Skinny trousers made bigger

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I have 2 daughters and each gave me a pair of trousers to refashion.

The first (patterned) pair had a broken side zip.  I tried these on hoping I could just replace the zip and they would be good to go.  Unfortunately they were too small. They were from New Look, 71% viscose, 26% polyester, 3% elastane, made in Cambodia.  The label was actually stuck in the zip.

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The second (plain black) pair were a good fit but looking a bit worn.  They were from George at Asda, and the fabric label was unreadable due to extensive washing but I would say they were mainly cotton with a similar elastane content to the other pair.

I decided to use a full length strip from the black pair to make the patterned pair bigger, using the ‘tuxedo’ method.


I have noticed that this kind of style is a common design feature in RTW, I even have some RTW running trousers myself which are like that.


I had never used this method before and did a bit of research before giving it a try – useful information was here

I unpicked the recipient trouser side seams but just cut a strip from the donor trousers from the side seam area.  The strip was 3.5 inches wide, to include seam allowances. This was just a bit of a guess but as both fabrics had some elastane content I guessed it would work.

I don’t have a serger but I do have a reasonably good regular machine.  Its a Janome décor computer and has 50 different stitches programmed in, most of which I have never used.

After reading some tip online about how to sew stretch fabrics without a serger, I studied the manual which came with my machine and found that 3 of the 50 stitches were in fact ‘stretch stitches’


Look at numbers 5 and 18 – they don’t look very interesting in a diagram but I they are both ‘stretch’ stitches and therefore interesting for my project.  Number 5 is for seams, works like zig zag stitch but better because the seam lies flatter, 18 is a stronger stitch, ideal for jeans I thought.  I will be using these stitches again and also reading more of the manual.

The method was quite quick and easy to use, I had it finished in a day which is unusual for me.  Only issue was adjusting the tension for some of the thicker parts around the waistband.

I could just about pull the trousers up without any fastenings but adding a zip from the donor trousers made it easier.

I also added the back pockets from the black trousers.


After a bit of loose thread tidying they were ready.

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Turquoise trousers to tote transformation.

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I made a new bag for taking to work.  As my job is 12 hour night shifts, the bag has to be big enough to fit generous supplies of food, drink, clothing and entertainment in.

The dimensions were based roughly on my old bag, bought new a couple of years ago from a local shop.  It looks OK in the photo but has already been subject to a few repairs, has been washed a few times and is looking a bit past it.


Old bag

I had some fabric in mind bought at a jumble sale last year very cheaply, probably meant for curtains, it is some kind of open fairly thick linen.  I got rather excited to see some actual fabric on sale and snapped it up without a plan.


Jumble sale curtain fabric

I needed a contrast fabric and this pair of trousers BNWT left behind by a passing girlfriend of my stepson, seemed to work well.  They were a similar weight canvas 100% cotton in bright turquoise and the  pockets could be used for my signature 2 pockets made into one for the front of the bag.


Turquoise canvas trousers for contrast fabric

I cut 5 pieces the sizes and shapes I needed using measurements taken from the old bag.


Pieces cut out and interfaced

I haven’t made a bag like this before so it was a learning curve and I wanted to do it properly so heavy duty interfacing was applied to the main pieces .

The interfacing didn’t seem to stick that well so I ended up sewing it in, leading to a visible extra line of stitching that I will have to live with.

There was also going to be a lining.


Slippy lining fabric

This used to be a long skirt,  previously used to make a top.  The original charity shop skirt was the last item of clothing I bought before giving up shopping for a year, I have another 6 months to complete the no shopping year.


Skirt which was the source of lining fabric


The lining fabric was slippery and unpleasant to work with.  The top previously made from it  …..


Previously made and blogged top, imperfect due to poor handling of slippery fabric.


doesn’t quite hang right because something went slightly wrong in the  cutting out and although I do wear the top,  am always aware of its failings.

I remembered a tip about spraying slippery fabrics with spray starch to make them easier to work with.  I didn’t have any spray starch but did have hairspray and this worked surprisingly well.  I sprayed each piece before sewing and it made quite a difference, and made the pieces smell nice.

I wanted an internal and external pocket and these were sewn on to the relevant  pieces first, bearing in mind where their final placement was to be once seams and handles were taken into account

The next stage was to sew up the base and side pieces into one strip, then attach the front and back.



In progress bag without handles

The handles were interfaced and I used a few hand stitches  at the internal corners to keep the lining held in place.


Interior of finished bag

I am almost looking forward to going to work to test this bag out.


Finished bag



Finished bag





Refashioned Denim top with pocket

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Denim is one of my favourite fabrics to refashion.  It improves with age, and jeans have pockets and other details which can come in so useful.  Denim also goes well with almost any other fabric, in fact it looks better when combined with other colours and patterns.

