Refashion Inspirations – A Top 5 Guest Post

Another guest post from Sally of Charity Shop Chic to inspire you with your refashion projects for Repurpose Reuse Refashion this month. Just click on the image to check out the full post. Take it away Sally;

Need some ideas? Here are some of my favourite refashioning projects from my own wardrobe to help you get started.

1. This men’s jacket refashion was inspired by a Stella McCartney jumpsuit. Although it was quite an involved tailoring project, I had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot about tailoring in the process.1 collage2. This trench coat was sent to me as a challenge from another blogger. I love a challenge and spent hours transforming it into something Kate Middleton-worthy.2 collage3.  A moth-eaten wool kilt didn’t seem like the most promising material, but I made it work by freezing the fabric and cutting around the holes.3 collage4.  I loved the print on these silk trousers. There was so much material left that I worked it into a simple top for a matching summer outfit.4 collage5.  Another designer-inspired look, this project was a real challenge. Draping and patternmaking combined to create this unusual shirt. 5 collage

Now if that doesn’t get you excited and inspired to get your refashion on I don’t know what will. I’m really enjoying my foray into refashioning this month, it’s really testing my fitting and problem solving skills in particular. I love that it’s making me a better sewist.

Don’t forget entries close September 1st and winners will be chosen from the Repurpose Reuse Refashion flickr group so upload your before and after shots to win a whole bunch of indie patterns people!

Refashion #1 An Exercise in Imperfection

I wanted to start off with something simple and practical for my first refashion. I’ve had this top in my wardrobe for more years than I care to admit. It’s too big but I just love the cowl neck, the colour and come on, who doesn’t love paisley? It’s a little too 70’s for me as is and it’s too big, I don’t know why I’ve held onto it for soooooo long.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Plan-

  • Take the shoulder points in and bind the armholes with self bias binding cut from the sleeves.
  • Add vents to the side seams to make it fall straight instead of blousing around the hem.

Simples.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVents, check. I just unpicked the seams and overlocking stitches and turned the seam allowance under and topstitched. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter I took the sleeveless off I realised I had to take the gathers out of the yoke seam in order to attach the bias binding to the armholes smoothly. So far so good….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce I took the gathers out of the yoke seams and re-cut the armholes they turned out a bit too big (excuse my pit). It means I have to wear a camisole underneath it but that’s ok, I’m totally new at refashioning and I’m learning as I go.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven with it’s armhole imperfections I call it a triumph. It’s not going to languish in the dark corners of my wardrobe any longer, and that’s what Repurpose Reuse Refashion is all about.  I totally love the fabric and will now get actual wear out of it! And, electric blue paisley….. hello?! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADon’t forget to upload your refashion before and after shots onto our Repurpose Reuse Refashion flickr group to be in the running to win some great indie patterns.

Top 5 Refashion Tips – A Guest Post

To help us all get started with Repurpose Reuse Refashion this month I asked our esteemed judge and inspiration for this fab competition Sally from Charity Shop Chic to do a quick guest post sharing with us her top 5 refashioning tips for beginners. Just click on the image to check out the full post. Take it away Sally …

1. Use your imagination. Just because something started out as a dress doesn’t mean it can’t become a jacket, or vice versa.

jumpsuit collage2. If in doubt, go bigger. Look for garments bigger than your size so you have plenty to work with.
grace kelly collage3. Keep your eyes open for garments with unusual or embellished fabrics that you wouldn’t be able to find at the fabric shop. For example, I particularly like working with ‘ethnic’ garments.

african collageembroided collage4. Combining pieces of more than one garment – whether the fabrics are co-ordinating or contrasting – can increase the scope of your projects considerably.

print top collagewhite t collage5. Don’t forget, no-sew projects are possible too. Reaching for the dye (or bleach) is a great way to give new life to a garment and a great way to get creative.

dye collageClockwise from left 1, 2, 3, 4.

Thanks for sharing your ideas and expertise with us Sally. Hope everyone is getting super pumped about their refashions, I’d love to hear your ideas! I’m almost ready to share my first one with you all very soon, eek!!

This August join me for Repurpose Reuse Refashion! (and win some great PDF patterns while you’re at it)!

Inspired by the lovely Sally from Charity Shop Chic and her new pattern company Capital Chic (check out my pattern testing makes here) I wanted to come up with an idea that would celebrate her and her exciting new endeavour. Cue…… Repurpose Reuse Refashion! A month long competition encouraging all you sewists to look deep into your UFO pile, WIP pile, scrap pile, existing wardrobe and/or op shop to give something preloved a new life and save it from the rubbish heap.RRR logoFirst of all huge thanks go out to the equally talented and lovely Carmen Hui for designing this stunning logo. Isn’t it just beautiful?! She’s a wonderful illustrator and also whips up a mean summer dress.

