Latest Event Updates
This was such a simple project I am not even sure it deserves the title of a refashion.
I found this scarf wrapped around a tree in my local park.
The label is ‘Old Navy’, made in China, and a quick look on the internet revealed the retail price was around $12.
I suppose someone had done the tree wrap thinking that the owner was more likely to notice it when next passing. They did not get chance, I saw it first.
After taking the scarf home and washing, I considered what to do with it. It was a good size, 50 inches square, and the way the pattern was distributed around the edge would have made it a good candidate for this treatment.
However the fabric was a very open weave, some kind of man made stuff, it was accurately described on the Old Navy website as gauze. I thought that if I made something like a top out of it, the result would be see through and the seams would be fragile.
I decided to add a few lines of stitching to make the scarf into a lightweight shawl type cover up, perfect for the transitional weather this month.
There was an inspiration piece, shown above.
I once pulled this simple white lacy top from the bargain bin of one of my usual charity shops, thinking the lace might be useful, but when I tried it on at home, was pleasantly surprised and have worn it as is. As you can see, this inspiration top is circular and my scarf is square but the general principle is the same.
I made a simple cut for the neck and turned it under twice for a hem (above) To make it more stable I added a line of fancy stitching (below)
Next I sewed a diagonal line from the corner inwards on each side, to give the suggestion of an armhole/sleeve. The pattern on the scarf made this easy for me.
The result is not bad and does the job I had intended for it. I like the pattern colours and it adds just enough warmth when the weather is a little chilly. The lightweight gauzy fabric means the shawl can be rolled up quite small and carried around in a handbag.
The photo below shows the scarf close to the tree where I originally found it.
Bonus feature: Other scarves have found
My usual source for items to refashion is charity shops but I am unashamed to say I have also picked up items from the street and even occasionally from bins.
There are 2 main reasons I refashion which are
- I enjoy it as a hobby
- I don’t like waste
Scarves don’t really wear out but people seem to drop them quite often
This top is one I have previously made from a scarf found on my way to work.
This one below I do wear as a scarf. I was at the theatre when 15 min before the end of the show, a couple rushed out early. The scarf fell to the floor as they exited. From several rows away I could not shout to them and disrupt the performance. At the end everyone else stepped over the scarf but I picked it up. Well if they left in a hurry they’re not going to come back for it are they?
It was the generous meterage of fabric which first attracted me to this odd garment when I spotted it on a charity shop hanger. I couldn’t work out what it actually was but £3 for this amount of fabric, unimpeded by few seams, seemed like a bargain not to pass up.
At home trying this contraption on, I wasn’t much the wiser.
Looking like palazzo pants with a wrap around skirt incorporated, you could also wear it as a sarong or halter neck dress.
It had a label ‘Moira C’, it’s 100% polyester, no country of origin, with a lot of small pretty purple flowers maybe violets?
I did some research and there is a video from Moira herself showing you how to wear this thing. Apparently its ideal for cruises because of the unlimited food on offer you need clothes which are size flexible. I’m mocking but actually I think I quite admire Moira, a woman after my own heart.
Anyway, I was going to fabric harvest, and there was a lot of fabric, nearly 3 metres of it.
The plan was to make a top using the same pattern as in my previous post but sleeveless and with some gathers under the neckline band instead of bust darts, because I wanted to make something cool and loose to wear in the hot weather.
The pattern was something of a dogs dinner once I had finished with it.
I was able to get the whole of the top out one of one leg of the pants, and with these pants there are 4 legs.
The fabric slipped and frayed quite a bit, it was a job for the walking foot.
I did have to neaten the seams in a rudimentary way. Luckily I had left generous seam allowances and was able to fold each side of the allowance down then sew the sides together, it would have been better to use French seams in the first place.
The contrast neckband was made from ultra stiff Dutch wax, there was no way it needed any interfacing so I missed it out. I hope this stiff as a board fabric is going to loosen up once I’ve washed it a few times, which leads me to think that actually I probably should have washed it first before sewing, oh well, too late now.
At first I thought it would be possible to use the pant ties as a kind of interfacing for the sleeves, but as they were not bias cut it didn’t work out, I had to cut them off and make some actual bias binding instead.
Cutting off this first attempt at sleeve binding meant what was left of the shoulders was perilously close to the neckband.
All, bar the hem, was done within one afternoon.
The gathers did give a bit of trouble, first attempt they were off to one side. I read later that you’re not supposed to use a walking foot for gathers, it squashes them, that’s probably what went wrong. Actually they are still off a bit to one side but I’m not undoing them again.