I have no before photos for the above top but really I just used the before items as fabric.  The front came from 2 pairs of jeans, obviously, both fairly lightweight denim with 2% elastane .  In fact I made a mistake with the pattern and forgot to flip it over when cutting out the second half, I had intended to use only one pair of jeans.

The sleeves were made from erm.. a girl’s dress which I found in the street. People here often leave things spread out on their garden walls as free stuff for others to take  –  its a stretchy knitted fabric. Other items that were left out were mainly toys.  They would probably be surprised if they knew the eventual fate of the dress!

The back of the top actually was fabric, 100% cotton bought from a local market.

The top was based on this pattern which I have used before


Bonus feature:

I was delighted to see some vintage linens feature in the Turner prize this year.


This entry by Helen Marten was the eventual winner.




Jeans to dress refashion

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Refashioners 2016


This will be my entry for refashioners 2016.

I don’t really wear jeans.  My reasons are that they are too tight, and  I don’t like wearing tight clothes, the fabric is too heavy and stiff, which makes them uncomfortable, and  waistbands normally sit right in the middle of my stomach area, which cuts me in half when I sit down.

I do, however, like  denim fabric

I have made a number of household items from denim –  tea cosies, cushions etc



but as yet, no refashioned clothing.

With refashioners 2016  in mind I bought some jeans from Traid for £4.



They were having an ‘everything £4 ‘ sale.  The jeans are a size 18 Tommy Hilfiger, 99% cotton 1% elastane, made in China and are quite nice and soft with a bit of stretch and a large amount of fabric.



I looked them up, these jeans could easily have cost £50

The brief I gave myself was to make a dress from a pair of jeans using as much of the jeans as possible.

I did a lot of unpicking to the point of having 2 large leg pieces, pockets and waistband.



I had a vague idea of an empire line dress but also went round the shops for inspiration. This was the kind of thing I had in mind.


I decided to attempt pattern drafting.

Using pages out of a magazine to draw round myself in a mirror probably isn’t the best method.



The bodice pleats and neckline shape just sort of morphed out of what I needed to do to make the pieces fit, there wasn’t much vision and planning involved.

In the end I set the bar no higher than making something that fit.

I made some adjustment to the pattern and cut out the denim pieces.  I placed the centre front of the bodice on the jeans seam but the other pieces were placed any old how to make them fit, but approximately on the grain, give or take a few degrees.

One of the refashioners said she didn’t want to make something that looked like it was cobbled together from an old pair of jeans – Oh dear, that was something like the look I was actually aiming for.


I had made a toile but from a fabric with no stretch whatsoever, so even after going to that effort several adjustments were needed in the denim version.

The toile got abandoned at this point due to lack of time and because I now wanted to make it into a wearable garment with a different skirt design.

The bodice was now starting to take shape, next stage was to add the waistband, salvaged from the jeans.  It had to be cut down a few inches which I did in 2 places to avoid excessive bulk.


I added home made bias binding to the neck and armholes.  This was made from fabric  bought in a local market.  That market stall is no longer there and has been replaced by an artisan bakery.  Some people call this progress, some call it gentrification.

By now there wasn’t enough denim left to make the skirt, and someone who had planned this better would have made the larger skirt pieces out of the larger pair of jeans but luckily I already had a pair of flared jeans in a similar denim which had been given to me by my daughter, which would do the job.

I had already used the waistband of the second pair of jeans for an earlier project.


I laid the pieces on the bed to get some ideas, then stitched the legs onto the bodice.  The skirt was beginning to look very much like the classic jeans to skirt refashion.


The original Tommy Hilfiger jeans still had enough fabric left to make two triangles to fill in the front and back, I had to pare down the flare  to make this work.

I wasn’t going to cut up a third pair of jeans so for the side fill in panels I used more of the trim fabric.


I used both back pockets together to make one large pocket, which needed a stitch or two in the middle to avoid gape.


This pocket turned out to be my favourite feature because it was the perfect size to hold passport and boarding pass, and the middle stitch at the top gave extra security.

I was in something of a rush to finish this off because I wanted to wear it on holiday (Croatia) and would have probably added more jean details such as the coin pocket somewhere,  and back pocket lapels, but at 2am before the holiday I had to call it a day.

I have to say I am really pleased with it, this dress may not be the most original make, and I am full of awe for some of the artistic and imaginative designs that other bloggers have produced.


The slevelessness made it cool enough to wear in warm temperatures and it provided just the right amount of fit shape, comfort and practicality for me.

A denim dress made a very practical holiday item because it could be worn several times without needing a wash, or I shoud probably say, showing the dirt.


And I shamelessly got my daughter to model it for me.


All refashions are unique, and there are improvements I could make to this dress if I were to repeat the process but then again I would be using different jeans so who knows, different mistakes may be made.


With such a  great variety of inspiration from therefashioners, I’ll probably be making more use of denim in the future.