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Before dress branded Julian Taylor New York. Fabric is 95% polyester 5% spandex made in Malaysia. The photo above is not the actual dress but a better photo of a brown version I found on the internet.
I paid a very cheap price of £1 at a car boot sale but it was at the end of the day and the vendor was keen not to take anything home, I thought there was a lot of useful knit fabric in a useful navy colour.
Upon trying the dress, the fit and look exceeded expectations so I hung it in my wardrobe and wore it a few times. After these few try outs I decided the waist was a little tight and the neckline a little low, and I wasn’t keen on having a bow tied around my back, bows are for little girls.
Plan was to construct an alternative bodice and attach it to the skirt.
Enter the Annabelle dress pattern which features a similar type of dress, I would use this pattern to make up an alternative bodice.
Using some dusky pink stretch fabric bought some time ago, I cut out a size smaller than normal as the pattern was meant for woven fabrics , which was OK but the front bodice ended up a bit small.
I thought this dress needed a bit of pattern interest so cut the front neck piece from a men’s tie, fabric of which is silk so I hope I don’t come to regret this after the first wash. The tie cost more than the dress.
The construction went well and apart from the gathering being a bit fiddly, was unremarkable.
Here’s the finished dress, its still not my favourite thing but is definately more comfortable to wear.
Haven’t hemmed the sleeves as this fabric doesn’t fray but may hem them later. It’s not me, the pattern was slightly shorter at the centre front.
This grey superman sweatshirt was soft and comfy but the logo was faded and there were some paint splashes.
The plan was to replace the front of the sweatshirt with the red parkrun shirt but keep the neck and waist ribbing from the sweatshirt.
Parkrun is a weekly timed 5 km run which is free and open to everyone. There are milestone shirts and this one belonged to my husband who has now completed over 400 runs and left this 50 milestone way behind. I have in fact completed more than 50 myself but never bought the t-shirt so technically I am entitled to wear it.
I wanted to use the back of the red top as the front of the sweatshirt to showcase the 50 runs logo which was the same colour as the sweatshirt.
The red top was already a perfect fit but the sweatshirt was quite roomy.
Here are the labels, I like looking at labels
A sub plan for this refashion was to challenge myself not to make any mistakes – as each refashion is a prototype it is more usual than not for me to make some mistake along the way. Not thinking it through properly before taking action, results in seam ripper action instead, so before setting off with the scissors I did a lot of thinking, planning, pinning and looking in the mirror.
There were some fit issues to deal with namely shorten the length and make the sleeves narrower.
I cut the sweatshirt at the shoulder seams, to take the excess length from there as I wanted to preserve the ribbing at the bottom.
What followed next was a lot of cutting up. I cut out the whole front section of the sweatshirt, except for a seam allowance sized strip all round, and used the cut out section as a pattern to cut out the same piece from the red top. I also cut off the neckline ribbing, leaving a seam allowance sized length attached, and cut off the sleeves.
Next it was all pinned together to have a look. I recently invested in some new and expensive long glass head pins which were very effective in keeping the whole thing together and not falling out.
The sweatshirt had a grown on sleeve whereas the red top had a standard armscye arrangement so happily pulling the sleeve forward slightly to pin to the new red front also magically shortened the sleeve to the right length
I had to open up the red top with a cut down the centre front in order to cut a wide enough piece for the new front. Using the back as the new front produced a higher neck than I wanted. When I tried it on pinned together but without the ribbing it looked OK as a boat neck.
As it was all pinned together already, the sewing part was actually quite quick, starting with the shoulder seams, then the sides (leaving a few cm open at the bottom), then top stitching the bottom seam to the ribbing. Neither of these fabrics frayed or slipped and no ironing of seams was required so the sewing was also quite easy.
Having toyed with the idea of a simple boat neck the most difficult bit was attaching the neck banding. As the new neck was wider than the old my first idea was to use half red and half grey but laying the old binding on top of the new neckline, it seemed that it would have sufficient stretch to manage the new size.
I pinned on the grey binding then changed my mind and changed to the red. In the end there was a bit more stretching out of the neckband than was really desirable but this is more noticeable when the garment is on a hanger than when it is being worn because wearing it stretches the neck a bit.
As a final flourish I hand sewed the superman label to one of the sleeves.
Dulwich parkrun Christmas 2018, before obviously.
Bonus feature: forays into crochet
As well as a stash of fabric I have a (may I say much smaller) stash of wool which I decided to re-visit.
I made this short cape from some wool given to me by my daughter
And this lacy shawl from some cotton yarn.
I could get to like crochet, this shawl was completed in a single evening. I bought this cotton yarn when I was in my carefree twenties, never for one minute imagining it would be 30 years before I actually made something from it. Young women with big stashes be warned!
This table runner had been in my stash for quite a while.
Bought at a jumble sale in a fairly upmarket area adjacent to mine, I was attracted by the colourful embroidery against the strong blue background.
There was no label and I wondered if it was an unwanted holiday souvenir from some exotic location.
This fabric is the product of a very clever loom because the reverse is plain blue, with just a few slubs of the embroidery threads visible.
I had auditioned this fabric many a time for projects past, but despite my hopes and dreams, it had never made the final cut .. …. until now.
