Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

Military jacket refashion

Who knows how it all started, but at some point I became a thrift store junkie. I love the hunt for the next bargain. I love the opportunities the pieces hold. I love the idea of giving something old a new life. To celebrate this new love (and to motivate myself to actually do the alterations these poor old pieces require), I decided to do 1 post about a thrift store find’s alteration every month from now on.

To start the series off, I chose the biggest project as of yet: a military jacket I bought on Brick Lane for £2.

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

I’ve always wanted a military style jacket, but instead of the ones you can buy everywhere, in every season, with the cinched in waists for women, I was looking for the real deal. Since the smaller sized proper ones were more like shirts, when I saw this huge jacket, lined with the same fabric, I decided to go for it and just hope for the best. After doing a little research, I found out that this was a Dutch NATO combat jacket, that usually sells for about £20 on eBay…

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

I started out by disassembling it (and ripping the lining at one point 😦 ). Then I took in the sides and the sleeves, but because I really didn’t feel like removing and resizing the pockets, I ended up with an A-line jacket at first. Unfortunately, instead of using a pattern, I just took in the same amount on the front and the back, and I ended up with the back being very tight.

I wanted to have a removable lining and removable faux fur collar, but I had to sew the lining to the coat, and attach the collar with safety pins, so that I can finish it within 2 days from start, and wear it on the Berlin trip. It looked and felt awful to be honest.  It was too tight in places and way too loose at others, there were threads hanging out everywhere, and I had to hold it together with a belt, as I did not manage to put buttons or a zip on it. But even if it looked like crap, I think I was the one complaining the least about the cold during our little wintry holiday. 🙂

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

When we came back, I kind of felt like shoving it in a box to finish it next year, but I didn’t. And I’m happy I chose to put all this work into it, as it’s a pretty useful thing to have, and I absolutely adore the collar.

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

So on this updated version I made a lining out of contrasting cotton lawn fabrics, with a little piping made of the golden material used for the removable lining’s sleeves. By the way, the removable lining is made of a faux shearling fabric and the golden quilted batting, and the faux fur collar is the most expensive fabric I’ve ever bought, but it is pretty good quality I guess…

There is a zipper on the jacket, hidden by a flap, with fabric covered con it. To attach the lining to the jacket, I used fabric loops on the jacket to match the buttons sewn on the lining. I inserted  metal suspender clasps into the faux fur collar, which can be clipped on the jacket’s collar. Because everything is removable, I should be able to wear it pretty much all year round in London.

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

Whoever sews will know how hard it is to admit one’s mistake and to refashion-a-refashion (or something you’ve made from scratch), but I’m quite happy I went for it. Even though removing the pocket flaps, for example, and resizing them was hard work with very little impact, it meant that I could fix the coat from being A-line to a better fitting straight one, and it ended up being something that I love to wear because I like the way it looks, and not just because it is the warmest thing I own.

 DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect
Wardrobe Architect

Week 3 & 4: Exploring shapes & Building silhouettes

First I found this task from the Wardrobe Architect project very challenging, as I could not ignore the designs of clothes and only focus on the shapes, but once I got past that it was easy! I do have a kind of uniform for fall/winter and I am happy to expand on that, however this is not exactly the case with hot weather outfits. Below I collected silhouettes according to seasons.


TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 1

Silhouette #1: I must admit I only chose this dress because of the amazing pattern, although I have a polkadot one from H&M in this same shape and that must be one of my most worn garments. I didn’t want to bore you with numerous incarnations of the same silhouette, but this is my uniform between September and May. A dress that’s cinched in at the waist+black tights+short jacket. It can be dressed up with boots and a blazer or dressed down with trainers and a motorcycle jacket.

Silhouette  #2: This is basically the more casual version of the first silhouette. By wearing separates, I can keep things balanced by pairing an everyday fabric like jersey or denim with something more luxurious like velvet or silk.

Silhouette  #3: This is something I wouldn’t normally wear, but I loved this skirt, I have a similar suede one  and there is a Burdastyle pattern that has this same kind of old school feel about it and I’m dying to make. The only problem with it? Not good for cycling!

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 5

Silhouette  #4: I usually feel sloppy when I’m wearing something loose on top AND bottom, but for some reason I almost always wear my beaded skirt with a loose knit top. I guess this is what kids must feel like while doing the grocery shopping (with their parents, obviously) and wearing their princess dresses and regular raincoats . The idea here is to make more fancy skirts, obviously. 😉

Silhouette  #5: This must be my favourite silhouette right now. Probably because I haven’t tried it yet! I bought a very similar pair of trousers last summer and enjoyed wearing it, but now I would like to make some for Fall and wear it with (you’ve guessed it right!) black tights. I like the fact that it’s high-waisted, loose enough to be uber comfortable and shows off your ankle. What might not work after all is the length, as at 5’5″ or 166cm I am not exactly tall, and it might make me look short, wide and too boyish…


Shilouette  #6: This is for those cool and sunny days outside of work, and for popping out to Tesco’s, or else I wear this whenever I don’t feel like making ANY effort at all. I already own every piece from this silhouette and it is not a priority to sew basic knit tops, although you really can’t ever have enough breton tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 7

