Refashioners: making a suit…..into a suit

As I mentioned in my October makes post, one of the makes that took up quite a lot of time was my suit refashion, which is my entry for the Refashioners 2017. I joined in 2 years ago and refashioned 2 men’s shirts (1 & 2) and wanted to join in last year but family events took over and I didn’t get around to it, so I was very keen to take part this year. When I was at home in August, I suddenly had the thought that it would be nice to use one of my dad’s suits rather than a random suit from a charity shop (though perhaps I would have been more adventurous if the suit had been more anonymous?!) so I asked my mum if she still had any of my dad’s suits (he was in a care home at this point). She had one still in the wardrobe – she had got rid of most of them quite a few years ago, when he stopped having a job that required wearing a suit every day. It was a St Micheal’s one (which I think is a Marks and Spencers brand) and it was apparently made in Israel.


Although my Dad had been ill for a long time – he had a rare degenerative brain disease called Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) for quite a few years, I obviously did not think that by the time I refashioned the suit he would no longer be with us. So this refashion became even more poignant to me than it would have been. I’m a little sad that he won’t see me wearing his suit, but c’est la vie.

My Dad wasn’t a huge man, so I was a little shocked by just how big the suit was on me – though I am small I suppose.

 

The first thing I did was to unpick the vast majority of the seams – and man did it take a long time! It was my occupation while watching TV in the evenings for about 2 weeks. I even took a picture of all the thread I removed (with pin cushion for scale)!

And this is the pile of pieces.

I unpicked everything from the trousers – side seams, inner leg seams, the fly, the zip and the waist band. I even managed to pry off the metal hook above the zip to use again later. The only things I left were the pockets and I wanted to use them in the new trousers. With the jacket I similarly unpicked everything – I removed the lining, the took the sleeves off both lining and shell, unpicking the underarm seam; I unpicked the side seams of both lining and shell; the shoulder seams; and I unpicked all parts of the collar. I also removed the shoulder pads and removable canvas around the shoulders – most of the interfacing and the like I left as I was remaking a jacket, so it saved me a job!

And this is the finished suit! I’m pretty pleased if I’m being totally honest. And I think I’ve been bitten a bit by a tailoring bug and would like to make a proper jacket from scratch to see all the processes I was able to skip by virtue of them already being done.

I thought I would go into detail about the trousers first, then the jacket, as that’s the order I re-made the suit in.

I used the Simplicity 1696 pattern as I knew I would be able to just about get them to fit me as I have made the pattern once before. As you can see below, I did extend them a little higher in the waist as I wanted to keep the full pockets, and although the trousers were quite big on me, I couldn’t bring the pattern piece to the top of the original trousers as the crotch curve wouldn’t have fit. After taking so much off the legs of the pattern the last time, I decided to narrow the legs at the pattern stage – though I ended up taking them in too much, so I had to reduce the seam allowance to 0.5cm to make them not skin tight!

I made the size 14 as before, and did quite a bit of fiddling with the crotch curve. I took 4cm in total off the back seam, including the waistband (which is the original waistband of the trousers, and the original waistband facing) and had to take 2cm off both crotch curves (front and back) – I think that’s what they’re called? I kept basting the seams, then trying them on, then unpicking them, then repeating the whole process until I thought it was good enough. They’re not perfect, but I didn’t want to over-fit them and make them uncomfortable to sit down in, which is always a worry!

Men’s pockets are soooo huge! I’ve got other ready to wear things (and probably things I’ve sewn) with teeny tiny pockets – pockets too small to fit an iPhone. But I can get half my arms in these pockets! I’m very glad I kept them. Also it’s so quick to sew a pair of trousers when the pockets are already done!

I did do a totally new fly, though I used the original zip. I had to slightly fudge the fly piece and the fly shield as because I had made them more high-waisted than in the orignal pattern, the pieces weren’t tall enough to reach the waist band. The original fly and fly shield were much thinner than the ones for this pattern, so I used the pieces I had cut off the bottoms of the trouser legs to make new pieces. It pretty much worked, and you can’t see any of the McGyvering on the outside.

