Vintage Sewing Machine Heaven


My mother had a sewing machine. I was never allowed to use it, but I was so fascinated by this little needle going up and down joining fabric together that I’d use it when my mother went out to feed the chickens.

Philip Treacy

RUDE Girl can relate to the above quote.  I was not allowed to use my mother’s Singer industrial sewing machine EVER.  She did not want it stuffed up.  And as we had no chickens to feed, there was no opportunity for me to be defiant.  In later years a friend gave her a household machine, so that she could do zig zag.  She hated that machine as it was too small with not much grunt.  The machine was given to me to use.  But more times than not, I would stuff it up, have to ask her for help realising sadly that she was not much interested in teaching me how to sew.

In the 1980’s I taught myself to sew and bought myself a brand new sewing machine and overlocker.  The machine was a basic Janome that recently was stripped for parts by RUDE boy.  The overlocker is still in use.  I now have nine (x9) sewing machines and three (x3) overlockers.  Seven (7) of the sewing machines are vintage and two (2) of these are semi industrial quality.

On 20 May, 2015, I posted a video about my sewing machines in use, over on our Facebook blog at Rude Record.   I would recommend anyone interested in basic sewing to purchase a vintage sewing machine. Get a good one and it will outlast the plastic models you buy cheaply today.

Photo below:  This fulled wool cloche capat [cap/hat] was made on my vintage Brother semi-industrial straight stitch sewing machine.  See more photos over on our Facebook blog at Rude Record [link above]  The head mannequin with buttons was rescued from landfill years ago.


Some might say RUDE are collectors of sewing machines, as we have more than a couple of them.  We do not consider ourselves to be collectors.  Maybe rescuers and repairers of sewing machines for our own private use, is more our thing.  There have been machines we have rescued, repaired and then replaced with better machines we have found at landfill.  We have gifted a couple of our sewing machines after they were replaced.

Our small sewing machine ‘collection’ fades into insignificance when you meet our friends Wayne and Judi McKail from Sew What in Maryborough, Victoria, Australia  This couple has over 500 sewing machines!!  They live and breathe sewing machines as a lifestyle.  And were recently featured on The Project TV program on Channel 10 across Australia.

RUDE managed to video the segment and upload it to YouTube, to ensure it could be seen internationally.  It runs for just over three minutes and is a lovely good news story.

Ask the question, Sew What? to Beat the Man!


Elbow Grease


In the heart of the ‘lucky country’ some Australian families and individuals are living on the fringes, facing the daily hardships of unemployment, drug addiction and illness; struggling just to get by. New three-part, fly on the wall observational documentary series Struggle Street gives a voice to those doing it tough right on the doorstep of Australia’s most affluent cities. Filmed in the public housing estates of Sydney’s western suburbs, residents invited cameras in for exclusive, uncensored access to their lives over a six month period. The result is an eye-opening glimpse at real life in under-resourced Australian communities – raw, honest and unfiltered.

Struggle Street (Commissioned by SBS) (Documentary) MA(D,L) CC

RUDE Girl has just finished watching this three-part series and the quote above is very relevant about how elbow grease will not fix generations of dysfunction.  It was incredibly sad but in my working life I have seen worse.  My mother also grew up in the 30s and 40s in a struggle suburb in a dysfunctional family.  I may not live on Struggle Street but my experiences combined with some of the stories from my mother, I knew what to expect when I viewed this documentary.  On Struggle Street it takes more than elbow grease to fix chronic unemployment and disadvantage.

What stood out for me most of all, was the houses were unkept [not clean and tidy] and a bit run down looking.  With stuff strewn all over the place.  I wonder why and think this quote by Mellon may partly explain it.  When you are not involved in hard work you can degenerate.  And the consequences of that in my opinion, show not only in body and mind but in your surroundings as well. Maybe mustering up elbow grease is the last thing you think of to acquire some control.

The normal condition of man is hard work, self-denial, acquisition and accumulation and as soon as his descendants are freed from the necessity of such exertion, they begin to degenerate sooner or later in both body and mind.” — Thomas Mellon

When RUDE rescues from landfill, the bric a brac, the furniture and the textiles are not in pristine condition. The stuff can be very dirty and very smelly.   It takes elbow grease [hard work] to lug it home and then clean it up.  It may need to be repaired or mended.  If we just let the stuff pile up, and did not employ some elbow grease we soon would look like struggling hoarders.

