Denim has to be one of my favourite fabrics. I love its iconic history as a workwear fabric, but also the fact that it’s now so often used as a desirable, high value fashion fabric. You really can’t go wrong with denim, dress it up, dress it down, wear it with brights or neutrals it just works.
I laboured A LOT over what to do for Portia’s challenge, I knew I wanted to use some kind of piecing method akin to patchwork and play with different shades of denim. I love Japanese boro textiles too and kept changing my mind between a dress, jacket and top and how I could incorporate all these influences. Here’s what I decided on in the end.
I used approx. 3-4 pairs of men’s or women’s jeans in various washes. Use lighter weight denim or worn denim if you can find it, to make a softer, looser top. Mine is quite boxy as I just used what denim I had rather than buying more!
Bias binding to finish the hem and neck. ( I used approx. 3m)
Iron-on bias tape (Vilene tape) or strips of interfacing to stabilise the neck (if you do a V neck).
Make complete patterns for the front and back. If you’re changing the shape of the neck do this now (I changed mine from a boat neck to a V neck). Then plan the design of your panels.
I also decided to make the back of my pattern longer at the hem and add side splits.
Number the different panels, add a grainline to each piece and notches to the seamlines, then trace them off individually and add seam allowances.
Because I just wanted to harvest the fabric from my jeans (I wasn’t interested in including any of the hardwear or original styling details), I mainly used the legs of the jeans for my panels as they provided the biggest areas of fabric. To save time, rather than unpicking I simply cut off the side and inside leg seams.
I did unpick the back pockets as I have quite a collection of jeans pockets and will (one day) use them for a project that is yet to be designed!
Side note: disassembling ready-to-wear garments is a great way to learn techniques to improve your own garment construction
I love the way the corners of the seam allowances on these pockets have been tucked under so that they don’t poke out of the top of the pocket once attached.
Join the two upper and two lower panels of the fronts and backs. Take care with the diagonal seams, they will stretch as they cross the bias of the fabric.
Neaten the seam allowances (I simply zig-zagged mine) and press the seams open.
Join the upper and lower panels together, then join the centre front and centre back seams. Pin securely first to ensure the points match and machine tack in place (to machine tack set your machine to sew a straight stitch on the longest length). Check that your seams meet perfectly, if so machine permanently, if not, remove your tacking (machine tacking is easy to unpick) and try again!
Attach iron-on bias tape to wrong side of V neck.
Join shoulders / overarms and side seams, taking care again to match seamlines.
Make and attach the sleeve bands. Topstitch the sleeve seam towards the body and away from the sleeve band.
The neatest way to finish off the V neck is with bias binding used as a facing. Position the end of the bias binding beyond the intersection of the two seam allowances at the point of the V neck on the right side of the garment and pin in place. (I also tacked mine in place to make sure I was super accurate at the point of the V – start your tacking at the intersection of the two seam allowances at the point of the V and tack along the crease line in the binding.)
It’s helpful to pin the overhanging end of the binding back on itself so that when the other end of the binding reaches the intersecting seam allowances at the point of the V you can position it accurately.
Your tacking should stop in exactly the same position at the point of the V as it started on the other end of the binding.
Snip into the seam allowance of the garment to the point of the V.
Let the bias binding fold back on itself to cover your stitching and then fold it around completely to the inside of the neck.
The two ends of the bias binding will overlap each other.
Wrap one loose end of the bias binding around the other, tucking the short cut end to the underside.
Cut off the longer end of the bias binding that isn’t tucked under and pin and tack the binding in position.
Machine the binding in place close to the loose edge.
Use the same method to finish the side splits and the hem.
Give everything a good press.
I’m really happy with the end result, I think it’s a perfect amalgamation of all the things that inspire me about denim; its workwear roots, the way it wears and holds a history, patchwork piecing techniques, Japanese boro textiles and Japanese inspired simple clean silhouettes. I think it will become a much worn core piece in my wardrobe that can be dressed up or down and layered in cooler months.
I think this method would also look great as a loose boxy dress, which was one of my original plans. You could use any pattern for a woven loose fitting top or dress for this refashion, I used the bodice of my Fulwood dress pattern (http://www.miycollection.com/collections/sewing-patterns-digital/products/pull-on-shift-dress-pattern ), but there are plenty of others that would work well:
- Inari T dress by Named Clothing
- Lottie Dress by Christine Haynes
- Maya top and dress by Marilla Walker
- Willow Tank or Scout T by Grainline
- Fen dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts
I think with denim refashions, there’s a perception that it’ll just end up looking “patchworky” and twee. Great if you like twee…but if you don’t…well…I think there is a definite danger of that…the whole denim patchwork thing has been known to make me go “ack!!” if I’m honest. (Which is why I wanted this year’s series to focus on jeans. It’s time that perception got challenged and put some fresh inspiration out there!) But dodgy denim patchworks are not a fait acomplis. It’s not a foregone conclusion. If you approach it in the right way, apply modern quilting aesthetics, and give thought to the placement and overall design of the component parts and the final piece, you CAN avoid the “ackfest” of bygone denim refashions. You can add a new and modern take that’s edgy and quirky. You just gotta stay on the right side of the tracks with this and employ a bit of planning! For me this is the right side of modern, edgy and quirky patchwork. Love what Wendy’s done here. LOVE.IT.
You can find Wendy here or here. And if you’re inspired to get your refashion on and enter the Community Challenge and be in with a chance of winning some epic prizes…DO IT! Deadline for entries is 30th Sept. Midnight GMT.
….I think you’ve got the idea now right? Essentially we want you to refashion some jeans! (You can find the full details/small print of the brief here). BUT, if you want to be in with a chance of winning one of these amazing prize packages you need to SHARE that refashion with us in one of the following ways:
- On Instagram: Share a pic using the hashtags #therefashioners2016 and #jeanius
- On Pinterest: There is a community board here where you can pin your makes. (You will need to request an invite to join)
- On Facebook: There is a community board here where you can post your makes (You will need to request an invite to join)
Only entries shared via the above 3 methods will be entered into the competition. Closing date for entries is 30th September 2016 Midnight GMT. Good luck!!