Fashion, Photoshoot, Review

Home Sewing with The Hemming

Home Sewing with The Hemming

Ok, here’s a confession for you. Up until two days ago, I didn’t know how to create button holes on my sewing machine.

I’d been doing that thing where you avoid having to do something because you simply don’t know how for YEARS. I have designed garments in the past with elastic, ties, zips, anything but buttons. Having decided to take on the challenge of following a print-at-home pattern by The Hemming this weekend, I knew my time had come to tackle my fear. Thanks to a quick demonstration from my good mate Emilia, I am now a button making master!

Another confession, up until this weekend I had never followed a pattern other than one I had made myself. I was drawn to try out the Adelia Dress, designed by the stunning Kimberley Hegedus (founder of The Hemming) because I have been wanting my own hand made dreamy linen summer dress for aaages now. Plus, it has pockets.

I decided to make the mini version (there is a longer option too) in a size small/10, which is very true to size. I used a light chocolate linen from my favourite place – The Fabric Store. I also kept the hem raw, as I hope it will keep softening and ageing with every wash. I found a collection of wooden, pearl and shell buttons from my local opp shop, and decided the mis-match would create a sweet little detail – which it totally did! I also belted it later in the day and liked it even more.

The pattern was mostly very simple to follow, however if you are an absolute beginner I would recommend starting off with something a little simpler, or enlist the help of a pal who knows what they are doing. The actual taping together of the pattern pieces took more time than I had anticipated, but that’s to be expected for any perfectionist trying to sticky tape paper together on carpet.

The Adelia is the ultimate casual but classy dress, and I couldn’t be happier to have one of my very own.

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Eco, Fashion

Peppermint Magazine Cover Girl!

Pinch me.

This might just be a life highlight for me so far, making it onto the cover of my favourite ethical and sustainable fashion magazine Peppermint for their 10th Birthday issue!

I have bought and devoured almost every copy they’ve released since the early days, and it’s surreal to see myself staring back. @sonya_gellert wrote an article about my journey that literally brought me to tears, as I read it I was overwhelmed with the feeling that everything I’ve been working for over the last 3 years is paying off.

Grab a copy, read it, share it with a mate, it’s a testament to what’s possible for the future of slow fashion!

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Fashion, Review

The Bowerbird and The Bride

I was giddy with excitement as I drove across the bridge and towards the jungle of greenery that is the QUT Gardens Point campus. I had been lucky enough to be invited to an intimate and exclusive preview of The Bowerbird and the Bride, an exhibition curated by award winning Australian costume designer Marion Boyce (Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries and The Dressmaker).

The event and exhibition took place in the heritage listed Old Government House, and as I walked in I had an instant flash back of school excursions visiting historical sites such as this. I’d always loved learning about history, and since this exhibit was the perfect mix of history AND fashion, I knew I was in for a treat. The morning began with a small gathering of people who looked like they had read many, many more books than me. This room was filled with respectable, fashionable and intellectual folk, and I couldn’t help but feel a little out of place.

Since I didn’t know anyone, I stuck to the wall with a cup of honey and camomile tea, trying not to get caught eating the delicious tea cakes they had laid out. Luckily, a young woman around my age walked through the door and I instantly felt like I could talk to her. Her name was Chloe, a writer and aspiring curator who had played a huge part working on this exhibition – the perfect new friend! She was friendly, smart and very sweet to introduce me to Marion Boyce herself (I had a minor fan girl moment but mostly kept my cool). Soon, we were ushered down to the main exhibition for the fun to begin.

The first scene upon entering sets an opulent, beautiful and undeniably vintage tone. A pearly mannequin adorned in a silky cowl neck gown and grande lace trimmed vail greets you. Fashion lovers and soon-to-be-brides better get your cameras ready, for you are about to embark on a wonderful adventure through time. We followed Marion from room to room, as she shared personal stories about acquiring different garments and the mission of restoring many of them herself. Together, we travelled from the 1860’s to the 1970’s, observing the details of more than 40 bridal gowns, each with a story of it’s own.

A notable favourite of mine was a thrifty pair of gowns that had been fashioned out of curtains (the only available fabric at the time). I also adored a bright velvety lilac dress that the bride had first worn as a wedding dress, but then kept as her dancing dress – the ultimate outfit repeater, my kind of gal! Make sure to check out the room filled with antique accessories and treasures, plus there is a delightful row of knickers and underfrillies hanging off clothes lines on the way that is bound to make you smile.

I don’t want to give too much away, because this really is a show that needs to be experienced in person, where the full effects of the thoughtful styling, soft lighting and spinning mannequins on poufs and tables can take hold. Take your best friend, your Mum, your Gran, this is enjoyable for everyone, from the fashionista to the historian. It’s running from the 12th of July to the 19th August, 2018 and you can grab your tickets HERE. It’s better than a good cup of tea!

