Rachel was also named Craft Captain at Splendour in The Grass, where she also decked out Patience Hodgson in a psychedelic rainbow costume (weighing 10 kilograms!) for her show with The Grates.
Back in 2010, Rachel rose to fame after setting herself the challenge to make a dress every week for 20 consecutive weeks. In 2012, she successfully completed another challenge, where she made a dress everyday for an entire year. Both projects required her to make dresses from scratch and auction the pieces online.
Just under $10,000 was raised and donated to children’s charities.
Another charity collection is in the pipeline, this time for Fitted For Work, a non-profit organisation that helps disadvantaged women gain confidence to enter the workforce.
In recognition of her work, Rachel has been chosen as an Australian of the Day – a Commonwealth Bank initiative to champion everyday, grassroots Australians.
We caught up with Rachel to find out more about this incredible Australian. Here is what she said:
How did you first learn to make dresses?
I learned to make dresses from my first love: musical theatre. I used to make costumes for a few plays that I was involved in. It started out as a hobby, and then somewhere along the way I became more and more interested in dressmaking and garment construction. My mum is a really great seamstress, so she showed me some great tips and found myself getting better and better at it.
You first rose to online fame from your charity dress-making challenges. What inspired you to undertake these challenges?
I wanted to do something that tested my creativity but also gave back to my community. I had been learning about blogs and keeping creative journals at university, so the idea struck me one day to combine dress-making with charity and to keep a blog about it.
My first dress-making challenge was to make a dress every week for 20 weeks. I would make the dress for a friend each week in the space of three hours, and then we’d head out and show the frock off out on the town. This project culminated in a fashion fundraiser at L’Academie, where all 20 dresses from the project were modelled and sold. I raised over $5,000 and all proceeds were donated to NAPCAN.
My second project was much more ambitious – to make one dress-a–day, from scratch, for an entire year! The proceeds from the sale of the dresses went to the Starlight Foundation. My website i make. you wear it. was my daily journal where I’d post a photo of a dress every day. Once again, I raised just over $5,000 with this project.
I’m currently working on a charity project for Fitted For Work, a not-for-profit organisation that helps disadvantaged women gain confidence to enter the workforce. This will see a series of dresses embellished with paper details and fringing with the collection to be auctioned on my Facebook page.
Can you tell us a bit more about what it means to be an Australian of the Day?
It was a lovely surprise when the Commonwealth Bank featured me as their Australian of the Day for my charity projects. This is an initiative where people across the country can nominate local Aussies in their community to be featured on australianoftheday.com.au, which then go on to form a collective national portrait. It was an honour to be featured amongst so many amazing Australians. Chuffed doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings!
Tell us more about your role as Craft Captain at Splendour in the Grass.
I ran a craft workshop at last year’s Splendour in the Grass festival and I think the organisers must have remembered my name because they asked me to come back and join the team as Craft Captain this year! The experience was very fun and it was amazing to see so many people getting creative and passionate about craft.
We also saw that you designed Patience Hodgson’s costume, which weighed around 10 kilograms, for her show with The Grates at the festival. Can you tell us about how this came to be?
Yes, Patience and I are good friends. She’s so much fun to be around and her creativity is infectious. We originally met at her shop Southside Tearoom, and we immediately bonded over our mutual love for pompoms and kitsch. We became closer after collaborating on some costume designs for the Red Deer Music and Arts Festival. This led to our first collaboration, Fancy Free, a DIY craft channel on YouTube. The jacket she wore for her show with The Grates at Splendour was from our latest collaboration, and designed specially for the band’s Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork tour.
Any upcoming projects?
I’ve started a community art project called Apomogy. The concept is to gather anonymous apologies of strangers, affix the apology to a pom pom and then, over time, create a large installation artwork with the results. I’m also in the process of styling and photographing the upcoming fashion editorial for Frankie magazine.