#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!

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.


For Designin December. Another pattern hack, how to and a refashion #DESIGNINDECEMBER


This is an great idea from Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it. and I did check with her if it was ok for me to join in as a refashioner! My inspiration for #DESIGNINDECEMBER is a collection of floral’s from Milan Fashion Week. I couldn’t find one particular image to use so my outfit is intended to sit alongside these. Ha ha! can you spot me?? I’ll include all the elements I enjoy in my making of this. A refashioned vest made from a shirt, a £3 pair of trousers, narrowed and shortened and a lightweight jacket made from a pattern hack of the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress.

So I’ve been looking for a pretty floral, 70’s influence and found one in one of my favourite sources for fabric, a sale rail, with palazzo pants for £9. It does have that 70’s curtain fabric look, which I really like, and the fabric feels great!

I had another idea for a pattern hack of the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress! To eliminate the waist seam, but keep the tucks at the waistline. And to remove the gathering at the shoulder seam and the sleeve head. Here’s how to

I started by drawing round the front bodice shape. I wanted to take out the shoulder gathering from the front. I found the bust point by folding out the gathering and cutting open the dart line that would have originally formed the front tuck.
I started by drawing round the front bodice shape. I wanted to take out the shoulder gathering from the front. I found the bust point by folding out the gathering and cutting open the dart line that would have originally formed the front tuck.
redraw round the front.

The next bit

Cut it out and divide it into 4 pieces. Then cut the pieces apart. I always number pieces like this,because they look so similar to each other, to get them back into the correct order
As you fit the pieces onto the waist of the bodices, you can straighten them out. This gives you the side seam shaping and a reduced hem edge.
Draw round the back bodice, the new front is sitting alongside. The reason I cut the skirt pieces is because the original waist is on a curve and I need it to be straighter to line up with the line of the waists of the front and back bodices.

I redrew round the new front and back pieces, pinned them together, pinned the new tucks and fitted it onto the dummy, to check that the changes were sitting correctly. I then changed the neckline to be a band to fit round the front and back neck and hold the button and buttonholes. I also reduced the amount of ease in the sleeve head, to loose the gathering!


The pattern pieces are now ready to fit into the trouser.


I unpicked the inside legs and removed the waistband and pressed before laying out the pattern pieces.


And the finished jacket type blouse!

The trousers, bought for £3, are too long and wide. I chopped off 10cm and marked in 3.5cm each side, from the knee down, where I wanted it to be narrower. I always use the finished length line as a fold for the hem and mirror image from it. There’s nothing worse than a hem not having enough length to stitch round. This method guarantees enough length regardless of how deep the hem is!


Finally, to complete the outfit, a plain black vest top, already blogged about here and worn on very many occasions by me.

Cat’s back! His brother is totally camera shy! Anyway, complete outfit, I don’t usually find inspiration in this way, but I have enjoyed doing this. I’m out to eat with some pals this week and I’m planning on wearing this!




The sewoverit vintage shirt dress again, sleeveless version, made from 2 playsuits

The sewoverit vintage shirt dress again, this time the sleeveless version, and again hacked, but only in length, into a blouse. This pattern is fab, the only reason I changed it at all is because I rarely wear dresses, but as a blouse I’ll wear it a lot!

I like this print. I’m not a fool. I know I’m too old to wear a playsuit with shorts! So in my head list I was looking for a fabric to make the sleeveless version of the shirt dress. I found these for sale at £1 each and couldn’t resist.

I traced off the pattern pieces, following the instructions for the sleeveless version and used a total centre back length of 56cm. I enjoy the challenge of fitting all the pattern pieces into the unpicked garment sections, and I always maintain the correct grainlines.

I thoroughly enjoy sewing this pattern, it’s fast and very easy to follow.

A HOW TO tutorial for creating the flared top with D-rings!

From the shape above to the shape below!

The basic pattern that I used to hack/alter to make this pattern is a very basic shape. If you want to try it for yourself, start with any basic, sleeveless pattern that you have used and that fits you well over the upper area, from the bust/underarm up, front and back. The images below are my original pattern pieces.


In fact the first top was already refashioned from a sale dress, I loved the print, the dress looked awful on me, so it had to be reused. I even went back and bought more! Who doesn’t make more than one from a favourite pattern? Anyway back to the tutorial!

Draw round the original pattern pieces and transfer any information, then put them aside.

Cut out the back and front pattern pieces. My seam allowances are 1cm, the neck and armholes have no seam allowance because they are bound. If its easier, this is the time to remove the seam allowances.

Split the back pattern into 4 pieces. Cut these lines from bottom to top, I usually leave these bits attached by about 2mm, in this instance, at the shoulder. The line positions dictate where the flare will sit. My flared top pattern measures 35cm across the half back at the hem. Measure and mark this to get this amount of flare. For me it meant only 1.5cm to be added between the cuts. The lines I have put in are slightly angled, to follow the line of the pattern piece. Open out the pieces, from 0 at the shoulder edge to the required amount at the bottom edge.

At this point I would be starting on the front pattern piece. This is difficult to show in images, but I always work on the back and front simultaneously, so that what I apply to one, gets applied to the other, if necessary. And so that I don’t forget what I’ve just done??

The shapes produced at this point for the front and back, above and below would be fine to use as they are. But I wanted to give a curve onto the side seam, without having to increase the hem measurement. Therefore I marked the 32cm from the centre front, overlapped 4cm to make sure the front was flat and reshaped the side seam to meet the 32cm point. I marked the side slit 11.5 cm up from the hem edge. I allowed myself the loss at the side seam of front panel because I knew it was full enough and I wanted to encourage the shape into the curve rather than it looking pointy at the sides!!

I measured 35cm from the centre back, along the hem edge and marked it onto the paper. This is how wide I want the half back to be. I laid the front pattern piece on top of the back piece, matching at the armhole, down the side seam to the 35cm mark. I want the curves of the front and back side seams to match.

These are images of the back neck opening and the side slits, although you can finish these in whatever way you prefer. Cut the strips for the binding on the bias 4cm x 50cm x 2 for the armholes and 4cm x 48cm x 1 for the neck edge, or check your own measurements. For the belt strips cut on the straight grain 9cm x 70cm x1, to finish 3.5cm wide and for the strip for the D-rings 10cm x 14cm, to finish 4cm wide. Or cut these narrower or wider to suit your own styling of the belt. For bigger sizes add to both lengths.

The belt position on the top is an odd one. I got the perfect position by trying on the finished top and pinning it at the best spot. I had tried several times to decide where it should sit as a marking on the paper pattern, but it ended up in slightly different positions, depending on the fabric. However I notched and inserted the longer tie into the side seam at 15.5cm and then 19cm down from the armhole. On the other side I stitched a thread loop but it could have been a belt loop, following the same measurements. The front and back can both be cut to the fold, meaning as one piece! My coral top was made from palazzo pants so had to have front and back centre seams because of the lack of width in the trouser!

This top and the measurements I’ve used are based on a size 10. If you have your basic shape, which already fits, I would add 1cm per half front and back, but only to increase the front and back width given measurements of 32cm and 35cm! This would increase each size up by 4cm. Or add as much flare as you want to!!