Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

From coat to skirt

Going to a vintage pound sale weekend once or twice a year has become a tradition for me and a good friend of mine. It’s usually in a warehouse somewhere in East London, we usually plan to get there first thing in the morning on the Saturday, and usually end up arriving hours after the opening on the Sunday.

We usually still have to queue up, which is a great opportunity to catch up, and we usually end up being a bit disappointed with the offer, but still manage to walk away with some goodies. Usually. Around this time last year, those goodies were these two leather coats for £1 each.

I must have spent over an hour searching for them, as most of the jackets on sale were mouldy, cracked  or had been made up of small pattern pieces. These two have seen better days too, but after dismantling them, I had enough material to make something wearable out of it.

I already have a leather-like skirt, which I don’t really wear because I don’t like the shiny material, so I knew there was a gap in my wardrobe that I now had the fabric to fill.

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The pattern is a self-drafted one, based on the also self-drafted basic skirt block I made using Winifred Aldrich’s book (I bought the old version for a couple of pounds, but psst: it’s also available for free in PDF somewhere online…). 😉 It was supposed to be a simple A-line skirt, but I had to make modifications according to the size and shape of the pieces I had from the disassembled coats.

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It has an exposed zip on the side, a simple waistband and no lining… which decision I may have to reconsider. I have worn this skirt a lot, especially during Me-Made-May last year, but somehow I keep forgetting that it sticks to my tights while walking and how annoying that is. So next time I feel bored, I may add a lining and see if that resolves the issue…

 

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It’s been almost 3 months since I last shared anything in this little corner of the internet. It feels like the longer break you take, the harder it is to find something meaningful to say.

Pretty much from May till September my sewing and personal life were the busiest and happiest they’ve ever been. By October my workload got really out of hand, I felt exhausted and didn’t handle the lack of sunshine and free time very well. Long story short: I still don’t feel the urge to get out of bed most weekends, but I do want to be an active member of this community, because come rain or shine sewing is still the one thing I cannot stop thinking about.

I’m wishing you all (a very belated) happy holidays in my impromptu Christmas jumper! 😀

Refash.

Well, hello world!

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The Refashioners 2016

Another year, another project done for The Refashioners challenge at Portia Lawrie’s website, the Makery. Last year I turned a shirt into a summer dress, this time around the item to be given a new life was a pair of jeans.

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I got mine from my favourite virtual charity shop: eBay. It was a large men’s, non-stretch, unbranded pair of blue jeans, and I think I paid about £5 for it (including delivery). I had no idea what to turn it into, all I knew was that making trousers would have been too easy and that I didn’t need another denim jacket, since I love the one I already own. So I decided to turn it into a dress that isn’t too tacky – not too sure if I managed to achieve this… 😀

I started looking for something structured and minimalistic, so I searched for dresses made of leather, but couldn’t really find anything interesting. While I was researching ideas for the tablecloth dress, I stumbled upon a beautiful Delpozo number and I knew straight away that I found what I was after.

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With my new found courage for pattern drafting, I made one for it in no time. After adding a bit of boning, I managed to resolve the issue with the gaping of the under-bust area, that must have been avoided by using pre-shaped foams in the original dress. I am pretty sure that I was supposed to add boning to the side seams, but to be super honest I was too lazy to go back and do it (again).

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The bodice was relatively easy to put together after having a go at it while making up the toille, but I did not have any plans for the skirt. I just attached it with some pleats in place to match the waistline, and then worked it out from there. Unfortunately I did not have enough fabric for the style I would normally wear (A-line or a circle skirt), so I went with a pencil skirt – that not only makes cycling fairly difficult, it also makes the dress look more formal than intended.

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I did not realize that I created a horrible little pouch on the front of the skirt by turning the pleats into impromptu (and way too long) darts in the last-minute, so please excuse that mess.

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I am pretty happy with the fit on the back though. The pockets have been slightly moved, darts hidden behind them, and an invisible zipper inserted. I was going to use a golden exposed zip all the way down the back, but I had to admit to myself that the invisible zipper looked a tad bit more classy than the shiny one. In order to try out the two different looks, I inserted both zips twice, then when I decided to stay with the invisible one, it broke while trying it on. Realizing that I can’t fix it, and therefore I will have to buy and insert a new one was one of the less relaxing moments of sewing, to put it mildly… 🙂

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Do you know that feeling when you are cooking a very fancy, very complicated dinner, and when you sit down to eat after hours of sweating over it, you just don’t feel hungry anymore. No? Well, that’s how I feel about this dress anyway. 🙂

While I am quite happy about how that sad pair of jeans got transformed, and about the relative success of my pattern cutting, I doubt that I will wear this dress a lot next summer. I will either change the skirt totally, turn it into something else, or give it away…

Do check out the other entries too, they are pretty mind-blowing! And again, thanks for the photos Robbie!