One of the things I’m proudest of is managing to keep this metal clasp – I bent the prongs that went through the waistband facing to get it off, then poked it through once Id finished the trousers, when I knew it would be in the right place. The hook part of the clasp stayed where it was from the original waistband – I just made sure I used that end in the right place and trimmed the excess off the other side (and from the back seam too) so I could keep the metal thingy.

The original waistband facing (and the pocket bags) are made from this weird cream fabric, as shown above. The facing must be interfaced as it’s quite thick (unless they’re 2 different cream fabrics). Anyone know why it would be so contrast-y? Also there was a gusset from the same fabric in the seat of the trousers, but I did not put that back in as it looked a little worse for wear (gross!).

I also managed to keep the one back pocket, though I definitely think it could have been placed better! I cut out the 2 back pieces at the same time, for speed, but didn’t really take into consideration where this pocket was and made it so I was worried it was going to disappear into the side seam. Luckily there’s only one, so it’s not like one is perfect and the other one is around the side, so hopefully it isn’t as noticeable as I think it is!

Even after cutting off a chunk of the length of the trousers when I trimmed the legs to match the Simplicity pattern, I still had to shorten them by 8cm to get the ankle length hem I was after. I cut off 6cm and left myself 2cm for a double folded hem. I hemmed them on the machine, but I’m temped to unpick it and sew it invisibly by hand as a machine hem doesn’t fit with the style of the trousers. But they’re wearable for now.

And now onto the jacket.

I was going to use the Great British Sewing Bee Hacking Jacket as a pattern to base the jacket on, but I could not get the pattern pieces to fit. Boo. I do want to make it one day as I like the style of it, but for this jacket I decided to slightly wing it and take it in on all the seams where I had unpicked – I maybe shouldn’t have been so hasty to unpick so much!

I think it might be easier to just list all the places I took it in and by how much (in case you’re interested):

5cm off the shoulders
3cm off the side seams (initially I took off 5cm but the pockets were too much to the side so I changed it)
3cm off the back seam (in 2 chunks as I kept tweaking the adjustments)
3cm off the shoulders of the jacket (to bring the shoulder seams up from part way down my arm)
3cm off width of the sleeves
8cm off the top of the sleeves (I traced the shape of the sleeve head and moved it down the sleeve by 8cm to try to keep the button detail on the cuffs of the sleeves, but this didn’t end up working
6cm off the back of the collar

Phew! As you can imagine, this took a loooot of time and a lot of trial and error. The only new things I put in were new shoulder pads, made from wadding. The ones that I took out of the jacket were really past their best and starting to disintegrate. Also they were much too big for my re-sized suit, so it seemed easier to start again.

I made all the same adjustments, above, to the lining. I thought about fiddling with the lining first, so I only had to sew the shell once, once I knew what adjustments to make, but I figured the wool could withstand more unpicking than the lining, which isn’t the most expensive lining in the world.

I made sure to keep the front of the jacket as untouched as possible so I would be able to put the lapels and collar back, without having to know how they work! I sewed a new seam in the back of the collar piece to narrow it so it fitted between the 2 lapels. It was also an advantage to have kept the lapels as they are still pretty well presses, so they don’t want to flap so they’re flat. The notch of the collar/lapel is maybe a little high, but there wasn’t much I could do about it to be honest!

It took a lot of fiddling to get the sleeves right – that is definitely a tailoring skill that I don’t have. I kept the original sleeve head shape and size as I feared making it so small the jacket would have to shrink to fit it, and not the other way around. At one point one of the sleeves was pretty twisted, because there are 2 seams on the sleeve (only one of which I unpicked and took in) and I had lined up the wrong one with the seam on the jacket. It did not feel right! As I mentioned above, I was hoping to keep the button detail on the cuff, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it – and, to be honest, I was running out of time for the deadline! It would have taken a lot more brain than I had at the time to figure out how to re-attach the lining to the button thing, so I got rid of the whole thing and just did a normal hem/lining seam.

