Friday, September 30, 2011

Indian Summer.....

Something kind of wonderful is happening here in the UK. The beautiful weather we are experiencing (mother nature needs a new watch!) is all the more magical considering we are knocking on October's door. Traditionally a time of pumpkins and pullovers. Us Brits are quick to take advantage of the merest hint of sunshine, so we didn't hesitate to jumpin the car and head over to Southend on Sea for the afternoon. We made sandcastles, threw pebbles in the water, ate fish and chips and watched the sun go is good :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Restyle # 23 - Wide Leg to Tapered Trousers

I apologise if my refashioning posts are somewhat "safe" at the moment. There's no show stoppers here I'm afraid. I'm just on a bit of a roll expanding on my wardrobe basics for Autumn! I currently have neither the funds for a shopping spree, nor the time for several "from scratch" sewing projects. So refashioning is my current weapon of choice...:)
These are some trousers that I thrifted for £1 last year. Nice light to medium weight drapey linen mix and really comfy on the waist and hips. I've already had a decent amount of wear out of these. So despite the fact that they're  so long that they are now suffering from FHS (Frayed Hem Syndrome ;) where they have swept the floor behind me as I've walked, and the original hook and eye closures have given up the ghost, these trousers still had potential. So I came up with this....

The first thing I did was to add button holes and some buttons from my stash to the waistband. I actually prefer these to the original fastenings, so happy days there.
Then I hacked off the hems and put them on inside out to assess the fit and shape without the distraction of all that fabric pooling around my feet.
Then I pinned out a general shape in the mirror and followed the same process as in my previous post.
I LOVE my new trousers and much like my powder blue ones, I can see these being used in heavy rotation in my winter wardrobe. Even better, I think these will transition perfectly into Spring too. The colour is so versatile. It will tone with the more autumnal colours I have in mind for the next few months but work equally well with pastels and other lighter colours come the Spring. Plus the fabric is light enough to be worn layered with tights (oooh, there's a debate. Tights under trousers. Yea or Nay??) for the winter and on their own on warmer days.

The last couple of Self Stitched challenges have really got me analysing my wardrobe, how I choose what to sew or buy, and how I put things together. For the first time in my life I'm actually planning my wardrobe ahead of time. Sheesh! Check me out!
What have you been planning and scheming about? Sewing or otherwise! Fess up!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Restyle # 22 - Straight Leg to Cigarette Pants

More restyling today. I'm on a roll ;) I thrifted these "jeans" for £2. Brand new. Never been worn. The fabric is a lovely soft stretch twill and I loved the powdery blue colour. I didn't however like the shape and length in the lower leg. (Left pic) They were semi bootcut and the kind of length that doesn't reach quite the right point of your shoes. Kind of flapping around my ankles like a flag at half mast!
So I put them on inside out and pinned out a rough idea of the shape I wanted them to be, (middle pic). I then marked out a smoother stitching line using the pins as a guide, and sewed the new seamline, blending it into the existing seam. Oh, and I shortened them by about 3" (Right Pic)
The result was a shape more akin to the tapered cigarette pants that I am absolutely loving at the moment. (The curvy girls version of skinny jeans, lol!) Try as I might I couldn't get a full length shot to show the shaping at the ankle/hem. For some reason the way I stand (or perhaps the camera angle) makes it look as if they're really tight at the ankle. (They're not at all) So here's a side on close up too...
I suspect I'm going to get have already had alot of wear out of these and have a couple more pairs of trousers lined up for the same treatment. These were simple to do because the inseam and outer seams were standard straight seams and easy to blend in with a new stitching line. However, I haven't quite worked out how to do this on jeans as they tend to have flat fell seams (usually on the inseam only) which would be nowhere near as straightforward to blend into a new seam without having to unpick the whole thing and even then....Hmmm! Thinking cap is on....any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tee Refashioning - Some Ideas....

Hello peops! Hope you're having/have had a lovely day today. Today was my first day back at college and I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. It was so nice to be back in a creative/learning environment (rather than holed up in my Portiacabin) and with real live like minded people who understand why you get excited about seams lining up properly! I hadn't realised how starved of company I have been over the Summer until I got into class today, and it was like someone had suddenly flipped a light switch on. (If that makes any sense whatsoever!)

