#refashioners2016 #jeanius

Finally, finished! I wasn’t going to take part in this challenge, mainly because, for me, jeans are jeans, and I tend to prefer blue denim on my legs. However once a thought is planted, sometimes it’s just a case of letting it develop by itself, consciously or not?

I was loving the floral embroidery appearing in the shops, and when I spotted this Zara window display in Princes Street in Edinburgh, I thought Wow!! The idea was forming! Much as I love the many colours used in these embroideries, I chose to simplify and use only cream on black. I eventually managed to find 2 pairs of almost colour matching black jeans, and I have a favourite vintage pattern that I’m continually trying out in different fabrics.

To make the panel pieces fit into the jeans I redrafted the front and back of the pattern and moved the bust dart to mid armhole and made it into a curved seam. I used this feature on the back also. Now I’m no embroiderer so I cut the florals from 2 tops, the black one was £3 in a sale and the other had been discarded by my daughter. I ironed bondaweb onto the back of the pieces, making it much easier to cut out with tiny sharp scissors.

I unpicked the back pockets, and reused them on the jacket. The sleeves would only fit onto the jeans pieces if I used the side seams running down the grainline of the sleeve. I topstitched all of the seams, to keep the look casual.

So now I’m thinking this is not only easy, but fun…until I started to lay out the pieces?? The trim I used on the upper collar is the trim from the neckline of the discarded top! The first image is the first attempt…don’t like it. The second image, still not sure, but now I realised that I didn’t like the collar shape, so I changed it.

This meant the under collar was made in 3 pieces, but no one will see this anyway. Third image, I like the new collar shape, but don’t like how the black rever disappears into the black jacket. Luckily bondaweb pulls of fairly easily!

Looking back at image one, I really like the florals placed around the pockets, but I decided to use the contrasting floral to define the shape of the rever instead! To finish, I zigzagged round the edge of the fake embroidery, simply because I don’t know how well the iron on bondaweb works?

To highlight the tiny pieces of black floral, I used cream thread with the eyelet and leaf shape programmes on my bernina (a tiny little real bit of embroidery!) I used recently found vintage buttons, non matching, but all of a similar size. How do you decide which looks the best? For me it’s simply, which one will I enjoy wearing?

A quick catch up

I’ve been working full time now since mid May, Aaaah! What am I doing! I left this job 20 years ago to have my first child and it feels like I’m going back to finish the job I started! I’m going to feel like the new girl for at least a year! I did teach pattern cutting part time here for 12 years, but even that seems like ages ago! So since some of you asked, here’s a glimpse of the workroom of the fashion technician.

Amongst these industrial sewing machines, one will be my favourite, I just haven’t found it yet?

One of the greatest irons, steam, with vacuum dress and sleeve boards. Nothing slips away from these babies! The sewing machine is specifically for sewing leather and suede, I need to spend time on these to familiarise myself with how they work! (Maybe I’ll make a bag).

Anyway, meantime, I’m still sewing at home, and I am thoroughly enjoying instagram, for the first time, I joined in with MeMadeMay2016 and I am currently enjoying the prompt challenges for The Vintage Pledge.

To catch up with myself, here are a few recent makes, this one’s a very simple refashion.

One top, from the wardrobe, and one thrift shop skirt, both heavy jersey, combined to make a cardi, because I find cardi’s so much more comfortable to wear. I literally cut up the middle of the top, and slightly shaped the front neck to meet the back neck, and cut strips of black from the skirt. Folded them over and stitched on, bagged out the bottom edges and overlocked. Already worn with a rust coloured top.

It is supposed to be summer here, so I am mostly obsessing about little tops. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just make one, wear it and enjoy it, but as usual, I make one and then decide on another version, either to change or modify bits or to use another fabric?? It can pretty much be any reason! Most of these tops are made up from vintage patterns that I picked up at various events in Edinburgh.

A piece of vintage fabric, vintage buttons, just because I’ve had them for 25 years, and an old pattern. The interesting thing about this was the wide pocket band, which looks like it’s pretending to be a welt pocket, but was much simpler to sew. It is inserted into the dart, stitched into place and then the dart stops and changes to a tuck, lovely technique. The whole jacket didn’t show of it’s shape until the belt was added and it pulled in the waist and pushed out the pockets. I love the silhouette this made.

I very very rarely buy these patterns, but this one looked so pretty, and I do love a good illustration. Another bit of old fabric, old buttons and a pattern that had odd shoulders! I had decided to make this one according to the instructions, so I joined the shoulder seams and double turned the armhole hems…mmmm! What’s that little irritating upwards peak doing there. I could feel it stretch oddly as I sewed it but it is a bought pattern? Unpicked and tryed a bias binding, pulling it slightly more at this point. Naaaa! Looked the same? So I changed the pattern and evened out the shoulder line, adding to the front and taking off the back. Now it works, but I knew I’d have to test it sometime.

