Thursday, 31 August 2017

Refashioning project: creative solutions for pretty but unwearable impulse purchases

Have you ever bought an item of clothing, thrown it on in the changing room and decided it looked good, or scooped it up as an impulse buy, only to get it home and realise there is something about the fit that makes it almost unwearable? With high street shops under pressure to bring out new 'micro-collections' every couple of weeks, it's not surprising some garments slip through the cracks (these are usually the ones you'll see en masse on a sale rail) but it is frustrating when there is something you really like about the piece of clothing you've just bought.

My sister snagged two of these maxi dresses, one for each of us in slightly different colours, at a sample sale. I loved the printed silk and was sure it would be great to wear on holidays, but soon realised while wearing it around the house on a hot day that although there was plenty of fabric gathered into the waistband of the skirt, the bottom was so narrow that I couldn't walk normally! At first I wondered whether the skirt had somehow ended up upside down during the manufacturing process, but it had pockets in the side seams, so the narrow skirt was either deliberate, or no-one had tried walking about in it during a fitting. 

The simple solution would have been to make a slit in one of the side seams (or take it to a charity shop!) but I was feeling adventurous; I really liked the fabric and the print, the top was super cute and it had pockets, so out of curiosity I unpicked the waist seam and laid a simple pyjama trouser block onto the skirt to see if I would have enough fabric to make the dress into a jumpsuit. There was just enough, so using the existing side seams with the pockets as outside leg seams I cut two 'legs' from the skirt, adding an extra couple of inches above the waist so I would be able to move about! After sewing up the legs to make a pair of loose trousers, I re-attached the waist of the trousers to the top and added shoulder straps made from the leftover fabric. 
Although it ended up being quite a different garment, I've got a fab summery outfit to wear on holidays or for lounging around, and not only is it comfortable to move around in, but it has pockets

This sort of 'refashioning' project may seem daunting but it's a worthwhile thing to learn; being able to see the potential in a garment and making some alterations so that it's something you love wearing rather than something you tolerate is such a useful skill. A few hours spent learning how to use a sewing machine and making a simple garment from scratch should give you the confidence to fix the clothes in your wardrobe that are bothering you. If you're not sure about giving it a go unsupervised, try beginners sewing classes at somewhere like The Thrifty Stitcher , where sewing pro Claire-Louise Hardie also runs alterations workshops and troubleshooting sessions for personal projects. 

I still have the second dress languishing in my wardrobe and I’m planning another refashioning project so it will be ready for next summer: watch this space!

1 comment:

  1. So it started out as a dress! I had no idea. Who designs a dress that is too narrow at the bottom to walk about in? What happens if you have to run for a bus? Hitch it up round your knees? End result looks great.