RUDE knows that amid chaos and/or disadvantage we would be able to keep living in a clean and tidy manner.  We are unable to say too much about this experience, but we lived rough for a couple of weeks.  We wanted to know what it was like to squat in a derelict house with few amenities and a reduced electricity supply and no gas.  There was no nice furniture or fittings, and no hot showers.  The days were warm but the nights were cold.  Basically we were camping and it was rough.

However, in this situation we managed to live a happy, frugal and productive time.  We also managed to keep our surrounds liveable and clean.  It was an anxious time in some ways but we survived by keeping busy and keeping up our house proud standards.


Which brings this post to George Miller’s new movie Fury Road.  And taken from The Celluloid Warrior in Good Weekend Magazine April 25, 2015 pg 10 is this passage as follows:

With computer systems wiped out, the wasteland is filled with whatever can be cobbled together from a more robust technological era. “Everything is found objects,’ says Miller.  Everything on-screen, including the wardrobe, weapons, vehicles, dialogue and the way the actors behave, was created from these found objects.  Two other rules governed what takes place in the movie.  “Just because it’s after the apocalypse, it doesn’t mean people can’t make beautiful things.  We see that in early man.  The palaeolithics did all that wonderful rock art.  In refugee camps in the most impoverished parts of the world, they can make beautiful things.”

The first movie I ever remember about making do and upcycling was Swiss Family Robinson.  The Robinsons turn oyster shells into soup bowls.  They lasso a giant sea turtle to power their raft.  I also devoured the book and related to their need to survive as best they could under the circumstances.  Thanks to the Swiss Family Robinson, I know that if RUDE is stranded together on a deserted island we will be fine.

Photo below:  In the book The Art of Being a Woman by Patrica Volk 2013, pg 29 – Classics Illustrated is No. 42, Swiss Family Robinson is mentionedIn this book, Patricia writes how her grandmother would make do and showed her about how to do it.

gilberton-publications-classics-illustrated-42-swiss-family-robinson-issue-hrn-62Beat The Man with some good old elbow grease!  No matter what your situation it will give you some sense of control and pride.

Making Good – My Handmade Slippies

RUDE is on Green Issues by Agy’s Making Good Blog Train and is combining this blog train post with our regular weekly Friday blog post.  Agatha Lee is hosting the journey and has invited RUDE to jump on board today.

Fellow blogger Christine boarded the train yesterday and has shared her intricate weaving and embroidery repair at

As the Blog Train’s host, Agatha is asking passengers taking the ride with her the following:

What is repair, and why do we even bother to repair the things we have? Some see repair as a way of reconnecting with our possessions as we extend their lives. Others see it as a form of creative potential and an avenue to express their craft. The rewards for mending varies from feeling immense satisfaction to prolonging the life of the product.

Thank you Agatha for inviting RUDE aboard and today it is just RUDE Girl travelling.  RUDE Boy is off driving his own train for VLine.

For RUDE, repair is mostly about respect for the things that we have in our possession.  That respect very much extends to all the people who were involved in the making of our stuff.   We bother to repair almost everything in our household [and in some other people’s households] because that’s the way we were bought up by our parents.  To mend and make do.  Our parents did it to make their hard earning money go further.  We do it for that reason too but also to be environmentally responsible.

And best of all is that we enjoy the process of repair.  It is like a craft activity to make something old and/or worn out, new again.  And of course there is that immense satisfaction for RUDE of beating The Man.   We know that by prolonging the life of a product, we will not be shopping and playing into the hands and minds of powerful multinational companies.

I’m usually in jammies and slippers by 8 P.M.

Kate Dickie

RUDE Girl relates to Kate Dickie’s quote above, especially in winter when I hibernate at home. I prefer not to wear shoes inside the house therefore my slippies can be on most of the day.

I was blessed by my Bowerbirds Journal Facebook group’s member Jaimee with two pairs of her beautiful soft and comfortable, handmade with love, ballet style slippies.

Snapshot 1 (3-05-2015 5-08 PM)Snapshot 2 (3-05-2015 5-11 PM)

Photo above:  My first pair of handmade slippers by Jaimee of Piggy Whiskers

Of course wearing both pairs of slippies, non-stop over the past couple of years, had resulted in them becoming very worn.  Before the slippers deteriorated further, this Blog Train with its Making Good theme, inspired me to think about paying respect to Jaimee, the maker of my slippers.  It became my mission, no matter what, to pay tribute to her, and revamp the two pairs of slippers I had received from her.