For a long time now I have meant to make up the 30’s top featured in series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee. This top is available to download and I found this out on the pennylibrarian blog, where I was admiring the top and then realised it was the pattern I had been looking for! I made this in a washed silk, shorted the nape to waist to fit me, and I really like it. The pattern uses 5 rows of shirring elastic at the neck, I just used normal thread, pulled it to gather and top stitched to hold it in place. It also has a very cute sleeve detail, which I may feature later, or have a look yourself!

Now this pink refashion is the combination of yellow top and grey top. Starting with sale palazzo pants, I used the yellow top to the waist, making the darts into waist tucks and checking the shoulder seams alteration. The lower half is from the grey top, because this peplum part sits so nicely, and it is flared rather than circle based which is how the yellow top peplum is constructed. I need to try the yellow top circle peplum reduced in circumference, too much fabric in this can simply exaggerate your hips!! Not good!

Dress refashion to jacket and creating a flared cuff

Another find, on a sale rail, such a pretty little print, I couldn’t pass it by, and at £3.60, I went back and bought another one. The first one I decided to refashion into a jacket, because it was in my size and I like to refashion garments as well as harvest the fabric from them. Still undecided about the second one??

There were lots of features on this dress that I could keep. The narrow back waist tie, the sleeves and the entire body shape. For the length I simply shortened it. I found the centre front line and cut it. Because I liked the shape of the sleeve that came with the dress that I refashioned for Elena at Sewitwithlove.com, I decided to recreate it for this jacket.

I based the flares for the sleeve on a half circle shape. Measure the sleeve hem edge and apply the formula where Pye = 3.14. My sleeve measurement was 25 cm, and I wanted to find the radius, so that I could form the half circle shape from a central point and measure out. 25cm divided by 3.14 = 7.96cm.

I cut the pair from the cut off hem pieces. If I was making a skirt piece from a circle or half circle, I would leave it to hang for a few days, as it would inevitably drop at the bias areas. But for these little sleeve ends, I hemmed them before attaching.

The sleeve ends, before and after.

I used the back panels of the second dress to form the two button stands. And found a new home for some of my newly acquired vintage buttons.

I added patch pockets, I always like having pockets of some sort on jackets. And used my template method of getting a good, neat, curved shape on the edges.


One vintage pattern can look so different!


I don’t have many bought patterns, vintage or otherwise, because I prefer to draft my own. I’ve used this vintage pattern several times now, simply because the shape fits me really well, and as every maker knows, the fab thing about a tried and tested pattern is that the variations of it are limitless! These images show some simple changes to one pattern. The pink blouse uses the pattern as is, and I added double buttons as a feature. The zig zag gives it a 70’s look. The cotton presses beautifully to form box pleats from darts that I added to the front pattern pieces. The lace collar adds a nostalgic charm, and this one is sleeveless.

This pink blouse is refashioned from the dress and featured here, if you haven’t already seen this post? I have not had to alter this pattern in any way and better still I can use it as a basic shape to use and explore in many other ways. The most obvious way to change the look of one simple paper pattern is to use different fabric types.

Version 2, refashioned from a kimono, giving it a bit of a 70’s vibe! With this fabric, I added 2 back darts and narrowed the sleeve and added cuffs. How to narrow the sleeve pattern is featured here.

Version 3. When I decided to make the pattern in this Moda fabric, 100% cotton, I knew it would be a fairly structured shape. Anticipating this, I lengthened the front and back pattern pieces, and used the already redrafted version of the slimmer sleeve, adding turn up cuffs. The body, when made up created a boxier shape than the previous fabrics I had used, which were much drapier, and because of this I decided to sew tucks into the fronts and backs, to create some extra shaping. I had already marked the position of the back darts for version 2.

I made the collar slightly shorter, to give more of a collar and rever shape.

I had blue vintage buttons and decided on a vintage look belt.

Version 4 is a refashion from a maxi skirt, it is sleeveless, only because I hadn’t enough fabric.

I used the back dart shaping, added side slits and multiple buttons. You can find this top’s story here!

And I’m not finished with this pattern yet!

Miss Lemon inspired blouse using another type of binding.

I said to someone once that it would take me a couple of years to decide what I wanted to do, and, after an odd series of events, I am once again back working at Edinburgh College of Art! I know that the work there suits me perfectly! Regardless of this change, here is a recent refashion influenced by Miss Lemon, personal secretary to Agatha Christie’s private detective, Hercule Poirot.

I do love a vintage inspired blouse, and this one is worn by Miss Lemon, on the TV series, Poirot. I have been collecting images of blouses worn by Miss Lemon on pinterest. I love them and think they are very much worth an interpretation!

