Sunday, 23 May 2010

Upcycle ... refashion ... does this count as a tutorial?

I work full-time - leaving the house at 8.15 am with toddler tucked under one arm and lunch-bag and handbag tucked under the other. I don't normally get home until 5.30 pm after collecting both children from their various child-care establishments. One of the big problems I have every year is having enough clothes which are smart enough for office wear (gone are the days when I can get away wearing jeans and a tshirt to work *sigh*) but are comfortable (at my age comfort is a significant factor!) and require very little care or ironing. One of my big sewing goals this year is to sew myself a few items which I can wear to work and not feel a slob.

I quite like the idea of high-waist skirts paired with a smart shirt. The problem I have is that I do not like the bulk at the waistline that comes with wearing a shirt tucked into a skirt. Enter the high-waist dress in two tones. I could have used Simplicity’s Project Runway pattern number 2724 but only just having started sewing for myself, I wasn’t confident in handling such a pattern. A quick rummage around in my wardrobe resulted in 3 stretchy cotton shirts from H&M. Two of them were pretty old, very washed and even sported the odd hole or two. Gaining much inspiration from wonderful refashions such as Grosgrain’s Mockingbird frock , Little Red Roost's Alice dress and I Am Momma Hear Me Roar’s terrific sassy-classy dress refashion, I decided to try a refashion of my own using the old shirt and some black Ponte Roma Knit jersey. The first attempted yielded this …
I thought it was kind of cute and was spurred me on to do a second dress – this time I remembered to take photos along the way so I can share the process with you. So I started with the old shirt. I roughly worked out where I wanted the waist of the dress to start and cut it straight across. I then cut the remnants into strips.

Using the skirt from Butterick 5382, I made a skirt with the black knit jersey.

Setting the shirt and the skirt aside, I returned to the strips and serged a rolled hem edge on all the strips. I then gathered the strips to form ruffles. I wanted a few ruffles to jazz up the boring neckline ... make it prettier.

I pinned the ruffles to the neckline and played with a couple of alternatives. Once settled on the version I wanted (the one on the right), I stitched the ruffles down to the neckline of the shirt.

The next thing was to sew the shirt to the skirt. Pinning the two parts right sides together, I stitched all around the edge using a half inch seam allowance. I ironed the seam down towards the skirt and top-stitched all around from the right side.

And finally, I hemmed the skirt using some iron-on hemming tape before sewing a row of stitches an inch from the edge. I find that this gives me a crisper edge on my jersey hems. I also made 3 little tabs and stitched them on as belt loops.

And the final result ...

Ta-da! What do you think? I found it a very useful learning experience and a good way to refashion old work shirts and giving them a new lease of life.


  1. Great start Ady. Have fun as you create!

  2. Both of your new dresses look great, Ady! And yes, I'd say that counts as a tutorial.

    Wish I had some things in my wardrobe that I could similarly refashion - haven't found any contenders yet!


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