But how to do this without a pattern was the question.  I have since received the pattern for the slippers from Jaimee but when I repaired my slippers I had to improvise.

I will present in a little detail, the first pair being repaired in the body of the post.  And at the end of the post I will only post photos of the second pair before and after repair.

Photo below:  Slippers have been deconstructed and these are the worn soles.  The green wool fabric is the inner sole and the pattern fabric was the cotton outer sole.

SAMSUNGSnapshot 1 (3-05-2015 4-45 PM)Photo Above:  The top of the deconstructed slippers was removed from the soles and a new piece of fulled wool cut to shape for the new sides.

I cut templates from the old soles and sides of the slippers.  This time I used a fused double layer of English woollen fabric for the soles [inner and outer].  This fabric came from the sleeves of a duffle coat made in England that I now wear as a long line gillet aka vest [photo below]. 

Duffle Coat Top of
This has proved to be a good decision because the wool repels the dust and dirt.  It is also wearing well as the fabric is stronger than the cotton.  To enable easy replacement of the soles down the track, I have handsewn the soles to the uppers.

Snapshot 4 (3-05-2015 4-56 PM) Snapshot 2 (3-05-2015 4-50 PM)  Snapshot 3 (3-05-2015 4-53 PM)
x3 Photos above:  My ballet style slippies have been made good again!

Photo below:  Inner [wool] and outer [denim] soles of second pair of slippers.


x6 Photos below:  My second pair of ballet style slippies have been made good again.


In the photos above of my second pair of revamped slippers, I have kept the seam from the original outer denim soul.  I like the textured ‘rude’ look.  I have also repaired a hole in the inner back of the left slipper area with some green cotton fabric and sashiko stitch.

Beat The Man and make good again!

Tomorrow I am pleased to announce that the Blog train will be boarded by the very crafty Kareena of

Follow the “Making Good” blog train this month and see what other blog travellers on board have repaired and reconnected with. Have you mended anything today?

Rebel Retail the Pop Up Way


Maybe I was born to be a merchant, maybe it was fate. I don’t know about that. But I know this for sure: I loved retail from the very beginning.

Sam Walton

In the traditional modernist planning that created the suburbs, you put residential buildings in suburban neighborhoods, office spaces into brain parks and retail in shopping malls. But you fail to exploit the possibility of symbiosis or synthesis that way.

Bjarke Ingels

RUDE Girl was a retailer in a previous life.  It was a seven days per week and long hours news agency business.  There was the usual shop, lease, customers and home delivery service.

Those were the heady days of the mid 1980s when business interest rates were at 17 per cent.  You had to work very hard, and be committed and dedicated to your customers.

I was like Sam Walton in the quote above.  I loved retail, still do but I am no longer working in the sector.  The customer interaction was what always gave me joy.  I suppose I was born to serve with a smile.

I know the retail business can be very demanding, especially if it’s 7 days per week with long hours on your feet. 

The concept of pop up shops  must be attractive for many budding retailers.

If I was younger [not retired and busier than ever] I would consider opening up my own little pop up shops in my local area. These days I would sell recycled, upcycled and repaired stuff.  I would probably seriously consider upcycled clothing like Polly-Esther’s Vintage.

It was great to discover a young person giving it a go.  Brony shared with RUDE Girl what it’s like upcycling clothes, and selling them in pop up shops.  You can find out more on her wonderful blog The Gypsy and The Officer here

And this is a snippet of what Brony shared with RUDE Girl and yes she can sew!

Polly-Esther’s Vintage was launched in April 2010 in Yeppoon QLD.  My friend and I had collected original vintage and retro clothing over the years.  We thought it a great idea to open our own little shop, filling it to the brim with our treasures.   As time went on, and to be honest it was very slow and quiet tucked away in our Loft shop!  That’s how our upcycling and recycling of preloved clothes came to fruition!   We evolved from loving and selling original vintage, to hand making our own unique individual pieces using vintage fabrics and fabrics that were quirky and different!  It was amazing to see people embracing what we were doing and enjoying the ‘One Off’ pieces!

Photos below:  Polly-Esther’s Vintage unique re-creations



Beat The Man, be a surprise and pop up someplace unexpected.