So just a quickie post today. I thought I'd share with you some of the images that I was pondering as inspiration when wondering what to do with the two T Shirts Zoe challenged me to refashion as a part of my recent "The Refashioners" series..
Images are from Anthropologie, Megan Nielsen, Cal Patch, Monsoon, Next, Whole Living,

I think pretty much all of these styles could be replicated as a refashioning  project. Some of them are just simple ways of providing a bit of interest or shape to a plain tee. Some of them would require more in depth reconstruction. See what you think. There's a couple of them I may yet have a go at doing myself....even without friendly coercion!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Restyle # 21 - Shocking Smock to CuteTop

When it comes to refashioning, sometimes, simple is best. I picked up this smock style top for £1.75 from a charity shop in Chelmsford. There was alot I liked about it. The colour, the fabric, the picot lace details and the cute sailor collar. But the bottom tier, in my humble opinion, makes it look a little dated and gives it an unflattering, tent like shape, which just does not work on my figure....
So I just removed the bottom tier so there was a single picot detail along the hem to echo those on the sleeves and upper chest. It was so simple to do. Because of the way it had been applied, I could literally just trim away the second row of picot lace, and the resulting new hem is still perfectly finished. 5 minutes! I think it looks much more balanced as a garment now and most importantly, more flattering and wearable for me :)
All for a mere £1.75 and 5 minutes of my time. Happy days!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Refashioners - Miss P (II)

More experiments in Jersey

So having sorted my photo gremlins (!) here is what I did to the other t shirt that Zoe sent me....

I spent ages trying to think of ideas for this second tee, before I realised it was the colour that was holding me back. Baby pink is not a colour  that features at all in my wardrobe so a quick trip to my local hardware store and a packet of Dylon dye later....

I then removed the sleeves and set them aside, recut and stay stitched the neckline and took in the shoulders for fit (and to dispose of the very visible thread where the dye hadn't taken)

I then cut the shirt straight across under the bust and took it in by about an inch either side so that the top portion was more fitted...

When put back together, this makes the bottom portion approx 2 " larger than the the top....

Which allows it to be attached with gathers or pleats front and back for futher shaping.....I didn't have much to play with as the shirt wasn't massively too big for me to begin with. On a larger shirt you'd be able to create more gathers and flare because you'd have more fabric to play with....

The armholes were now much smaller having been taken in at the shoulders and side seams. So I re-inserted the sleeve creating gathers at the sleeve head. I then re-cut them to create a more cap sleeve effect (which also removed the rest of the un-dyed thread) and finished with a narrow hem...
I used bias from my stash to finish the neckline and to try out an idea I had for recreating the military/nautical trend.....

In the end I plumped for just one little nautical detail although I had originally planned to have 3 of them down the front/top portion of the shirt for the full on military/nautical effect. But this works better for me as it's a little more understated.....Et voila...basic tee to nautical inspired top in a few simple steps.....

Overall this worked out pretty well. If I'd do anything differently, I'd have finished the neckline a few stages earlier, as despite stay stitching the neckline, it stretched a bit out of shape during the all the various "trying on and taking off again". But I didn't really decide until the end of the reconstruction stages how I wanted to finish the neckline or embellish the top. I also think the reconstruction technique I used would work better on a tee that was 2-3 sizes too big (This tee was probably only one size too big) because you'd be able to create more gathers and flare in the bottom portion of the shirt. But all of this considered, I'm still really pleased with this top. Unfortunately the pictures don't fully represent the colour combo. The navy achieved by the dye is a rich French navy and the bias is a kind of golden oatmeal colour. So in real life the colour combo pops really nicely with the shiny gold buttons

I really hope you've enjoyed this week of posts from Karen, Tilly, Casey, Zoe and Dixie and found some inspiration along the way. I know I have, and I can't thank these lovely ladies enough for agreeing to be part ofmy little experiment!! Don't forget to download Dixie's free pdf pattern and hop on over to Zoe's blog where she's hosting a giveaway of that fabulous tartan skirt! (I know!)

