Sydney Design Upcycling Workshop Guest Post by Taire Wilson

August 4, 2011

Image from the Sydney Design 2011 site.

As I write this The Powerhouse Museum is hosting Sydney Design 2011 .

A fortnight of exhibitions, activities and workshops all around the theme Is old new again.

I am planning to pop into the Powerhouse Museum tomorrow (with two preschoolers in tow) and now that  Zoe’s Place is not there anymore (sniff sniff)…..might get to see some of what they have on show. If anyone would like to  join me…. yes once again no previous notice…. I’m making a habit of that (or is it a personality type D for disorderly)…. I would love to have some adult company. Turns out I will get some adult company…. just remembered I have a coffee date tomorrow so won’t get to go this week. If anyone wants to go next week shoot me an email and maybe we can work out a day.

Disclaimer: I do not guarantee that you will see any of the exhibitions with me. You will however see the toilet more than once and the outdoor playground….both beautifully and thoughtfully designed, and be entertained by two delightful characters.

Someone who did get engage in the fun…. the lovely Taire Wilson for Maitland (and her Mum) ….. agreed to write a review for the blog, after attending an upcycling workshop last weekend.

Thanks Taire.

She blogs (when she feels like it)…. at The Black Crow

Purple button up shirt/dress made from 3 button up shirts.

Woollen poncho made from two wooly jumpers

Last Saturday my Mum and I ventured from Maitland to the Transparent Seams Upcycling Fashion Workshop, held at the gaffa
in Sydney as part of the Sydney Design Festival. We were told to bring a handful of unwanted/un-used clothing, this was surprisingly tricky considering the stupid amount of clothing we have between us. 

The Gaffa is a funny space, separated into mini galleries and work rooms shared by artists, designers, business people and even a ping pong society. The ladies who lead the workshop were incredibly creative when it came to finding new uses for clothing, they could see potential in anything. Kelly Elkin and Betany Dirks are the designers of A.L.A.S (, a socially and economically responsible sleepwear line sold throughout Australia. They have been working as a team for a few years now and have recently been in the UK producing upcycled clothing for the vintage line of Top Shop.

Some of the pieces Kelly and Betany had made for our inspiration. (click to enlarge)

Knitted stretch skirt made from jumper. Shirt made from tracksuit pants

Some of the tips they gave us were:

  • When combining pre-existing garments, in order to produce something new, try to use garments of the same fabric type.
  •  If at all possible use a friend or dummy to experiment on. Often finding a new design within something pre-existing requires allot of experimenting. When you have someone to put your item on, you can see how things drape and gather, as well as potential uses for that extra arm hole etc.
  • When in doubt, turn the garment around. A T-shirt sleeve makes a great turtle(ish) neck and a head hole can be used very easily as an armhole etc.
  • Try and use the fixtures that are already there. If your pre-existing garment has a zipper/buttons/Velcro try to incorporate that into the design rather than making more work for yourself.

Skirt with back feature made from much longer straight skirt.

inspiration sketches

The workshop itself was very laid back, after a short intro we got to work on the items we had brought while Kelly and Betany walked around and shared their wisdom. I chose to use an old purple singlet that has a big hole in the front and no sleeves (I hardly ever wear anything without sleeves) and a grey and white striped t-shirt that I don’t even like and have no idea why I bought.

maroon singlet with a hole

grey striped t- shirt

Finished product.....front

Finished shirt from the back.

I have always been interested in adjusting clothing to suit me or using an awful piece for its great fabric etc. but the workshop encouraged me to reinvent rather than being limited to just shortening the hemline or fixing the zip. After all, it will save you money, you will need to consume less in your lifetime and it’s fun!

Have a go.

The quote of the day certainly goes to Mum with, “I love this! I’m no longer a hoarder…I’m an upcycler.

Well done and thanks again Taire.


One Response to “Sydney Design Upcycling Workshop Guest Post by Taire Wilson”

  1. Johnk463 said

    Several of these games are worth some time and are actually quite fun. dekkeegcbdde

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: