Refashion: Tartan Wool Skirt into Cape!

I’ve got a mostly successful refashion to share with you today. You may or may not remember this skirt which I bought from a now defunct charity shop in Islington. I bought 4 things at the same time and have refashioned the other 3 already (I made a skirt into a Scout Tee, an ugly dress into a less ugly dress and an ugly coat into a Freemantle coat), so it felt overdue to give this one a new life.

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I ummed and ahhed about what to make and, having rejected making a different kind of skirt, had the brainwave to make a cape! I’m not really sure where the idea came from or how much wear I’ll get from it, but I had fun making it.

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The first thing I did was to unpick the whole skirt – I removed the zip, which was broken anyway,

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unpicked all these deep pleats, and separated the lining from the main fabric.

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When it was all unpicked, it turned out there was loads of fabric! I couldn’t even get it all in one photo!

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I separated the 2 halves of the skirt – where you can see it’s slightly shaped in the above photo and used one half to make the main, back part of the cape. This would have been a lot easier with a dress form, but given I don’t have one yet, I improvised. I pinned the half of the skirt to the shoulders of my cardigan, so they sat where I wanted the shoulder seams to be on the cape. I then took the cardigan off, with the fabric attached.

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I used the cardigan method to tell me how much of the fabric to gather across my back. It turned out I had to gather pretty much the whole width as much as it would gather, considering it is quite think wool fabric. I then used the original waistband to make half a collar, which also secured the gathers.

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The next thing I did was to use the other half of the skirt to cut the front pieces for each side. Given that the skirt was slightly shaped at the hips, I used this shaping as a guide to follow my shoulders. I attached these 2 pieces to each side of the back, leaving a gap about 25 cm up and of about 25 cm for the arm holes. I then tried it on and adjusted the seam to better fit the curve of my shoulders, trimming away the excess seam allowance.

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Since I was making this all up as I went along, I realised the waist band part would make a great stand-up collar – when I first attached it I wasn’t sure if it would be more of a yolk, but collar it was. I therefore applied interfacing to stiffen it a bit. I used some remnants of some white interfacing I had because it’s a thicker, more papery weight than the black interfacing I have in my stash.
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The cape was all going swimmingly up to this point. I decided to use the original lining from the skirt as the lining for the cape – this turned out to be an error, but I’ll explain why later.

I had kept the lining in one piece and lined the centre seam up with the centre of the cape back. I cut 2 facing pieces from what was left of the skirt fabric and when I lined it all up with the collar of the shell, the lining really overlapped at the top of the facing and there was a big gap at the bottom, so I trimmed off the overlap at the top and sewed a triangular wedge onto the bottom – you can see my rough chalk marks where I measured it and the wedge pinned on below.

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I also added a couple of darts into the lining so it would better follow the shape of my shoulders – and the shape of the shell. I ended up unpicking these later, however.

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The problem was that the lining was much smaller than the shell – the lining of the skirt was as big as the outer fabric once the pleats were all pleated already, so it makes sense there wasn’t as much lining fabric. With jackets and things, ideally the lining should be a little bigger than the shell (and often with a pleat at centre back) to allow for movement. I only discovered my mistake once I’d pretty much finished the cape and then tried it on. It didn’t sit properly over my shoulders as there wasn’t as much room in the lining as in the shell, and the armholes proved very difficult to neated – the lining fabric pulled up the hem (which I had already sewn, another mistake!) when I pinned it to the shell armhole, if that makes sense? The only work-around I could come up with was to add an extra triangle of fabric above the shell armhole in the lining, so the lining would more accurately match the shape of the shell.

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This did pretty much work, even if it may not look the neatest on the inside.

After all the drama of the lining, I cut another strip the same size as the waist-band collar to sew to the inside of the collar, neatening the attachment of the lining at the neck.

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It doesn’t look too shabby on the inside, if I do say so myself!

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Now I’m just going to spam you with pictures of the finished cape – I used a couple of toggles from my stash (which were a present from my awesome friend!) to fasten the neck. I had thought it would meet more in the middle than it does, but I blame the lining! I blame the lining for all it’s ills.

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I love the cocoon-y shape it makes from the side!

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Showing off the bastard lining, and trying to look pleased with it……

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I had to do a superhero pose – sorry not sorry. I don’t know what superhero I’d be – Tartan Girl? Refashion Woman? Any better suggestions?

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Although I have moaned a lot about the problems with this cape, it only took really a day and a bit to make (spread over 3 days) and I have never made a cape before from a  proper pattern and aside from some random googling, I didn’t really know what one looked like, so I’m pretty pleased I’ve ended up with a wearable garment. I was listening to a podcast while I was sewing with the lady who runs Workroom Social in Brooklyn and she said she tries to teach her students not to necessarily unpick every little mistake they make and instead to look for ways around the problem, hoping you would learn from the mistake and mistake-solving next time. There’s often a lot of pressure in sewing to produce something ‘perfect’ but I know I’m not quite that good yet, so this cape is definitely good enough. Do you unpick all your mistakes or do you soldier on through?

