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My Future With Refashioning

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for the past 5 months, and every time I write something out, I am overcome with fear. Fear that people won’t like me, fear that people won’t “get” me. It’s a similar fear I had when I first started posting my sewing projects over 13 years ago. And then I was greeted with a rush of encouragement and love on what I made, even if it was a simple dress. And that’s what I love so deeply about the sewing community. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sewing for a day or most of your life, you will find someone like you- someone who gets you and wants to love what you make. But here I am, back at the fear again, feeling like I will be met with a different result.

For the past few months I’ve been in a pretty dark place. As you can see, I haven’t posted much and I haven’t done much sewing at all. Because I don’t want people to misinterpret my intentions in the upcycling world.

There has been a lot of talk over the past months within the sewing and refashioning community about people buying the wrong size clothes in thrift stores to refashion. I’ve seen a lot of judgement, a lot of hate, and a lot of education.

The first thing we do when we are criticized is we defend ourselves. I do not intentionally buy larger clothes to refashion. I’m 4’9″, and even clothing in and around my size look large (long) on me because I’m short. But this isn’t an excuse for how people see things online. I understand the criticism, and want to strive to be a better role model.

I can’t take back certain pieces I’ve refashioned from the past, but I can continue to do better.

I will be deleting what I can of those posts. Not just for my own well-being, but so no one will be inspired by those makes. I apologize to anyone I’ve upset by those posts, and appreciate those who are kind in their education about the topic.

And now, I will be getting back to creating. Because I need to for my own mental health. And going forward, I am keeping in line with the intentions that I’ve been setting out for myself over the past years. I want to use pieces from my family. I took clothes from my grandma after she passed, and have quite a few from my mom when she cleaned out her own closet. My grandmas clothing is filled with the smell of 50+ years of smoking. Unsuitable for donating, but to me they are still special. I also want to use pieces that have problems (holes, stains, etc) and need love, or those that are on their way to the landfill. There are so many old, worn out clothes that are tossed every day. I will be extremely mindful of size when thrifting pieces to refashion, as well as true vintage pieces that should be put into the right hands for repair.

Thankfully now there are resources like Fab Scrap, and other shops all across the world and online for sustainable sewing. And I’ve been shopping reclaimed textiles much more recently to make projects that require more materials. Refashioning isn’t, and shouldn’t be, going away. I am so happy to be part of a community that wants to say goodbye to textile waste & slow down fast fashion. It’s been my fight for years, and will continue to be.

I cannot tell anyone how to shop, but I can (and will) encourage a better philosophy when refashioning.

One more note that I have to mention. We are a world full of many different opinions. There are so many times in a single day when we can disagree with someone. You may not agree with what I’m saying, or what others have to say on this subject, but please be kind. There is no need for harsh language or eye rolling emojis when disagreeing with people. Sometimes the best results come from people who speak thoughtfully on their position, without shaming and name calling. I want our world to be better, and I strive to make myself a better person every day.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I hope you will join me on my journey to a more sustainable future.

And with that, I want to share some facts!

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For more information and resources please check out the following sites:

https://www.fashionrevolution.org/

https://www.smartasn.org/

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/explore/fashion-and-the-circular-economy

https://globalfashionagenda.com/

If you have some more time, you can watch a few documentaries :

Unravel: The Final Resting Place of Your Cast-off Clothes (short documentary)

The True Cost

12 thoughts on “My Future With Refashioning

  1. Could you point me to one or two of the sources who explain the reasoning as to why this is wrong (refashioning from larger sizes)? I’m very curious as it seems to me that anything that keeps clothing out of landfill is good. I know some scraps are discarded but it does reduce waste overall.

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  2. This isn’t something I had thought of before and I am not embedded enough in the refashioning community to have heard this discussion, but I see the issue now that you bring it up. It is never easy to hear critique and take it to heart, but you’re doing the right thing. Good for you for taking what you have learned and moving forward with that knowledge, and for sharing about all of this. I hope getting back to creating is a healing balm for you!

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  3. I haven’t seen any of those comments online and I don’t understand where it’s coming from. The idea of buying second hand is that there is no demand for new clothing and no new resources being used. Whether it’s something that does or doesn’t need/get refashioned seems irrelevant to me…

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  4. I have to say that i agree with the comments above. Granted i haven’t seen the threads relating to refashioning over sized items but as pointed out in the facts above, only a small fraction of clothes donated to charity shops gets resold. Even if the (oversized) items are still good quality, the style may be out of date making it unlikely to be worn as is. Refashioning is a fantastic way of keeping those clothes out of landfill, reducing the number of new items we buy and inspiring others to do likewise. I have on occasion felt guilty about taking scissors to items that are in perfect condition but reconcile myself with the fact that i am giving that item a second life which it may not have otherwise had. It’s great that you are striving to be as thoughtful as possible about upcycling, however i am sad that you feel pressured to remove some of your posts because of this issue. Your working is incredibly inspiring, whether it be ethically perfect or not. We shouldn’t be concerned about doing everything perfectly, just trying where ever possible to make positive changes.

