Archives for category: re-cycling

This weekend I’m working with The fashion souk at The Good Life Festival, My workshop is billed as customising clothes, hand sewing & learning how to make a 1 hour wrap skirt so I thought I’d better have a go!


working out the size; measure your waist and add half again (30 inches plus 15 = 45) Then multiply the waistline by 30% (45 x 0.3 = 13.5) round it off to 14 inches.

To work out the hem multiply by 40% (45 inches x 0.4 = 18 inches). Then decide how long you want your skirt, I went for 24 inches.

pattern 2 You end up drawing (with a ruler!) a shape 14 inches across the top, 24 inches down the sides and 18 inches along the bottom.

pattern 3 You then cut this shape out of paper and lay it on top of your fabric (I used old curtains) You need to cut three identical shapes.


Next stage is to sew the side seams, make sure you put the wrong sides together!



You then want to iron the seams back and front to make them nice and flat.


Next you’ve got to sew the hem edges on either end of the skirt. To do this iron quarter of an inch and then another half inch over again and sew. You need to create your waist band next, to do this fold over quarter of an inch and them a good inch and sew.


At this point you need to make a little hole for your ribbon to pass through at the inner edge of the first panel. You can do this by creating a button hole using your machine.

You then sew the ribbons on at either end. Finish off your bottom hem and Bob’s your uncle!



I know my instructions aren’t great, I’m better at verbal and demo than I am at writing instructions down so come along to the Good Life Festival at Oxford Island this weekend (25th April) it’s free, there will be lots to do for all the family and I can help you make a wrap skirt patter, way hey!!

Photo by Antoinette Marshall

Most visitors to Belfast have an aversion to our weather and many of us locals use it as an excuse for ditching our bikes and sticking with a car but when Polish born, Danish raised  Joanna Karolini first came to Belfast and met with our constant companion, the rain, it didn’t put her off.

For Joanna pedal power is more a matter of principal than comfort, the driving rain was just another small problem needing a resolution.

Wearing ugly waterproof bike trousers was not an attractive option, Joanna wanted to make a practical garment she could wear while cycling which could be quickly wrapped on and off as the weather changed but still look fashionable and attractive. Thinking in a more creative way that most, she fashioned her first ‘rain skirt’ from an old broken tent, a perfect solution for warding off the seeping rain whilst still retaining some cycle chic!

Photography by Tomek Cegielka

Not long after her tent recycling experience, whilst attending a popular Irish weekend music festival, Joanna came face to face with a shockingly wasteful attitude sadly prevalent in our society today. Due perhaps to poor weather, hundreds of festival goers had simply abandoned tents, camping gear and food leaving them for bulldozers to clear up and dump in landfill.

Initially astonished and frustrated by this sight, Joanna felt that she couldn’t stand by and do nothing, for the next few hours before the bulldozers arrived, she stripped the tents and gathered together a harvest which would provide enough material for her first year in business as ‘Belfast Rainskirt’.

Over the past three years Joanna has developed the business, designing and making bespoke skirts, hats and aprons, which cleverly re-use not only the tent material but also zips, fastenings and buckles. ‘Belfast rainskirt’ has been represented at music festivals including Glastonbury (2010) and Electric Picnic where Joanna sells her unique creations and offers advice on sewing and up cycling.

We may not usually think of camping gear as being fashion conscious but the tent crop, which Joanna harvests after festivals constantly, presents new colours and patterns which reflect the seasons current trends. This diverse range of tent material allows Joanna to continually up date her collection of bespoke pieces.

photography by Tomek Cegielka

Joanna’s philosophy is to pass on her ethos of up cycling, waste reduction and preservation of sewing skills. She is focused primarily on creating a social consciousness about our attitude and responsibility to the land, encouraging people to recognise that they can change their actions individually and collectively to preserve, re-use and create.

With every rain skirts Joanna sells, comes the opportunity to sew a new seed by passing on the story of turning something destined for landfill into a new and beautifully crafted practical piece of clothing. Joanna is keen to share her vision, teaching others how to sew and up-cycle, hoping that the rest of the world will catch on to the idea of giving new life and function to what we so easily see as rubbish.

Joanna’s Rainskirts can be found at St Georges Market with ‘Go Green Glass’ every Saturday and Sunday and also online at

The photography on this post is by Antoinette Marshall (portraits of Joanna) and Tomek Cegielka (Rainskirts shoot)

This article first appeared in ‘The Ulster Folk’


I was privilleged enough to spend the past weekend with my eco concious friends from The Fashion Souk in the soon to be, city of culture, Derry .

We were charged by DENI with the challenge of encouraging the people of Derry to reduce thier waste by reducing, re-using and re-cycling. This little triage of eco expectations sound admirable and certainly desirable as a way of helping to put the breaks on our rapidly overflowing land fill sites. Applying the principals to our overcrowded lives is a little more challenging!

The Derry folk gave us a warm reception although considering we were offering to mend thier clothes and hand out free furniture, this was hardly suprising!

The Fashion souk approach was to set up  a vibrant  ‘Rethink, Re-use, Re-cycle’ pop up  shop in a disused unit in the popular Foyleside shopping centre.

This created a buzzing, warm environment where locals were invited to drop in over an entire weekend to take part in a number of free workshops.

The most popular of these was a furniture re-cycling workshop by  Catherine B, participants could choose from a range of freshly sanded and primed furniture collected from waste and second hand shops. They were then shown how to re-paint and re-upholster the pieces which they were free to take home with them. I know a few of you would have quite happily driven the whole way to Derry  to avail of this opportunity!

Other workshops included learning how to re-cycle tin cans, old plastic milk bottles and wooden palates to make a vertical garden, so clever! (I am going to try this method with peas and strawberries later on in the spring).

A local Derry lady was showing participants how to make fantastic funky cushion covers out of old shirts and a super talented seamstress was on hand to mend, alter and offer advice on getting more life out of tired and worn garments.

Vintage Lucy gave advice and demos on increasing the life of ones make up bag, while my offering involved helping participants to create beautiful hand sewn applique using scraps of material, it literaly was the cheapest workshop I have ever done with the only cost being the price of a needle!. You can see the example I did at the start of this blog.

Hopefully the “Revamp, Re-use, Re-style’ crew have left a lasting legacy in Derry, inspiring people to think twice before they dump and giving them the confidence to believe that they have the skills to restyle and the time to remake!

To find out more about future workshops in your area visit or