The back is maybe the least successful part – but maybe it just needs a good press? I tried to shape the back so it wasn’t quite so straight, but each time I basted it, it looked wrong, so I reverted to a straighter shape – and I’m glad I did as it’s more in keeping with the original style of the jacket. I also managed to keep the 2 vents at the back, which was, again, a headache to work out how to put the lining back in. I wish I had taken photos as I was unpicking as then I would have know how various bits looked before and would have had an idea of how to put it all back.

I’m glad I managed to keep all the pockets – on the outside and in the lining – as they keep the jacket looking quite like the original, and I didn’t have to sew any pockets! Hurray!

The final change I made was to shorten the jacket by 6cm, leaving a 3cm hem (which is how much hem was on the shell before), then the lining was shorter and neatened the whole thing. I was slightly shocked when the lining actually fit the shell, when I went to sew them together again. I bagged it out, unpicking a seam in the side of the lining, then stitching it back by hand once the jacket was turned around. I used this tutorial from Grainline for attaching the lining at the cuffs.

I have resewn the buttons since I took these photos, by the way – you can see below that they absolutely do not line up! It was very late and I was rushing to finish and take photos before the deadline of midnight on the 31st October!

I even managed to reuse the same hook for the back of the jacket. And this is the original hanger the suit was on – I assume my Dad stole it at some point! 🙂

These are all the scraps I have left over after all of the changes I made. It doesn’t look like too much, but I will try to use these up at some point to make the refashion a little lest wasteful. No idea what I’ll use them for, though!

I definitely want to have a go at a proper tailored jacket, from start to finish. Maybe I’ll see if there is an online course or something, so I’ll learn some tricks of the trade. I’m pretty please with how this turned out and I’ve already worn the trousers to work a couple of times. I think the jacket will be a nice warm layer now the weather is getting colder! I have some nice thick jumpers but most of my cardigans are pretty thin, so I think this jacket will see quite a lot of wears when it’s too cold for a cardigan, or over a jumper when it’s really cold.

August (& September) Makes and October Plans

I’m back from my blogging break. Thank you to everyone who left me a message on my last post. It’s lovely to know there are people out there who are so nice and caring. Sorry I didn’t reply – I didn’t really know what to say.

I ended up not making much in September – I was working on an embroidery thing for my Aunt, who I made the meme cushion for and I wasn’t at home for quite a few days so I didn’t sew any clothes, but I did have some sewing fun at the Great British Sewing Bee Live and seeing the Balenciaga exhibition at the V & A museum – there will be full posts on each of these things (including my stash from the GBSB live!) coming up soon.

So my makes are from August. You’ve already seen the items that took up most of August – my outfit for the New Craft House Summer Party, including shoes! By the way, they’re throwing a Winter Party on December 9th. You should all definitely book tickets – I’ve already booked mine, to defend my ‘best outfit’ title! 😉

The only other thing I made was another Collins Top – I love my first one so much I made another over the bank holiday weekend……and then the weather went really cold so I haven’t worn it yet, boo!

And now onto my plans for October (and probably November too, to be honest!).

I really definitely want to make my 2 pairs of jeans, which I already have fabric for, made by the end of November. I want to make one pair in October, but I haven’t decided which pair yet.

I’ve had this coral Anderson Blouse cut out for a couple of months, and now it’s getting colder, I do need some more nice long sleeved tops for work, so this is first on my list to make – hopefully I’ll make it this weekend.

I bought this amazing mustard graphic jersey from Fabrics Galore a couple of months ago (they’re sadly out of stock, but they do have it in a grey colourway) and I’ve decided it might be perfect for an Ebony Dress – I’m not sure I’ve got enough, so if not it will probably be a Marianne Dress, with the long sleeves.

