The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 wrapped up in January with a grand final fashion show and the announcement of the winners. Organised by NGO Redress Asia, budding sustainable fashion designers from across the globe used sustainable design techniques to create their winning designs. The techniques of focus were upcycling, zero-waste and upcycling.

Congratulations to the winners!

The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16
The Finalists
  • 1st Prize: The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 with Shanghai Tang winner & Special Prize: The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 with Janet Ma
    Polish designer Patrycja Guzik comes from a rural family in Poland. Listening to the stories and sharing by her grandmother, about how people during the world wars treated and see clothings have inspired her to walk her path along sustainable fashion. 
    Her winning collection was created using the up-cycling and reconstruction design techniques and she made her fabrics by tufting damaged textiles and unraveled secondhand garments.
The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16

The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16

  • 2nd Prize: The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 Mentorship with Orsola de Castro
    Cora Maria Bellotto from Spain once worked with divorced women, and had an in-depth conversation about how wedding gowns were usually being wore once in a lifetime. That makes her reflect on the life span of this celebratory garment, which now has been transformed into her winning collection with reconstruction and up-cycling techniques.
The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16

The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16

  • Hong Kong's Best     Currently as design assistant at a wedding gown design studio in Hong Kong, Hong Kong designer Esther Lui was inspired by the clothes made from care labels by her mother. She then later experimented with recycled care labels from factories and shops, and created this competition collection.
The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16

All images courtesy of Redress Asia and EcoChic Design Award
Redress Asia

Fix It Friday - How to Reline Your Haversack (Or Bag)

Fix It Friday - How to Reline Your Haversack (Or Bag)
Relining your bag
It's time to throw out your favourite bag - it looks perfect on the outside, but the lining has worn out and it just needs to go. Well, hold that thought! You can re-line your bag, and if it's made from woven textiles then it will be easier.
I relined my son's haversack, the one which required some repairing last year. I had noticed that the wax was coming off and it was starting to wear thin. I was a little hesitant starting the project because I recalled teaching a lady how to do it last year at the Repair Kopitiam and it took her a good 6 hours. It took me around that much time too because in this sewing project, you need to be a) very accurate with your measurements; and b) very patient.  I can't stress these points any further!

relining a bag

Key Materials and Tools
a) I wanted to retain the water-proof nature of the bag so I used PVA-lined fabric bought from the textile centre above People's Park Complex. It was $10 a yard and for a bag, you only need half of that.

relining a bag
b) Microtex sewing machine needles - these are important if you are sewing material which has a plasticky type of lining.

Microtex needles

Step 1 - Measure
Carefully measure all parts of the bag and draw directly onto the fabric - add 1/2 inch for seam allowance. After cutting out the drawn pieces, I had 5 parts - the back, the front, bottom and the two strips right and left of the zipper.

relining a bag

Step 2 - Sew Together
I laid the pieces right side together before sewing them up on the sewing machine. To reinforce the seams, I gently pressed open the seams to one side and stitched on the right side of the fabric.

relining a bag

relining a bag

Step 3 - Sew to the Zipper
I actually had the lining the wrong side out so that I could slip the lining into the bag.
I then used clothes pegs to hold everything in place, and then put the whole thing on the sewing machine - tadah! If your measurements in Step 1 are good, then you won't have any excess in the lining.
relining a bag

Read more tips on how to fix your haversack here.
repair haversack

Peak Stuff

Have you reached peak stuff?

According to IKEA head of sustainability, we have (read here).

“We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings.”

Actually, market statistics show peak gadgets too - sales for iPads and iPhones have either stagnated or dropped.

It's about time because, according to scientists, we are now officially in the Antropocene geological period, a period that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems.

People don't seem happy with stuff anymore, clearing out their homes, decluttering, and now buying less. I hope it remains that way because I miss the times when we borrowed or shared things. I remember when we shifted into our first home, and we got a lot of secondhand furniture (some still looked brand new). We made good friends in the process. 

Have you reached peak stuff? I know I have.

Texture 1
Image: Hannes Desmat

Specialist Garment Repair Tools

Specialist Garment Repair Tools
garment repair tools
I was going to share how to re-line a bag today but because it is taking such a long time (and frustration!) I have decided to share that with you next Friday! So remember to tune in next week. Instead, I'm going to share two great tools that I discovered.  My repair journey has been pretty exciting so far, but I've come to realise that you can't rely on your good old sewing machine or basic needle and thread to get the job done.  Here are the specialist tools I have found on the internet, and would like to purchase (or make!). Note, although I've said "specialist", I think these will make a great addition to your sewing kit!

Speedweve Darner / Darn Easy

It's touted as the smallest weaving loom ever, but it is ever so useful in helping you with your darning! If you have ever darned your clothes, you will have probably squinted and cursed at how hard it is to weave between the warp strands.  With the Speed Weve, the metal prongs lift and lower the alternating warp strands so that you can feed your needle in between them - no more eye strain, and you get extremely neat darning!

speedweve darning
Image: Wondertrading

I would really love to get one of these but because they are no longer in production many of the ones on the market are from the 40s and 50s - scream, VINTAGE! If you're wondering how to operate one, pop over to darning expert, Tom of Holland, where he does a good job explaining the mechanics behind the machine.

