Feel Good Day!

At the beginning of July I worked in a school in East London, co-delivering an eco-friendly workshop, called the ReCyclothes Show. It was such a great day! We discussed the fashion industry, how it operates, and what we can be done to avoid the perils of 'fast fashion'. We then went on to discuss designing our own clothes - thereby avoiding waste, and encouraging originality and creativity in the process. This workshop was devised by Bernie, who I now consider to be a friend.

A bit of back story then; I met Bernie a few years ago, at an enterprise event; Bernie delivers energy and motivation to y0ungsters, via workshops on engagement, enterprise and ecological awareness. You could call him a motivational speaker, but that would be underselling what he does; he encourages discourse on social responsibility, living off-line to live in the present, finding the entrepreneur within, the list goes on. Last year I assisted on his enterprising soap making workshop, and this year he asked if I'd be interested in this eco friendly workshop, of-course I jumped at the chance. Not only did the students go on to produce their own fashion lines in teams, they then strutted their stuff down a catwalk, revelling in their own originality and productivity.

It was the perfect combination of the things I love; working with kids, and creativity with clothes, whilst also being 'green' in the process. And I can't lie - I was surprised at how the kids threw themselves into it, as I had wondered beforehand how it would go down, especially with the boys in the group. In fact, it was so well received, they all came out from the workshop energised and laughing, with the teachers commenting that it was rare for all the students to be engaged at any one time, in the same project. 

As luck would have it, the following day I was fortunate enough to address a group of locals in West London on the benefits of upcycling, restyling, and refashioning clothing. The event was run by the West London Waste Authority - and although that might not sound too glamorous (!) - it's actually the perfect point to start, when it comes to addressing why you should aim to get more from your clothing and textiles, to avoid adding to the world's landfill sites.

The night was a Swishing event; the point being you arrive with a few garments you no longer wear, exchange them for tokens, wait for everything to be laid out, and then head back to the rails to pick up something 'exciting and new'! It's a swap shop, much like the vInspired event I attended and blogged about a couple of years ago. I was asked to give a demo on refashioning as a filler, whilst the clothes were being arranged on the rails, which - if you think about it - is a bit of a daunting task. It's like being asked to teach Spanish to a group of strangers; some of them may have a basic understanding already of the language (or, even, BE Spanish) - so you run the risk of 'teaching' them something they already know. I got the feeling there was a mix in the audience, in terms of competency in dressmaking, so I was sure to pepper my talk with 'as you may already know'..!

I have to say that these two events were the best experiences, so far, to come out of writing this blog. As you know, I have written previously on the issue I have with calling myself an expert - but these workshops made me feel like I was sharing stories about the things that make me happiest in life. Not only that, after I'd finished talking at the West London Waste event, and the swish started, various ladies came to me to talk about their clothes, their style choices, to discuss what they could do with the items they had chosen, and to ask general advice about how to get started sewing. I was so chuffed there was a feeling of camaraderie, a genuine friendliness and sense of community amongst the ladies (*not commonly associated with London). I had some really lovely feedback - and an enthusiasm for approaching fashion from a different starting point... I can't tell you how much it meant to me. I often reflect on how supportive the online sewing community is - and this felt like I was experiencing that feeling in real life... does that make sense?
Although I must share the funny bit... about five different women came over to me to confess they had gone straight to the rails, and reclaimed the items they originally arrived with to give away..!! It appears that, after listening to my suggestions on getting the most from your wardrobe, they had second thoughts about their donated pieces... :D

This Friday evening I'll be delivering another short talk on refashioning, to a members club in central London, which will also serve as the informal intro to a Swishing event I've helped organise, I can't wait! I mean, I'm nervous (always am before public speaking events) - but I'm really interested to see how the event will pan out in a club setting (there's even a DJ after, oh yeah!!)

So... If you'd like to come along, drop me a line; gema@sequinsandslippers.com ! It'll be a fun evening, you'll very likely pick up something new - and FREE... unless, of-course, you're inspired to run off with your own clothing, and make it into something new... :) I have a few tickets to give away (invited guests only), so get in quick! 

I'll be back soon... sharing the refashion I made to wear to this swishing event... well, I can't very well turn up in RTW, can I? ;) 
Here's a montage of pieces in my refashioning pile... maybe one of these will make the cut? :)

(unless I wear the denim dress..? Or the boho chic outfit..? Trying to think what I've made that works in this strange season...)

Have a great week!
Gema x


  1. Another great blog, Gem. Interesting, amusing and informative. Although you told me something about these events, it was lovely to see the photos and learn more about them. Good luck on Friday, you won't need it - after all that stand-up you used to do, this is a doddle and your enthusiasm alone will carry you through. Wish I could be there. Lots of love and good thoughts. Mxxxx

    1. Thank-you Mum, I wish you could be there too... X

  2. That's really awesome, Gema! What a cool event. That's hilarious about the ladies taking back their own clothes they were going to donate. Love it :)


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