If you can’t tell, I’m craving snuggly jersey dresses now it’s getting colder. I got this stripey jersey, which is pretty thick, from What Katie Sews’s destash sale and I’m hoping there is enough to make an In The Folds Jersey Dress as I like my electric blue one so much. I might shorten it a bit, though, as it is pretty long!

The third dress on my list is the Sew Over It Nancy Dress out of this amazing crowd print viscose which I bought at the same time as the mustard jersey above. Fabrics Galore still have this one in stock!

My final plan for the next month or 2 is to at least cut out the Carolyn Pyjamas in this amazing boaty Liberty print fabric my friend gave me a few months ago. Now it’s getting cold, I find I want some lovely snuggly pyjamas – a lot of my ready to wear clothes, including pyjamas, are getting a bit worn out now but I’m reluctant to buy replacements, so I’m going to try to replace the things I still wear that I’ve bought with versions I’ve made.

The one thing I really absolutely must make is my suit refashion for the refashioners. This is my suit. It actually belonged to my dad – I asked my mum if I could have it a couple of months ago, and now it definitely feels more poignant to be refashioning one of my dad’s suits. I think I’ll ‘just’ make it into a suit that fits me as I don’t have one, and I figure I can wear the trousers and the jacket separately at work if I don’t want to be as smart as wearing a full suit!

What are your sewing plans for Autumn and are you joining in with the refashioners this year?

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Refashion: Taking in a Raglan Tee

Wow, it seems I went a bit overboard with making sure the ‘before’ pictures looked as bad as possible! What is going on with my hair?!

This top, made from lovely flowery corally fabric – I think it’s viscose, it has a really nice drape – was kindly given to me by The Boyfriend’s mum. It was a little big for me, so I decided to make it smaller, which was really quite easy because it’s got raglan sleeves.

But first I cut off these annoying hanging ribbon things. Why do they exist?! They just like to work their way out of the neckline to hang out and look crap!

The sleeves also had these little button tabs, so I unpicked them from the hem of the sleeve and took off the button – which I put into my stash for use on another project in the future.

The next thing was to take in the top at the raglan sleeve seams – this would also reshape the neckline so it wasn’t so wide. I took 1.5cm off each seam – 4 in total (2 sleeves, front and back). I made sure the neckline was lined up, so there wouldn’t be steps or a weirdness on the outside.

I tried the top on after taking out the 4 lots of 1.5cm and it was still a bit loose on the back, so I sewed a 1cm seam – which I copied off a fairly old top I’ve got from New Look which I really like.

I then top-stitched the seam down on one side, sewing from the right side, so it looked straight with the seam I’d just sewn.

The last thing I did was to topstitch the cuffs down – there was a cuff already there, so that when it was pulled up by the button tab you wouldn’t see the wrong side of the fabric. I folded this old cuff in half and stitched it down. Simple!

And this is what it looks like – it just fits better and although it’s still a little loose (which I like), it no longer looks like it’s just too big.

The final change I made was to take 6cm off the hem at the front of the top, tapering to the existing hem at the side seams, making a slight high-low hem, which I think it more flattering on a looser top.

I really like the new cuffs! As I mentioned in my post about my second Melilot Shirt, I really like cuffs on short sleeves at the moment.

I do like a fairly simple refashion! There’s no point reinventing the wheel – if you have a nice top but want to alter the fit, there’s no need to try to make it into not-a-top!

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Refashioned Tea Dress

I’m not sure if this really counts as a refashion as all I did was take in this dress a bit to make it fit better, so I guess it’s more of an alteration?! I always find it funny that The Great British Sewing Bee calls their refashion challenge the ‘alteration challenge’ – it’s not like they’re just taking up a hem or something!