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Fix It: How To Fix Holes In A Coat (or Jacket)

How-To-Fix-Holes-in-a-Coat-or-JacketI’m working on a coat refashion at the moment (the one I bought from The Fara Workshop) and when I looked closely I realised it had a few holes in it. I think they might be moth holes, but some of them could be from wear – the original hem was quite holey and falling apart. Having ‘fixed’ some of these holes, I thought I’d share the technique I found in case it was useful to anyone else.

Here is one of the holes:How-To-Fix-Holes-1
You go to the back of the fabric (obvs) and you’ll need some bondaweb and a small scrap of the same fabric (which you can cut from a seam allowance if you’re not refashioning a coat). I also lined the hole with interfacing, as I thought this might stop the hole getting worse – you can skip the interfacing step if you want to. (The part of the fabric I was fixing already had interfacing on the back, but I wanted to add more as the hole had been made through the original interfacing.)

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The you put the bondaweb around the hole, getting as close to the hole as possible – my strips here are a little big to be honest! Just lay the bondaweb on and then use the steam setting of your iron, hover it over the bondaweb until it melts and then press on the piece of matching fabric, right side down – making sure you don’t burn your fingers!

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The piece of fabric I cut, below, was really a bit big, especially for the weight of fabric! Also, this looks like it’s wrong side down, but the square doesn’t have interfacing on it and both sides of the fabric are pretty much the same.

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Because my fabric was quite heavy, and I stupidly cut the pieces a bit big, I decided to do some little slip stitches around the edge to really make sure the patches weren’t going to fall off. I did this also because my bondaweb was pretty old and I think a little past its best!

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This is what it looks like from the right side now – you can still just about make out the hole, but it’s nowhere near as obvious.

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One of the sleeves was the worst for the holes and here it is after they’ve all been patched – there are 3 holes here. There’s quite a big hole in the bottom right corner, which I think it just about the limit of what you can fix with this technique – it might even be beyond the limit! It helps that this fabric is fairly dark and patterned, so the patches do manage to slightly blend in.

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Do you have any tips or tricks for rejuvenating clothes that might be a little past their best?

Refashioned Horrible Dress into a Less Horrible Dress!

After the success of my refashioned ugly skirt into top, I decided to refashion one of the other garments I picked up from the Fara Workshop. Remember this dress?

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This was a charming drop-waisted, large dress with big puffy sleeves and a lovely weird lacy collar!

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I unpicked all of the bits from the top of the dress and removed the skirt. The dress had a facing that also formed the triangle between the 2 pieces of lace and I had to unpick the shoulders to get the facing and collar off.

Fara-stripey-dress-3I decided to make a nice summer dress from the pieces I could salvage. I sewed new shoulder seams 10cm in from the original seams and took in the side seams but 5cm under the arms to 3cm at the bust to 5cm at the waist to the bottom of the top pieces (if that makes sense!).

(Sorry for the shit photos – I seriously need to take better pictures, probably outside. I think not enough light is the problem with them all being so blurry! There’s only so much photoshop will fix it seems.)

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I realised quite early on that if I didn’t make it too fitted, which I didn’t want to do, then I could get away without adding in a zip – it would have been a pain to do this I think. I would have either put one under one arm into the side seam, or I would have had to make a new seam in the back of the bodice and skirt. So I made sure I didn’t have to do that as I’m lazy!Fara-stripey-dress-5

I took 9.5cm off the top edge of the skirt and 11cm off the bottom of the bodice, taking into account a 1.5cm seam allowance. I gathered the skirt and reattached it to the bodice. As you can probably see, the amount I trimmed off the bodice must had not been quite even, or my stitching wasn’t even as the stripes on the front of the bodice aren’t even all the way across. I’m not on the Sewing Bee, though, so I’m not too bothered.

 

Fara-stripey-dress-6I also added pockets I measure where to put them by trying on the dress, but then somehow ended up with them so low I can only just reach the bottom of them! Not sure how that happened –  couldn’t be arsed to move them up, though, as they’ll hold my phone which is basically what I need from pockets in a dress! I used the Clemence skirt pocket pattern piece from Love At First Stitch. I used the fabric from the sleeves to make the pockets.

Fara-stripey-dress-9The arm and neck are bound with some self-made bias strips, made from the fabric I cut off the skirt and top pieces. The binding stretched slightly out at the bottom of the v-neck, but it’s not super noticeable, so I’m pretty happy with managing to make it look okay – I’ve never bound a non-round neckline before.

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Looking at these pictures now, I wonder if I should have shaved off some fabric on the shoulders as they almost sit like teeny tiny sleeves, but it should be sleeveless. Ah, the joys of hindsight!Fara-stripey-dress-8  Not sure why I’ve got my hands in fists here!

I like the loose fit – I think it will be really comfortable when the weather gets hot, if it ever gets hot! Next I need to make a couple of Holly Jumpsuits for the Summer and maybe a couple more skirts and tops and hopefully I’ll have some good options for Summer wardrobe! What plans do you have for the warmer weather (or colder weather if you’re in the Southern hemisphere?)

Refashioned ugly skirt

Do you remember this skirt? (and the crap photo!?)

