Nichola, founder of Nikkishell and creator of Wardrobe Refashion, was also the co-creator of Mixtape Zine and was Australian representative for BurdaStyle. She has been profiled in various publications including The V&A, The Guardian and The Age, and has done extensive work in the craft sector. Leisl, founder of Jorth! has worked in the textile industry and also as a content writer, specializing in craft and food articles for publications such as Whipup.net, Mum’s Business and Mixtape Zine. They are the founders of Handmakers Factory.
Floral Etro Dress :: This is a dress Leisl made using a gorgeous Etro remnant. We are huge fan of remnants – often from designer labels, the quality is usually excellent, and by purchasing a piece of remnant fabric, you are ensuring that nothing goes to waste and that the fabric doesn’t end up in landfill.
Our world is overrun by consumerism. Everywhere you look, there are signs, ads, magazines, celebrities exhorting you to Buy more! Spend more! You can only be a better you if you own this! It’s a vicious cycle, and one that had sadly become so normalised that escaping it feels nigh near impossible. Never mind the impact that our consumerist ways has on the planet – just spend, spend, spend!
Refashioned T-shirt:: Nichola had previously sewn up this top as a long-sleeved batwing design. While it look pretty darn fabulous, the batwings drove her crazy, and were always in the way. So she refashioned it to become this beautifully fitted t-shirt, which has now become a firm summer staple.
Thank goodness, then, for the internet, and the ability to find people who are striving to think outside this mandate and who share their philosophy via their blogs. That’s how myself, Leisl of Jorth and Nichola of Nikkishell met. At the time we started our blogs, we were both stay-at-home mums who shared a fondness for making our own clothes with a determination to tread as lightly as we could environmentally. We began to bond online over things as diverse as our favourite knitting patterns to making our own laundry detergent. Soon we began to meet up regularly in real life, and would regale each other with our latest attempts to be as green as possible. Look! Leisl is going plastic free for a month! Hey! Nichola has pledged to make her own clothes for a year! We were fun-loving crafty greenies, and proud of it!
As the kids began to grow up, we both ended up working together on a lot of projects outside the home, and also were colleagues at a fabric store. The more we learnt about the textiles industry, the more concerned we became about the impact our clothing choices can have on the environment. We soon realised that making your own was the way to go. A lot of clothing companies run on the back of ill-paid labour, and the environmental cost of this cheap, mass-produced clothing is huge. The worst part is that because the clothing is so poorly made, it is often only worn a few times before being designated to the bin. When you make your own clothes, however, you tend to seek out good quality fabrics. You take a lot of time to ensure that the fit is right, that the style suits your body shape. And then after you have put all that hard work in, you wear it and wear it and wear it, because you are proud of your creation, and you appreciate the effort that has gone into it. Plus it usually looks totally amazing, and nobody has anything like it anywhere. And if a seam rips, or a hole appears, you can mend it.
Not only do you have the pleasure of creating something with your own two hands, but you are no longer contributing to fast fashion, and it’s many hidden costs.
Japanese pattern “Drape Drape” dress :: We are both huge fans of Japanese pattern books. The designs are timeless but often with a twist, which appeals to our sense of fashion enormously. These are clothes that will always look stylish, and will see you through many years, which checks many of our sustainable boxes!
It was one thing to come to this realisation by ourselves, but we soon decided that we wanted to share it. Imagine if all those marvellous garment creation skills – from sewing to knitting to crocheting to refashioning – were lost, simply because they were no longer taught and passed on as in days of yore? Something had to be done, so we decided that we were the people for the job! Nichola had already run a website called Wardrobe Refashion that focused on refashioning old garments into new. We decided to take this website, do a bit of refashioning on it and relaunch it as Handmaker’s Factory.
At Handmaker’s Factory we aim to have a strong focus not only on refashioning, but on general sewing/knitting/crafting skills, empowering people to make their own garments and give them a chance to opt out of the fast fashion merry-go-round. The website is a place for people to share images and information about the garments they have created, be inspired by others, learn new skills and find out more about sustainable fashion. We will also soon be offering classes, and hope to inspire many more people to make their own clothes.
It’s been said before that if everybody took small steps often enough, we can make a huge difference environmentally to our world. So we are here to help you save the world – one fabulous frock at a time!
Texture Cable Hat :: Leisl’s best friend can often be found proudly wearing one of the many knitted garments her grandmother knit for her over the years. Her grandmother sadly passed away recently, so these items hold an even greater significance for her – it’s a way to keep the memory of her grandmother alive and close to her. Recently she moved to a colder climate, so Leisl knew that if she knitted her a beanie it would serve two purposes: it would keep her head warm on chilly days, and give her another garment made especially for her with love. We know she’ll use it forever!