Anyway…….here are the before photos – taken ages ago (I had a binge of taking photos of most of the things I have in my to refashion pile):

tea-dress-refashion-before-1

It doesn’t really look that bad but it was a couple of sizes too big, which you can see especially around the bust area as I’m exaggerating below.

tea-dress-refashion-before-2

I put the dress on and pinned it at various placed to work out what changed I needed to make. There are bust darts, which needed to be about 1cm deeper over the apex of my bust, graduating out to nothing at the side seams.

tea-dress-refashion-2There are also back darts which I deepened by 2cm at the waits, tapering to nothing at the original top of the dart. Even just these changes made quite a bit of difference to the shape of the dress.

tea-dress-refashion-1I also measured that I needed to take some fabric out of the side seams on the bodice – I measure this as 2cm but after sewing the new seams, I tried on the dress and it was waaay to tight – I think I must have measure the various alterations in isolation, not taking into account how much the darts would take in the bodice, meaning I didn’t have to take in the side seams.

I was going to try to alter the sleeves by sewing new sleeves – without having to unpick and resew them – but it didn’t work, so I left them as they were and I think they look okay. If I was being really picky, I would want the sleeve seams 1 or 2cm closer to the collar. Speaking of which, I’m glad the collar fitted well as it was, I didn’t fancy having to change it!tea-dress-refashion-4

I wasn’t going to change the skirt, but I did unpick it and resew it 1.5cm further up, to raise the waist seam just a little so it sits on the bottom of my ribs instead of on my waist – it seemed like a cuter silhouette. To do this I had to unpick the button bands from the bottom up to just above the waist seam. I then sewed the new waist seam – gathering the back of the skirt so it fitted the new bodice size (because of the new darts), then sandwiched the skirt front edges in the button bands and stitched them back into place. I then hemmed the button bands so they lined up again with the hem.

tea-dress-refashion-5

All in all I’m pretty pleased with how a few changed and only a couple of hours of sewing means I’ve ended up with a dress I’ll wear – and one I can wear to work! It’s also a timely dress to have altered as my 2 best friends and I have been taking for ages about getting tattoos together – we were going to get a teapot, a teacup and a cupcake (one for each of us) but Chloe pointed out the cupcake might look like a pooh, so I think we’re all now going for teapots, so I’ll be able to wear this dress and it will match my tattoo!! We’re probably going to get them in January when we get together for our annual Christmas 2. I’m so excited!

It will be something like this but probably a little smaller.

teapot-tattoo(image source – via pinterest)

Do you have any tattoos? Do you regret them?

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5 Things I Learned from Me Made May 2016

mmmay16Did you take part in Me Made May this year? How did you find it? I think this was the year I enjoyed least – the first 2 years I took part I was so excited to have enough me made clothes to be able to take part that I really enjoyed making an effort to wear my me mades and find ways to make them work in my wardrobe. I wonder if it was because for the first 3/4 of May I wasn’t working so it felt odd to get slightly dressed up – I feel like most of my me mades are smart/casual. But then conversely when I did get some temping work I found it hard to dress for a smarter office than I’ve worked in before.

My pledge was “I, Amelia of www.sewingmachinations.wordpress.com, pledge to wear at least one me-made garment 5 days per week. I will also try to finish off 3 garments I have cut out and make a completely me-made outfit for a wedding I’m going to at the end of May.”

I definitely completed the days of the week part – there were only 4 days when I didn’t make something me-made (sometimes I wore the same outfit 2 days in a row, in case you think there aren’t enough photos below :)). I did finish the outfit for the wedding – you can see the full post on it here. And I did technically finish 3 garments I already had cut out, though only 2 of them made it to the blog and only those 2 got worn, so I would call that a partial success.

Here are 5 things I realised while taking part in #mmmay16.

1  I freakin’ suck at taking selfies/ photos of myself in my clothes – like really really suck. In my defense I don’t currently have a full-length mirror and I felt bad asking The Boyfriend to take a picture every day. Also I kept forgetting until I’d got ready for bed!

