Tag Archives: revamp

Front Porch by Fiona Lenord

15 Jun

Upcycle: verb. To reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original, moving it ‘up’ the consumer goods chain.


I love creative people who breathe new life into old things. I’m not talking about The Toy Story theory of extending a discarded item’s life by passing it on to another to be loved all over again but rather upcycling. Pushing the boundaries of an item’s original purpose and creating a new form. Front Porch is one such brand riding the upcycling wave. Front Porch was launched in 2012 by Fiona Lenord after making a tree change to the Blue Mountains, NSW. Behind the brand is Fiona’s 23 years experience as a Textile Designer specialising in hand painted florals, including 13 years with iconic Australian brand Sheridan. This wealth of experience shines through her apparel and homewares designs. The attention to detail and the love put into each piece is really beautiful.

FP cushion

The Front Porch signature piece is a dress made from upcycled textiles. The design is a simple strappy A line cut with a soft rope drawstring, tapering down to varying lengths. Fiona describes her latest best seller, The Foofoo, as “the love child of a poncho and a kimono. Both styles can be layered up and down for all seasons. Worn casually or dressed up for weddings and formal events”.

FP foo

A keen op shopper who loves hunting through secondhand stores and flea markets for vintage items, Fiona found herself “rescuing” old fabric like brocade, seersucker, vintage lace, retro 60’s prints, Australian printed tea towels, embroidered and crocheted tablecloths and doilies. The textiles span across the decades creating diversity in Front Porch, “I have a collection that is constantly rotating from soaking tub to a dye bath, clothes line, sewing machine and ironing board” notes Fiona. The history of the textiles also strike up sentimentality in her customers, some have even commissioned dresses made from family heirloom fabrics. “My biggest surprise has been the repeat customers. I have some customers who own over 30 of my dresses! I have met an amazing network of creative women and friends through this venture and feel lucky to have bonded so quickly with the Blue Mountains community”.


In keeping with the nostalgia of her products is Fiona’s brand name: Front Porch, “I wanted a name with nostalgia, history and quintessentially Australian. I grew up on a fruit Orchard in Kurmond. Our fibro 1960s bungalow had a decorative Besser block Front porch. It was a backdrop to many family photos, a place to greet visitors and hang out.”



This is my Front Porch dress (above) made from a white tablecloth with pale blue embroidery and trimmed with vintage lace. Not only is it cool to wear on hot days and perfect for throwing over my cossies at the beach, it’s also super comfy! I honestly feel like I’m wearing my PJs but I must look fabulous as I always get comments whenever I wear this.

FP plum

I first met Fiona on her stall at The Bluebird Market in Leura and now I have the privilege of calling her my friend. Talented designer is but one of her many hats. Fiona is also a wonderful mother, a professional wearer of red lipstick and owner of a great infectious laugh. I urge you all to seek her out. Front Porch has a stall at The Glenbrook Rotary Market on the 3rd Saturday of every month in the lower Blue Mountains. This is a lovely market full of local farmers, bakers, artisans and producers. Front Porch also visits other Sydney markets so please Like the Front Porch Facebook page for updates. Fiona regularly sells direct from her Front Porch Facebook page so even if you are not in Sydney you can still own one these unique pieces.


Do you own a Front Porch original?

* Thank you to Fiona Lenord for the use of some of her images.


Dye the Dead

13 Aug

If an old shirt is looking beyond repair, stained and faded I say “that’s dead” and toss it. Well I used to, until a few years ago a stylish friend confessed that she re-dyes many of her clothes to freshen them up and hang onto her favourites. What? Bells went off in my head, stars twinkled around my eyes. Of course! What a fabulous idea! Since then I haven’t looked back. I think twice before ditching a faded item and I even op shop with re-dying in mind. If I find a fantastic dress that is not quite my colour I now have the potential to dye it.

Re-dying fabric is not as hard as you might imagine thanks to Dylon. You can buy Dylon dye sachets in your supermarket for around $10 and here’s the best bit – your washing machine does all the work! Simply empty the dye into the drum of your machine, top with 500g of table salt then 500g-1k of fabric and run on a 40 degree delicate cycle. Then run another wash cycle with detergent to remove excess dye, wipe any residual dye from the drum & rubber of the machine. You will be amazed when you hang your once faded clothes on the line to find that they now look brand new! Its pretty satisfying. unfortunately the sachets come in a limited colour range – black, brown, navy and purple. You can of course still dye the old fashioned way with Dylon’s hand dyes.


Tip: Cotton will yield the best colour retention though I have dyed synthetics with varying success. You may get a more subtle effect or the dye will only take to the cotton parts of the fabric mix. Check the fabric type beforehand and guesstimate the result. Take a risk!

Tip: The more fabric you add the less saturated the colour will be. The Dylon machine packs recommend 500g-1kg of fabric per pack. If you want the best results try to limit your fabric load.

Tip: If the item you are dyeing is multi-coloured or has contrasting details, then the dye will affect those too. You may end up with a black item with grey details for example. Printed fabric works well. I’ve had no issue with printed logos or transfers.