Entries must be either:

  •  A charity shop/op shop/thrift store buy (finished garment, curtains, bed sheet, silk scarf etc) sewn into something new.
  •  Something from you or somebody else’s wardrobe that is headed for the charity shop sewn into something new.  Basically taking something from the dark and dusty back of the wardrobe and returning it to regular rotation e.g.
    • sleeved into sleeveless
    • maxi into mini
    • pants into shorts
    • dress into skirt or top
    • men’s wear into women’s wear etc etc
  •  An unfinished or failed sewing project turned it into something wearable instead of throwing it out.

Participants are asked to upload their before and after images onto this dedicated Repurpose Reuse Refashion flickr group and from there the winning entries will be awarded in early September by Sally herself (the queen of refashioning in my eyes) for the most innovative transformations. Entries close 12 midnight August 31st Sydney time.

Prizes include your choice of PDF patterns from our generous sponsors:sponsors logosCapital Chic, Tessuti Fabrics, Measure Twice Cut Once, Imagine Gnats and Closet Case Files.

Excited much? Forget about it!

All refashions are welcome from the crazy and unrecognisable to the thrifty and practical. My hope is that this will be a great opportunity for us all to inspire each other by sharing upcycling ideas in one space and to celebrate the creative, economical and environment art that is refashioning.

Now, I’m a real newbie to to all this having only started sewing a year and a half ago so I will be learning along with you all. Keep your eye out for refashioning tips and guest posts throughout August… oops I mean Repurpose Reuse Refashion Month (as it shall now be known).

I hope you’re all as excited about this project as I am and you’ve got tonnes of ideas percolating already. I just can’t wait to see all your transformations.

100% Japanese Baby Doll Dress

I am so in love with this gorgeous dress I can’t even stand it! I have so many projects to shoot and post but this one jumped to the top of the queue as soon I finished it last week. There have been a heap of babydoll dresses popping up on pinterest lately that have inspired this make.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen Miss Matatabi announced this past June Nani Iro month I took it as a sign that I should purchase some of the latest collection. I really wanted to make this yellow polka dot Pierre Pocho double gauze into a Japanese pattern, so as soon as I saw this cowl neck drop waist dress from Stylish Dress Book -Clothing for Everyday Wear I knew it was a match.pattern imagesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern recommends using a cotton voile so the cowl neck sits heavy and drapes but I just love the structure the double gauze gives it, it sits up so beautifully.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo visible stitches! I hand sewed all the hems while sitting in the winter sun on my day off, so lovely. The double gauze is perfect because you can catch the stitches to the under layer so they aren’t visible from the outside. I really should hand sew more, it’s really worth the extra effort.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI only used the top section of the pattern and just cut 2 rectangles for the gathered skirt. I had planned for the waist to sit a bit higher (more at my true waist) but I don’t mind how it turned out.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was reading this Sallieoh post where she writes about moving more toward fitted silhouettes since embracing her curves. I feel like I’m moving in the other direction, I always thought loose fitting shapes were not for me and my curves but now I’m into them. I think the trick is that you have to keep the skirt length short, you can’t lose the waist AND the legs, it’s one or the other I reckon. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnybody else loving the new Nani Iro collection?

