Photo Image:  Walden ~ A Camelot Classic 1886


What H.D.Thoreau beautifully writes in Walden, Dr. Samuel Alexander poignantly expresses in this Subtle Disruptors PODCAST interview by Adam Murray [refer podcast link below].  Dr Alexander is a modern day Thoreau, inspiring and teaching the wisdoms of slow living, in a contemporary context.

Us RUDE Guys suggest that you download this podcast, as it is over an hour long.  You will then be able to listen to it at your convenience or leisure.


RUDE Girl is currently re-reading an 1886 publication of Walden [refer book’s image at top of blog post].  With my interest in textiles, garments and mending, it’s interesting to note that Thoreau devoted five and a half pages, in the first chapter titled Economy,  to clothing.

I had a chuckle that even back in the mid 1800s corporations were viewed by Thoreau to be enriching themselves!

“I cannot belief that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing.  The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly glad, but, unquestionably, that the corporations may be enriched.”  Walden, H.D.Thoreau, Walter Scott Publisher, 1886, pg 25.

A couple of days ago, I travelled by train to visit a friend from my childhood.  I was engrossed in reading Walden, but on looking up I noticed a lot of commuters on their iphones.  I made a note to myself to keep doing different, and take time out from technology.  Us RUDE Guys will continue to go slow through the haste.

If you have not yet listened to RUDE Girl speak with Adam Murray about our frugal lifestyle in the suburbs here is the link to my PODCAST interview with him.  This podcast too, is over an hour in length, so consider downloading it for listening at your convenience or leisure.

Henry Thoreau invites us to see things in Walden.  That according to A.G.Grayling is what an education should be about.  Beat The Man!


Scrap Woollen Quilt


RUDE Girl was not well for a couple of days this week.  And when you do on-line volunteering you are snowed under when you get back to the computer.  That’s my excuse for this Friday’s late blog post.

A follower of Rude Record’s blog posted a lovely article this week from Linda Holliday in Missouri.  Linda writes poignantly about her mother’s quilting with scrap fabric and old clothes.  I related very much when Linda highlighted that she had made a quilt from new polyester fabric but somehow it did not quite have the homely feel and character as her mother’s quilts.  It’s a reason that I too left behind sewing with new fabric in the late 1980s.

You can read Linda’s article here.

Reading her beautiful story took me back to the middle of last year 2014, when I started planning a quilt for my daughter Rebecca and her partner Danny.  Of course, it goes without saying that recycled fabric was going to be used.  My choice of fabric was wool for warmth because this throw rug was going to be taken to winter football games.

However, the recycled wool fabric had to be sourced as it was discovered.  This took a couple of months but it was well worth the search.  It makes for an interesting story as presented in the video below.  This video is a shortened version that was made to accompany the gift.  I have made it especially for this blog post.


You can also read more about the making of this quilt in a previous blog post at this link below.

Beat The Man and use up your scraps, be it food or fabric!

RUDE Repairs

RUDE has been travelling around this last week and we are still on the road.  This week’s blog post will be short and sweet.

Before we left home, we tried some Selley’s Shoe Glue which came highly recommended from a Byron Bay Shoemaker.  We have glued the bits needing to be repaired.  As yet RUDE Girl has not had a chance to test the repair on these boots which were scored from a neighbour’s GARAGE SALE for $4 total.  Check out the video below.


RUDE girl will mend anything, even old undies, with a bit of life left in them.  The $22 for these Bonds trunks is a bit over the top, so we try to buy up big when they are on special for half price.  These are worth framing at $22 but for $10 they are definitely worth mending.  Check out the video below.


On our travels this week, RUDE girl scored a little round vintage sewing basket.


Vintage Sewing Basket circa 1970s

I have seen these in Vinnies and The Salvos charity stores for $6 to $8, and not in as good as condition.  This little cutie cost $1 but it required a quick fix repair job, as explained in the video below:

RUDE boy has worn a large hole through another pair of his vintage red tab Levi’s.  You may have read that US Levi stores and outlets are giving 20 per cent off vouchers for old jeans.  You can read more here.  If this incentive was in Australia, there is no way the Levi company would be getting RUDE Boy’s vintage jeans.  They are priceless and cannot be bought back.


RUDE Boy’s priceless vintage red tab Levi denim jeans ready for sashiko mending.

I have unpicked the seams, so that when I return home next week, I can start to sashiko mend a third pair of RUDE boy’s jeans.  Check out the video below.


Beat The Man and repair!  It’s fun and very rewarding.

Something Subversive

What I love is the f-you about him [Jean Paul Gaultier]; f-you to rules, f-you to tradition, f-you to doing things in a particular way.  Toni Maticevski ~ Australian Fashion Designer

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier is at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia until February 8, 2015


Above:  ASSIN brand viscose garment REscued from landfill.  It reminded me of the black and white stripes Gaultier is REnowned for.

Read about the interesting true history of stripes in fashion here

Gosh it’s amazing what can be saved direct from landfill.  I liked this ASSIN garment a lot when I spotted it amongst the piles of fast fashion.  I was attracted to its unusual cotton fabric label, unique raw edging, and the soft as silk fabric. I had no idea that ASSIN garments are expensive to buy, even on sale!

