Sharing the Message of Reconnecting with Your Clothes

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Sharing the Message of Reconnecting with Your Clothes
These past few months have been crazy. Not much sewing or upcycling, mostly more sharing!

Sharing is good.
Sharing means getting more people to understand what you are doing.
Sharing means opening up your heart.

I was recently interviewed by Channel News Asia (thank you, Lianne!) and the response to the interview was very positive. Rewind 3 years back and the response to an interview then was extremely lukewarm - people didn't understand why I would want to pick up a needle and thread to upcycle my wardrobe.  I am amazed by how the whole environmental movement in Singapore has transformed.  People are starting to realise that it all starts with them!

Agy upcycles clothes

We now have so many ground-up initiatives, and just last week we had the Singapore Eco Film Festival. Being on the panel discussion on Minimalism, it was amazing to see so many people were eager to know how to incorporate environmental actions into their lives. 

Singapore Eco Film Festival
(L to R : Olivia Choong, Kevin Teng, Ng Hui Ying, Agy)

The movement is even spreading into our schools. My good friend, Lara of Secondsguru, organised a sharing session on sustainable fashion with the UWCSEA Dover Parent Teacher Committee. I do hope people see the need for reducing their consumption, caring for their clothes and finally making do with less.  It would be interesting what the environmental scene is like in another 3 years. Watch this space!

Angel Gowns Singapore - Upcycled Wedding Dresses

Angel Gowns Singapore - Upcycled Wedding Dresses
Angel Gowns Singapore

Would you be brave enough to cut up your wedding dress and transform it into a little more wearable? Wedding dresses are becoming more extravagant (including the actual event!) and unfortunately, put away never to be worn again, unless if you are going to dye it and wear it at another formal do (very unlikely in my case).

My wedding dress was lovingly made by my mother. When we first went hunting for the dress, I couldn't believe how much it cost just to rent one, and so we settled on making one for less than $100 (about US$80)  - we went for a simple princess cut but even then with all the satin fabric and tulle that went into it, I don't think I would wear it again. She even kept her own wedding dress - a 70's style cream dress complete with puffy sleeves and high waist line. I think she secretly wanted me to wear it on my big day but I told her that I will think of something to transform it.... sorry, mum.
The best wedding dress transformation I have seen is from Pam of Threading My Way .  She upcycled her daughter's wedding dress into this lovely number complete with matching clutch. 

Angel Gowns Singapore - Donate Your Wedding Dresses
If you really don't know what to do with the wedding dress hanging in your wardrobe, why not donate it to a good cause instead?
Angel Gowns Singapore accepts pre-owned wedding gowns and upcycles them into beautiful angel gowns for babies who sadly do not make it home from the hospital. Andrea Toh of the group explains,

"Although we live in an affluent society, it remains inevitable that lives are lost due to complications and unforeseen circumstances. Regardless of the period in gestation, a baby's life is celebrated by a Mother and Father upon conception. When this life is lost, the family is overwhelmed by grief and devastation. It is often heart breaking for the family to go shopping for clothing just to say goodbye to their loved ones. Often, retail clothing might not even fit the tiny bodies of premature babies. Angel Gowns Singapore is here to provide support for these families, to let them know that there is someone out there who care that a little life was lost. Although these lives have not set foot on earth, they have already left foot prints in our hearts."

Run by volunteers
The group is a community of 25 sewists (and growing!) who are helping to transform the wedding gowns to angel gowns.  The initial call for volunteers was in August this year, when Andrea saw a post of a similar initiative in the USA, Angel Gowns USA, and decided to start it Singapore.  After a couple of calls, gathering volunteers and friends, and eventually getting in touch with KK Hospital to collaborate on the project, the group managed to get the wheel turning and lovingly produce angel gowns.

Angel Gowns Singapore

The sewists come from all walks of life and backgrounds and range from a wedding gown designer to a grandmother of 3.  They are still looking for volunteers and would like to grow the group . They meet up on the 3rd Wed of each month, and during these meet ups, they guide the volunteers on how to sew the gowns so they can bring it home to complete.

Andrea adds, "We have had the 1st meet up last week on 14 Sep and a total of 14 volunteers came. They have all brought back a gown each and the angel gowns are so pretty - looking at them makes you happy and sad at the same time. We are glad the wedding gowns have been repurposed but at the same time we hope the Angel Gowns are not used up so quickly. For advance sewists, the deconstructed gowns with pattern pieces  can be sent to them to sew at home."

