I am 4 months into my ‘no new clothes year’ but I missed sewing, you can’t really get that much sewing satisfaction from darning a pair of socks.
The bag was made from things I already had.
I found this tutorial for a Japanese knot bag and it was simple to construct in a few hours.
There’s a great bit of magic at the end when you turn the bag through a small hole on the short strap and it all comes together.
The main fabric was bought a couple of years ago in a local market, 6 yards of the stuff so I was glad to find a project to use some up.
The bag is reversible but I only used an old sheet for one side so that is always going to be the lining.
I added a pocket to both sides, before sewing up. The main pocket used to be a ‘bib’ section of a t-shirt given to me by my daughter, and the inner pocket was cut from a pair of trousers bought at a jumble sale.
I didn’t bother downloading the pattern, you can see what the shapes are and draw your own according to what size bag you want.
The next time I would make the bag shape a bit less round as it would hang better.
I am planning to use my bag on holidays when a handbag isn’t quite big enough.
I altered 3 pairs of trousers in different ways to improve the fit.
This black pair were: too flared, too wide in the waist.
These trousers were given to me for free. The label on them has gone but they were from New Look, fairly thin fabric with some elastane content.
They are a basic pair of go with anything black work trousers.
The first step was a simple matter of reducing the flare via the inside leg seam, from the knee downwards.
I reduced the waist by increasing the seam at the middle of the back, a fairly easy job because there was nothing to get in the way.
When I do an alteration like this, I always worry about going too far and making the thing too small, because at work I want to stay comfortable, so the amount I took off the waist was quite modest. It proved to be insufficient so I added some extra loops for the hooks (loops were made from shoe laces), so the fastening has two settings.
The second grey pair were from an old style jumble sale. At the end of the sale there was a ‘fill a bag for a pound’ offer and these trousers were one of the components of my £1 bag. They are Sainsbury’s own brand, ‘Tu’, and the fabric is synthetic herringbone style with no stretch whatsoever.
This pair did nothing for my ego because when I tried them on, I found they were:
Too flared, no problem, fixed in the same way as the black ones.
Too long, easily fixed by cutting off the excess and hand hemming.
Too tight in the leg above the knee.
Hmm, As this fabric was strong and not going to fray I reinforced the serged seams by sewing along the base of the serger stitch and then unpicking both the main inside and outside leg seams to give me a few millimetres of extra room, which made the fit much better.
photo of leg seam before and diagram of after:
Unfortunately the waist was also too small.
Here I used a trick which always seems like magic to me:
Unpick most of the waistband, only leaving the edges near the zip opening still attached, increase the waistband size by up to 2 inches using, fabric cut from the trouser hem, re-attach the waistband and somehow even non-stretchy fabric on the trouser will accommodate up to 2 inches of extra waist room.
It looks a bit scrappy but it works, and I always wear tops that cover the waistband so no-one will see the scrappiness.
The third better quality ‘per una’ from Marks and Spencer 97% cotton 3% elastane. I paid very little, something like £1.50 from a local charity shop, and they didn’t look worn at all. I decided to take a chance on the rather odd colour, described as ‘deep magenta’.
They were too long, easily fixed, and too big in the waist, which I also thought would be easily fixed.
The waistband was complicated by pockets and decorative straps with buttons, but I successfully unpicked it, made it a bit smaller with some folding, made the trousers smaller by increasing the centre back seam, and re-attached the waistband, job done, or so I thought.
When I wore these trousers on a short test run to the shops, they were not right. The waist to crotch length was too long.
I messed about with the crotch seams but nothing worked. A google search revealed that the waist to crotch length needs to be reduced from the waist end.
This pair of trousers sat in my refashion pile for several months. I considered turning them into a skirt, then I took them out and bit the bullet and unpicked the whole waistband and re-pinned it to the top of the trousers. I didn’t cut any fabric off the top of the trousers , but instead of half a centimetre of trouser top being sewn inside the waistband, the top of the trousers now goes to right to the top of the waistband, taking a couple of cm off the waist to crotch length, and making the waistband somewhat stiffer than before.
I also added a couple of extra shoelace loops like on the black pair so I could fasten them tighter. I hope that finally does it, what I thought would be a fast fix turned into a something of a saga.
Bonus feature : Use it up and wear it out in 2017
It is my intention not to buy any more clothing for 1 year.
This was meant to be a new year resolution but when I thought back, I hadn’t actually bought anything new since 15th Oct so my year starts then, and I would rather call it a ‘use it up and wear it out’ theme than a resolution.
The point of this pledge is not to save money, or the planet, but to reduce the size of 0f my wardrobe by wearing out and then discarding what I already have, and if I do really need something I will buy it.