Better NOW than Never

“There is a next time for NOW because I think never is not all that sustainable”   Karen Ellis / Reuser of Unloved Discarded Excess

For Fashion Revolution Day today the 24 April, 2015 I decided to demonstrate that reasonable quality fast fashion from KMart can be sustainable.

There is so much talk about how fast fashion is not sustainable and RUDE agrees to a point.  The amount of fast fashion garments ending up in landfill is frightening.  And the consequences on people and planet of the fast fashion industry and our insatiable desire for new is alarming.

I do not plan to go into details here about the woes of our hunger to consume and spend.  And many of you will already be following the fast fashion industry’s shameful legacy on other forums.  You can Goggle all about the topic.


This good condition NOW garment by KMart in the above photo, was rescued from the point of landfill and was free.  It’s not just the responsibility of the fashion industry, consumers also have responsibility to care for their garments whether fast fashion or not, right?

When I spotted this gem in the pile of clothes at my local Tip Shop it was clean but looked sad  and devoid of human heart.  Maybe because it had been pieced together in an environment that cared little about uniqueness, and more about rapid turnover.

The hoodie was the same fabric and had a bright white thin cotton tape through it to tie around the neck.  The neck  had a 5 inch slit down the front and the edges of it had been overlocked/serged.  The back of the garment was too short, and riding up my back.

To make this garment sustainable it firstly had to be rescued from the dirty and smelly clothes around it.  But even one step before that it had to have someone like me recognise its potential.  Obviously nobody, before me had realised the value in this garment.  I initially, threw it to one side as I continued to scavenge for more interesting clothes.  But then I remembered that I was keen to demonstrate that unsustainable fast fashion can become sustainable with a bit of tender loving care and a mend and make new ethos.

This garment came home and was placed in a laundry bag, soaked overnight and then washed.  The laundry bag prevents piling and protects the fabric from too much agitation of the fibres.

The NOW tag was removed [I do not like tags on clothes].  In my mind, I created a new top with some uniqueness.  I was then responsible for the entire re-design of the garment.  My hands made the re-make happen.  I personalised this top for me, and it really reflects everything that RUDE [reuse of unloved discarded excess] stands for. 

RUDE will send this blog post to KMart to show the company it can also get more sustainable by encouraging the actions of its customers to upcycle its garments.  In other words people really do have the power to make companies like KMart think differently about their clothes and garment design.

Here is the video showcasing my new not NOW windcheater.

Beat The Man and join the ReFashion of Fast Fashion Revolution!

Upcycled Shirt to Upcycled Dress

  • upcycling_quoteReiner Pilz and upcycling here.

RUDE certainly values the old product.  In this post RUDE Girl [Karen] that’s me, demonstrates that this paisley printed rayon fabric was once a man’s shirt.  It was beautifully made in the Philippines, and was rescued from landfill fate.  I was taken by the colours of purple and turquoise in the print.  And I thought there would be something I could do with the garment.

The first upcycle involved the shirt being decreased in size with different sleeves being added.  The sleeves came from a pair of rescued jeggings, also from landfill.

I wore the shirt top last winter but it was not a favourite piece, as I do not wear shirts.  The collar was annoying and always felt out of place = it just did not sit right, probably because it was a soft rayon without the addition of interfacing.

The first two videos below are of the shirt being upcycled and the third video is where it is styled.

For this winter I decided to hack into this shirt again, and I re-upcycled it into a dress.  I rescued a Target brand top from landfill.  Chopped off the bottom of it, and attached the bottom of the shirt top after chopping off the collar and sleeves.

Photos below:  This year’s re-upcycled creation showing both front and back.  The Kangol pure wool beret was scored from a charity shop many years ago for $1.  The necklace is from bits and pieces found at the local tip shop near landfill.


SAMSUNGBeat The Man and Re-upcycle!

RUDE Behind Closed Doors

“No one but YOU knows how hard you work, how many hours you put in behind the scenes, so rely on YOURSELF for approval, not the outside world.”  Anon 

“You have to work very hard behind the scenes, to make a message clear enough for a lot of people to understand.”  Stefano Gabbana

6863_20121027_124018_400308_297303653707079_1332581554_n[1]Above graphic:  RUDE Girl may know the faults but she is not big on judgement, preferring people to be authentic.  She rarely cries behind closed doors these days, as a simple life affords her peace.  She does fight battles that nobody knows about.  And if people do find out about the battles she fights, she knows by experience that most of the time she will not be supported by them because oftentimes they just want to fit in to the mainstream.  And that’s okay for them but it’s not RUDE Girl’s way.