You Can Help!
A lot of time and effort goes into the coordination of the work involved, and the ladies also ensure that the gowns are designed, sewn and cleaned with care before they are sent to the hospital. If you are looking to contribute to your time or would like to donate the following to the cause, do drop the ladies an email.

Wedding Gown Donations
To create the Angel Gowns, the group of volunteers seek donations of Wedding Gowns and other items such as:

1. Wedding Gowns, Bridesmaid Gowns, Baptism Dresses
2. White tea ceremony or dinner dresses
3. Lace
4. White Bias Tapes
5. Pearl Buttons
6. White Ribbons (width 0.5")

Andrea adds that they can be dropped off at any of the following locations, but do drop them an email first!

North - 5 min from Sembawang MRT
East (1) - Bedok MRT
East (2) - Tampines Ave 8
North East: Anchorvale Link
West: Choa Chu Kang MRT

So if you do have a wedding dress that's sitting in your wardrobe, why not drop it off at Angel Gowns! There will be families who will appreciate the donation and cherish the Angel Gown for making the moment extra special for them.

Green Is the New Black - I'm Having a Workshop!

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I'm superduper excited about 22 October as the amazing people at The Wedge Asia have organised their second Green Is the New Black event.  Green Is the New Black (or GITNB, for short) is all about sharing what are the conscious choices you can make in your life, be it with respect to health, giving back to society, your mind or the environment. What I love about the event is that it brings together everyone in the community, and this year I will be there with a workshop on weaving using the loom kit that was designed at Sustainable Living Lab.

It will be a one hour workshop at 4pm, and you get to take the loom kit home to continue with your weaving! And it's only $28!

Sign up here:

Green Is the New Black will be held at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore on 22 October, 11am - 9pm.

What Will You Do With Your 80%?

What Will You Do With Your 80%?

Remember in school when your best friend decided on a whim that he or she did not want to be best buddies with you just because? And after that decision, you never spoke to each other again.
Or perhaps, remember when your best friend just became your friend and then both of you drifted apart? Relationships are complex - upon meeting for the first time, there is a moment of excitement and novelty. You spend ages on the phone catching up on the latest gossip, or bond over mutual interests.  But after awhile, that initial buzz is lost and you have one of two choices

1. Move onto someone who will give you a new level of exhilaration; or
2. Nurture the friendship, give the friendship (not the person) attention, and every time you deposit something the bond between two people grows stronger.

Which path would you take?

Our Relationship with Clothes is Like Friendships Gone Bad
Most of us treat clothes like friendships gone wrong.  Occasionally we have one-night stands - that's the buy (and perhaps wear once) and throw. Sometimes, we wear them less than 30 times and then it gets discarded. But the worst is the impulse buy which gets relegated, tag still on (!) to the bottom of our wardrobe, and sometimes comes back to haunt us.

clothes in wardrobe

We Only Wear 20% of Our Wardrobe. 
In fact, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal, most of us have a closet full of regrets. And even if they are not full of regrets, I think we fell out with the garments that were once our favourites and, unfortunately, never saw them again (lurking in the corner of our wardrobe?). We only wear 20% of our wardrobe. That may be the unofficial figure, but I think this statistic can be more or less validated in any developed country.

Let's Reconnect with Them
Any kind of bond you have with a garment can be reignited. I do that through upcycling and repair. All it takes is to clean out your closet and separate them into various piles:

1. Items that you always wear (that's your 20%!)
2. Items you don't wear because they are just worn out.
3. Items you think you can rekindle the relationship with! Do they just need some repairing?
4. Items that look lovely but you honestly can't mix and match with anything in your 20%.

What about items with sentimental value? Well, if you do wear it then keep it, but sometimes you just have to let it go and pass it on to someone who will love it just as much as you do, and form their own story with it as time goes by. If it's just sitting in your wardrobe, then it's not fashion, it's just wasted!

What's Your 80%?
So, have you figured out what the 80% of your wardrobe is? If you've never worn it in the past year....I think we can safely say it falls within that portion of the pie!
You might be tempted to throw the 80% out, but there are many options to take.

1. Let someone form a connection with them - pass it on, give it to a thrift store / vintage store, share it at a swap.
2. Rekindle that bond - upcycle it into something more wearable, or something else (jeans to bag, anyone?)
3. Last of all, the final option would be to pop it into the recycling bin!

So do you think our relationship with clothes is like our friendships? 
What's your 80%?

Share here!