Have a fabulous weekend and happy refashioning :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Refashioners - Tilly

The process of refashioning or upcycling can range in complexity – from a simple tweak to the hemline, to a full on transformation of one kind of garment into something totally different. I went for the latter option. I really don’t make life easy for myself. But I’m so happy I did what I did.
Portia sent me a long, cream lace skirt with the teensiest, tiniest waist I’d ever seen. I could just about get one leg in but that was about it. Lace skirts are a bit too boho for my style, so I decided to cut it up and started dreaming about what other kinds of garments it could become. A smock top, baby doll dress, bolero, or blouse maybe… hmm… I’d been swooning over button back lace blouses for a while, so maybe I could try to make one myself…
My next thought was whether I could dye the lace navy blue or black as cream doesn’t look great on me, and is a bit… well… bridal. But the label told me the fabric was 100% polyester so I didn’t fancy the dye’s chances of staying put. If I couldn’t change the colour, however, perhaps I could add a contrast collar in a colour that would suit my skin tone better.
Having just been on my pattern cutting course [], I set myself the task of making up bodice and sleeve blocks to my measurements, from which I drafted patterns for a boxy bodice with bust darts and back waistline darts, elbow-length sleeve and little pointy collar. See what I mean about not making life easy for myself?! I cut corners elsewhere though. For example, the skirt was hemmed with ribbon, which I positioned on the hemline of the pattern pieces when cutting them out so I wouldn’t have to finish them myself. Hurrah!

I used the skirt lining to underline the lace, although I only had enough of it for the bodice, so the sleeves had to remain transparent. A deliberate style feature, if you will (ahem). Lace is easier to sew than I thought, it turns out – all I had to do was use a finer point needle and a shorter machine stitch.
I used black satin as the contrast fabric for the back button stand and collar. 
I was going to self-cover some buttons in the same black satin before I remembered about these darling little 1920s lady buttons in my stash – perfecto!
I must admit I was a bit worried I wouldn’t get all the drafting, cutting and sewing done on Sunday as my refashion was so ambitious. But as the project started coming together, any stress gave way to sheer glee as I got more and more excited to see how it would turn out. Apart from the obvious environmental and ethical benefits, something I really love about upcycling is the fact that you’re making it up as you go along. Adding, tweaking, bodging, adapting… there’s a real sense of freedom in throwing caution to the wind and just going with what you feel will work. And I’m so please with the end result.

I really enjoyed being part of The Refashioners – thank you, Portia!

Oh my gosh, could this be any more gorgeous?! Stunning transformation Tilly. I love the contrast of the cream and black and the lace and the satin. Those buttons are just adorable too.  Thankyou so much for taking part!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Refashioners - Miss P

Experiments in Jersey

Just in case anyone was wondering...I have not been let off the hook this week either! Zoe in her infinite wisdom, decided that since I could not send myself a mystery package, that she herself would send me my very own Refashioners challenge! Included in my mystery package were not one, but two, brand new T Shirts that had been donated to the charity she works for. (Does that lady have the best job in the world or what?!). Now this is totally out of my comfort zone since I had never sewn jersey before my lace Tee Refashion last week.  Nor am I an avid wearer of T Shirts. It's not that I don't like them. They just don't seem to like me and my lumps and bumps curves ;)

So here's the first of the T shirts Zoe sent me....and what I did with it....
I kept it simple for this one. I think it took me little more than an hour.  First and foremost my aim was to cut a more flattering neckline and try out an idea I had for adding some shape around the bust area.

I began by marking either side of the existing neckline, where I wanted the new neckline to start from. Then on the CF I marked how low I wanted it to come...

I used a Curve to draw in the style line for my new neckline...(I'm soooo crap at freehand curves!)

Cut out the new neckline shape....

Stay stitched the neckline curve(!)

Tried it on and marked out the section I wanted to gather with a pin top and bottom...

Formed a few finger pleats/gathers inbetween these two pins. Then sewed three rows of stitching to secure...

Here's the gathering effect before I finished the neckline. (I had to take a tuck out to eliminate that little gaping bit at the CF of the neckline)
I used the original hem of the T shirt to finish the neckline, and left the new hem unfinished. I quite like that deconstructed effect on T shirt hems.

