The Refashioners – Karen

The Refashion Rookie 
When Miss P approached me to be one of her Refashioners, I was openly terrified. I’ve never tackled a refashion, mainly because I don’t – or didn’t – have much confidence in my ability to revision an item or do anything other than follow a set of pattern instructions. I also don’t feel that I have the charity shop antennae that allows a person to zone in on the hidden diamond crushed between rails of polyester. But Miss P is a charity shop expert. 
Refashion Inspiration! Don't miss out on the new upcoming series of The Refashioners at
She assured me that I was up to the challenge and that only natural fabrics would be sent my way. Soon, the postman was handing over a beautifully wrapped orange parcel. I tore it open to discover a voluminous gingham dress, circa 1980s I’m guessing. There was enough fabric there to open my mind to lots of opportunities. And who doesn’t like gingham? Miss P had done me proud.
So, what did I do? At first, nothing. I let the dress sit around, waiting for inspiration to strike. Then I woke up one Sunday morning and – bang! – the picture of an outfit and accessory was in my head. All I had to do was make it happen.
Mine wasn’t a sophisticated approach. The rotary cutter was my best friend during this exercise. I felt like Freddy Kreuger! First, I sliced the skirt section from the bodice and ripped out a load of pleats. (There was a lot of excess fabric in this dress! I’m not sure today’s retailers would tolerate such wastage.) I hacked a wedge off the bottom of the skirt – that would become my waistband. I wanted to make a feature of the row of buttons that ran down the front of the dress – why waste button holes that someone else has already made for you? I added the large button on the waistband, and love that it’s a pearl button to match all the others except in size. I bought some red piping from MacCullough and Wallis and already had some lace trim hanging around that I bought off Walthamstow market. One weekend of sewing, et voila! I had a new gathered skirt to wear with my cotton petticoat. A skirt that I can cycle in – double result!
Refashion Inspiration! Don't miss out on the new upcoming series of The Refashioners at
Refashion Inspiration! Don't miss out on the new upcoming series of The Refashioners at


Refashion Inspiration! Don't miss out on the new upcoming series of The Refashioners at
There was still quite a lot of fabric left in the bodice, along with some neat embroidered white flowers on the gingham. Unfortunately, the embroidered flowers sat over sewn down pleats that would need unpicking if I tried to rescue the fabric – and the flowers would be ruined. So I decided to just hack away – this time with a pair of scissors. I used some spray starch and a brooch template from a recent issue of Mollie Makes. I love the spray starch – does exactly what it says on the tin!
 This brooch was a lot of fun to make. I adore the hidden details on the rear. The ‘felt’ is actually a scrap of my Paris red cashmere. (Well, if it’s just lying around…) The clay button was bought in Cornwall, so memories are threaded into this outfit – a detail I always love.
Refashion Inspiration! Don't miss out on the new upcoming series of The Refashioners at
Refashion Inspiration! Don't miss out on the new upcoming series of The Refashioners at
 What are my conclusions? I’ve worn the skirt to death since it was made, so it’s definitely a success. I was surprised at my ability to envisage a new outfit, once my brain had relaxed into the exercise. I do worry that I didn’t make the most of this dress’s potential and would love to hear from readers and Miss P about what they might have made from it. But most importantly, I got past Fear Factor Ten and embraced refashioning. It’s a great way of producing new outfits and can free up the creative imagination more than following a set of instructions. But most of all, I think this make is a credit to the very clever Miss P who knew just the right thing to send me and reassured her little apprentice every step of the way.

I hope I did you proud, Miss P!

Indeed you have Karen! Thankyou sooo much. Great refashion. LOVE the red piping accents. I’ll bet you’re the best dressed cyclist in your neck of the woods!
See…..I told you you’d be brilliant 😉 

Still MORE fantastic refashioning inspiration to follow…stay tuned 🙂

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  1. Sarah September 13, 2011

    Wonderful job, Karen!!

  2. Alessa September 13, 2011

    I love the skirt! Such cute details with the red piping and lace trim! You did great, Karen!

  3. Zoe September 13, 2011

    Karen, this is amazing!!!!!!!!!! The very fact that you have worn it heaps already should tell you that you made the very best use of this garment. I adore what you have done with it and have made something so cute and wearable.


  4. Reana Louise September 13, 2011

    I’m loving all of these refashion posts, and this one is super darling!

  5. Annabelle September 13, 2011

    This is amazing, I can’t believe you doubted yourself. Just wonderful!

  6. Marie September 13, 2011

    Fabulous Karen, love the skirt and the pin is cute as a button!

  7. vickikatemakes September 14, 2011

    That is very cute and wearable. Well done Karen!

  8. Shelly September 14, 2011

    That’s a great refashion Karen! Why did you ever doubt yourself? Like Zoe said, the fact that you’ve worn it heaps is credit to your ability to see into it’s potential. Job well done!

  9. Law September 14, 2011

    Great post,
    I’m really overwhelmed by charity shops, and don’t feel like I’d know what items were refashionable or how i’d refashion them. You have showed we can all make something out of an existing garment. If you like what you’ve made and you wear it lots of course you’ve made best use of the original garment.

  10. September 14, 2011

    I love this – I don’t think you could have done a better job with it – absolutely gorgeous and I particularly heart the brooch – so cute. Well done – totes impressed 🙂

  11. Suzie September 14, 2011

    Well done Karen – it’s a great refashion! I love the extra details in the piping and lace. It’s those small details that I always forget about, but make such a difference.

  12. Casey September 14, 2011

    Making that dress into a skirt was a great move! I love how the finished piece looks–the piping adds a lot of pop and character! 🙂 Definitely can see why it has become a favorite piece to wear–it’d be the same for me too. 😉

  13. overflowingstash September 14, 2011


  14. charityshopchic September 14, 2011

    Great job Karen – I hope this ‘experiment’ has convinced you to give refashioning a go!

  15. Tilly September 14, 2011

    Oh wow! I love it! The red piping and pretty lace trim are great, and who doesn’t need a black and white gingham gathered skirt in their wardrobe. Now I must make one, oh yes. x

  16. A.J.A. September 15, 2011

    I agree that if you are wearing it, you made awesome use of the garment in the refashion. Your skirt is too cute!

  17. Jane September 15, 2011

    Oh Karen, you’ve surpassed yourself. I’d kill for that skirt! And brooch! Totally inspiring, you’re so, so clever. xx


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