Day 1 insta Day 2 insta Day 3 insta
Day-4-insta-square Day-5-&-6-insta-square Day 8 insta

(clockwise from top left: royal blue coco top, navy blue rushcutter, flowery plantain +
mustard yellow victoria blazer + taken in trousers, blue spotty archer,
breton plantain + refashioned victoria blazer, francoise dress)

2  It was much harder to dress for office work. I’ve been doing some temping since moving and it’s the first time I’ve had to wear office-type clothes – I’ve always been in quite casual jobs where I could wear jeans and trainers.

Day 9 insta Day 10 insta Day 11 insta
Day 12 insta Day 13 insta Day 14 insta

(clockwise from top left: flowery banksia, refashioned parrot shirt,
refashioned shirt dress, pink stripey banksia + black simplicity 2451 skirt,
refashioners refashioned shirt, turquoise coco top)

3  Conversely I don’t have much casual me-made things – for weekends and the weeks before I started temping.

Day 16 Day 17 insta Day 18 insta
Day 19 insta Day 20 insta Day 22 insta

(clockwise from top left: navy blue rushcutter, aztec print linden,
gingham violet blouse,
flowery plantain + mustard yellow victoria blazer +
taken in trousers, 
blue spotty archer, blue stripey laurel

4  I don’t have much warm me-made clothing and this year was unseasonably bloody cold through most of the month.

Day-21-square Day-21-b-square Day 24 insta
Day 25 insta Day 27 insta Day 28 & 29 insta
Day 30 insta Day 31 insta

(clockwise from top left – ending in the middle: lace dress for wedding,
mustard yellow victoria blazer, coco dress, green tartan gbsb
boyfriend shirt
, orla kiely-esque laurel + black victoria blazer,
breton plantain, black victoria blazer + refashioned freemantle
coat
, blue flowery scout tee)

5 I need to make some bottoms, especially trousers. All my photos are of tops or dresses – and mostly where there aren’t bottoms shown, it was a pair of rtw jeans from Primark about 10 years ago or a part of rtw skinny trousers from New Look about 8 years ago!

melilot-shirt-patternSo my plans are to sew some more smarter things for office working, including the Deer and Doe Melilot shirt which I just ordered – I have some perfect floaty fabric already in my stash. I also am going to order the Guise Pants pattern I think and maybe (once I’ve finally made some Ginger Jeans) use the Ginger pattern to make some smarter looking skinny trousers, by not doing the top stitching or adding the hardware – I think this will work, watch this space! I also bought some stuff in the sale Colette had recently – the Aster, Astoria and Zinnia which I think will all work well for office wear.

Roberts Collection 2

I think the 3 Colette patterns could, depending on fabric choice, also fill the other gap I have – relaxing weekend clothes. Apart from jeans I don’t have many items that I would wear just for slobbing around the house – and certainly not any I’ve made. And sometimes I don’t want to wear jeans, especially if I’m feeling bloated and am sitting down a lot – say at my sewing machine – I usually end up undoing the buttons just to feel comfortable. I have Marilla Walker’s Roberts Collection and I think this could really help me out with this hole. If you have any suggestions of patterns to sew (I’m too slow at knitting to knit any) warm clothes, I would be thrilled to take them off your hands. Also what fabrics are warm? I feel like I usually don’t take that into account and then end up too cold or too hot a lot of the time – usually too cold as a) I like in Britain and b) I’m cold-blooded I think.

I’m wondering if I should make a pledge for what I will have achieved by next Me Made May, to keep myself accountable!? Nah. I don’t want a whole year’s worth of sewing mapped out for me – what about all the pretty new patterns yet to come out!

 
You-may-also-like-coral

Navy-Spotty-Rushcutter-thumb 2 Fix It: Taking in the Waistband of Trousers thumbnail Black-Victoria-Blazer-thumb 2

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