Sewing Awl

This great tool is capable of going through thick textiles that your sewing machine is unable to, and it also takes away the need for painful hand sewing.  The sewing awl comes with sturdy sharp needles, a bobbin and waxed thread.  This video shows you how it's all done.  It may look slow, but you will have strong stitches once the sewing has been done.


What garment repair tools have you come across and have found useful?

Image at top courtesy:

Sustainable Footwear

Sustainable Footwear
sustainable footwear

When people think about sustainable fashion, most would consider the materials their garments are made from, or perhaps the packaging it came in. What about the shoes we wear?

"In 2006, the US consumed 2,403,137,000 pairs of shoes
The worldwide per capita footwear is almost 2.6 pairs in 2005, although the US per
capita was 6.7 pairs annually
Researchers have estimated footwear consumption to double every 20 years"

The environmental impacts associated with footwear are predominantly in the manufacture of the component of the shoe, where chemical processes during the manufacturer of leather, synthetic materials and textiles pollute the water.

Eco Friendly Shoes

Natural World Eco shoes winter 2015

There are alternative choices.
We were given the opportunity to try out Natural World eco friendly shoes. Made in Spain, these sustainable shoes are made from 100% natural materials (e.g. organic cotton and natural rubber), and recycled materials (e.g. recycled rubber from tires). 

"we don’t use polluting products, we don’t emit toxic gases, we don’t spill toxic fluid, and we also promote environmental conservation by using biodegradable and recyclable substances."

Made In Green Certification
What I like about Natural World is that all their products come with Made In Green certification. Products with the certification are:
sustainable footwear
I originally thought that I could key in the product ID and trace the journey of my shoe from the materials to where it was pieced together.  Unfortunately, the product ID on our shoes were for internal tracking only - it was a little disappointing because it would have been a major plus to see where our shoes had been.

sustainable footwear

How Do They Fare?
My partner chose the Blucher Suede Brown while I selected Basket Enzimatico Beige.  
One thing that surprised us was the bubble gum smell - I wasn't expecting that!  
My partner's feet are extremely wide and prone to fungal growth because the hot weather here tends to make his feet sweaty. Here's his verdict on the shoes (in his own words) 
"Very comfortable with a lot of room for the toes, and considering we are in Singapore, the fleece does not make my feet sweat. "  
Unfortunately for me, the sizing was a little off. I wear EUR39, but with these my toes were up against the uppers, which was rather unfortunate. However, I do look forward to passing them onto my kid considering he's a size EUR37 now!

sustainable footwear

sustainable footwear

Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post. All views are my own.

Upcycle to Complement Your Wardrobe

Upcycle to Complement Your Wardrobe
upcycle your clothes

So far my buy no new clothes has been successful - I was tempted by the post-Christmas sales at a sustainable fashion brand, and even thought that by buying it I would still be doing something good because it was an organic pair of pants (I love pants!). The only reason why I didn't buy it was because I had to rush off somewhere else and didn't get the chance to click "buy".  

I haven't upcycled much lately either because so far my wardrobe makes me happy - why would I want to change anything?

My only thoughts are that perhaps what I should upcycle / sew should complement what I already have. On reflection, perhaps there are some pieces that shouldn't have been made in the first place because it can't be worn with anything else and I would have to buy something else to get the look I wanted.  Realistically, it might have been better to have sent it to the thrift store or gifted to a swap.

Try to Aim for a Capsule Wardrobe
This concept has been around for over 30 years, and was made popular by Donna Karen, who launched her "7 Easy Pieces" range in 1985. I quite like the idea of having pieces that can be worn from work to play just by changing a certain item that you are wearing.  I'm not sure about just 7 having items only considering some of us live in extreme climes, and where I live we sweat buckets!  This article, has suggested some key pieces to put in your capsule.

Jennifer Scott talks about a 10 piece wardrobe in her TEDx talk, and gives some tips.

Complement Your Wardrobe
I think everyone knows that traditional colours will always be your staples whether it's work or play. But when you're upcycling a thrift store dress or a something from a clothes swap think about whether it will go with your blacks, creams, whites and navies in your wardrobe. I think what's more important is that you don't let too many colourful prints overwhelm what you have. I've usually found that I get distracted by the beautiful prints in the thrift store or swap, reconstruct it and THEN (only then) do I think about what I'm going to wear it with!  Let's break that habit.

Wear it 30 times?
Lucy Siegle has this rule of wearing something at least 30 times. She said that if you can't wear it at least 30 times then don't bother buying it. We should apply the same rule to upcycling our clothes. Why upcycle it when you're not going to wear it?

Have you thought about this when you upcycle your clothes?