There seems to be some revealing of late, by bloggers that I follow, about what goes on in the life of a blogger behind closed doors, or in other words behind the scenes.  To RUDE Girl’s thinking this is a good thing.  Therefore  it’s my turn to share what I do, to bring our followers YOU,  a weekly Friday WordPress blog post,  an occasional tweet at Rude Record and a daily Facebook page post at Rude Record.

But before I do that, I want to share that behind closed doors, and away from my WordPress blog, I have my sticky little fingers glued to the keyboard [wearing off the printed letters on the keys – yes true] in some other forums.

I administrate one of the largest Marching Girls’ groups in the world on Facebook.  It is about to reach 1,100 members shortly, and it is a very active and vocal group.  It fits well with the RUDE philosophy of recycle, in that it is reuniting people with a sport, that was lost to many of them after their teenage years departed.  This group has an annual meet up in Melbourne, Australia.  Individual members have been known to also meet up with each other as agreed.

Marching Girl photo for coverPhoto above:  Graphic of three New Zealand marching girls.

I also administrate a small closed group on Facebook of passionate recyclers at Bowerbirds Journal.  This group is capped at 45 members to keep it focussed and intimate.  It’s sort of like attending a face to face group where it is safe to share diverse comment and opinion.  And some of us do meet up face to face.

Bowerbird GraphicPhoto above:  Crocheted bowerbird by group member Maretta is the cover photo of Bowerbirds Journal.

RUDE [Danny and I] are regular contributors to a local forum, that allows us to get up on The Soapbox, and have our say about posted local issues.  It’s a great forum for us to express our concerns about local waste management and recycling issues.  At the moment there is a vast amount of timber and textiles being dumped into our local landfill which is facing an expansion submission. We have been advocating for hardwood timber to be free to the community if it is going to be dumped.

soap boxPhoto above:  Cover page graphic for City of  Melton Soapbox

We  have been instrumental in getting the free textiles happening but as yet timber is not forthcoming.  Until we see it on offer to the community, we can only assume it continues to be dumped into landfill and/or chipped for landscaping.  This is very concerning when beautiful hardwood timbers are a limited natural resource.  Local upcyclers working with wood are prevented from sourcing recycled timbers, which in RUDE’S opinion is a travesty.  

SAMSUNGPhoto above:  RUDE has advocated for free stuff and now it is available at our local Tip Shop.

Working and non-working flat screen TVs were also being dumped on the ground at our local recycling transfer station.  RUDE made a video to expose the apathy.

Thanks to lobbying by RUDE it would appear this is no longer going to happen.  The flyer below has recently been displayed at our local Tip Shop.


In regards to this blog Rude Record, it usually takes a few hours, sometimes more to get it published.  It depends on numerous factors, including what I want to add to the post such as photos and videos.  If I make a video, of course that involves more time on top.  So, it would not be unreasonable to say, a blog post takes a working day to publish.

I love writing and sharing my thoughts.  RUDE as a couple loves sharing its unique lifestyle with interested like-minded souls.  We have found that it is best to write for and share with our followers.  And we too get so much inspiration back from you.

Photo above:  RUDE [Reusers of Unloved Discarded Excess] is couple Karen and Danny. 

Therefore, rather than go out and volunteer for a charity, we give our time to share globally on-line via these forums I have mentioned.  We hope our efforts [and my writings] in some small way inspire collaboration, networking, recycling, frugal living, reuse and repair to name a few things.

We know that writing about living off landfill is a niche topic.  We are unique in our activities of daily living.  This is no doubt why you follow us, and we are dedicated to delivering something very different. 

Our unusual lifestyle aka scavenger style is 24/7 and 365 days of the year for 6 years, has a tendency to get us looks like in the photo below.  But we also get some amazing constructive and positive feedback via our numerous forums.

Scrunch nose

It was always the intention of The Man to keep us in our homes in suburbia, not sharing anything, so that we would all consume more.  It was orchestrated 1950s marketing that worked a treat, and suckered the masses. 

Beat The Man by sharing your stuff, your thoughts and what goes on behind closed doors!