When I think about this, there are actually only a handful of clothes that I can remember throwing away in the last 12 months because they were worn out – some underwear, a couple of pairs of trousers and t-shirts, but not much. Does modern clothing deserve more credit than its ‘fast and disposable’ image?
I bought this long skirt because I was attracted to the large amount of fabric and attractive border and it cost me £3.49, which was 10% of the original, still attached, price tag of £35.
The fabric was 100% polyester and there was a short gauzy white underskirt which I ended up using for facings.
My plan was to make a top, using a pattern given to me by a friend, incorporating the border of the skirt and the original hem.
The fabric was very light and floaty and the brand was ‘Glamorous’, one I had never heard of. I looked it up and it appears to be an online shop of the type that claims to offer massive discounts. I don’t think that glamorous would have been my first choice of description for the original skirt though.
When I started cutting the pattern pieces out, it became obvious that this fabric was trouble. It slipped and frayed all over the place, even after weighing it down in every place possible.
My newly and expensively purchased ‘walking foot’ did help in the actual sewing though.
Here is the finished top. It will be good for travelling light because it takes up only the space of a light scarf and doesn’t really crease.
Bonus feature: Refashionables in Modern Art
On a recent trip to Tate Liverpool I was drawn to the above exhibit by Michelangelo Pistoletto entitled ‘Venus of the rags’ . The description describes the mound of clothes as ‘the detritus of modern society’ but I was thinking ‘that looks like a rather nice vintage scarf’
Rather guiltily I went into my local Traid as they were having a sale (again). I think they were trying to get rid of all their summer stuff.
Why the guilt? Because to be honest, I already have enough clothes and could probably afford go a year or two without buying anything at all, but the trouble is I like making things so am now regarding refashioning as a fairly harmless hobby but nevertheless gave myself strict orders that I could only buy one thing.
My eye was drawn to this skirt. I liked the pale turquoise colour and also the fabric was a nice light scuba jersey knit, quite with a sort of shiny finish. This fabric was excellent to work with and scuba is certainly something I will be on the look out for in the future.
The amazing thing about this skirt was the teeny size of the waist. It was 22 inches (I measured it later). I don’t know anyone with a waist that small, and clearly there was no great demand for skirts in that size because it was brand new with labels.
This was the only way I could wear it.
I could see that despite the small waist size, the large pleats meant there was actually a decent amount of fabric in there, enough to make a top anyway. The sales assistant gave me a funny look as I handed over £3.
I gave this skirt a wash using my usual cycle before attempting a refashion, it seemed to survive OK. The wash was also necessary because there were a couple of dusty footprints on the skirt. It had obviously fallen off the hanger a few times and been trodden on.
I removed the offending waistband to reveal a 56 inch wide tube of fabric.
There was also a nice organza lining in a matching colour.
I downloaded the 2 hour top pattern from sewdifferent. This is a simple pattern with just 2 pieces to make a raglan top
Actually wordpress, the link does work.
I took the precaution of making a toile from a sheet to check the fit – I wouldn’t want to go wasting a £3 charity shop skirt now would I?
The fit was good but I added a couple of inches to the body length and removed an inch or so from the sleeve length.
Sadly there wasn’t really enough fabric to make the whole thing from the skirt. I could have compromised a bit on the along the grain layout and patched a bit to make it fit, but I decided to instead use a contrast fabric for the sleeves.
I bought this lovely fabric on a recent trip to Norway when finding myself with about £12 in Kroner left over, and thinking that it was unlikely I would return to Norway anytime soon – no offence intended to Norway, I was just being realistic, I went into a fabric shop to see what I could buy with that sort of money. It was also jersey and a similar weight to the skirt fabric.
I think it looks like some kind of background wallpaper photo on a phone.
I made binding for the neckline from the skirt remains. The stretch in the fabric meant I could cut a less than 45 degree angle, and make sufficient binding with less fabric, and bound the hem with the contrast fabric.
The fabrics were a stretch jersey so I used a narrow zig zag stitch throughout, as I don’t have a serger. This worked surprisingly well.
The pattern instructions don’t tell you that there are no seam allowances included so it is up to you to work out where these are needed (everywhere except neck and hem) and add your chosen allowance accordingly when cutting out.
I only discovered this when reading the comments on the blog about the pattern.
Now a word about scuba fabric, which I have read up about since making this top It behaves very well under the needle and drapes smoothly. It also, apparently does not fray at all and when I made this top I thought it would look very nice without any hem but wasn’t quite brave enough to leave it like that. Information I have also found says that scuba does not breathe at all … UH OH. I will have to see how sweaty this fabric is IRL as a top.
Although I was only supposed to be buying one item in Traid, I was amazed to find this beautifully hand crafted unworn dress.
It was originally priced at £18.99 but was now reduced to £3.