This was a really quick and simple refashion. But I'm pleased with the overall effect and I wanted to share an easy way to adapt a plain and shapeless men's tee to a more feminine silhouette. T shirts like this are frequently to be found on the bargain rails of charity shops, or indeed, the rails of a wardrobe somewhere closer by...I've suddenly found myself scanning J's side of the wardrobe with interest....;)

The next refashion is a little more involved by comparison. I was hoping to get that up on here today but am having some issues with the photos. So I'll share that as soon as I've dealt with the photo gremlins!!
In the meantime, I'm so incredibly excited and inspired by all the guest posts so far, and we have one more, equally fabulous guest post to follow tomorrow. You're going to love this one....;)

The Refashioners - Dixie (Part II)

This shirt design was a sketch I made of a friend's top but never got around to making it. Her shirt was pink with a sheer animal print in the centre front and centre back. In my version I used some pink poly crepe and built my own pattern using a basic block and adjusting it where necessary.

It has gathers at the front shoulder, cuffs on the sleeves and the bottom side pieces wrap around from front to back. I top stitched my seams for a little extra touch.
I didn't have enough fabric for the long piece ont he back of the shirt so I joined three smaller pieces together. I was determined to get the most out of that skirt fabric! I'm even saving the lining from the skirt so I can use it for a lining for something else in the future.
I even made a downloadable PDF version of my shirt pattern - I'm calling it "The Portia Top". You can click here to download it for free. it's in 5 sizes. Be sure to print it without scaling to make sure the proportions are correct.

Thanks so much again to Portia for inviting me to do this awesome project!

Wow! My very own namesake pattern! How cool is THAT! Thanks so much to Dixie for the incredible amount of work she has put into this project. Totally inspiring!
Guess what...we're STILL not done yet! More inspiration to come, so keep watching :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Refashioners - Casey

Hello! Casey from Elegant Musings here. I am so excited to be participating in this series—it was such a fun idea (thank you to Portia for asking me to participate)! When Portia sent me the garment to refashion, I was quite delighted with this challenge. I had been thinking this summer about remaking a “dressmaker” suit (meaning a suit that doesn’t have the traditional tailoring we associate with a suit) into a cute, 40s-inspired number. This original garment proved just the piece to test my ideas on!

I usually begin refashions by loosely sketching an idea and sometimes playing with various ideas on the dressform (straight and safety pins are a great way to test!). I find that this helps me envision the order of construction (or deconstruction!) rather than chopping away at a garment blindly. I wanted to take this suit from ho-hum to something that evoked the look of the 40s. I had a pattern in my stash, as well as some images on my computer, that proved to be the inspiration for this piece. Sometimes refashioning is not so much about creating a new garment, but rather refitting an old one to your aesthetic and size!

To start the transformation and refit the (several sizes too large) suit, removed the sleeves from the jacket and set aside. (Note that in the before pictures I had to clip the suit in the back because it was too baggy for my dressform.) I unpicked the collar from the neckline, and removed the shoulder pads and opened the neckline facing away from the jacket. Trying on the jacket inside-out, I pinched away the excess fabric at either side seam and the shoulders (which brought the darts up to approximately the correct level) and pinned. It took a few tries to get the fit just right, but once I had I sewed the new seams and finished with serging. I also took this opportunity to redo the hem of the jacket and add a nicer (thrifted hem tape!) finish.

Next up was the fiddly part of redoing the neckline. I pinned an approximate outline while wearing the jacket, and then marked the outline in chalk. I added a 3/8” seam allowance, blending it into the back neckline. The neckline was trimmed to this line, as was the neckline facing. I sewed the facing and the neckline pieces right sides together for a smooth (and easy!) finish.

Adding the sleeves back to the jacket was perhaps the easiest step of this refashion! I measured the new armholes, and found a pattern with a sleeve cap measure of approximately the same. (In this case my trusty Swing Dress pattern). Using the original hem on the sleeves, I cut out new ones and sewed those in.

Finally, the jacket needed a few new details to add a bit more of a vintage flair. I dug through my button stash and found these two, beautiful vintage glass buttons to add to the front. They were slightly too large for the original buttonholes, so I slip stitched those shut, attached the buttons overtop and added snaps underneath. For the neckline, I wanted to add a bow, and used the piece that was originally the jacket collar to fashion this. This was permanently tacked to the overlap side of the jacket, and then secures on the underlap neckline with a snap.

To redo the skirt, I just drew a new a-line skirt pattern directly on the wrong side of the skirt. This was really winging it, but I wanted to keep the original hem intact, so using a pattern would have been a bit tricky (since the hems on even modest a-line have a definite shape). But, it would have been easy to just pick apart the entire skirt and use a simple a-line pattern. Redoing the skirt involved have to take out the old zipper, reinsert it, and add a waistband. I used some leftover pieces of the skirt fabric and Petersham ribbon for this to face the waistband.

