Tag Archives: refashion

Quick Summer Refashions

Is there such a thing as too hot to sew? For me, there is. My sewing area is not in my cool zone, and I don’t like to set up my ironing board on a hot day. Sometimes I try to cheat and sew without pressing when I should to avoid the iron, but that doesn’t work out so well.

Rayon is a cool fabric for summer, and I have two quick refashions to show you.

The first is from my own closet from over a decade ago. I didn’t sew then, and I bought the dress at the drugstore, which shows that I was never much of a clothes shopper. The dress was rarely worn, and became too tight in the bust, and the elastic didn’t sit in the right place. I didn’t have much fabric to work with so I didn’t use a pattern and just improvised. I made a bandeau top elasticized on the top back, and made straps fashioned from the leftover top pieces. I like the swingy shape from using the bottom of the dress.

The sun faces are upside down. I don’t think I noticed things like print placement before I started sewing.

The before photo is from over 10 years ago when I was in my late 40s.

The second refashion was of a maxi dress bought several years ago at the thrift store that needed to be resized. It’s one of those dresses with the thin ties that tie at the back to give some shaping to the waist. The length was perfect but I never properly finished the dress because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it , so it sat in the refashion pile. The border print was the prettiest part of the dress, so I decided to make another simple boxy top. I used my altered Maya pattern and black bias tape for the neckline.

Even though I also liked the dress, the top will get much more wear than the dress would have. I already have another dress with the same style but with a print that I like more that I’m keeping as is.

Using recycled fabric already in the system is also an example of sustainable sewing. This type of sewing is concerned with limiting ecological waste, and is an issue widely talked about in the sewing community.

“Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly. The whole idea behind “sustainability” in general and sustainable sewing in specific is that of leaving a minimal impact on the planet. This idea incorporates issues like carbon footprint, waste creation and disposal, and labor practices.”

A large portion of my sewing is sustainable. Most of the tops and dresses I sew fit this category with the fabrics sourced secondhand, but I usually have to buy new bottomweight fabric for pants and new knit fabric. I bought three different knit fabrics last year – a ponte, a cotton knit, and a rayon knit and sewed them all. I have no knit fabrics in stash. To be honest, I started sewing with secondhand fabrics as a more affordable way to sew, and not because of the environment. I also like the creativity of upcycling textiles such as making clothing from sheets, tablecloths, and scraps. I like using what I already have, and I love the advantages of sewing this way from both from a thrifty and environmentally friendly perspective.

Simple Winter Skirt Refashion

I bought this polyester and rayon blend knit skirt with a small black and white houndstooth pattern for $5 at Goodwill.  It was large and long with a long slit up the back so I had plenty of material to work with.  I wasn’t sure how to start: should I cut to make a new hem or a new waistband?

I decided to keep it simple so I kept the existing elastic waistband and cut up from the bottom to make a new hemline.  I put it against my “wild” skirt to mark new seams.

Then I put it on and decided I wanted to add pockets.  I looked in a few books and online for some help in doing this. I cut the pockets out of lining polyester I already had and included the skirt material as facings.  I had some trouble making my pockets lie flat. They add some bulk to the hips- not a good thing!

I sewed rayon seam binding on the hem and then finished it by hand stitching.  I think I could have saved some time and just machine stitched the hem because my hem is not invisible due to puckering.

And my final result:

My verdict: I don’t think the shape or style is very flattering on me.  I feel dowdy and stuffy in it.  Maybe making it shorter would have helped. Not really my cup of tea.  Also I don’t like that the color looks so gray and blah from a distance.  Nothing I tried on looked good with it.  I just can’t envision myself wearing this.  I always wear pants in the winter because I don’t like to wear pantyhose and I don’t want to have bare legs on a winter morning, and this skirt won’t be the one to break me of that habit.




That Print’s Really Wild

I bought this button front cotton “house dress” type shirtdress for $4 at Goodwill.  I was attracted to the colors in the print but also found the print overwhelming. Cover your eyes- it’s a pink and black zebra. The dress had a rectangle shape and looked frumpy on me.

I decided to make a skirt.   I made a waistband with the middle piece I cut.  I put elastic in the back waist waistband only, and made a new buttonhole for the front. I also narrowed the waistline by sewing a new seam from the hip to the waist.

I practiced my buttonhole on a scrap and it came out perfectly.  Then I sewed the real thing and got a big bump.  But I stitched it again, and it’ll do.  My first buttonhole!

I finished this refashion at the end of November before it was cold.

All of my dresses and skirts are for warm weather.  Next I want to refashion a winter skirt.

Thrifting: A Look Back at My First Refashion

I never set foot in a thrift shop until about 2 or 3 years ago. I read about knitters who bought thrift store sweaters, took them apart, and unraveled them to recycle the yarn.  So I went in, bought a few sweaters, but only partially unraveled one.  Later I went to a new Goodwill that had a dressing room and liked how the clothes were sorted by type and color.  And I especially love a bargain!  I started going every month and buying some clothes, jewelry, and odds and ends.  I also discovered thrifting blogs and then refashioning blogs after I bought my sewing machine.

My favorite is The Renegade Seamstress. She takes you through her refashion tutorials step by step, and makes it seem possible that you too can end up with her fantastic results.  Could I really make something I’d want to wear out of something that didn’t fit me? I decided to give it a try.

I bought this Nina Picolino floor length rayon dress with no closures for $6, which is the going rate for dresses at this Goodwill.  Instead of it being too big, like most refashions, this dress was too tight across the hips making it ride up around the waist. I liked the color and print, and thought it would make a pretty ladies tea or garden party type dress.

Original Dress

First I cut out the middle and used the middle to make the bow belt from Tilly and the Buttons.

Cut Out the Middle

Bow Belt

I shortened the shoulder seams to fit, and sewed up the long side slits on the skirt.  I made 4 darts on the skirt, 2 smaller darts on the bodice front ( the back already had 2 darts), and then sewed the bodice to skirt, trying to match all 7 seams (the darts, side seams, and back center seam).  I say “tried” because I redid the join several times but couldn’t perfectly match all of them, but finally I got close enough.

Because there is no zipper, the waist had to be big enough to fit over my bust, which gave me the choice of using elastic at the empire waist seam or leaving it slightly loose and belting for a form fit.  The bow belt was a perfect match for this dress, and I wanted a smooth look for the skirt so I did the latter.

And here is my result (inspired from ten minute summer dress):

I’m going to do this again!