I really enjoyed the 3-piece set I made last month as part of The Refashioner’s challenge, but I wasn’t necessarily going to have another go. Then fate intervened in the form of a suit in a charity shop on sale for £2.50…
The Original Suit
The suit in question was in a particularly sorry state and wasn’t so much calling out for a refashion as a total rescue. It was originally from M&S and contained a label saying ‘inspired by Italy’ but I’m fairly sure Italy wouldn’t want to take credit for it! It was a fairly grubby shade of beige with an unflattering cut and complete with sweat stains at the arm pits and tomato soup (or at least I hope that’s what they were) stains down the front of the jacket. Its only redeemable feature was the nice linen/lyocell blend fabric it was made from. I was in such a hurry to get the whole thing in a washing machine that I forgot to take photos of it in its original condition.
As I didn’t have much confidence in getting the stains out and I don’t happen to be a big fan of grubby beige as a colour I threw in the half pack of Redwood Dylon machine dye I had left over from another project in with the suit. The suit came out a fairly pleasant dusky pink/coral colour and as an added bonus the shiny lining turned out to be viscose not polyester so picked up the dye too.
I took the photo above of the suit after it came out the washing machine but forgot to switch the focus of my camera back on after another project, which I failed to notice until I had uploaded the photos (and cut up the suit) as my eyesight is not nearly as sharp as it once was.
The Apron Dress
The first idea was to make an apron dress from the jacket keeping the original suit pockets. I drafted a pattern for the dress in the slight cocoon shape that I was looking for in two pieces (a front and back) to begin with. Working with the original darts and seams in the jackets I cut up and reassembled my pattern pieces to get a good position for the pockets. As there were already seams running through the pockets I was able to unpick these right up to the pockets and reshape them to become the curved sides of the dress. The original darts in the chest had to stay, and the back had to be made in three sections.
Due to the placement of the pockets, on one side of the dress front I couldn’t avoid having the original chest welt pocket cutting into the piece. To make it less noticeable I unpicked the welt pocket and replace the gap with a patch.
I used the original lining which had picked up the dye in a different way and formed a darker shade to line the dress. Originally I had planned just to make facings but the inside of the chest pieces of the jacket were very messy to look at.
Pink top-stitching was used on seams I wanted to emphasise and avoided on those I wanted to ‘disappear’.
The pockets were already lined and make a nice feature on an otherwise simple design.
Tie Front Pleated Trousers
For the trousers I redrafted a pattern I made years ago in a bigger size. If I can work out how to do it, I’d love to digitise and grade this pattern, as 3 years later I still like the style.
I cut the pattern pieces from the top part of the original trousers, and again used the original lining fabric for the pocket bags.
The trousers are designed to be a relaxed-fitting peg-leg shape with pockets, pleats a partially elasticated waistband and faux tie-front detail. The lyocell/linen blend is the perfect drape and weight for the style.
The Bomber Jacket
The remaining pieces of suit were beginning to get quite scarce/small so the decision as to which child would get a jacket was made for me. Again I drafted a simple shape for the bomber pattern. The sleeve pieces were easy to fit out of the original sleeves of the suit jacket and the front pieces came from leftover pieces of trousers, but when it came to the back piece there was nowhere near enough fabric left to cut it in one or even two.
The great thing about refashioning is when limitations can be transformed into design features, so I decided to cut up the pattern piece for the back to make a chevron pattern.
There was not enough lining fabric left to line the jacket so I used a small but quirky piece of woven wool from Simply Fabrics for the inside of the jacket and pockets.
I happened to have a fairly small piece of striped sweatshirting left over from a dress I made for myself that I though would be a great match for the apron dress. It wasn’t quite big enough to make a top as any of the patterns I have would allow, but in the spirit of refashioning and reducing wasted I managed to squeeze most of the pieces for a long-sleeve Nore top out of it by adding length in the form of a cuff at the waist.The Conclusion is..
I’m totally hooked on refashioning. I have loved the creative challenge provided by the limitations and possibilities of repurposing. The fact that three pieces of clothing can be made with a £2.50 suit plus a few extras also appeals to the thrifty side of my nature. Finally, organisations like Fashion Revolution are doing a great job of raising awareness about the negative impact of the global textile and clothing industry on both people and the planet, so finding use for second-hand clothing and textiles is definitely something I’m going to try to commit to doing more.