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Fashion

Shanghai and the Future of Fur Free Fashion

A few months back, something very special arrived in my inbox. It was an email from a lady named Kylie, and she was reaching out to me on behalf of an organisation called ACTAsia. As I investigated, I discovered that they are a not-for-profit who run education programmes focusing on animal welfare, aimed at children, consumers, and professionals. My interest was instantly sparked as I read about the work they were doing in the sustainable fashion space, and how they were putting so much heart and energy into promoting fur free fashion in China.

They weren’t just educators, but also activists and researchers. They’d already had major success in their veterinary teaching programs and the work they had done with children in rural parts of China was inspiring. They were now organising a fashion event in Shanghai, bringing together speakers from all over the globe to participate in a forum and talk about the future of sustainable fashion and why we should all be going fur free.

And I was invited.

There was something in my gut that told me I needed to be part of this, even though I had sworn off any more travel this year (I was still recovering from my time studying in Milan and flouncing around Europe over Christmas). So, rather impulsively, I booked two tickets to Shanghai – one for me and one for my fiancé Jamie. The forum fell smack bang in the middle of my uni holidays, and I took this as yet another sign that this trip was destined to happen.

One bumpy 10 hour flight later and we’d arrived. The fashion forum took place in a bright and open venue called Coco Space, and thanks to Jamie’s navigating we arrived fashionably early. There was a media wall, where I was photographed and asked to sign my signature beneath my printed logo. As I wrote, I instantly dreaded sticking to my scribbled running writing autograph that I’d come up with in grade 9 and had never improved upon since.

There were packs of media teams buzzing around, and at one point I was pulled aside and interviewed about my journey as a sustainable and ethical fashion blogger. I won’t lie, I was having a lot of fun, and it felt so good to speak to such a receptive audience. Being so connected to the Slow Fashion community in Australia, it can sometimes feel like I’m preaching to the converted, but meeting new people in situations like this reminded me that there is still so much educating to do. There currently isn’t a strong culture of shopping second hand in China, and the interviewers were really intrigued as I talked to them about hosting clothes swapping parties and how I buy most of my clothing from markets.

I also had teamed up with a handful of local designers before I left, so that I could be dressed head to toe in Aussie made goodies. My dress was from Melbourne label Seagrass Design, shoes by ethical/sustainable designer Felicity Cooney and earrings by Teagan Watts.

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Jamie and I were seated front and center, and were soon joined by a young lady dressed like a bohemian Chinese fairy and holding the cutest (and probably only) baby fox I’d ever seen! She had rescued it from certain death, and affectionately named it Tofu. Her hair was somewhere between lilac and silver, and her beautiful cheeks sparkled with glitter underneath the stage lights. She sported a floor length powder puff pink skirt made up of endless layers of soft tulle (one of her own designs).

She looked so. damn. cool. I couldn’t work out if I wanted to be best friends with her, or actually be her. She introduced herself as Tiffany Pattinson, a fellow sustainable and ethical fashion blogger with her own label. It was so exciting to meet a person with such similar passions to mine, except living in a totally different country. I could have talked to her for hours.

 

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I was one of 10 guests giving presentations on the day, and was pretty thrilled to be amongst such influential and significant speakers. This included John Lau, Associate Dean of the School of Design & Technology and Jessica Saunders, Programme Director of Fashion – both from London College of Fashion. They each spoke so passionately about how a focus on sustainable fashion is an integral part of their teaching practice, and this basically sold me on applying for their Fashion Futures Masters programme in London next year.

It was clear as I listened to ACTAsia’s founder Pei su talk, that she was a true activist. She spoke with such calm conviction and knowledge, she had been fighting this fight for some time and it was amazing how far she and her team had come. Other speakers who greatly inspired me included Mr Carlo Imo (president of Kering), Jerri Ng (Editor of InStyle China who announced that they are officially going fur free) and Grace Chen (famous Chinese couture designer). I couldn’t believe I was able to share a stage with such influential fashion people, and it’s safe to say I was pretty nervous by the time I was handed the mic. But from what I could tell – it went well! I didn’t forget anything, my slides worked, and I didn’t fall on my face – job well done.

 

 

I learned a lot of shocking things about the fur industry, including some pretty eye opening facts about the issue of mis-labelling (dog fur is often labeled as ‘Asian Wolf’ and cat fur can also be called ‘Rabbit fur’.) By the end of the event, I was both completely elated and exhausted. A highlight for me was actually the networking event at the end, where I was able to connect with a lot of Chinese teenage girls who had endless questions about sustainable fashion, and they were so excited and passionate that their energy was contagious.

I may have to write about my Shanghai adventures in installements, there’s just too much to write! Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll take you along with me on an afternoon at the fashion house of couture designer Grace Chen, and behind the scenes of our impromptu fashion shoot where I was able to try on some of the most amazing clothes I have seen in my life.