Fara-blue-and-gold-skirt-1I got it from the Fara Workshop before it sadly closed down.

This is a close up of the shiny, shiny lining and you can see the lovely check fabric – I bought the skirt because I loved the fabric.

Fara-blue-and-gold-skirt-2Fara-blue-and-gold-skirt-3When I buy something to refashion I generally sit in front of the tele and unpick all the seams I think I need to unpick, so that the bits are all ready to go when I get around to refashioning it. I unpicked the pleats and the waistband and then I went to unpick the side seams, but there was only one seam, at the back. Yes, folks, this is a one-seamed skirt! I’d never heard of this before I read Handmade Jane’s post on the one-seamed skirt a month ago, and then I had one on my hands!

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And this is the lovely lining – not sure why I didn’t iron this before I took the picture! I have plans for this lining – basically as the lining for a new skirt, ooh, imaginative! I have also kept the zip to see if I can use that elsewhere.

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I decided to make yet another Grainline Scout Tee. This is I think my 6th! (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) And I think it’s my favourite (I probably said that about all of them!).

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I made the effort to centre the big check on the front. I slightly wish I’d centered the electric blue strip instead, but at least the pattern placement looks deliberate – I’ve learnt so much since making my boyfriend shirt.  The same pattern placement is on the back.
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I’ve decided I really like boxy tees, worn with tighter trousers/ jeans. I wish I had made the sleeves a bit longer – I’d forgotten they’re quite short. Next time! Because I’m sure there will be a next time!

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In none of the pictures, including the more close up, can you see the tiny gold stripes shot through the fabric, but that’s one of the things I particularly love. I’ve worn this with a mustard yellow cardigan and I think it could look nice with my bright yellow skirt, which I never wear because I don’t have much to wear it with!Fara-blue-and-gold-skirt-9 I used all french seams on the inside to make it look all pretty. This fabric is fairly thick, but it isn’t too bulky with the french seams. It’s also a little scratchy, but when I’m wearing it, it doesn’t feel too bad.

Fara-blue-and-gold-skirt-6Fara-blue-and-gold-skirt-11On the first day of Me Made May 2015, this is one of about 2 things I’ve managed to finish to augment my homemade wardrobe ready for a month of wearing as much of it as possible. This is significantly less than I hoped I would make when I wrote my pledge! I always have such huge plans and I had a week off work, but wasn’t feeling the joy so didn’t get much finish. I also always think ‘oh, I can make a skirt (or whatever) in about 2 hours’ but it always takes me a lot longer – does anyone else do that? I am going to try to finish and make a couple of things during this coming long weekend, so that I have some new things near the beginning of Me Made May.

The Fara Workshop

When I decided to change my blog – well, start (yet another) new one – I had a few posts that I knew I wanted to write, when I was just going to focus on crafting and clothes. And one of those was about the Fara Workshop. The Fara Workshop is linked to the Fara Charity, which has lots of charity shops around London and works to transform the lives of some of Romania’s poorest and most vulnerable children and young people.

Their mission says: ” A contemporary hand crafted collection of entirely one off clothing and accessories will be designed and made in store at our onsite workshop. Our mission is to transform clothing and fabrics that have been generously donated to FARA charity shops, incorporating a variety of processes and techniques reworking them into a fabulous collection of wearable delights.” (from their facebook page)

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I discovered them by accident, wandering around Islington when I was doing practice walks for a marathon walk I did back in September (yes, I walked 26 miles around London!). I immediately fell in love with their reworked fashions. As someone who enjoys a refashion or two, I found the way they reuse fabric and clothes donated to Fara to make new, modern, fashionable garments.

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The way they colour block and use the fabrics is amazing – I hope I can one day learn to use fabric in the same way!

One of my favourite things they have made is the Susan Coat – all the patterns were designed and made in the workshop.

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Aren’t they amazing!? I definitely want to make a coat like this – especially the mustard one.

Every month on a Thursday evening, they run a sale night – I guess to clear out some of the stock they can’t transform.

Fara Workshop 8After months of trying to make it to one of their sale nights, I finally made it to one. I decided to only spend £10 on the smaller bag – I could easily have got the larger bag,  but I felt like I would have been taking things for the sake of filling the bag, and that’s not really the ethos of the workshop – it’s more about being mindful of our clothing consumption. I got 4 garments in my £10 bag, including a coat!

A blue and gold skirt, with a lining in electric blue. It’s a few sizes too big.

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A wooly tartan skirt, mainly green. This has a broken zip and is several sizes too big.

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I picked up this large…..interestingly shaped blue and white stripey dress mostly for the lolz. And to see if I can make it into something even vaguely wearable!

Fara-stripey-dress-1And I got this coat! It has ugly faux fur cuffs which are falling off and the lining is definitely past its best. I’m thinking of making this into a Susan-style coat, possibly with contrast sleeves. And a new lining.

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Last week sadly The Fara Workshop announced that they are closing at the end of February. Their profits all go back to the Fara charity, but the workshop isn’t financially viable any more. They do say they will be producing a clothing line – so fingers crossed the clothes will still be available, just not from a concrete shop.