Find out how Mariana left the 9 to 5 workday and rediscovered her passion for fashion as well as her top DIY tips and tricks + why I’m Totally Smitten With Ecofashion Sewing:
It is an absolute pleasure and great honour to be featured on the fabulous Confessions of a Refashionista! Thank you, Sheri, for being such a passionate, creative, inspiring and kind fellow upcycler.
I’m Mariana and here is how my Eco Fashion Sewing began:
My love for sewing inspired me from a young age. As a child I collected beautiful scraps of fabric and created dolls and creatures. As an adult I entered the world of professional sewing after moving to Western Australia with my husband and son, where I graduated from the school of Fashion Design and Technology.
While studying I started to understand that the beautiful world of fashion hides a lot of ugly too. I got to know about global textile pollution, unethical manufacturing, the horrific exploitation of garment workers as well as the evil fast-fashion desire to induce overconsumption by introducing ‘new fashion trends’ almost every week, and so much more.
That was my turning point. I didn’t want to be part of this at all. The first thing I did was the easiest: I started to buy the things that my family and I needed second hand, including clothing and shoes. Like the US, Canada and the UK, Australia has wonderful charity shops full of all types of clothing and household items, old, new, vintage, you name it – you can find it!
As a dressmaker I asked myself if there was any way for me to combine my love for sewing and creating without contributing to textile waste or stimulating the production of new textiles by buying new (we have so much already!). This is how I discovered my love of refashioning and creating new from old. I use various unwanted and left behind clothing and material – from thrift shops, charity sales, second hand swaps, leftovers and off-cuts from small designer studios + stuff given to me from friends.
Today I am sharing my creative adventures and ethical fashion information on my Eco Fashion Sewing blog. My slogan ‘Discover creative eco-friendly garment design’ intends to show my focus on designing, sewing and making new exciting pieces from items that have already been produced .
Last year I published a free e-book for my blog subscribers: Create your own designer clothing from vintage & unloved garments. The book focuses on the pro-design essentials needed when (re)creating with a variety of colours, shapes and materials. I also discuss my observations on the top upcycling methods and techniques that makers and textile artists use today, methods that anyone can easily learn and use (as well as some you may already know). As further inspiration I’ve filled the book with beautiful and exciting project photos from various professionals and artists worldwide.
Whatever you decide to rework, you will need to find your raw materials first. If your existing closet is not enough local thrift and charity shops are the easiest and most affordable way to go. They are a wonderful source of raw materials but I know first hand you can get overwhelmed there very quickly.
Hopefully, my top 5 thrifting tips will help you to overcome that:
1. Look for a specific match to a project. You have an awesome piece at home that you want to rework. Great! Sadly, often one garment does not offer enough material to transform it into new. No worries, cut a piece of that cloth as a sample and head in to your local charity shop. I guarantee you’ll find plenty of material to consider for your project.
2. Find your project on the go. While thrifting, if you’ve found an awesome unique piece of garment to redo and yet the material is not enough, then, while still in the store, look for suitable materials, trims, button and zippers to add. Every charity shop contains an enormous amount of materials, threads and notions. You just have to find yours.
3. Always choose natural fibre content clothing/material. Thrift shops often are full of harmful for the environment polyester and man-made materials. Learn which fibres are natural and hunt for them (always check the inside care label to see the fabric content). Cotton, linen, wool and silk are all natural. Natural fabrics are comfortable to wear and allow your skin to breathe.
4. Focus on one colour and play with texture. Collect garments and materials, trims and embellishments that are similar in colour. Texture is such a fruitful design strategy, especially if you don’t feel confident or just don’t like mixing colours. Working with materials of the same colour will free your creative juices and eliminate doubts such as ‘do these colours really go well together’.
5. Don’t be afraid to declutter. Sometimes acquiring lots of clothes and materials makes you feel overwhelmed. I If that is the case, keep only the pieces you cannot live without and those that you already have a refashion idea for. Keep materials with natural fibre content (cotton, wool, silk etc.). Keep those that have quality stitching and construction or boost your creativity with colour, pattern or softness. Give away the rest to a charity shop and leave another maker to enjoy them.
Now that you have the materials, consider my top 5 refashioning & DIY tips:
1. Start with second hand, borrowed or gifted old sewing machine. An inexpensive thrifted or inherited sewing machine is a great way to start your refashion journey. You can save up and look around for a more permanent and better machine in the future.
2. Always rework clothing that you love. You might love it because it’s your once favourite or because of the colour, the pattern the fabric good look or the feel of it. If you rework a piece that you admire the chances to finish your project and wear it for long increase tremendously.
3. Consider where you are going to wear your refashion. That will help you focus on what is the appropriate design (or garment) for the occasion. This will give you a good base to incorporate your individual taste and style into your project.
4. Try to learn something new with every project. Your sewing and refashioning skills and design abilities are so valuable but it takes time to hone your skills. Therefore, enjoy creating and learning.Thankfully, there is so much to learn, embrace whatever comes your way!
5. Aim for the best quality. That applies to materials, sewing, finishes and construction. Quality DIY work could definitely boost your satisfaction of making your own while saving you hundreds of dollars. For the best quality of your final project, start with the best possible materials you can find. Then use simple, yet professional construction techniques and methods. And, finally, choose high-end stitches and finishes. As a rule, high quality designer garments have high-end seam finishes. The simplest way to see the quality is to peek inside of the garment, the seams and the stitches that have been used to create it. Here the details really do matter.
I hope you will never give up on seeing an exciting new project in every single piece of clothing donated, abandoned or simply unworn at the back of your own closet. Your creative desire may even create the next fashion trend!
A huge hug and kiss to Mariana for sharing her refashionista origin story and absolutely amazing tips and tricks! Head on over to Ecofashion Sewing and enjoy her creative upcycling tutes and fantastic behind the scenes fashion articles!