As is often the case I’m starting with a garment to refashion, this time, a maxi skirt. The maxi skirt is actually quite disappointing in the amount of fabric it uses, so this one is going to have to be sleeveless.

The main feature I wanted to include is a lacy collar taken from a polyester chiffon top I have had for ages and don’t wear any more because it annoys me that I have to wear a vest top under it. So a contrasting collar and multiples of buttons will be the feature pieces of this top. Sometimes I really enjoy unpicking garments, actually that’s wrong. I enjoy unpicking garments when I’m using them for a refashion and particularly when it means I discover a new sewing method or technique. This one was a different way of using binding to attach the collar.This method used a strip of self fabric bias binding which was pressed in half lengthways.

I cut out and made up the top. I used a usual 3cm wide button stand with the centre front sitting in the centre at 1.5cm. I sewed in a step in line with the 1.5cm, bagged out and pressed, snipped and released the 1cm neck seam allowance. The binding was cut on the bias 2.5cm wide, and pressed in half lengthways.

The collar is stitched onto the neck edge.

The folded, pressed binding is sewn on top, sandwiching the collar between the binding and the neck edge.

Press this, fold downward and stitch in place covering all the raw neck edges. The only tricky bit on this method, is folding in the raw edges of the binding, at each end. Above is how it looks on the inside.

And how it looks on the outside of the garment.

Once again I used my 60’s vintage pattern, bit boring? Or simply since it’s a tried and tested shape it’s a good one to use again….and again? In fact knowing that a pattern fits you really well leaves you free to decide on the changes and details. I had to piece together 3 panels to get enough fabric to cut out the back, and added darts for a bit of shaping. Then finished the hem with side slits.

It is a very pretty Miss Lemon collar! Now I know I have another lacy collar, somewhere!


1 top x 2 refashions and a maybe.


This refashion, is a refashion of a refashion. Starting it’s life as a top, which I wore a lot, when I got bored of it, it then became a top with a neck detail.

Initially, I shortened the top, made side slits at the hem, and used the off cut for the neck tie. The full story of this remake can be found here. It almost became fur edged, but instead, now, months later, became a button up.

I can usually tell if I really like a refashion or not, simply by the amount of times I wear it! However it bugged me that the tie neck didn’t really show up in that busy fabric. I unpicked the neck tie and pressed it flat. Unfortunately the strip wasn’t long enough to make a button stand, so I split it in half lengthways and made it 3.5cm wide.

I always have bits of things stashed away and I decided to face the button stand with strips cut from an old black t-shirt. Because the fabric was a knitted fabric, it meant that the button stand strip, which was straight, followed the newly cut v-neck edge to form the cardigan neck shaping. I stitched it on, boxed out the corners at the hem, overlocked the seam and topstitched.

I don’t think I can make this into anything else, I do like it as it is now…but never say never!!


Shirt refashioned to bomber jacket.

Fashion revolution week is 18th – 24th April. @Fash_Rev  #FashRev

Sometimes a refashion is simply a refashion, like this one. This is one from my wardrobe. I bought the shirt a couple of years ago and have rarely worn it. Bomber jackets are very on trend at the moment and can be seen in all the High Street stores. I love them, as long as they’re not too puffy! This is a very simple refashion and you could create from any loose fitting blouse or shirt.

I used a ribbed vest for rib fabric for the neck, cuffs and hem and, I’d love to say I found a thrifted, perfect length open ended metal zip in my stash, but I didn’t!

I removed the collar and rever and the cuffs, and put them aside, hopefully to use at another time.

I cut 25cm from the shirt length, this gave me enough fabric to cut 2 facings, 2 strips for pocket welts and the pocket bags. I added the welt pockets first, I like a pocket on a jacket. I removed the buttons and set them aside. The centre fronts sit in the line of the buttons and the buttonholes, and I cut these strips off. I will need a 1cm seam allowance to attach the zip. To compensate for this 1cm loss (each side) I sewed in the zip with the teeth and band showing as a feature.

I decided to keep a double length, 7cm wide finished, grown on band to sit flat as a band either side of the centre front. I folded this back on itself, sandwiched the zip in between, left a 1cm seam allowance to attach it to the bottom facing edge.

The collar shape is taken from the neck edge measurement and I didn’t want any tightness here, so the curved outside edge measurement matches the neck edge measurement, from point round the curve to the opposite point. And cut on the fold. Again stitched to itself, then sewn on.

I must admit I trimmed the point flatter when attaching, and started and ended the ribbed collar at the zip edge.

With the grown on waistband ready, and the neck rib attached, I then attached the facing, down the centre fronts, to the neck edge and finally attached it to the waistbands at either side of the zip. 

