I love a good refashion.  I love the idea of taking something unloved and turning it into something wearable again.  So when I heard about the Big Stitch campaign from the British Heart Foundation, I hopped straight on the makers’ train!

The Big Stitch is an awareness campaign, encouraging crafters to create unique additions to their wardrobes using items purchased in British Heart Foundation Shops.  A bit of fun for a great cause.  Here’s what I came up with.

I’ve said it before, but for me, refashioning isn’t about creating jaw-dropping pieces – it’s about making something you will wear.  What is the point in spending all that time and effort making something if you don’t intend to wear it?  So, after much deliberation, I decided to make myself a neutral top.  It’s the most grown up thing I’ve made in a long while.

The fabric
My starting point was two men’s shirts – one being 100% cotton and the other a cotton linen blend.  They both had a similar texture and drape though, which is what I was after.  I used the black check shirt for the bodice and the plain black for the collar and facings.

The pattern
I used my very first Seamwork pattern.  I have been a subscriber to Seamwork for ages, but rather shamefully, haven’t made anything until this.  It’s the Addison top.  It was a very easy pattern to follow, but I still got to try out a couple of new techniques.

  1. I have never sewn a v-neck before.  Now, if I’m being totally honest, I found this part to be really fiddly and difficult.  However, I confess to not having done any research into the ins and outs of v-necks before sewing – I just jumped in.  Next time, I will most definitely look into it in more detail because I must have been doing something wrong.  It’s still a bit funky and I’m not 100% happy with it, but it’s hidden by the bow so I’m not getting too bent out of shape about it.
  2. The way the facings and side seams come together is really interesting and completely new to me.  It’s hard to explain how it’s done, but I’m wondering whether it’s the ‘burrito’ method I’ve heard about?  Whatever it was, it worked!

I did the pussy bow hack provided by Seamwork as an members’ extra.  I thought it would make the most of a contrast collar and waste less fabric.  Although the pattern doesn’t have a button band, my shirt did, so I kept it for a bit more interest.  It is sewn closed at the top so it is a purely decorative feature.  I switched out the boring shirt buttons for prettier ones from my stash (which were rescued from a holey cardigan).  I also reused the hems on the shirt as a time saver, so the shape of my Addison is slightly different to that of the pattern.

I love this top, and I really like the fit.  However, if I had traced and cut my pattern according to the body measurements, as suggested, it would have been huge.  I ended up going two sizes down, after looking at the finished garment measurements and realising that there is rather a lot of ease involved.  I would definitely advise a look at the finished garment measurements before you trace or cut – decide how much ease you’d like and go with your gut.

The cost
The shirts were £7.50 (for both) and the pattern set me back one of my Seamwork credits, which we’ll call £3.  I already had everything else I needed.  That’s a grand total of £10.50.

Silk Cami hack

One of the many great things about sewing is that when your friends are having a clear out they often ask whether you want anything for refashioning purposes before heading to the charity shop.  That’s how this dress came to be.  A friend of mine gave me some clothes to look through and I came across an Aztec print maxi dress.  I’m too short for maxi dresses, as a general rule, but the gathered skirt had masses of fabric and I liked the print, so I knew I’d be able to make something out of it 🙂  It took a while to decide what I wanted to make – the fabric has quite a lot of drape so I knew it couldn’t be anything too structured.  Then, as I was packing for my holiday a few weeks ago I had that ‘Eureka!’ moment.  I wanted a simple shift/cami style dress to take away with me.

What do you think?  Pretty good, no?  It was nice and light for my holiday, but because it has black in the print I can wear it with black tights for work.  I’ve decided it’s still a tad too long though, so I’m going to take it up before I wear it again.  Serves me right for trying to be lazy and reusing the hem the first time around.

The pattern: a hack of the Sew Over It Silk Cami.  I love this pattern – there’s a front, a back and the facing, and that’s it.  It’s so easy and comes together really quickly.  Plus, I got to use the all in one armhole and neckline facing trick from the Sew Over It YouTube channel, which is possibly my favourite technique I’ve learned so far.

Modifications: just lengthening the pattern.  I didn’t even need to change the shape because the top is designed to be loose fitting at the hip anyway – I just continued in pretty much a straight line until it was the length I wanted.  Oh, and because I reused the hem it’s just straight at the bottom, whereas the original pattern has a curved hem.

The cost: I donated £10 to Mind, which was the charity my friend was choosing to give her clothes to.  I got three items though, so let’s say this cost me £3.33.  Can’t argue with that 🙂

It’s got me nicely in the mood for Portia Lawrie’s the Refashioners 2016!  Anyone else taking part?

Refashioned 70s Skirt

A few months ago, my friends and I found a vintage 1970s dress in a vintage shop in Sunderland (i’m very sorry, I don’t remember which shop).  It didn’t quite fit me right 😦  So I made (yes, made!) my friend try it.  That fabric – I didn’t want to let it go.  It fitted Rachel perfectly, but we both agreed the fabric was a bit over the top for a maxi dress.  A plan was hatched – Rachel would shorten the dress to just above the knee and I would get the leftovers and attempt to make a skirt.


I didn’t have very much fabric to work with, so it’s a very simple mini (as mini as I’d ever go to be honest), but I think the style works really well with the print.  I actually love it, despite it bordering on indecent 🙂

The pattern: from Fashion with Fabric (from the Great British Sewing Bee).  It’s the lace pencil skirt hacked into an a-line mini.  You take the pencil skirt pattern, shorten it a little and taper out the sides.  It was super quick and easy, so it gets a massive thumbs up from me.  I’ll definitely use it again (but I’ll probably make it a little longer).

Modifications: facing/lining the skirt instead of binding the top.  Basically, I cut out the exact pattern again (a little shorter) to make a lining, sewed them right sides together, turned them out and gave everything a really good press – a lining and facing all in one.  I don;t know whether this is strictly a recommended technique, but it seems to have worked.  Also, the vintage dress had a seam down the back that I had to work with, so I went ahead and inserted my zip in the back seam instead of at the side (and of course, I had to adjust my paper pattern accordingly for cutting my fabric).

The cost: actually, this ended up costing me very little.  Rachel was kind enough to give me the bottom of the dress for free (though it cost her £15).  I had to buy a zip and a small amount of lining fabric – I’d guess that I parted with no more than £5.  Bargain!  😀

So there you go – another unwanted garment rescued.  Sadly, I don’t have a picture of Rachel’s dress, so you’ll have to settle for an outtake from my photos.  It’s hard taking photos when it’s windy.  I think my face says it all…