Someone had put hours of work into this dress, it was lined and had these lovely bows on the front and then they had donated it, why would they do that? and all their hard work was being sold for £3. I had to rescue it.
I have no idea what I am going to do with this dress but will try and find something to do it justice.
This project started off as one thing (the bottom of a top) and ended up as something completely different (the top of a bottom)
When making my Refashioners denim dress I made a toile for the bodice.
It seemed a shame not to make a wearable garment out of this bodice so I headed to my stash for a suitable fabric partner and this is what I came up with.
This piece has a bit of a back story. I inherited it in a case of household linens from my great aunt. The fringe at only one end suggests to me that its some form of antimacassar .
I wouldn’t normally go using old pieces of fabric in a refashion, because I know this will speed up its demise, but this woven piece had some damage already.
Consequently I decided to use it with the underside to the front, as its woven it still looks good this way round, just an inverse of the front.
This item has been stuck away in a cupboard since 1993 and before that I don’t ever remember my aunt having this thing in use. I honestly don’t think she would have objected to the refashion.
I removed the fringe, which interestingly, had been added before the hem, cut the piece in half lengthways, and made a tube. The edges had been machine sewn with a long stitch. It was just the right width to attach to my bodice, give or take a couple of darts at the back and a bit of shaping.
This could have been left as a top at this stage but I decided to continue and make a dress because as a top it was a little too short and the stiffness of the antimacassar made it stick out a bit.
I cut some wedge shapes from the legs of 2 pairs of similar brown corduroy trousers I had in my stash.
The length of the wedges was limited by the knee to hem length of the trousers.
This pair was one I had been keeping as a sort of diet ‘target’ pair. They used to be comfortable about 10 years ago.
I laid out the panels under the bodice then stitched all the wedges together to make a skirt piece and pinned it to the top.
Unfortunately it looked OK on the table but when being worn, the antimacassar just didn’t seem to sit in the right place, and also seemed a bit too stiff.
As I had now cut up this old piece of fabric I had a responsibility to it, so the bodice will have to wait for another day and plan B was a skirt.
I unpicked the antimacassar from the bodice and sewed it onto the cord panels, having first adjusted the cord panels to fit the right size to fit the antimacassar.
This looked better but was not long enough for a skirt. I decided to add a yoga type waistband to both increase the length and make the skirt super comfy and also I would not then need to add a zip.
I cut a long tube from a t-shirt donated to me by my daughter, shaping the tube with a waist in the middle so it was designed to be folded over.
I cut this tube a tight fit so it would be stretched and keep the skirt up – that’s the theory anyway. I am always going to be wearing a top to cover the waistband, it isn’t designed to be on show.
Finally, I didn’t want to take any length off the cord panel section for a hem, so made some bias binding from a pillowcase to bind the hem.
Here is the finished skirt.
It has only taken, one antique antimacassar, 2 pairs of trousers, one t-shirt and one pillowcase to make so I hope I get some wear out of it.
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.
I bought this thin and silky polyester top for £4 from traid.
They were having a sale, everything £4, which is cheap for them.
It’s from Marks and Spencer and is a silky polyester fabric with a subtle swirly pattern, reminiscent of something you might see on the top layer of a bridal gown.
From the label, I estimate it to be 1980’s vintage, when they were still making things in the UK.
I bought it with this refashion in mind, I’d been looking for something white, but when I tried it on at home, the fit wasn’t too bad. One of my first thoughts was that this was such a simple design it would be easy to copy in another fabric sourced from my growing stash.
I wore the top for a month or so, but it was a little too long and a little too tight on the bust so it was time for the refashion to happen.
I had some lace just the right size to insert as a side panel, which would make the top a bit wider.
I’d bought the lace in a sandwich box of mixed ribbons, lace and buttons for £1
On closer examination I wondered if it was actually lace, or a piece of broderie Anglaise which someone had already cut around on one side to make lace. I cut around the other side to complete the process and make my ‘lace’.
I opened the side seams of the top, which had been serged. This fabric frayed like hell and its also very slippery, so before attaching the lace I gave each seam edge a small hem.
There was the question of whether to put the lace on top or underneath.
I decided underneath looked neater.
Although the photo only shows pins, I tacked the lace down before sewing, and at places where there were multiple layers, secured the folds with some hand stitching before machine sewing.
I also tried on after the tacking which revealed that at the armhole end, the insert needed to be one flower shorter to improve the fit.
To complete the refashion I cut about an inch off the bottom edge of the top and re-hemmed to make it a bit shorter.
On a recent trip to Norway I found the most fantastic Salvation Army charity shop. As I found this shop with no Kroner left, no room in my case and only 10 minutes before I had to leave, all I could do was take photos.
This was just part of the homeware section, there were 3 floors, the top floor was all bridal wear.
So many lovely Scandi table cloths and doilies, the photos don’t do it justice.