It’s super exciting to be part of the Refashioners challenge again, and I feel really proud to be included in the handful of sewers who have taken part all three times. My life has changed significantly since the first one took place in 2011, and my refashions for this series have really reflected that!
With such an amazing selection of sewing/style bloggers for the 2015 edition, I can’t lie, I definitely felt a bit intimidated! Not that it is in any way a competition, of course, but I didn’t want to let the challenge down by making the least exciting project. So rather than allow myself to be overwhelmed by all the amazing things I imagined everyone else would be creating, I reminded myself that the most fun outcome for this challenge would be for each of us to make something that truly represents our own style and creative spirit. In that vein, I decided to make something for my daughter, as that is a major focus of my creative energies these days. I did consider making something for myself, perhaps an adult version of this top , but I also really wanted the outcome to be something that will see lots of wear, and I feel that a dress for her is more likely to.
Whilst this refashion project was underway, I visited the ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. It was all completely fascinating and inspiring, but the exhibits that spoke to me most were the sections where adult clothing had been transformed into clothing for infants and children. The parallel between those activities and what I was currently engaged in really struck me.
So on to the actual refashion… The shirt I received was chosen and sent by Sally from Charity Shop Chic. It was a men’s bias cut gingham dress shirt. My initial observations were that the shirt was in excellent condition, so I didn’t need to avoid certain parts of it, and in general the fabric was quite crisp.
My favourite part to reuse when refashioning a shirt is the button stand. Who wants to mark out and make buttonholes and stitch on rows of buttons if they can help it?! So I knew I was going to retain that feature to form the fastening of the garment. I decided on a fairly uncomplicated silhouette and was lead towards an A-line as I felt that the crispness of the fabric would hold the shape well. The preppiness of the gingham leant itself to a cute little white collar, and I decided to use an applique to keep it looking like children’s wear.
With the design elements in place, I foraged around my pattern stash for something suitable. I ended up making a franken-pattern from the babies’ blouse pattern in Burdastyle 9/2013 (which I have used in various guises twice before) and Newlook 6578. I self drafted the pointy collar, and initially altered the sleeve pattern piece to give it a slightly puffed sleevehead, which I later trimmed away again in favour of the original set in sleeve shape.
I dissected the shirt by cutting along the seam lines and pressed the front, back and sleeve pieces flat ready for cutting. A few years ago, whilst working for TRAIDremade, I learnt a trick to use when recutting shirts; button the shirt front pieces so that the right sides are together.
Then lay the front pattern piece on top so the Centre Front of the pattern runs down the centre of the buttons of the shirt front. That way you can cut through both layers of short front and don’t need to worry about getting the buttons and buttonholes positioned correctly. The only other thing was to make sure that the first button/buttonhole was positioned about 2.5/3 cms away from the top edge of the pattern.
I wanted to add the applique whilst the front pieces were still separate from the rest. I ummed and arred about what type of applique to add to this dress. Wjilst hunting through my scraps box looking for inspiration, I found this little matryoshka doll motif that I’d salvaged from the scraps hamper at a former employer’s years ago. Using iron-on bondaweb to secure it in place, I used a small zigzag to stitch round the edges.
The next task was to attach the front and back pieces at the shoulder seams. Because of the fiddly nature of sewing tiny children’s wear, I took the opportunity to prep and stitch on my collar at this point, before stitched side seams or inserted sleeves could make access to the neck hole any trickier. My method for attaching the collar was this: I basted it to the neck edge, then overlocked round the entire neck hole. Next, I folded the overlocking to the inside and topstitched it in place, which should keep the collar from flapping up too much.
Thanks so much to Portia for both inviting me to take part, and for all the energy and effort she has put in to organizing this challenge. Every element of this challenge has been thought through and carefully planned, and everyone was kept well informed at every stage so it was totally easy and fun to be part of it. I truly hope that all the (no-doubt amazing, although I haven’t seen any of the others at the time I’m writing this!) finished refashions will encourage everyone who likes to sew to consider reusing existing garments and textiles, rather than always buying new fabric, when they embark on a new sewing project to dress themselves, their families and even their homes.
Too. Flippin. Cute. Oh my goodness! How adorable is Dolores?! Makes me smile just looking at that happy face! Shirts are fantastic sources of fabric for clothes for the little one’s right?? Pinterest is swarming with “Daddys Little girl” diy shirt dresses and I’ve seen some equally cute stuff for the boys too. Their diminutive size make kids clothes perfect for shirt refashions! (Sorry Dad! One more reason your shirts might get pilfered!) And thank YOU Zoe for being part of all 3 series. Mwah!
You can find Zoe here and here. And she has also very generously donated a copy of her Dolores Batwing Top pattern to add to the prize package!! Take a look at ALL the amazing prizes to be won as part of The Refashioners 2015 Community Challenge. So get involved for a chance to win!!! Grab a shirt and get refashioning! You have until Sunday 27th Sept to enter! Stay tuned for more inspiration throughout the WHOLE of August!