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  5. Buy whatever second hand clothes you want in whatever size you want and do whatever you want with them and be proud. I work in a charity shop in the UK and as you point out the vast majority can not be sold. Major offenders are mens clothes and all denim. We are so pleased when anyone buys anything. I am size large and regularly buy size small items for the fabric. You do some great refashions don’t let anyone else limit your talent.

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  6. Hi Trish. I enjoy reading you blog and seeing what you make. I’m sorry to hear that some of the commentary has been causing you grief and I hope you can return to enjoying sewing soon. Like the previous comments, I wasn’t aware of the politics of recycling.

    Perhaps, instead of deleting your previous posts, you could add an anecdote as to why your feelings have changed. It would help us to understand how to do things better. But I understand if you don’t wish to do this. Just a thought.

    Looking at your info-graphics on how little of what is donated to charities is able to be resold got me thinking. I’ve doing some rag rug weaving with some of my stuff instead of throwing it out, but often don’t have the right colour combinations for what I’d like to make. It would be interesting to ask my local op-shop if I could get some of their rejects to weave with.

    Happy sewing, TF

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  7. It sounds like you (or other refashioners you know) are getting criticized for buying larger clothing and refashioning it. I am so sad to hear this. I love your before and after photos!! You are so creative and clearly get a lot of joy in taking something once cast off and giving it new life. I am a petite sewist like you, so this may not mean a lot…but I think you should refashion whatever you want. I shake my head about the hate and criticism going on online. I hope you can get in a better place with creating soon.
    Happy making, Stephanie

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  8. Hi: this is my first visit to your blog tho I have followed you on IG for quite a while. I have to say, I don’t really understand the issue here. Are the negative comments based on buying larger sizes and thus taking that away from larger people who need them? Or is it based on buying larger sizes and then not using all of the garment? Either way, I can find fault with either argument.
    You have such a knack for making things and I love seeing what you do with some of these funky garments from the 80’s and 90’s. My take on it is to make what you want and if someone doesn’t agree with it, that is their issue. I cannot imagine how wet you are doing can be wrong.
    Sew, create and enjoy. You are quite talented – it is inspiring.
    Take care, Bernie

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  9. Hi Trish,
    Please, keep on creating. I always enjoy reading your blog so much. And refashioning is mor sustainable than buying new, even if you buy bigger sizes. Of, course, there is always room for optimization. It’s like with my cats, when people tell me that it’s not ok to have cats in an apartment, that they need fields and woods and space, I tell them that it’s better than the animal shelter, and that I’ll stop having cats when there are non left in the shelters. So, for refashioning, when one day in the far future there are only secondhand clothes to have, refashioning will be different. And now, you do have an impact buy not buying new and an even bigger one by inspiring and educating the peole around you – including me. Thank you so much for that!!!

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  10. Hi Trish,

    OK this is going to be a long one…

    I’m sorry you’re so frustrated and it’s to the extent that it has stalled you. Please don’t let what they say freeze you. You’re trying to do good in the world, and like all of the rest of us, it’s a messy process that’s not always perfect. I agree with TF that you should leave up your posts. If you’d like to reference back to this post or explain that you’ll try to do things differently, that’s great and a wonderful suggestion. But isn’t part of a blog to show the growth and process of you as an individual? This is your blog. I’ve seen many, many blogs say that if people cannot be civil their comments will be deleted.

    I’m trying to do better myself in this crazy world and the counter culture isn’t helping by believing that we all need to be perfect in how we do things. Can we all strive to do and be better? Of course. But don’t slam down people who are trying. Barack Obama in October addressed this:

    “Like, if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb,” he said, “then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, cause, ‘Man, you see how woke I was, I called you out.’”
    Then he pretended to sit back and press the remote to turn on a television.
    “That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change,” he said. “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.”

    It’s funny, isn’t it? We expect opposition and push back from those who oppose our views, but not from those who share them. We don’t expect our “friends” to be so cruel and judgmental.

    For what it’s worth, I think you should continue down the road that YOU want. If you try to become what other say, you’ll fail. If you’re true to yourself, you’ll hold onto your own power, your own voice and most importantly you. As Trevor Noah said:

    “I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.”

    I highly encourage you to watch Brenae Brown’s talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk

    “A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They’re just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

    I think there are quite a few of us out here that are here to support you. Welcome to the arena.

    Rory

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  11. Hi Trish
    I have followed your IG for a few years and saw the post and comments when they happened. I was challenged by the way people responded – both by what they said and how they said it. Your account was the first place I encountered it but it is ongoing. While it is good that we learn to see things from another perspective, it is not helpful to be shamed for doing something you didn’t know was offensive. I felt for you at the time and am so happy that you have processed and found the courage to come back to creating and sharing with us. Your post is beautifully written and inspiring! Thank you for being you! Xx

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  12. I just found your blog, I absolutely love it. But for nasty comments you already got a lot of great advice. There is my thoughts on that. If what are you doing sits well with your values and you know you do your best any given time, then that is enough. You are enough. You are unique and allow yourself to be unique. in this world we have too much the same already. You do you because you cannot be anyone else, but those who has problems with that, well it is their problem which has nothing to do with you. All you have to do is accept that not everyone will get you, no everyone will like you and allow them that. But if you will try to please everyone you will loose yourself and nothing is worth that. So learn to accept yourself for who you are and own it. You cannot please them all, it cannot be done.

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