative textile projects that help to build resilience and reduce waste. It was a great honor to have our abstract accepted, to add our story to the wider discussion on fashion, history, and culture.
Now we just need to book accommodation, and register for the rest of the conference, and get there. A small matter of finding $2000 ish and traveling 1400km.
I imagine it will take us slightly longer than 9 1/2hrs through, as the lure of galleries and op-shops diverts us. We will have to be disciplined, however, so we don't end up coming back with too much found treasure. But then again, we know some good ways to share it.
11am - 4pm
@ Stitch Kitchen Studio
88 Vogel Street, crn Jetty Street
BYO bag/box. Eftpos will be available, but cash preferred
(technical gremlins slow things down considerably).
One of our great inspirations, Jane Milburn, will be returning to Dunedin for a brief visit later this month!
Jane is a Sustainability Consultant, Slow Clothing pioneer, TEDx speaker, upcycler, and agricultural scientist. Many of you will remember her fabulous talk and upcycling workshop from when she was here during Fashion Revolution Week and ID Fashion Week in 2017 (see our blog post on her previous visit here).
Jane will be at Stitch Kitchen for our open afternoon on Friday 23rd August. This will be a perfect afternoon for you to bring in your upcycling projects to get inspired.
We will also be hosting a social evening of sharing inspiration for natural fibres and upcycling at the studio, from 5-7pm.
This is a chance for everyone to discus ways to ..."slow down, take stock and consider the substance, not just the style, of the clothes you choose to wear. Become conscious of your wardrobe: buy less, choose natural fibres, mend what you have, value story, love second-hand and vintage, refuse cheap fashion, avoid toxic dyes, read labels, restyle what you have, share and swap, or buy ethical brands. If it suits you to do so, be empowered to sew, restyle and refashion clothing already in circulation. The slow clothing philosophy is summarised in a manifesto of actions and choices: think, natural, quality, local, few, care, make, revive, adapt and salvage" (from Jane's website Textile Beat)
While visiting NZ, Jane is looking forwarding to gathering a range of new material for another book and her website, including stories of favorite upcycling techniques and what inspires you, particularly around wellbeing and sustainability.
For those who haven't yet read her wonderful first book, 'Slow Clothing: Finding meaning in what we wear', you're welcome to pop in and read our copy, or you can now purchase a copy of your own from us!
A skirt made from shirts... a dress made from table cloths... a cardigan made from two jerseys... and luxurious nightgown from a sentimental souvenir... a coat made for walking Canada's cold streets in in the 1980's, now re-tailored for city life in Dunedin for winter 2019.
These are some of the projects we worked on at the top of Dunedin Public Library last month during ID Fashion Week.
Desi and I were joined by four attendees with a wide range of background sewing experience, all keen for ideas on how to re-imagine items which had been stashed away (in several cases for years).
Treasured items made from silk, cashmere, organic linen and denim (from days before Lycra and polyester were added). Items that were hand-made by them decades ago, or by family members, or 'the tiny gentleman who worked in a cupboard-sized workshop just off the street in Bangkok' ...
These are common themes we experience with Upcycling: items where the provenance is personal, the fabric of a quality that seems undervalued in the current form, or simply the desire to make something more practical for our contemporary taste and lifestyle.
It is hugely rewarding to take inspiration for what something already is, and consider what form it could be to become more than what it was - more practical, more appreciated, more beautiful, and much more personal.
In our Mend & Make Awesome workshops, we see this on a small scale. People repairing or altering items to improve them. Upcycling however, is a much bigger (and often trickier) enterprise, involving many hours work, and often facing challenges when the previous shape resists your efforts and you have to think again. It's easy to become disheartened and stuck, and end up with grand plans put indefinitely on hold.
This is where having some outside advice is so valuable. Having another person to bounce ideas with, suggest alternatives techniques, or to make the tea!
This workshop was a delight on all levels, and we hope to organise more in the near future!
What makes you an ‘upcycler’? Why do you go about it? And how does clothing upcycling impact on the fashion industry?
These are the questions being asked in by Masters of Sociology candidate Kirsten Koch, in new research facilitated through the University of Otago, Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.
Kirsten has has already achieved a Master of Fine Arts in Textiles; Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Development, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Anthropology. She is also a practicing textile artist, upcycler, and (when she can fit it into her schedule) guest tutor at Stitch Kitchen.
Her latest research project aims to investigate current textile practitioners utilizing clothing upcycling as a component of their practice. It will shed light on issues such as:
In recent years, upcycling has become well known term, used by amateur home sewists to high end designers, textile artists, bloggers, authors and reporters, as reworking clothing has become popular across a wide cross section of ages, lifestyles and cultural backgrounds.
Kirsten has defined ‘upcycling clothing’ as: a practice which utilizes second-hand textiles to create new and original garments. She has defined ‘practice’ as: the making, marketing, displaying, interaction and exchange of upcycled clothing and textiles.
From her own experience, Kirsten believes practitioners may upcycle for a variety of interrelated reasons such as enriching their and others lives, DIY, sustainability, affordability, beauty, politics, aesthetics, experimentation, and self-differentiation.
As part of the study, Kirsten will be organising a public forum, where participants in the study will share with the wider community, their inspiration and creations. The role of upcycling within the wider context of the fashion industry will also be highlighted in this forum to be held on Wednesday 24th April, coinciding with international Fashion Revolution Day. This forum is open the public, and will be a fascinating insight into this increasingly popular practice. For more information about the seminar, please email Kirsten: email@example.com
We are each looking forward to taking part in this fantastic research, and seeing how it will highlight the value of repurposing clothing, not only personally, but in understanding and enriching our ever changing culture of fashion.
Would you like to be part of this study?
Slow Clothing: Finding Meaning in What We Wear
Date: Tuesday 24th April
Place: Ground Floor, Dunedin Public Library, 230 Moray Place, Dunedin
Cost: Free, koha appreciated*
Registration: Simply walk in on the day.
*donations will help subsidise the Clothing Repair and Revival workshop
Clothing Repair and Revival Workshop
Date: Thursday 3rd May
Place: Dunningham Suite, 4th Floor, Dunedin Public Library, 230 Moray Place, Dunedin
Cost: Koha (suggested $20)
Registration: Essential due to limited numbers. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
No previous sewing experience needed.
News, updates and things we find inspiring, from Dunedin's Stitch Kitchen