The Refashion Rookie
When Miss P approached me to be one of her Refashioners, I was openly terrified. I’ve never tackled a refashion, mainly because I don’t – or didn’t – have much confidence in my ability to revision an item or do anything other than follow a set of pattern instructions. I also don’t feel that I have the charity shop antennae that allows a person to zone in on the hidden diamond crushed between rails of polyester. But Miss P is a charity shop expert.
She assured me that I was up to the challenge and that only natural fabrics would be sent my way. Soon, the postman was handing over a beautifully wrapped orange parcel. I tore it open to discover a voluminous gingham dress, circa 1980s I’m guessing. There was enough fabric there to open my mind to lots of opportunities. And who doesn’t like gingham? Miss P had done me proud.
So, what did I do? At first, nothing. I let the dress sit around, waiting for inspiration to strike. Then I woke up one Sunday morning and – bang! – the picture of an outfit and accessory was in my head. All I had to do was make it happen.
Mine wasn’t a sophisticated approach. The rotary cutter was my best friend during this exercise. I felt like Freddy Kreuger! First, I sliced the skirt section from the bodice and ripped out a load of pleats. (There was a lot of excess fabric in this dress! I’m not sure today’s retailers would tolerate such wastage.) I hacked a wedge off the bottom of the skirt – that would become my waistband. I wanted to make a feature of the row of buttons that ran down the front of the dress – why waste button holes that someone else has already made for you? I added the large button on the waistband, and love that it’s a pearl button to match all the others except in size. I bought some red piping from MacCullough and Wallis and already had some lace trim hanging around that I bought off Walthamstow market. One weekend of sewing, et voila! I had a new gathered skirt to wear with my cotton petticoat. A skirt that I can cycle in – double result!
There was still quite a lot of fabric left in the bodice, along with some neat embroidered white flowers on the gingham. Unfortunately, the embroidered flowers sat over sewn down pleats that would need unpicking if I tried to rescue the fabric – and the flowers would be ruined. So I decided to just hack away – this time with a pair of scissors. I used some spray starch and a brooch template from a recent issue of Mollie Makes. I love the spray starch – does exactly what it says on the tin!
This brooch was a lot of fun to make. I adore the hidden details on the rear. The ‘felt’ is actually a scrap of my Paris red cashmere. (Well, if it’s just lying around...) The clay button was bought in Cornwall, so memories are threaded into this outfit – a detail I always love.
What are my conclusions? I’ve worn the skirt to death since it was made, so it’s definitely a success. I was surprised at my ability to envisage a new outfit, once my brain had relaxed into the exercise. I do worry that I didn’t make the most of this dress’s potential and would love to hear from readers and Miss P about what they might have made from it. But most importantly, I got past Fear Factor Ten and embraced refashioning. It’s a great way of producing new outfits and can free up the creative imagination more than following a set of instructions. But most of all, I think this make is a credit to the very clever Miss P who knew just the right thing to send me and reassured her little apprentice every step of the way.
I hope I did you proud, Miss P!
Indeed you have Karen! Thankyou sooo much. Great refashion. LOVE the red piping accents. I'll bet you're the best dressed cyclist in your neck of the woods!
See.....I told you you'd be brilliant ;)Still MORE fantastic refashioning inspiration to follow...stay tuned :)