Tip: After you have run the first wash cycle with the dye and are ready to run the second cycle with detergent, throw some other like coloured clothes in to pick up any residual dye. It freshens them up a bit.

Just follow the instructions, use a bit of common sense and you can’t go wrong. If like me you wear a lot of black then you will find this trick a great investment. Nothing fades faster than black and nothing looks tackier. How many times have you thrown out a favourite item simply because it had too much wash fade? Despair no longer. Next time you find a great set of sun faded curtains or a beautiful worn in linen shirt that was black sometime ago, buy them with confidence and re-dye.

A lick of white paint

12 Dec

Never underestimate a coat of white paint. It can update almost anything, giving your old item a brand new clean look. Recently I picked up this painting in St Vinnies for $25. I really like the picture and the style in which it is painted but I hated the dated frame, so I painted it. Reframing is a costly exercise but keeping a tin of white paint handy for such jobs is hardly an expense.

If you’ve never attempted this type of revamp, here’s a few tips.

1. Clean the surface you are about to paint. Even if it looks clean, still give it a wipe over as any residue can adversely affect your paint finish. If the surface has a gloss finish, give it a light sand with fine sandpaper. This will give the paint a surface to stick to.

2. I prefer to use a water based semi gloss or gloss paint. Oil based enamel is messy to clean up and takes forever to dry. The water based varieties are pretty good these days are versatile enough to use on most things. Pick a paint brush for the job. The width of the brush should be relative to the surface you are painting.

3. You may need to mask areas that you don’t want to get paint on. I kept my painting in its frame when I repainted the frame. Removing it would have been too fiddly and there was potential to damage both the frame & the painting. You can buy special painter’s masking tape (its blue, you get it in the painting section of the hardware) but I just use regular masking tape. Its way cheaper and still does the job. So long as you don’t leave the tape on for too long you shouldn’t get any sticky residue.

4. Give your item a couple of thin coats rather than a thick one. You’ll get a better finish. Use long strokes in the same direction and remember to pick out any paintbrush bristles that come loose right away. They are much harder to get out when the paint has dried. Follow the paint manufacturer’s instruction for drying times and once you are happy with the coverage leave the item to dry a further few days to enable the paint to harden before use.

5. Step back and admire your handiwork.

I think you’ll agree that my painting now looks better in its new frame. I think it lets the picture shine rather than competing with a multifaceted frame.

I hope you don’t take me too literally. White paint is only the beginning! Let yourself be seduced by the masses of colour charts on display in the paint store. Paint a side table orange, spray paint a cane chair, let the kids paint their cubby house. What have you got in mind?

Revamp: Denim shorts

9 Nov

So many items get overlooked in op shops just because they are out of date with current fashion trends. Take this pair or denim Roxy jeans I picked up last week for $3. They are about to become a summer staple: denim cut off shorts. 

I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of jeans I could cut off into shorts for some time now and these fit the bill. These are a flare leg, cool in the 90’s but not so happening now with our current obsession with skinny  jeans. I must admit I was a tad apprehensive about the stonewash in the denim as *coughs* I’d stonewash the first time around but I rationalised by telling myself it will be fine for summer shorts and the Roxy detailing ties that whole beach vibe together.  Cutting off a pair of jeans into shorts seems like a no brainer but if you’re new to DIY alterations it can be risky. So here is my step by step guide so you don’t make the mistakes I’ve already made.

1. Find a pair of jeans, try them on in store. Concentrate on looking at the top section of the jeans. Think about what sort of shorts you want & how you plan to wear them. For a slouchy look you should go for a baggier jean or even men’s jeans. Check that the button & zipper are in good order as these can be expensive to get fixed. 

2. You should use fabric scissors on fabric and paper scissors on paper. Don’t mix them up. You need really sharp scissors to cut through denim and nothing bluntens scissors like paper. At home try the jeans on again & mark with a pen or nick with the scissors where you plan to cut them off. I recommend cutting them longer than you think as you can always cut shorter again. If you are going to hem your shorts you need to cut them longer than the hem line. Take the jeans off and lay them on a flat smooth surface. Try to cut across the leg in a straight line. To do the other leg, fold the jeans in half, side to side and using your first cut as a guide.

3. Yay! Your jeans are now shorts. Try them on again. Check to see if you are happy with the length. Experiment by folding the cut end up the leg to try different lengths. Personally I like to cut mine mid thigh length and then if I want shorter shorts I can just fold the cuff up on that day.  

4. If like me, you like the frayed edge of cut off denim here’s how you do it the fast way. Pull the loose strands of thread along the cut denim so that they come away from the main body of fabric. How much you do is personal preference. Now throw those shorts in the wash. Washing them will soften the cut edge & the fraying. In fact the more you wash them the better they look. If you find the cotton strands are too long try pulling them off rather than cutting them for a more natural look.

That’s it. Pretty easy right? All you need is a pair of jeans and sharp pair of scissors. Once you have mastered this you will forever look at all the overpriced cut off denim shorts in the shops with disdain. “$59.99! Pfft! I can do that” and you can.

I’ll be running a series of how to revamp second hand buys but if you have a request please leave a comment below.

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