Shilouette  #6: This would be my idea of dressing up the Levi’s 501, but to be honest I’m still struggling with the fit of the jeans. I bought them when the local vintage shop closed down for £9 and love them, but I’m still debating whether taking it in at the waist and turning it into a high-waisted pair would be a better idea than leaving it all loose and boyfriendish. If I go with the alteration it would make it great to wear with silk blouses and sometimes heels too.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 8

Silhouette  #8: I love crop tops, bodies and full skirts. They all accentuate the waist which happens to be an area that I am actually happy to show off. I have tried the summery culottes already (the same shape I’ll try for Fall), but I would love to make some in more basic colors, as the one I own is in pastel yellow.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 9

Silhouette  #9: Here we go again with the evil trouser. So I attempted to draft my own pants pattern, then took it in until I couldn’t sit down in it and had to modify it so that it can be used for cycling and sitting OR standing and looking pretty. I might show you the result if I don’t go all mad and cut it up into tiny pieces… The gingham (or patterned) trousers would be made with a high waist, but I’m not sure if I can master making something so fitted that does not feel too tight, although there’s only one way to find this out…

I will definitely make at least one more shirt as I love working with light weight fabrics and it has loads of details where you can use some fine techniques (I mean topstitching. I love topstitching.). I would also love to make a camisole as it is also all about the details, it’s usually crazy expensive in stores considering the amount of fabric used, and it just looks simple, sultry, and elegant.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 10

Silhouette  #10: I own a pair of similar striped trousers and I love the boldness of it in theory, but it needs to be altered to be comfortable and I am not sure if I can ever not feel a little bit like a clown while wearing them. The other trousers are high-waisted and wide legged which I must make at least 2 of. I already have one and it’s perfect for summer, especially because it can be paired with cute and relatively easy to make crop tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 11

Silhouette  #11: I basically lived in my black maxi skirt when I was in Nigeria last year, which easily qualifies it for summer wear. I do feel a little too comfy looking while wearing it with loose tops, but usually when I have to grab this outfit I have better things to think about, like how to swipe the sweat off my face in the most sophisticated way possible.

The last silhouette is something I probably could never pull off, but as you can see on my Pinterest board I am pretty obsessed with jumpsuits at the moment. I think during Summer they could be what dresses are during Fall to me. I mean they look put together and they provide the same kind of coverage as opaque tights, so I can freely move around.

Next time I’ll be looking at the colors that I am drawn to , as well as try to define where to use solids and prints. To be honest I am getting a little skeptical about the success of this process for me, as I feel like I am sewing because I don’t want to have simple garments in my wardrobe. On the other hand, I feel like putting this all down plus the Me-Made-May might help me steer towards sewing stuff that I want to wear everyday and not just things that I like the idea of. Has anyone started the Wardrobe Architect project AND finished it already? Any luck with creating a capsule collection?

All images can be found on Polyvore among My Items.


Thrift Store Thursdays #2

Yet another batch of my thrift store finds. The balance this time was roughly £7.00.

This jacket was actually for free. A dear colleague of mine who was about to embark on a journey to live the American dream, brought some clothes she was bored of into the office. In spite of being about a size larger, this was the piece I was interested in. I really like the unexpected mix of colours in the checked pattern, the neutral base colour, that it’s double-breasted and the pockets. It’s a very light fabric with no lining in it so it would make a great summer jacket with little dresses after the necessary alterations are made. (Although fitting a bigger sleeve seems impossible right now as I started to sew a shirt and ended up taking it all apart as it was too big, and haven’t been able to correct the mistake ever since, so this might just be a project for Autumn.:))

The dress above is from Next and was £40 originally, according to the tag that is still attached. I have never worn this dress, but I loved the ’40s style and bright red colour of it. I have a thing for red dresses, even though unlike the little black/white dresses, it’s very hard to find an eye-catching yet simple one that lets the colour do all the talking. Something like this gorgeous Lanvin one:


Image source: Pinterest


Ready & waiting, Refash.

Losing my thrift store virginity

As unbelievable as it sounds I have never bought anything from a classic thrift store before yesterday. I have two pairs of too small and/or unrepairable shoes and some charmingly faulty rings from proper vintage shops, but I did not make a good deal buying them and they aren’t really outstanding either. So yesterday, when I first stepped into one of the bigger ones -in Budapest-, armed with my whole salary and spotting an apple green Ralph Lauren shirt in the first 2 minutes I knew instantly that I was in for a ride…The Secret Costumier - Vintage Ralph Lauren shirtLong story short, I came home with the not-even-my-style-but-looks-good-on-anyone Ralph Lauren shirt (1900Ft/£5.50), a pale pink scarf (1200 Ft/£3.50), a surprisingly well cut jacket from Primark (2500 Ft/ £7.20) and a floral/lace top from Topshop (1200 Ft/£3.50). Sure there is a tiny yellowish spot on the shirt, the Topshop top is way too wide and way too short to wear it without something underneath, but I might turn the top into a lingerie set of some sort, and well… I am actually genuinely happy with the pink scarf. The jacket turned out to be matching the trousers I bought when I found out that I got a job in an office with a dress code, so now I have a suit! 🙂The Secret Costumier - Primark jacket

P.S. :Sorry about the wrinkled clothes, they are straight out of the washing machine…and the yellow spot on the green shirt disappeared. Yeey!