Refashioning or upcycling textiles into new designs has been really fun and satisfying, so I resolved to push myself more in 2020. Here’s a gallery of projects from the past couple of years:
I didn’t have to wait long. I was chosen to compete on “Refashion Runway” – a friendly sewing competition sponsored by Beth Huntington, aka “The Renegade Seamstress.”
Yikes! There are 15 contestants who have put up some fabulous looks using textiles that had a previous life. Here’s a rundown of the competitors with some of their choice refashioned looks. I am so impressed with how these sewers combine textiles and shapes to create something super cool.
While I am no slouch in the sewing department, my refashioned looks have been a bit, shall I say, basic? I have upcycled and refashioned mostly large flat pieces of fabric, such as a sari, a blanket and not one, but two tablecloths. My most ambitious project was creating a nightgown out of an old bathrobe, and while I like how this project turned out, it’s not exactly a garment I wear on the street. In public. Or even in a photo on this blog.
So, I gotta step it up.
The first project, which starts January 18th, is “Statement Sleeves.” We were given the basic challenge parameters in advance, so we could start planning. There are few guidelines for each challenge; we’re meant to interpret it for ourselves. I assume this challenge means we need to create a big, showy sleeve in an refashioned garment. Statement sleeves broke through as a trend a few years ago as a kind of antidote to the sleeveless look of the early 2010s. It’s still going strong, to judge from all the ruffles, puffs, pleats, cutouts and other sleeve designs you see out there.
I really like a dramatic cuff on a sleeve, so that’s my jumping-off point.
In my closet, several misfit discarded garments wait for their chance to shine. That’s your cue, awkward linen dress!
My friend Emmeline gave me this dress last summer. She wore it once but found it … just … not … her cup o’tea. But the fabric was nice, so she gave it to me with encouragement to refashion it.
The first thing I did was to wash and machine dry it with other laundry three times to soften the linen-cotton blend up and to let any shrinking get nice and shrunken. Trying it on, you no doubt notice a few pros and cons:
- I like a high-contrast print, which this for sure provides in navy and white.
- It’s big and long enough to give me some fabric to work with.
- There are no darts or zippers and few seams to complicate a refashion project.
- The hem and sleeve hems are split, offering some design change opportunities.
- I am not crazy about the “junior high school art teacher” swishy brushstroke motif.
- It has no lining, and the “wrong side” of the fabric looks pretty bad, as the navy bleeds through.
- The neckline is awkwardly proportioned and has a crummy facing.
- The fabric remains a bit stiff and ungainly despite three journeys in the washing machine and dryer.
Clearly, this is not going to work as a dress, no matter how it’s refashioned.
My big idea is to turn it into a duster-style jacket. I think I will cut it right up the middle, self-face the raw edges, recut the neckline and add some darts for shaping, front and back. Maybe a contrasting lining? It will need some help as the wrong side will be on display even more as a jacket.
But what about the sleeves? That’s the whole point of the challenge. I am thinking a cuff – in the same contrast as the lining – with some accent hardware or other bling to edge this look up a bit.
I had nothing suitable in my closet of misfit garments, so it was off to Goodwill to see what they had.
This red rain jacket has a lot to work with as it’s fully lined. The zipper was broken, which is probably why someone donated it. And it has a cute drawstring in the hood, which can be repurposed easily.
Red is my favorite color! And the contrast with navy and white will look chic (I hope).
I have a good week to play around with my ideas before the contest starts. Wish me luck!