New Pattern Company- Capital Chic’s Manhattan and White Russian

Introducing the new pattern company Capital Chic from the self taught and talented sewist and refashion blogger Charity Shop Chic. Marketed as day to night corporate/cocktail wear designed for the intermediate to advanced sewist. I’ve been a great admirer of Sally’s blog for ages and I was lucky enough to meet her and all The Spoolettes on my trip to London last year. Best. Trip. Ever!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAManhattan- This is such an interesting pattern, I made the asymmetrical front, high low hemline and exposed zip with grosgrain trim option of this panelled, lined, dart-less skirt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the gentle curve of the hemline, it’s a little “nice girl in the front, party gal in the back” I’m kind of leaning more toward shorter skirt lengths these days.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’d never bordered an exposed zip with grosgrain trim before and I’m in love with it, it looks so slick even if mine turned out a little off centre at the base.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfabric- I got this fabulous gold and black Lisa Ho lame from the remnant bin at The Fabric Store on a shopping trip meet up with the lovely Top Notch and Ernest Flagg a while back. I totally thought of the ever stylish Nicole Needles when I picked it up, oh and Joan Collins. I lined it with a black acetate lining (can you believe this is my first fully lined skirt ?). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhite Russian- Yum! (with soy milk of course). As soon as I saw this pattern I fell in love with it. I’ve been searching for a classic raglan sleeve sweatshirt pattern for ages but just haven’t found what I was after, this is it folks. The pattern is finished with bands at the neckline, hem and cuffs, and has the option for short sleeves with turned up cuffs, and comes with two stencils and instructions for quilting/applique options- Fun!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfabric- I bought a ton of this grey towelling knit on the same shopping trip. It’s perfect and I was really glad of the opportunity to use it. I lined the quilting with a cream brushed cotton because I couldn’t find a grey jersey (damn you Spotlight!).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was my first time quilting and I really had no idea what I was doing, I just made it up as I went along really. Subsequently the wadding I used was a little too thick which means that it has a bit of a boxy look but I totally love it!! Basically I cut a front pattern piece out of vilene and drew the quilting grid (1 square inch boxes with the help of my cutting mat) in tailor’s chalk. Then layered the towelling, wadding, brushed cotton then vilene and sewed sewed sewed. Then I just removed the vilene when I was done. I have a feeling there is a much better way to do this and the quilters among you may be cringing a little but hey, it worked.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are four other great patterns to check out, I’ve already got plans for making the Martini two piece. We are so lucky there is another modern fashion forward independent pattern company out there now. Stay tuned for an exciting project inspired by Sally and her refashioning genius in August, very exciting.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADisclosure- I was asked to pattern test for Capital Chic’s new pattern release and in exchange I received a free beta copy of these two patterns. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

April Rhodes Staple Dress for Perfect Pattern Parcel #3

It’s that time again, the third instalment of the fabulous Perfect Pattern Parcel has been released! This parcel includes;

And don’t forget the bonus brand new pattern Prefontaine Shorts by Made by Moxie that you receive if you nominate a price of $28 or more.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Pattern- I chose April Rhodes Staple Dress for my make. I’ve seen so many of these made up and it looks really good in a gorgeous print. But for me, I knew I definitely wanted to do it in a knit and, in the spirit of using what’s already in my stash I shopped at home. So yes, it’s another black dress I’m afraid (the last post being my black Coco dress) by hey, one can never have too many black dresses.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is such a simple but clever design; scoop neck, shirred waist, pockets and dolman sleeve dress with the option of high-low or straight hem . When I first tried it on I thought the neckline was a little wide but now I totally love it. Another thing I love about this pattern is the pdf doc has a overview of the print-out so if you want to omit something like the pockets and bias binding in my case you don’t have to print the whole thing out and waste paper and ink, love it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAConstruction- I’ve been working more on tweaking existing patterns lately, it builds my skills and also my courage working towards drafting something myself. I so admire sewists like Charity Shop Chic who are really creative with their pattern skills.

  • I lengthened the sleeves to about 3/4 length. Using my french curve I just followed the lines of the pattern (see image below).
  • I also lengthened it 5″ from the straight hemline marking to make it into a midi length which I just love love love.
  • I omitted the shirring at the waistline and instead drafted an internal casing and fed through a thin strip of elastic. I was so proud of this because I totally improvised and so was really worried it wouldn’t work. Yay me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Fabric- I can’t even describe how beautiful this knit is. I picked it up from Textile Traders (buy 2 metres get one free- yes please) on a recent trip to Perth with my man. It’s a poly rayon jersey, the back is nice and fleecey against my skin and makes it feel very fancy for a knit dress.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know it doesn’t look like your usual Staple Dress but I’m glad I personalised it by gambling on these adjustments. I’m so very happy with this make.CcvTtFVPerfect Pattern Parcel is such a great initiative that benefits indie pattern designers, us as sewists and, pretty good don’t cha think?  So get in quick to snag these fabulous patterns and donate to a great cause in one fell swoop because this parcel is only available until 13th June.