I [Karen] studied 5 years of French.  I have been told that my maternal great-grandfather went to Jesuit boarding school in France.  I have also been told by a distant relative that he had an attitude of f-you.  I would not be surprised if my Gaultier gauche, rude, cheeky and Beat the Man approach to a frugal lifestyle is partly genetic.

Like fellow western suburbs’ designer Toni Maticevski, RUDE can relate to that f-you attitude that Gaultier oozes.  You certainly have to have it to survive the stereotyping that comes with living in the west of Melbourne. 

People who live inner west will not have the same level of stigma that comes with living in the outer west.  Toni Maticevski grew up in the inner west and has a studio there today.  RUDE lives in the outer west and has a studio at home. The differences are that RUDE is a fringe dweller and not a well know couture fashion designer.

Gaultier was REcycling and REusing in the 1980s with his punk creations. As a child, he listened to his grandmother tell stories about life during the war. Women were already recycling then, to cope with the prevailing shortages: men’s suits were altered for women; pants became skirts. By enriching recycled objects, Jean Paul Gaultier made them magnificent. Sumptuous linings turned military garments into formal attire, while evening gowns sprang from camouflage-print fabrics.

Like Gaultier, RUDE’s approach to a creative life is not mainstream and was formed in childhood, watching a sewist mother deconstructing garments for fabric and removing buttons and zips for REuse.  RUDE’s Scavenger Style defies a lot of social norms around hygiene, consumption, consumerism, safety and acceptability to name a few.

Community Recycling Network Australia summed up well RUDE’s ‘cheeky’ approach to REcycling in the link below.  RUDE is loving that we are REcognised for our contribution to keeping stuff out of landfill.

Beat the Man and do something subversive!

Stay Cool

Stay Cool

It has been a long very hot four days in Melbourne, Australia with temperatures over 40 degrees celsius. A question was asked of me on my Facebook group Bowerbirds Journal about electricity costs when operating a 1970s air conditioner.

As Danny and I are against consuming too much of anything, we are mindful of our electricity consumption. Firstly was have an old air conditioner because we rarely turn it on. Maybe two or three times a year for over a decade.

This year it has been used four days in a row. A day where the temperature is say 35 degrees we will not turn it on but to have a period of heat over 40 degrees we deemed it necessary for some relief. We shut the door to two adjoining rooms and stayed in this space for the hot spell except to go to bed at night. Then we turned off the unit as we sleep well in the heat.

Our electricity bill will be higher but not excessive because we are careful with usage and keep cooling temperature not too low. As with everything we do we treat it like a fun game of Monopoly but our game is titled Balance and Beat the Man. For us it is all about balance. This is how our Balance Beat the Man games works.

We had to consume more electricity over the last four days therefore we off set the additional energy/cost with not using the car and petrol/gas. We stayed at home, used energy for cooling but saved on energy elsewhere, including our own physical energy which is a good health investment in extremes of heat.

The only planned obsolescence for this unit was human related not appliance part malfunction. National would have planned that within 10 years of purchase the homeowner would have simply replaced this unit for a newer, more efficient, sleeker looking model.

Of course National had no idea that Danny and I would be grateful for the workmanship in this air conditioner and care for it for 40 years!

So what’s all this got to do with shorts and my legs. Nothing and everything but you be the judge. Seriously, I wore these light cotton shorts for four days because they are cool and comfortable. They were RE-scued from point of landfill a couple of years ago. Cost $0.00

And my legs like the air conditioner have had a long life. These foundations have not been replaced in over 50 years but there is certainly planned obsolescence factored in by the manufacturer.

Backyard Fun

The iconic Australian backyard is fast disappearing. In suburbia land size is getting smaller and people are building bigger houses. Danny and I grew up on the quarter acre block in middle suburbia. We played games like cricket, had family BBQs and climbed trees. Many Australian families still want to live life with some backyard. It is what we know and love. The Hills Hoist clothesline to dry washing outside in the sun and fresh air. The chooks roaming free. A place for the veggie patch. And a kennel for the family dog.

We live on the outskirts of Melbourne on a 600 square metre block of land in a very modest 1970s brick house. It has three bedrooms and one bathroom. We have a study so it is probably one of the bigger houses in the street. We have a front and back yard. There is no garage only a carport. We have two sheds in the backyard. One is a workshop and the other is for household storage.

We Beat the Man by owning a modest abode. We refuse to renovate it because we will retire to a beach location in a few years. I still cook in a 1970s kitchen. Everything is original 1970s decor including the bathroom. To modernise the look and not spend too much money we have been painting the walls and removing the wallpaper.

We have both lived in bigger and grander homes in our past lives. We have chosen to live this modest lifestyle in order to save for our retirement. The best thing is we enjoy living modestly. There is joy to be found in the most unexpected places. And our financial position is very sound.

In the 1960s and 1970s in Australia drill marching was a very popular sport for Australian girls. I was a marching girl during this period, and would practise my drill in the backyard. I was given a dare recently to march to Darlin’ by The Beach Boys. I had not marched for 30 years when Danny recorded this video a couple of days ago.

Please note that the clothes and Converse sneakers I am wearing are either thrifted or saved from landfill. Approximate total cost $3.00 (generous approximation)