I saw someone on the way to work wearing a top which had a straight hem at the front and a longer curved hem at the back, and decided to try out this hem idea for myself.
The hem is probably my favourite part of this top, and I referenced this method
from byhandlondon to get the curved hem neat. The inspiration top wasn’t quite as long at the back, but I’m happy with what I’ve got.
I used a book as a tailors clapper when making the hem.
The weather in London is cooler now but I am off to Mykonos in September, hoping to wear the top there.
This shirt had been in my refashion pile for some time.
Once again its from Marks and Spencer, the fabric feels good quality, not too thin with a slightly silky feel to it, 100% cotton, made in Turkey.
I wanted to make a loose fitting top suitable for wearing in the recent hot weather.
The plan was to adapt this dress pattern, keeping as many seams from the shirt as possible.
I also wanted to add a contrast fabric for the neckline piece. It was going to be one of those back of the shirt becomes the front adaptations.
The pattern pieces fit on the shirt pretty well.
I had been reading about darts and decided to keep the darts from the pattern, this meant I couldn’t use the shirt side seams and that the front hem was now shorter than the back.
In RTW, darts are never in the right place for my shape, and from what I see on the street, its not just me. The dart tutorials said to pull the end of the dart back 1 or 2 inches from the bust point, which I did, but looking at the finished photos, maybe not quite enough.
The contrast neck piece went on well. It was supposed to have a layer of interfacing – which I didn’t have, but I used a plain piece of white fabric (from a different shirt) stabilised with a bit of hemming tape here and there, which worked.
The back of the blouse was supposed to have a zip inserted, but I had the buttons from the shirt. The zip was supposed to go all the way to the top of the neck facing but I decided to leave that part open, this way I can get it on over my head and never actually need to undo the buttons.
I tried it on (actually I had already tried on many times, I believe in trying on a lot), and wondered if sleeves would be a good idea or not – the pattern shows both sleeveless and with sleeves versions.
After sleeping on it, I went for the sleeves.
Here’s the finished blouse:
I am already thinking about making another like this only sleeveless, because I want to know how that would turn out, I like this contrast neckband arrangement, it gives a neat and eye catching finish.
I wore my new top while out trawling some local charity shops looking for items for future projects. I bought a men’s Hawaiian shirt and some fabric, which may or may not be intended for curtains.
On the next version I’m going to attempt some gathers under the neck piece or divide the dart into two and pull them out a bit more.
I bought this t-shirt at the same car boot as the last refashion for the same price ie £1.50.
Again its from Marks and Spencer but the fabric is not 100% cotton there is a 3% elastane content and is quite lightweight.
The neck binding is narrower than the previous one.
I was inspired to try and re-create this refashion
Several fabrics were auditioned as possible bibs. I toyed with the many doilies and embroidered mats in my collection, and some purple and gold Dutch wax, but eventually settled on this magpie printed stretch fabric.
Its more like trousers weight and possibly wouldn’t sag at the neck end of the bib, but mostly chose it because the magpie pattern looked best for a good contrast with the purple.
There were the same fit issues sorted in the same way as the first t-shirt tart up and I also cut the sleeves shorter.
A paper pattern got the size and placement of the bib right – I was making my neckline higher than the inspiration – then I cut out the fabric shape adding seam allowances.
Now it looks to me like the inspiration re-fashion has been made by cutting a big U shape in the t-shirt, bias binding the complete new neckline edge, then sewing the bib on underneath.
I wanted to sew my bib to the t-shirt as the first step, not cut a big hole – I was just worried that a t-shirt with a huge neckline cut into it would be difficult to keep in shape.
I hemmed the top of the bib then sewed it onto the t-shirt – it looked quite good although this stored up trouble for later when it came to binding.
Because I sewed the bib on before binding the neckline, they do not line up perfectly, so I had to snip the neckline and fold it under a bit where it met the top of the bib.
A sleeve remnant cut up into a continuous strip was used like bias binding to bind the neck (but not the bib)- it looked OK.
There was still something lacking, so I went to the shops and bought a couple of metres of rick rack to outline the bib and cover up a bit of untidiness.
Went with the red, white and blue, I liked it more and it was a bit wider.
This humble old fashioned trim did a decent job of outlining the bib and went round the U bend without any drama. I sewed it on using the walking foot to cope with the multiple layers, and abandoned pinning, just sewed very slowly.
There was some rick rack left over – should I trim the sleeves with it? – go on then.
Finally I cut off the excess t-shirt fabric from behind the bib.