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dress upcycled from a tablecloth
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#usedtobeatablecloth: The reveal!

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing” (Camille Pissarro)

And it’s over. The summer and the #usedtobeatablecloth challenge too. Hopefully some of you have found inspiration here in the past few weeks, and there are tablecloths out there turned into something wearable and cherished.

Two sewing friends definitely did, and turned their charity shop finds into some beautiful pieces of clothing.

Marijana, from Sew2Pro, found a very similar tablecloth to what I made my Little White Dress from. She decided to dye it to indigo and made a spaghetti strap summer dress. I really love the placement of the lace details and the interesting neckline, and as far as I know there is some leftover fabric, so watch that space!

Kaci, from Textile and Stitch, bought this crochet tablecloth for a mere $1 and turned it into something Anthropologie would sell for about 200 times more. 🙂 I think it’s super difficult to find anything crocheted that doesn’t look too cute or granny like, but with the simple design and it being monochrome, she managed to pick something that goes very well with a contemporary outfit. It might just be my laziness, but I always love a nice use of the border for the hems, and the ones on this jacket look absolutely perfect.

And I’m done with my dress too, finally…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

We went to my favourite park to have a picnic and take some photos (thank you Robbie!), and I think I got a bit more comfortable than I was supposed to in this kind of dress, so I had to pull the dress up a few times… I am now thinking of inserting boning into the sides and maybe even into the front seam lines, but it’s not high on my list of priorities at the moment.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

I already went into detail about how this dress came together, so I will not bore you with that anymore. 🙂 While I was making it, I felt that excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time during sewing.

You know, that feeling when you can see something you are working on taking shape, and you haven’t eaten for 5 hours, because you just don’t want to waste time on that instead of getting to the point where you can try it on for the first time. And you try it on. And you realise that even though you will probably only wear it a handful of times, whenever you look at it you will still be happy that you have created something you find beautiful.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The dress

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TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction
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#usedtobeatablecloth: The construction

After about two weeks of an intense search for inspiration, I finally came up with a plan that I was happy enough with to start work on my third item that #usedtobeatablecloth.

I already knew that the tablecloth itself will be turned into a circle skirt, and I had an idea about the silhouette too, so I was just looking for a bodice with some nice seam lines. I went with the same design as the one on the swimsuit below, but looking at the final result now, I am pretty sure that subconsciously I was going for a Dior look after watching the Dior and I documentary a few days before finalizing the plan…

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I decided to draft my own pattern, because I have recently experimented with a design using my brand new bodice block (drafted to my size), and I was really happy with the results.

First I measured where I would like the top of the bodice to finish, and where the dart should finish, by wearing the toille for the original block. Then I took these measurements and transferred them onto my copied bodice pattern.

After this, I just marked where I would like the seam lines to be, and decided how wide the opening on the back should be for a lace up closure. Once I had all these lines, I copied the new pattern pieces to plain paper, one by one, and closed/opened the darts where it was necessary. After adding the seam allowances, I was ready to make a toille.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

I was trying to buy some calico in my local fabric shop, but it was way too expensive, so I bought some polycotton instead. After making up the toille from it, laziness triumphed and I decided it will also serve as the lining. I actually didn’t even think about lining it at first, not because I didn’t want to, but simply because I totally forgot about it.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The size of the circle that was cut out (to turn the tablecloth into a circle skirt) was based on my waist measurement plus seam allowance, and I deducted the gap I needed to leave for the lace up back opening.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The bodice’s pattern pieces were cut out from 3 napkins, out of the 8 that came with the tablecloth, and were arranged more sensibly than on the photo, of course. 🙂 Two napkins probably would have been enough though, was I not an idiot who used a pen to mark the dart points, and ironed the interfacing onto the right side of the fabric…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

I was really unsure about what kind of interfacing to use. Out of the two on hand, one was soft and drapey, but quite thick, as I bought it to use on a winter coat for a little added warmth. The other one was a piece I bought to use on a pair of structured trousers. I decided to go for the latter one, as I thought that as much as I would like to keep the qualities of the fabric, the bodice is very fitted and does actually require some structure.

