Many thanks to Lu for asking me to write a guest blog!
My name is Annabella Melissa and I am the owner of Avalon Elf Coats and founder of Upcycle Your Wardrobe.com.
For as long as I can remember I dreamed of making my own clothes.
As a child, I would draw clothing designs on paper and spend hours hand sewing tiny outfits for my Barbies. I was also always in trouble for “altering” my own clothes with a pair of scissors.
My granny taught me to hand sew as a child. She was a true artist and such an inspiration to me.
I studied Textiles for GCSE. I enjoyed it but there never seemed to be enough time to fully immerse myself in the creative process. This I found frustrating.
It wasn’t until I gave birth to my son years later that I picked up my creative thread again.
Motivated by a deep longing to create something beautiful and meaningful in the world, and a steadfast determination to stay at home with my son, I knew I had to create something.
One night in one of my marathon breastfeeding sessions I stumbled across Katwise, a fantastic artist from New York who sells her upcycled clothes and tutorials on Etsy. I fell in love with the beautiful patchwork clothes and had this instant spark of recognition. It was like a part of my soul knew that I too would be making this clothing.
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I started my first business Avalon Elf Coats in April 2012, when my son was just 5 months old. I loved the patchwork style, the colours and mostly I loved rejuvenating old or unwanted clothes.
There is something so meaningful about turning a pile of jumpers that have been donated or discarded into a beautiful new garment that will be loved and treasured.
I often wondered about the adventures the jumpers had been on before ending up on my sewing table, the stretched cuffs and the worn elbows, showing aspects of the previous anonymous owners personality.
Many times I wished they could talk and tell me about the lives they had led before I found them, but of course, they never did, and so I was left to create my own stories, whilst weaving them all together to start a new journey.
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Learning more about the concept of upcycling was fascinating. Upcycling is different to recycling and I think more important. It is a creative process rather than a destructive process, where we are striving to extend the life of an item for as long as possible, rather than just breaking it down or throwing it away.
Did you know millions of tonnes of clothing end up in landfill every year due to fast changing fashions and cheap mass produced clothes? Most of it being made from synthetic materials too meaning it will take aeons to break down.
I would ask the local charity shops to save jumpers for me that would otherwise be going to landfill and all of my materials were second hand and pre-worn.
The creative, artistic process was such fun, and giving old clothes a new lease of life felt wonderful.
I also adored the anarchy of it all, there is something that feels a little bit naughty when you chop the sleeves off a jumper, and it is so liberating not using a tape measure or following rules, I just made it all up as I went!
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Late last year, after almost 5 years of making upcycled clothing, I started to think about how I could take my skills and knowledge and share them with others, not just through making clothes, but teaching others how to do it too. So many people struggle to find clothes that fit them properly and would love to be able to make their own clothes but lacked the skills or confidence to do so.
It dawned on me how important it was to teach others how to upcycle their own clothes, then not only would it inspire people to live more creatively, but it would also stop so many clothes ending up in landfill!
In January this year, I started holding weekend workshops locally. Teaching groups of 4-5 women, some of them total beginners how to upcycle their clothes. Over the weekend everyone made their own new outfit and really flourished.
They also found it liberating to throw the rulebook out and just have fun. Making it up as they go and unleashing their creative muses.
If you would like to join our Facebook group for like-minded souls to share upcycling projects and inspirations you can find it here
Upcycle Your Wardrobe!
I then developed an online course: Upcycle Your Wardrobe. This in part due to many of my followers living in other parts of the world. This course has actually turned out to be much more in depth than the weekend course! It is a complete guide to using an overlocker and starting to make upcycled clothing. It contains masses of information about fabrics and simple upcycling processes.
The Upcycle Your Wardrobe course has just launched and is available on Teachable.com or through my Etsy shop.
Interested in finding out more about my world? You can connect with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/avalonelfcoats or www.facebook.com/upcyclewithannabella
You can also find my FREE guide to getting started with Upcycled Clothing, at www.upcycleyourwardrobe.com
Thank you so much for reading this, and I really hope to connect with you soon!
Blessings and hugs