Refashioning is something that I haven’t really given much thought to before, I’m slightly ashamed to admit. This Summer whilst attending The Sewing Weekender I was so chuffed to hear Portia Lawrie speaking. Firstly because she had just won The Dressmaker of the Year title with an incredible jacket made from old jeans and I was over the moon to actually get to see the jacket, and secondly because refashioning/upcycling/transforming something was something I wanted to know more about. Safe to say I was ‘suitably’ (do you see what i did there) impressed and knew that this year I wanted to give #therefashioners2017 a go.
Before I begin, you might like to take a little look over at Portia’s website where you can get all the details of this year’s challenge in full, but in a nutshell the challenge is to take an old suit or jacket – an unloved item that is not wanted anymore – and transform it into another wearable item of clothing!
First things first – to find the perfect suit or jacket. I knew I wanted something with some pattern or design, like a check or a dogtooth, and preferably in a very very large size so that I would have more fabric to ‘play with’. After several disappointing views at suits on eBay, I finally found my perfect jacket in the local LOROS charity shop. It was a jacket only (no trousers) and was the bargain price of £6.95
Best of all it was a whopping size 58″ chest so I figured that it didn’t matter that there weren’t trousers too as I should have enough to make a dress with the fabric on a jacket this size alone. Fingers crossed.
The dress that I wanted to make was New Look 6509, a pinafore style dress. I have had it for a while because I loved the look of view A. Fear not folks I am not tempted with any of the other ‘cut out’ views at my age…
In order to see how much fabric there was available, it was time to grab the seam ripper and dis-assemble the jacket. This was quite a lengthy process, and it was quite interesting to see the work and construction that goes into a suit jacket.
I traced out the pattern pieces that I needed and then it was just a case of jiggling them around until I managed to somehow cut out all the pieces that I needed. It was my intention to share with you lots of pics of this stage of the make, but as always I get carried away with wanting to sew and only got this one shot of one of the sleeves being used for a skirt panel.
Once constructed – this is the skirt panel that was made from the sleeve piece.
The dress came together nicely, as always with a New Look pattern the instructions are thorough and have clear line drawings to help you. The alterations to the pattern that I made were that I wanted to use an exposed metal zip rather than the recommended invisible so that I could continue with the recycle/upcycle theme. I recently came upon a huge bag of old zips in a charity shop for £1 and so used one of those for this project as I felt it was very appropriate.
Another change that I made was to the length of the straps. When it came to button placement (of course using the original suit buttons), I realised that the straps were too long, so removed the basting stitches, chopped off approx 2″, and re-basted into place before stitching.
Finally, I felt like I wanted to add a pocket on the front bib of the dress. So I simply used my trusty pocket pattern piece from my Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress and cut a pocket on the cross grain, lined it up and popped it on. I love how it looks with the pocket.
With a limited amount of fabric, and a checked design, pattern matching was always going to be challenging. I managed it for some of the seams and not for others. Hey ho! I can live with it. The seams and darts line up nicely and it fits like a glove.
The bodice of the dress is lined, and of course I used the lining that was originally the jacket lining. There was plenty of this and so cutting this out from the pattern pieces was no problem at all.
This has been such a fun project, and I have enjoyed it way more that I expected to. For more inspiration from this sewing challenge do head on over to Instagram and search the hashtags #therefeshioners2017 and #suitsyou for lots of images. Be sure to follow Portia on Instagram for all the updates on the challenge, and if you haven’t entered this time you might want to consider a trip to the charity shop for your next fabric purchase. Instead of looking at the clothes as garments, imagine them as pieces of fabric that could be used for your next project. The bigger the size the better.
Thank you to Portia for the insane amount of work that must have gone into organising this challenge. It’s been great!
I’ll be back soon,