The piece of fabric I used for the lining of the skirt turned out to be too small to cover more than my bum, so I decided I should try to add some tulle (yay to no hemming!) to make it long enough, and just see what happens… The-accidental-making-of-a-50s-cocktail dress, that’s what happens! 😀

As soon as I tried it on, I knew I didn’t want to turn it back into a simple summer dress anymore. All I wanted was a friend or relative to get married, or be knighted (like that’s gonna happen) immediately so that I can wear it with my incredibly uncomfortable silver heels, sipping cocktails in a beautiful garden. You get the idea…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The last step, that took approximately 7 hours, was making rouleau loops for the lace up back, sewing them on and sewing the back of the skirt shut. I have just read Marijana’s post on how she wrestled to make them for her version of the tablecloth dress, and I must say I totally understand her struggle.

I managed to turn mine inside out, and for the second try I even succeeded to line them up (close-enough to) perfectly. As for the “lace”…well, that I mucked up totally. It took me about 45 minutes to turn it inside out, just to find out that I sewed the wrong sides together and now the seam allowances where the bits were joined together are on the right side. Oh well… Once I figure out what I’m gonna do with it, I will show you how it all turned out!

In the meantime you can already check out Marijana’s beautiful indigo dyed #usedtobeatablecloth dress. She used a similar tablecloth to the one I made my first dress out of, and she managed to transform it stunningly!

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TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The material & the pattern
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#usedtobeatablecloth: The material & the pattern

When I thought about putting together the #usedtobeatablecloth sewing challenge, I didn’t actually think there would be anyone joining me. Luckily, and to my biggest delight, there are some very inspiring people out there who thought it would be a good idea to make something out of a tablecloth. By now, some of these ladies even have their pattern pieces cut out. As for me, I have just decided what direction to take when chopping mine up….

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The material & the pattern

I got this circular tablecloth for £6.60 (including postage), and it came with 8 matching napkins as well! I was a bit surprised by the texture of the fabric, as I assumed it would be similar to the white cotton one I used to make the Little White Dress. In reality, it’s a very soft fabric, fairly densely woven, using probably somewhat synthetic, pretty thick yarn.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth - The material & the pattern

It has white embroidery, some drawn thread-work decorations and a scalloped hem. The napkins are mostly plain, with only one little flower embroidery on them.

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The plan is to use the tablecloth as a circle skirt, by simply cutting out a hole in the middle to the size of my waist (plus seam allowance, of course!). After this, I would use the remaining fabric and some of the napkins to make the bodice.

Burdastyle pattern & dress, Selfportrait dress, Asos white dress

Right now, I’m thinking of going with a basic shape, either with some sort of cups attached to the middle bit (like on the pink & white dress), or I might use my trusty Burdastyle pattern again (first two images)!

Since the front would be fairly simple, on the back I am going to attempt to make a laced up opening to make it a little more exciting, as well as more office appropriate than my usual open back dresses.

I should be able to finalize these plans during the week and start sewing it this weekend…Fun times! 🙂

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The off the shoulder top

Once I figured that I will have a large amount of fabric leftover from the Little White Dress (that used to be a tablecloth 😉 ), I decided to whip up an off the shoulder/peasant blouse for our recent holiday. And by whipping it up, I mean it literally took me about 1 hour, cutting included!

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The funny thing is that I’ve been drooling over these tops for a few years now, ever since I saw an old photo of Brigitte Bardot wearing one. I then obviously did what every sewing enthusiast with access to Pinterest would do: pinned all the images of girls wearing off the shoulder tops onto one of my sewing inspo boards.

Once I even made a black version, but the fabric was the wrong choice and it looked like a bin bag with sleeves, so that got  turned into one of my favourite dresses (the one I’m wearing on Day 31 ).

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This time around there was no research beforehand, I just wanted to make a top quickly that would go with all the trousers I was planning on wearing on the trip, and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

So pleased in fact, that I’m thinking about putting together a tutorial! And that’s because this must have been the quickest I have ever made a garment (I didn’t even use a pattern), and I just think we all need a little off the shoulder action in our life. 😀

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