  • If you're keen on rekindling the relationship with your old clothes, sign up to my newsletter and I will update you on my next workshop. I promise there won't be any spam!
  • We're also having a clothes swap on 18th September and it's your chance to pass on your 80% Details in the image below.
  • Thrift stores in Singapore? My favourites are NEW2U (96 Waterloo Street), which is open Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 2.30pm, and every last Sunday, and the MINDS which runs 5 thrift stores (see link for locations)

clothes swap Singapore

Amazing Upcycled Creations

Amazing Upcycled Creations
"I don't know how to sew!"
"But do you want to learn?"


One of the fun things about conducting upcycling / refashioning workshops is the amazing journey that the participants go through from start to finish. Many of them have no clue about sewing, let alone use a sewing machine, while others think it is difficult to get started.
At last Saturday's  Restyle Your Wardrobe Workshop, I had an amazing time with the participants. The most memorable was Lucie, who had come in with no sewing experience and had no idea what she wanted to make. She did have a few old t-shirts that her husband loved but were now getting thin. After a bit of brainstorming, we decided on getting some cushion covers made for her home - something practical and that she would use at home. Not only did she end up learning how to make cushion covers but she learnt how to use the sewing machine and sew a zipper!



Nasyitah brought many beautiful and colourful clothes that no longer fit her and she enjoyed turning her COS dress that she thrifted, into a a lovely reversible bag.




Lara also created a bag from her friend's old top. I love how she ended up making a contrasting strap to give the bag some colour. She also made a skirt from her maxi dress too.

Osty had a great time creating a top and skirt from her swapped dress. She hadn't sewn something this complex before either, and Rachel transformed her dress into a pair of shorts.

So, conclusion? If you think you can't or won't be able to sew? Think again. These amazing ladies had a lovely time transforming their clothes, and what's more important, they enjoyed the process.


Some of the amazing photos were taken by Anuja of

The thread used in the workshop was sponsored by DMC Asia Pacific. And thank you also to Biohome for sponsoring the door gift. Thank you!

For those of you who love to sew and craft, DMC is having a competition. Details are below.

DMC Asia Pacific

DIY Sublimation Printing on Polyester

DIY Sublimation Printing on Polyester
DIY Sublimation Printing on Polyester

“Every so often change your palette. Introduce new colours and discard others. You will gain knowledge of colour mixing and your work will have added variety.”
 ~ Kenneth Denton, English Painter, b. 1932

I'm getting very fascinated with changing the colours of textiles at the moment - it gives them a new look, added value and we can reconnect with the garment.  Recolouring is like painting, we can dictate what colour to add and as the piece of clothing grows with you and your personality changes, we can change the palette. My experiments so far have been batik and dying with drop techniques (akin to shibori but no vat involved).

Most, if not all methods, involve the use of natural fibers as the base. Unfortunately, the demand for man-made fibers (MAF) is growing, and the demand for MAF such as polyester surpassed that of cotton in 2002, and is still increasing at a significantly faster rate than other fibers.  It doesn't help that the slump in the oil market has affected polyester prices.

So what do you do with all this polyester? 
It doesn't biodegrade. Recycling is difficult considering that the majority of the clothing is from blended fibers and frankly, it's difficult to remove the stains from polyester garments.

One of my good friends. Leon, is a t-shirt printer and I was very interested with the huge heat press he has at his warehouse.  He's been using it to transfer designs to both cotton and polyester t-shirts. What got me interested was whether we could do it at home. I don't have a heat press, or plan on investing in one, but what about using an iron?

DIY Sublimation Printing on Polyester

That's the process that transforms solid into gaseous matter, skipping the liquid phase. In sublimation printing, heat is used to transfer the dye onto the fabric. In fact, you can buy sublimation transfer paper - it's basically like your iron-on transfers.  But if you have a friend who is in the t-shirt printing business then it's nice to go to them instead - just get one sheet printed!

I cut out my design and laid it out on a polyester camisole I got at a swap. [I eventually cut the camisole to make it into a small scarf]
A piece of paper was carefully positioned over the top and then a hot iron was applied over it.
I shifted the cutouts to different locations and applied the iron over the paper for a shorter period of time to create what is known as ghost images.

DIY Sublimation Printing

And this is how it looks like.

DIY Sublimation Printing on Polyester

I was thinking of adding stitching to it to create more depth to the fabric but I think it looks better as it is.

DIY Sublimation Printing on Polyester

This project took me about 4 hours and I think it was because I used a domestic iron. Do you think this is a technique you would use?

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