When asked to take part in the 2016 edition of The Refashioners, this was the sales pitch:
*The aim is to validate refashioning as a companion to conventional dressmaking.*
Wait… you want me for… conventional dressmaking?
Conventional effin’ dressmaking? Are you for real?
Turns out Portia was for real, but it wasn’t conventional dressmaking she was looking for. Or at least that’s what she told me as she tirelessly massaged my ego about how it would be so great to have me participate and blablabla.
Long story short, I can’t say no to women, so here we are with my bid for refashion immortality. Or as I like to think of it, that time I had to explain to everybody that no, I was not going to make a Canadian tuxedo.
**The design brief**
The brief this year is to make something out of jeans. You know, denim. But not denim shirts or jackets. Only jeans.
The pants simultaneously known for hugging girls’ behinds in a way that makes you realise there is a God, and then being draped of a builder’s behind in a way that makes you immediately question your newfound belief system.
Given that I don’t buy clothes and only make them, I didn’t have a stash of unloved jeans tucked away somewhere. So the first challenge was getting something to work with.
The thrift store was the obvious starting place, or was it? The jeans for sale in the thrift store are perfectly fine, and cutting up a garment that might be somebody else’s thrift store score just seems wrong.
So I talked to the staff there and asked if there was maybe any chance they’d have some jeans that weren’t fit for sale? Turns out all of the clothes they deem not suitable for sale are brought to a central place where they are sold by weight. Jeans are dumped in a big box there, and they go for 2 euro per kilogram.
I got 6.
Well, I got 10 pairs of jeans, which was about 6 kg.
High on excitement about my score, I promptly made a pledge to only use jeans for my creation. The refashioners rules allow for some other fabrics to be used in combination with the jeans. But you know, ice-skating uphill and all that.
So new rule: Nothing but jeans.
**Part 1: Waistcoat**
Let’s first establish that I am not going to make trousers. Making jeans out of jeans seems counterproductive.
Whenever you make something out of denim that isn’t jeans, the dark shadow of the fashion faux-pas that is the Canadian tuxedo looms on the horizon. Whatever I would make out of these jeans, should not be worn with jeans.
As it happens, I was preparing to make my Wahid waistcoat pattern available when Portia contacted me. It felt right to me to combine the formal feel of a waistcoat with the informal nature of denim.
Obviously no pair of jeans is large enough for the pattern pieces that are required. So I decided to extend the front darts into some sort of prince-seam (as in, the male equivalent of princess seam) that would allow me to work with narrower parts.
I had to slash the back horizontally and add another vertical slash at the bottom part to piece everything together.
Lining the waistcoat in another layer of jeans denim would make it too heavy. Not to mention that piecing together the pattern pieces from reclaimed jeans twice didn’t appeal to me.
Given that I was not allowing myself to use lining fabric, I had to put facing on all edges so that I could wear the waistcoat unlined, yet neatly finished.
For pockets, I felt welt pockets to be a bit of a odd look on jeans. Not to mention that making a welt pocket through a flat-felled jeans seam is probably not even possible.
So I carefully salvaged a coin pocket from one of the jeans, making sure to keep the top stitching and rivets intact, and hand-sewed it to my waistcoat.
Apart from these modifications, this is just your standard waistcoat. If you’d like to make one like this, I’ve explained in detail how to do so in the pattern documentation.
**Part 2: Tie**
You shouldn’t wear a waistcoat without a tie. So while we’re at it, might as as well throw in a jeans tie right?
Turns out jeans are a great source for tie material, as you need long and narrow pieces of fabric to make them. So all you need is some jeans legs.
Normally ties have tie-interfacing at their core. But I wasn’t going to bend my ‘*only jeans*’ rule. So I made the core from a single layer of jeans, and then wrapped the outer jeans around it. Given that jeans is such a heavy fabric, there’s really no need for more interfacing than that.
Oh, and ties are lined too. But as it happens, the lining on the tie (that part of fabric you see at the back of the tip) is quite small. So I was able to make the lining from a reclaimed pocket bag from one of the jeans. Success, as I did not have to bend any rules for this.
**Part 3: Shoes**
It would have ended here, if it wasn’t for one shrewd move by Portia that forced my hand. When announcing this year’s line-up, she wrote this:
> *Welcome the first ever “bloke” participant of The Refashioners! Joost has great style and totally mad skills.*
Oh crap. Mad skills? Now people are going to have all sorts of expectations. Not to mention that all of a sudden, I seem to be representing the entirety of masculinity.
So yeah, I have a waistcoat and tie. But let’s be honest, on the spectrum of skills, ‘mad’ doesn’t have ‘waistcoat and tie’ as an example.
No way around it, I needed to up my game. Preferably in some sort of “*and that’s how a man does it*” kinda way. Like, use powertools and stuff.
So I guess we’re making shoes from only jeans now…
I started with outlining the shape of my foot on paper, making it a bit more shoe sole -shaped, and transferring it onto a MDF board I had lying around. Then, I used a jigsaw to saw the shape out of the board, and cut the board through so I had two halves.
The board was 18mm thick, so I cut a bunch of jeans up in long strips of denim 4 times that size (72 mm). I folded them double and then double again and sewed them down so I had 18mm wide thick strips of denim.
I rolled these strips around a variety of nails and bobbins until after some trial and error I ended of with a shape that was slightly larger than the hole in my board. I then put the denim in my home-made sole mold, and screwed both halves together.
I applied glue to the surface of the shoe sole, and used a hammer to bang the glue into the fibers. An exercise I repeated on the other side.
As the glue dried, I cobbled together a simple upper for the shoes from what denim I had left. I sewed the upper to an insole I cut out, and hand-sewed the entire thing to the shoe soles.
To finish things, I make a new strip of denim, this time with the bad/gray side of the denim out. I carefully measured around the shoe and made a loop of just the right size. Then, I wrapped the loop around the shoe sole, thereby hiding the stitches where my upper was sown to the sole.
A bit of glue between the outer layer and the rest of the sole, and tadaa, jeans-only shoes.
Obviously these are more beach party than job interview. But they are, if nothing else, 100% refashioned jeans.
That’s it for me. Now get refashioning yourself!
You heard him! Get to it!! So this is where I would usually write a little paragraph to close off the post. But frankly….I’m speechless. I saw this for the first time a couple of weeks back and, well, I’m STILL speechless!! SHOES people! As if that lush waistcoat and tie were not enough…freakin SHOES!! You can catch up with Joost here and here. His site makemypattern.com is one to keep on your radar too, seriously. I’m off to dig out my powertools. In the meantime, if this has left you inspired (and how could it not?!) to enter the community challenge, then read on….
Simple as that! ….I think you’ve go 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!!! Get refashioning. And I’ll see you back here tomorrow with yet another refashion to inspire!