Since finding a shirt that I loved 23 years ago…
Unpicked it and had a pattern made so I could have more shirts in a style I loved.
Lost the pattern somewhere between houses, however still managed to keep the original unpicked version.
Got right into photography and put the clothes concept in the background.
In 2016 while editing my photographs I started creating patterns by multiplying the image. Totally loving this new art form, I started pumping out pattern after pattern. It dawned on me it might look good in fabric.
I sought out the pattern maker I’d used all those years ago, and once again got her to create a pattern for my shirt.
I found a printer in Brisbane that could print my patterns on fabric. I ordered enough of 5 different patterns to make myself 5 shirts. I called Barry, the guy who hired me as an industrial cutter when I was 18, to ask if he knew anyone who might be able to sew some shirts for me. He gave me a couple of numbers of people he thought might be able to do it. The first person I tried turned out to deliver a very high quality shirt at a reasonable price. I had five original new shirts, in the style I loved and all with my originally designed fabric.
From wearing them constantly I received a lot of positive feedback, and a fair interest in others wanting one. It wasn’t looking financially viable, with the cost of printing in Brisbane being fairly expensive, by the time I’d have fabric printed, shirts cut, and made, then delivered to the client, the shirt price would be more excessive than I’d feel comfortable charging.
Throughout 2017 I researched the possibility of having my fabrics printed overseas. As I was only doing short runs the price was still relatively high. Sure I could get it down to a couple dollars a metre if I ordered 5,000 metres.
I did order enough to make 10 shirts, in cotton poplin. I let it sit for months and months.
In September 2017, at a market on Karragarra Island, my partner mentioned that we should head along to the speaker’s tent to see a lady talking about fashion. Michelle seemed insistent, so we went along. That is where I was first introduced to the concept of “slow fashion”. Jane Milburn, an advocate for sustainable clothing, pointed out the effect fast fashion has on our environment.
She mentioned a documentary called “The True Cost” which shows the devastating conditions created by multinational clothing giants that show no regard for the human cost in creating cheap fast fashion for demanding consumers. What a plight, I was at a loss as to how I could create any original garments, without having an effect on the environment.
Towards the end of 2017, a work colleague wanted something original for his sister for Christmas. He’d seen my original printed fabric and asked if I’d be able to make her a top. I immediately said “no worries” knowing I’d have to sew it myself. My sewing skills are pretty basic, and fortunately I had a fairly simple pattern. However to be sure I got his top right, I dropped into a small op shop and grabbed some sheets and doonas to use as test material, so as not to stuff up the good one. It was this process that triggered my current thinking. They actually looked OK. Between Michelle and I, we managed to complete the garment in time for Christmas and the customer is very happy with the product.
Now in 2018, I’m on this constant journey to find interesting and unique pre-loved fabrics from many different sources. I’m still able to produce one off original shirts, and feel good about not contributing to the environmental hazard that comes with fast fashion.
Today I am launching my first range of shirts on my new online shop.