As it was long and thin, trousers were to be the thing, combined with denim.
I was using this commercial pattern, given free with a magazine, having first made a shorts version toile to check the fit.
I was adapting the pattern to suit me by missing out the front fly and making a flat fronted version with a side zip.
Pattern makers always seem to want to mess with your mind.
First they bring you down a peg or two, or rather up a size or two by indicating from the given measurements that you are actually a couple of sizes bigger than you thought you were.
Swallowing your pride and making up the suggested size, you find that it is actually miles too big, so you end up ignoring measurements on the packet and making up the size you first thought of, well that’s what happens to me anyway.
There wasn’t enough fabric for all of the trousers but as this pattern had seams down the middle of the legs I was going to use the tablecloth to make the middle sections.
I was careful to lay out the pattern pieces to match the patterns up on the tablecloth.
This lovely soft pair of jeans, seen here with the pocket already removed, formerly residing in the other side of the wardrobe, were perfect for the outside legs. They were worn thin in parts but I thought this could be stabilised with some embroidery to compliment the table runner.
After having a go at hand embroidery, shashiko style,
I could see it was going to take an age and not look that good, so I turned to my machine. As it is actually named ‘décor computer’ there are a number of fancy stitches which it could complete and which I was relying on to strengthen the worn denim areas.
Everything was going well, I sewed the thing up, inserting the reclaimed zip from the jeans, and tried them on, the trousers were still a bit big.
At this stage there were 3 problems
1. The pattern matching was spot on at the back but off at the front.
2. I started to wonder if the trousers were looking like something a clown might wear.
3. The loose weave of the tablecloth was coming apart at the seams.
I scratched my head about the pattern matching before realising that the table runner was not symmetrical around the centre, and this had thrown the pattern off when it was sewn up. Too late now, I would have to live with it.
The carefully pressed seams would have to be re-inforced somehow. Once again my machine came to the rescue. It has an overlock stitch, which although on the main menu, I rarely use. I sewed over all the seams again using this stitch, which is like a running stitch and a zigzag combined. It is heavy on thread but useful for fraying fabrics and I made a mental note to use it more often in future. This also made the trousers a mm smaller over all seams, making the fit perfect.
Wanting the waistband to be comfortable (I want all my clothes to be comfortable) I found a slightly stretchy black denim from a previous refashion which I cut a strip of and folded over. I was going off pattern again here – my method was simpler but I admit looks a bit messy on the reverse – a commercial maker would cover all the mess with some pretty tape – I may bind it myself later.
I put the trousers on again and skipped around the house in them for 10 minutes – only the hem left to finish. When I took them off I noticed it was clear that the loose weave could not tolerate even the most minor strains. At the centre front seam, gaps were starting to appear. Nothing for it but more re-inforcements.
I selected some no stretch uncompromising ankara from my stash and anchored it to the denim parts of the seams to make a sort of bib to protect the belly and bum areas so that the centre seams were not under any strain whatsoever.
The effect of this was to take a little more off the size – its a good job they were a bit big in the first place.
At the hems I left a fashionable bit of fraying on the denim parts, mostly out of necessity to preserve the length.
I brazenly tried out my clown trousers at a roof garden in one of the most fashionable parts of town.
Bonus feature – Nordic tunic
During a local charity shop trip, I opened a drawer in a vintage dressing table which revealed that it was full of actual fabric. Most of it looked like home textiles but I bought a green flowery piece, I suspect dating from the 80’s, mostly just because I was surprised to find it on sale.
Using a commercial pattern I sewed up this item described on the cover as a nordic tunic, although I suspect this is just a way of making a simple dress sound more interesting.
It was a very quick sew, a couple of hours, quicker than most refashions I do, am considering making another. The pattern description suggests making it in different weights of fabric for different seasons and it is indeed versatile, being able to be worn with a jumper, t-shirt, or nothing underneath.
I bought this t-shirt for £3 at a local charity shop, looking for something in a neutral colour to make into a layering item and this fitted the bill.
Its a men’s large by Farah, 100% cotton, made in Turkey. The fabric is a good weight, slightly thicker than any t-shirt I currently own and a nice grey marl.
The plan was to make it into a short sleeved cardigan. First thing was to cut off the excess length.
The cut off piece was to be used as a button band, cut in half and folded over.
Second cut was straight down the centre front.
Then I folded my button band ie the bottom of the t-shirt, over the cut edges of the centre front. I was worried about stretching so sewed a piece of woven cotton from a men’s shirt as an interfacing.
I had to finish the top and bottom edges of the button band with a bit of hand sewing, but this fabric takes that well, the stitches almost sink into it.
It was still looking a bit masculine so I chose some feminine buttons from my stash to complete the cardigan. Making the buttonholes was a bit traumatic as the band was quite thick and the button hole foot was reluctant to tackle it.
The cardigan is still quite plain looking and I am resisting the urge to add some colour.
Bonus feature – Using fabric to update bathroom drawers
I painted these MDF bathroom drawers and added fabric to the top and sides with diluted PVA. The glue binds the fabric and there is no fraying whatsoever.
To protect the top I cut a piece of plastic (salvaged from another item of Ikea furniture) with a handsaw and glued that on, also with PVA, my new favourite liquid .
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.