Here’s the finished product:
Bonus feature – the out takes
Here are some of the alternative bib fabrics that failed the audition
Before buying the rick rack, I hand sewed on this cording from my stash. I think it was originally the handle of a gift bag or something like that, I see potential haberdashery items everywhere. The colour was good but it was a bit too short and starting to unravel, and I wasn’t happy with the way it had gone on. Sometimes commercial products developed over decades can work better than improvising with a gift bag handle.
I bought this t-shirt from a local car boot sale. I think it was £1.50.
I have a lot of patterned clothes, so needed some plain colours to go with the patterns, This was the idea behind my purchase.
Its a standard 100% cotton Marks and Spencer Woman brand t-shirt, made in Bangladesh. There were no tags but no visible wear.
The size was a little bigger than I normally wear so first thing was to take the waist in with a simple seam alteration.
The shoulders were also slightly large, making the neck hang too low.
To fix this I opened up the shoulder seams and re-sewed them taking an extra inch off. The effect was to pull the neckline up to the desired height.
I sewed the new shoulder seams back onto the sleeves which left me with a little point where the shoulder seam met the sleeve. Some tutorials suggest re-setting the sleeve but I found that in this case, smoothing out the point with a short line of stitching did the job satisfactorily.
I also had to cut a half inch strip off the back of the neckline, including the ribbed binding, as there was now surplus fabric there
The sleeves were shortened by half and then a bit more.
Having been through a piping phase last year I am now going through a bit of a bias binding phase.
I had this square of fabric, given free with a magazine, which seemed to co-ordinate well with the colour of the t-shirt. When I say I want plain coloured clothes I don’t mean completely plain, obviously. The plan was to make bias binding with the patterned square and bind the sleeves and neckline. This was more or less the suggestion made by the magazine as a use for this free square of fabric, except they added a decorative pocket as well.
I used this tutorial to make continuous bias binding from the square of fabric.
Binding the sleeves was quite straight forward. I machine sewed it all and the 2nd line of stitching was in the ditch on the right side. Looking at this close up photo of the binding the ditch stitching looks really obvious but its actually not that noticeable when worn. It did make me consider hand stitching from the wrong side next time though.
To bind the neckline I used this tutorial which gives instructions how to machine sew the internal corner.
Here’s the finished product. If I’m honest the neckline does seem to have slipped back down a bit, which I am blaming on not stretching the bias binding tight enough on the back of the neckline.
It was a simple project and I’m sure the newly revamped t-shirt will get a lot of wear.
Having already made a circular skirt from the middle of this tablecloth
I found there was enough left over to make a pair of trousers from the edges – it was a big piece of fabric.
I used a pattern I had already perfected for fit but omitted the pockets and changed the fly closure to a side zip.
The weave of the fabric was fairly loose which makes the trousers quite a light summer weight.
There’s still some tablecloth left over, and I am pretty determined to make something else with it.
Bonus feature – Golden Hands
In my local charity shop I noticed a set of red binders containing Golden Hands magazines, a weekly 1970’s series that my mother used to collect.
The magazines have lovely articles about sewing, knitting, embroidery, macramé, crochet and probably several other crafts I have missed out.
They are seventies beauties and I a joy to read through.
I bought the lot.
I’ve had a lot of use out of this rucksack. It’s travelled many miles with me but after 2 repairs already is now coming to the end.
I decided to sew a new one, which would make a good project for using stash items.
I made some pattern pieces from drawing and measuring round the old rucksack.
I am a fan of denim and something of a denim hoarder, finding it hard to pass by a good looking pair of jeans in a bin for instance, so denim was always going to feature, including my signature double pocket pocket. The other main fabric was a thinner synthetic zebra print from a weird coat dress.
It became a stash busting fest, as I also used some Dutch wax for lining, an old felted jumper for padding the back and straps, and a checked shirt for bias binding.
The only new item was the zip as I didn’t have one sturdy and long enough. I really should have used the zip from the old rucksack but didn’t want to be in a no rucksack at all situation.
The design was simplified by making only one compartment, and by making fixed straps. I tried the rucksack on with and without a jumper and the fit seemed good.
My walking foot was essential for sewing through several thick layers of fabric, which it managed to do quite impressively.
Unusually for me I decided to tidy up the bag interior by bias binding the seams, and it did improve the look.
I did prepare a carrying handle but haven’t added this yet, partly because I saw someone with a 2 handled version on my way to work which looked good and I was going to copy that but now am not sure and will try the bag without a hanging strap – it was mainly the dangling adjustable straps that got in the way of carrying my old one by the shoulder straps and as this bag doesn’t have them, carrying by the shoulder straps may be a better experience.