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?

Linking up to:
Creative Corner Link Up Party
A Round Tuit Party

The Piano Gal Shop - Upcycled Pianos

The Piano Gal Shop - Upcycled Pianos
"The piano keys are black and white, but they sound like a million colours in your mind"
Maria Cristina Mena

I love music, and I remember taking piano lessons. There were a lot of scales, a lot of arpeggios, and oh boy, the theory, I think the chords drove me mad.  I also remember preparing for the exams, all the way until grade 8.  Actually, come to think of it, the piano lessons were all about preparing for the exams. I felt it was like a year long boot camp but once the exams were over I could play anything I wanted and it was only then that it felt good  "like a million colours in your mind".

Nowadays my piano just sits in the living room untouched. Sometimes I give it tinkle but other days....I think no one wants an out of tune piano. But recently this lovely lady dropped me a line and I got curious. What CAN you do with an old piano?


Marta Hansen of The Piano Gal Shop is an experienced teacher, musician, and piano tuner, and she is passionate about music and strives to share that passion with the community.  Marta shared with me that other than teaching music, she also repairs pianos and upcycles them as well!

[Pssst! There's a discount code at the bottom of this post!]

An old piano as a bar, a bench or even as wall art.

upcycle piano

But Marta doesn't just upcycle the basic structure of the piano, she upcycles the keys and strings too!

upcycled piano strings

Marta upcycles the music strings of the piano into jewelry pieces, including bangles, earrings and pendants. The intricate nature of the wound steel wire (yes, piano strings are made from steel) makes the bangle my favourite piece from Marta's collection. I think it complements with my skin tone very nicely.

sustainable outfit

Apart from piano strings, Marta also upcycles the head felt of the piano hammers into necklaces. These are the tips of the hammers that strikes the piano strings creating the beautiful sound that we hear when pianists tinkle the ivories! I did think the leather cord was a little too short but I do I like how I can interchange it with an existing chain to make the necklace longer.

The Piano Gal Shop is offering all readers a lovely discount of 15%, and hope you will all look at pianos from not just a music angle but from an upcyclers point of view too!

piano gal shop

Disclaimer - the jewelry items seen in this post were sponsored by The Piano Gal Shop. I was not compensated for this post. All views are my own.

Fix It Friday - Chair Pad Repair

Fix It Friday - Chair Pad Repair

Do you have one of those chair pads from IKEA? The flat ones that you tie to your dining room chairs. The flat piece of sponge that makes you a bit more comfortable when you sit down for your meal.... We bought four a few years ago and then they started to open up at the seams revealing the yellow sponge. At first it was a tiny hole at the corners of the pads and then it grew bigger until it ripped from one end to the other.  It was very unsightly but then we thought (well, I thought) that since we would be sitting on them no one would notice anyway....  After a while they started to get rather annoying and my husband said we had to buy new ones if I wasn't going to fix them. I think that was an ultimatum!

I find chair pads very difficult to fix.
  • Do I take off the original cover and replace it?
  • Do I add extra padding?
  • Do I just cover it with new fabric?
  • Should I add a zip?
chair pad repair

I had many questions and the zipper part of the repair was giving me a headache as I really do loathe zippers. I think hate is an extreme word to use in this instance but when it comes to zippers, getting it to look nice has always been very difficult for me. But practice makes perfect, right?

What are the components?
When it comes to chair pads, there are no shortcuts. As I was going to make washable chair pad covers (to cover the torn one) I had to use a zipper. I drew out the shape, added an allowance, cut 2 pieces out (right sides together). My tip is to think about what the components are and how it will function. I had 3 parts - two panels and a zipper.

cushion pad repair‬

Sewing a zipper can be simple
With the two panels cut out, one of the first things I thought I would need to do is to sew the zipper on first. I had always sewn in the zipper first when I sewed pouches, but then I "discovered" that the easiest way to sew a zipper was to sew the two panels of fabric together FIRST.

Step 1 - Sew the side where you want the zipper to be first. Sew right sides together
Step 2 - Iron open - make sure you iron everything flat!
Step 3 - Open up zipper and sew it to the wrong sides of the seam. Make sure you alignment is correct. Use tailor pins if you have to!
Step 4 - Using a seam ripper, rip open the seam created in step 1. Only do this to the area located within the zipper area.

DIY sew cushions

DIY Sew cushions

So this is what your zipper should look like. I think this method is much better than the traditional method of lining up the zipper to 2 separate pieces of fabric.

cushion pad repair

I was extremely happy with the result!
Four chair pads saved from the bin and they look brand new!

chair pad repair

Linking up to
Pin Junkie

New Workshop Happening in Singapore!

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New Workshop Happening in Singapore!
After a short break from workshops, I've decided to hold another run of the Restyle Your Wardrobe Workshop. It has definitely been a while, but I have been asked about when my next one would be.
So, if you have been wondering what to do with your old clothes, or you have a wardrobe full of garments that you no longer wear, why not learn a few sewing skills and DIY upcycling techniques? Just bring over 2 to 3 old clothes and we will jam!  Sign up at this link