Tilly’s Coco Dress in Ponte di Roma

Once I saw this beautiful version by Top Notch I just had to have this pattern. I looooove the funnel neck, vintage inspired but really modern.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made the dress version with the 3/4 sleeves and funnel neck options. I modified the shape a little, once it was sewn up: I tapered the sleeve hems in a little so they sit closer to my arms and I did the same tapering from the waist to the hem taking out 7.5cm at the bottom on each side so it’s a bit more of a shift dress than an A-line. I made size 5 but I could’ve gone down a size and I will for next time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wanted to use ponte di roma for this, it’s got great body and I knew it would make the funnel neck stand up and not collapse. It’s lovely to handle and sew, durable and oh so comfortable. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to come in many inspiring colours that I’ve seen (if anyone knows who has good varieties online let me know). I’m thinking I need one in a Breton stripe now.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing on the construction, I thought I’d be sneaky and cut corners by sewing the sleeve hems flat before sewing the underarm seam. Bad idea:

1. you risk the hem seams not matching up, double that if you’re using a twin needle.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2. the overlocked seam pokes out the from the hem and starts to unravel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo don’t be lazy like me and do it right, it makes all the difference to the finish of the garment. Whenever I see it now on anything RTW I think how lazy and sloppy the manufacturing was, needless to say I will not being doing this again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m starting to love sewing and wearing knits (can’t wait to get Colette’s new book).

Everyone needs a little black winter dress. Amiright?



McCall’s 6044 in Cotton Gingham

After seeing another of Crab and Bee‘s beautiful makes for her man enough was enough. I just couldn’t take the guilt anymore more and had to create something for my lovely man who has been hinting politely that he’d love it if I did for ages. I’m so excited to share his handsome face with you all, we’ve been together for 11 years now and I just love him to bits.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern- I picked up McCall’s 6044 without knowing anything about it. I was relieved after True Bias (see her version here) recommended it from my instagram shot at the fabric store. It has options for two breast pockets with flaps and western style back and front yokes. It has quite long cuffs too just FYI.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe construction- I made it up in size small using one of his RTW shirts as a guide. I shortened the arms a little but that was about it for modifications. It fits really well in the body but the arms are a problem, they’re too long, the armscye is too big and they’re really baggy, there’s just way too much body in them. Not sure how to go about modifying this as they’re a two piece sleeve, if anyone has any suggestions your comments are very welcome.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also cut the front plackets and cuffs on the bias for a little interest, I think it looks so good with this size gingham check.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern has no sleeve placket the seam allowance is just folded under and top stitched, super easy. You can see in the photo below that the arms are a bit baggy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis fabric- is a loose weave 100% cotton, definitely not a shirting fabric.  The loose weave made it a nightmare to flat fell the seams, I wouldn’t really recommend it for a men’s shirt.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASee how long the sleeves are? Annoying. He usually wears them rolled up so he’ll still get some wear out it. Even though the fit isn’t quite right I still think I’m getting really good at collared shirts now which I am oh so pleased about.

In other news, I can’t believe Cotton and Curls has been eliminated in week two of Project Sewn. Scandalous!!


Papercut Patterns Meissa in Liberty Lawn

I won this gorgeous fabric in a giveaway from the lovely new Mum Kathryn’s Busytown I reckon about a year ago now (shame on me for taking this long to make something from it). I’d never had the pleasure of working with Liberty before this and, truth be told I was totally intimidated by it. I really didn’t want to mess it up, in fact I wanted it to be the finest work I’d ever done! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI certainly started out right by picking a pattern I’d made before the Meissa Blouse by Papercut Patterns, see my first version here. The details of the shirt get a bit lost in the print but it’s a great fit and therefore perfect for Liberty I think. I’ve been contemplating a Liberty button up for some time, especially after seeing these beauties: Top Notch‘s Archer, Boo Dogg and Me’s Archer and Little Betty Sews‘ Vogue 1387.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAModifications I chose a size down from my first Meissa and shortened the sleeves a little more, now they’re perfect. I also put in  sleeve plackets, I copied the pattern and instructions from Grainline’s Archer. I also changed the button placement on the centre front to single spaced because the print is definitely the hero of this make. I went with a clear button for the same reason.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI could have used a stiffer interfacing because I had to unpick a few button holes (the worst) because my machine kept sucking the shirt down into the feed dogs. I ended up pinning some vilene to the underside of the buttonholes on the rest of them for stability and problem solved. Don’t you love it when you fix something with your own common sense?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the placket I drafted stole, you really get a good look at all the gorgeous colours in this print, I just loves it.

Overall I didn’t do a bad job, not the finest sewing I’ve ever done as I’d hoped but I think I did Liberty proud. I must say I’ve always looked at Liberty fabrics and thought how beautiful they are but I could never quite see myself wearing them, too girly or something. But after wearing this little lady about town a bit I can see how wrong I was, it’s my favourite thing at the moment. It’s funny how fabrics transform depending on what you sew them into don’t you reckon?

I now own a Liberty shirt. Yay!