Every piece of rib I use seems to have a different stretch. I wanted this ribbed band to be loose, and not pull the jacket shape in too much. So I measured the remaining bottom edge of the top and only reduced the rib length by 5cm. I sewed the rib to itself, on the fold first, so that it doesn’t move or slide out of place when attached to the bottom edge of the top. Stitch and overlock.

I love top stitching, not only do I like how it looks, but it is functional in that it holds pieces in place.

On this jacket the top stitching holds the overlocked neck edge neatly and prevents the front facing from getting stuck in the zipper. To finish off, I added ribbed cuffs to the sleeve edges.


Refashioning a vintage blouse, with a bit of guilt!


This is a story, where I did feel a bit guilty, but I also managed to save a lovely piece of vintage fabric, so I’m sticking to that as my justification. This vintage blouse was lovely as it was. It was bought by my daughter at one of the vintage fairs in Edinburgh. What we hadn’t noticed was the holes in the underarms, not just at the seams, but around the whole area. Not so nice! And a hazard of this type of shopping!

Fortunately the blouse was in a larger size than both of us, so it still had potential. I had tried reinserting the sleeves, minus the worn fabric areas, but the entire top was still too big and, for me, and it was shorter than I would normally wear. If I still wore high waisted trousers or skirts, and I mean when the waistbands that were cut on the straight grain and sat above the natural waistline, I would have kept this top in this styling for myself, because I think it is lovely, but since waistlines are lower, it would never have been worn!

The sleeves, and therefore the armholes, were so deep that I wasn’t sure if there would be enough fabric to reshape the sides, but luckily the front and back body pieces were wide enough for me to be able to move the side seams over and make the armholes the correct size.

I unpicked the waistband and buckle. I remade these into a self fabric matching belt and reused the buttons.

I used the sleeves to cut out bias binding strips for my new sleeveless armholes and cut out flared pieces to attach to the hem edge of the top, making it into a far better length for me. I had hacked the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress pattern into a top a while back, so I used the skirt pattern pieces minus the tucks, and further shortened it to 12cm.

Should I feel guilt free? Guilt gone! Originally it was a beautiful style of top, in such a pretty print, but with so much damage and being far too big, I’m glad I took the time to make it into something that can be worn again.


Using my vintage pattern for a bit of 70’s and how to narrow a sleeve.


When I made up the pink printed blouse, from this vintage pattern, I had it on my stand waiting for a bright enough day to photograph it. Looking at it I kept thinking how much the collar looked like a 70’s collar shape, reminding me of how we placed these wide collars over the lapel of a school blazer with a loose giant knotted school tie! With this thought firmly planted in my head, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would make it again, in a 70’s appropriate fabric?  Ta Dah!

It seems logical to me that a paper pattern produced in the 60’s would feature elements that would still be fashionable into the 70’s? Yes!

This kimono cost £6. The only pattern pieces that were too wide to fit into the available fabric were the sleeves. So here is a quick tutorial on how to make your sleeve pattern narrower.

Redraw round the original sleeve pattern piece.

Divide the sleeve equally, I chose 6 sections because the original sleeve shape was very full.

Overlap the sections to fit the required amount. I followed the measurement that was the same as the given cuff. Look at how the sleeve head shape changes, as you overlap the sections!?

Redraw round the new shape. Keeping the original grain line.

Of course the pattern on this fabric had to be matched, across the fronts, from the bottom edge up, because it has bust darts, side seams and back. This meant extra care when cutting out from my limited amount of fabric.

The only other thing that I changed on this pattern was the back. I gave it two back darts to give it more shaping.


Miss Marple, the muse, a refashion and reusing a collar shape

My favourite of all the Miss Marples is the one played by Geraldine Mckeown. I love the costume work of whoever designed the garments for this series. If I was younger I would dress like this all the time, but now I’m too old for doing that, when I say this I mainly mean the hats! But that doesn’t mean I can’t poach little bits and pieces for ideas for the things I make!

Found!! One giant, masses of fabric in it, waterfall cardigan. This one is perfect to refashion into a Miss Marple coatigan?

Once I find a shape I like I see no reason not to reuse it.

I used the collar shape that I had copied from my 50’s jacket. It was simple to make it a bit deeper by adding on 2 – 3 cms onto the outer edge only. I transferred the neck shape and the front rever shape too.

Scan_090316However, turns out, I don’t suit this coatigan at all, it looks better on the dummy than it looks on me. Time to rethink it? I decided simply to shorten it, unpicked and moved up the pockets and cut 15cm off the hem, leaving a new hem of 4cm. I also changed the buttons to a bigger size. The sleeves had been slightly too short so I added a narrow cuff.

It has kept a granny look though, maybe because the fabric looks like big plain knitting stitches, I don’t know, but at this new length it has become one of my new favourites!