Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Refashioners 2015 - Part 2

After the success of my first shirt refashion, I decided to have a go at another one.


I bought this very soft red shirt from The British Heart Foundation. It is really big so I thought it would give me a lot of options.


This week my parcel arrived from Megan Nielsen for her Darling Ranges, so I decided to try to use the blouse pattern as a starting point for this refashion.


I have realised that whilst many people just start cutting up their shirts and are then struck with inspiration, I have to have a plan and a reasonable idea that it will work before I can make a start. This is probably the architect in me!


I deconstructed the shirt as a starting point and placed my pattern pieces on the flat fabric. I tried to keep the front pocket but the positioning of it was all wrong once I had cut the pieces, so it had to be unpicked. Luckily the fabric steams like a dream, so the marks from the pocket are not very noticeable and should disappear more after a wash. I had to pleat the front pattern piece a little to reduce its width and enable it to fit on the shirt front. I also folded the pattern at the front button placket and lined up the edge with the existing button placket on the shirt fronts. I overlayed the buttonhole markings on the actual buttons and buttonholes. This was partly due to not having enough width across the shirt front and partly to save time and reuse as many of the existing shirt features as possible.


With the sleeves, I decided to reuse the existing hems. This allowed me to cut the sleeves to the length shown in the pattern and not have to shorten them.


I used the Megan Nielsen app when constructing this and found it really useful. The pattern instructions are the same as the printed ones, but the direct links to extra tutorials saves time when trying to get extra help on a technique.


This was the first time I had ever set in sleeves, and Megan's clear explanation made it easy to understand the process. I'm quite pleased with how they worked out. There are a couple of little puckers at the top, but overall not too shabby for a first attempt I don't think!


I had to improvise a little for the neck facing, as the button placket was pre-completed so I couldn't follow the instructions here. I used a pre-made bias tape as there was it enough fabric left for self-made. After sewing it on I folded the ends over and top stitched down from the right side. It is not as neat as I would hope, but I just didn't have time to redo it. I swapped the original beige buttons for some white ones to brighten it up, but I retained the original buttonholes.

This is the finished article and I'm pretty chuffed with the end result. It is the first blouse I have made and the colour is great for the turning weather here. We have had to put the heating on this week because it has been so chilly, so this soft red blouse is very cheering.


I absolutely loved my first experience using a Megan Nielsen pattern. I found it easy and straightforward and think it was perfect for me to learn a couple of new techniques. I have already chosen some actual fabric (not a previous garment!) to make another so that I can do the proper button placket. It is this drapey floral fabric, I think it will work well for my next version. I also want to have a go at the dress option, so I am going hunting for the perfect winter fabric... Any ideas?




Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Refashioners 2015 - Part 1

So, I'm taking a short break from my analysis of constructing the perfect capsule wardrobe to get involved with this years Refashioners project.

There has been a lot of involvement this year, with so many great sewists joining in and blogging their refashions.


I thought I would start out with something simple. This is the first time my sewing machine has been out since Stanley was born (he's only 3 months old so I don't think I'm doing too badly). It has been a bit of a challenge finding the time to get this completed, as he is not one for napping during the day (or for being put down!)


I bought this great shirt from my local British Heart Foundation shop. This is a charity that I regularly support, having lost both grandmothers this year to heart problems.

The fabric is a blue and white striped cotton. The great thing about using existing clothes as a starting point is that the fabric is already pre washed and is soft and manageable.


The pattern I decided to use is Marilla Walker's Ilsley Skirt. This pattern is offered for free on Marilla's blog. It is the first time I had used one of Marilla's patterns and overall I thought it was excellent. In fact, I've already planned my next one!


I had to make some slight adjustments to the pattern to get the pieces to fit within the fabric available. I slightly curved the side seams at the back as there wasn't enough width at the top due to the armholes. Unfortunately this means that I can no longer get the skirt over my hips and it has to be put on over my head! I also removed the front pocket of the shirt so there are some slight markings on the front of the skirt where the pocket sat, but I think this is a nice reminder of the origin of the garment.



The waistband is cut against the grain, as there wasn't enough fabric to cut it on grain, and I still needed to create a centre back seam and it is a little slimmer than the pattern suggests.


I stitched down the button placket to prevent any unwanted gaping and help the skirt to hang better.


I thought that the pattern was well drafted with clear instructions. However, unless you already have an understanding of garment construction and sewing techniques, this pattern would not be suitable as there are no diagrams or illustrations. The construction sequence is great, the insides are very clean and I didn't need to do any hand sewing!


If you download the pattern and like it, make sure to donate to Marilla's chosen charity here. This refashion has turned into a charitable double whammy, with ecological upcycling and economical fabric choice. Overall a win-win combination!


Apologies for there being no photos of me wearing this, I will add them as soon as we get some decent weather and I can go outside to take photos!


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Defining a Core Style

I think it is very hard to define a core style, so taking queues from the second exercise of Colette's wardrobe architect series, I am gathering a range of images that attempt to summarise my core style.

I have chosen some celebrities who's style I like. This isn't to say I want to dress just like them, but I can take elements of the way they put themselves together and think about these things when creating a wardrobe for myself.

Emma stone has a nice casual style, she always looks well turned out. Skinny jeans with shirts and jumpers seem to be her wardrobe staples. This look is young and slightly preppy, which I like.


Alexa Chung is an international style icon for a good reason, she mixes feminine style with practicality and wearability.

Carey Mulligan dresses very simply, using good fabrics and shapes.

Taylor Swift has a casual style that is very polished. She accentuates her best features very well (her endless legs) and dresses to show them off.

All of these celebrities dress in a simple way, without added bling, patterns, accessories. They mix practicality with style and do not dress too girly, even though their style is elegant and feminine. The style that I would like from my wardrobe is relaxed, smart, elegant, simple and comfortable.

Things I have noticed from studying the style of these celebrities:
- they are all wearing collars
- there is not much printed fabric used
- they look comfortable
- the clothing suits their body shapes
- blue and black are key wardrobe staples

This is just a small part of the exercise, but felt like the easiest place to start. The next step will be gathering a range of images and words that summarise my style.