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Wollongong City Council

Sustainable Fashion Flip is just sew now

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Image: (Left to right) Gina Barjeel joined by Fashion Flip participants Jwana Jireis and Veronique Hill.

Sustainable fashion is hitting the runway at Wollongong Library with a new Library program, Fashion Flip, that encourages people to up-cycle clothes and other items into fresh designs.

Fashion Flip, the brainchild of Wollongong local and fashion designer Gina Barjeel, is an exciting new Library program held twice a month at Wollongong Library.

Ms Barjeel first had the idea for a sustainable fashion program after seeing the free sewing machines available for use at the Library.

“I saw the sewing machines at the Library and was told that everyone can use them and that’s when I had the idea to collaborate with the Library. I know how important it is to reduce waste, redesign and reuse,” Ms Barjeel said.

“I think slow fashion and sustainability is really important… so we are not wasting anything from the garments. Participants bring dresses, skirts, jeans, blankets or bed sheets to make into different kinds of garments. They’re bringing pants and turning them into a skirt or different material into hair scrunchies.

“It’s really nice to see people coming to all the classes now. We’ve had all different ages come, from 18 years old to ladies in their 60’s and people with different sewing levels can come as well. We even had people from very basic levels or not even knowing anything about the sewing machines.”

Fashion Flip runs every second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 6 to 8pm for people over the age of 16 and is free to attend. Participants can use the Library sewing machines or bring their own as long as it’s in good working order.

For Ms Barjeel, Fashion Flip encourages a love of fashion, clothing and sustainability that was a core part of her childhood growing up in Jordan.

“I was raised in a family that used to upcycle everything from reusing containers and jars, to redesigning our clothes. My aunt was a dressmaker in Jordan for almost 50 years and she used to teach women and young ladies how to sew and how to make garments,” Ms Barjeel said.

“It was my Aunt who made me fall in love with fashion. She used to live next door and I can remember sitting next to her and admiring her work. I fell in love with it. The sound of the scissors cutting the fabric, looking at her making the garments. I knew what was coming, all the hard work but I loved it.”

Now a Wollongong local, Ms Barjeel emigrated from Jordan to Australia three years ago to join her husband. Perhaps more importantly, Ms Barjeel has now signed up to become a Wollongong City Libraries member and is keen to start borrowing.

“I’m a member of the Library now. I created my membership on the first day of the classes of the Fashion Flip,” Ms Barjeel said.

“I really want to thank the Library. This project wouldn’t happen without their support and I’m really looking forward to growing this program with many people and bringing more awareness about sustainability and slow fashion in the future.”

Attendee numbers are limited for Fashion Flip, but it’s not too late to join. Book your free ticket to the next workshop by visiting Eventbrite. The next event runs Tuesday 11 May at 6pm.

As with all Library events and programs, attendees are reminded to follow the NSW Public Health Order requirements and stay home if feeling unwell.