This was probably one of the more extensive refashions I’ve done in a long, long time! It was quite worth it and I enjoyed the challenge of giving a rather ho-hum garment my own spin. I think if there was one additional adjustment I wish I had made, it would have to be overdying the fabric. I thought about it, but decided not to even try because of the high polyester content in the material—I didn’t want a splotchy dye job!

A big thank you again to Portia for asking me to be a part of The Refashioners!!! This project turned out to not only be a challenge in refitting, but also opened my eyes to some new possibilities when it comes to refashioning. Off to raid my stash of thrift store find that need altering to see what new life I can breathe into them…

Crikey, this looks so authentic!  Absolutely gorgeous. Who would ever know this started life as a frumpy 2 piece?! Thankyou so much Casey. You've inspred me to tackle a vintage suit jacket that's been taunting me!
STILL more to come people so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Refashioners - Karen

The Refashion Rookie 
When Miss P approached me to be one of her Refashioners, I was openly terrified. I’ve never tackled a refashion, mainly because I don’t – or didn’t – have much confidence in my ability to revision an item or do anything other than follow a set of pattern instructions. I also don’t feel that I have the charity shop antennae that allows a person to zone in on the hidden diamond crushed between rails of polyester. But Miss P is a charity shop expert. 

She assured me that I was up to the challenge and that only natural fabrics would be sent my way. Soon, the postman was handing over a beautifully wrapped orange parcel. I tore it open to discover a voluminous gingham dress, circa 1980s I’m guessing. There was enough fabric there to open my mind to lots of opportunities. And who doesn’t like gingham? Miss P had done me proud.
So, what did I do? At first, nothing. I let the dress sit around, waiting for inspiration to strike. Then I woke up one Sunday morning and – bang! – the picture of an outfit and accessory was in my head. All I had to do was make it happen.

Mine wasn’t a sophisticated approach. The rotary cutter was my best friend during this exercise. I felt like Freddy Kreuger! First, I sliced the skirt section from the bodice and ripped out a load of pleats. (There was a lot of excess fabric in this dress! I’m not sure today’s retailers would tolerate such wastage.) I hacked a wedge off the bottom of the skirt – that would become my waistband. I wanted to make a feature of the row of buttons that ran down the front of the dress – why waste button holes that someone else has already made for you? I added the large button on the waistband, and love that it’s a pearl button to match all the others except in size. I bought some red piping from MacCullough and Wallis and already had some lace trim hanging around that I bought off Walthamstow market. One weekend of sewing, et voila! I had a new gathered skirt to wear with my cotton petticoat. A skirt that I can cycle in – double result!

There was still quite a lot of fabric left in the bodice, along with some neat embroidered white flowers on the gingham. Unfortunately, the embroidered flowers sat over sewn down pleats that would need unpicking if I tried to rescue the fabric – and the flowers would be ruined. So I decided to just hack away – this time with a pair of scissors. I used some spray starch and a brooch template from a recent issue of Mollie Makes. I love the spray starch – does exactly what it says on the tin!

 This brooch was a lot of fun to make. I adore the hidden details on the rear. The ‘felt’ is actually a scrap of my Paris red cashmere. (Well, if it’s just lying around...) The clay button was bought in Cornwall, so memories are threaded into this outfit – a detail I always love.

 What are my conclusions? I’ve worn the skirt to death since it was made, so it’s definitely a success. I was surprised at my ability to envisage a new outfit, once my brain had relaxed into the exercise. I do worry that I didn’t make the most of this dress’s potential and would love to hear from readers and Miss P about what they might have made from it. But most importantly, I got past Fear Factor Ten and embraced refashioning. It’s a great way of producing new outfits and can free up the creative imagination more than following a set of instructions. But most of all, I think this make is a credit to the very clever Miss P who knew just the right thing to send me and reassured her little apprentice every step of the way.

I hope I did you proud, Miss P!

Indeed you have Karen! Thankyou sooo much. Great refashion. LOVE the red piping accents. I'll bet you're the best dressed cyclist in your neck of the woods!
See.....I told you you'd be brilliant ;) 
Still MORE fantastic refashioning inspiration to follow...stay tuned :)