When Portia first asked me to be part of 2013’s crop of Refashioners I was delighted, overwhelmed and scared. Completely and utterly sh*t scared to be honest. I hadn’t sewn in what seemed like a lifetime, save the odd maternity Renfrew and a pair of dungarees for the boy.
After a lot of hemming and hawing I said YES PLEASE PORTIA but begged a little leniency with her chosen item. Portia was gracious enough to go easy on me I think. But perhaps too easy – for when I saw what was in my package my mind boggled at the choices!
Portia sent me… a pair of pillowcases! Cotton – great. Polka dot – great. But what to do with them? Could I whip up a pretty cushion? Chop up the pillowcases for a homespun style quilt? Nope, too simple – I wanted to make something to wear goddammit. It had been too long. So after trawling through my pattern collection and ruling out dresses (not enough material) and blouses (did I mention I was scared of sewing?) I alighted on one that was damn near perfect for me – the Kelly skirt by Megan Nielsen.
With a high waist and a roomy skirt it was ideal for my podgy little post C-section tum. But did I have enough material? After a lot of unpicking, rewashing to reduce the visibility of the original stitching and careful ironing I laid it all out.
I had to reduce the length of the skirt by a couple of inches and I had to (ssh!) disregard all the golden rules about grainlines. I also had to sew two pieces together to accommodate the waistband. But I had enough – just!
I used a pretty lavender polkadot vintage fabric from my stash to underline all the pieces and provide a contrast pocket lining.
During the making of this skirt I made just one mistake – but it was a biggie. Instead of laying fabric right sides together to cut out the front pieces for the skirt (which feature a curved corner to accommodate the front pockets) I stupidly laid the two pieces of pillowcase right sides up and cut. It was only when I came to insert the pockets that I realised I effectively had two fronts with a right hand pocket… and no extra material to recut the pattern piece! It was time for an uber-patching up effort.
I’m sure there’s a better way to fix it but I just took some remnant material and patched it onto the offending curve. It wasn’t perfect and it would be visible in the final skirt but it was the only option I had. It’s not so obvious in the final garment, I hope you agree!
The rest of the project was easy peasy. It’s such a simple pattern I urge any beginners to try it. I used seven pearly buttons to complete the skirt… et voila!
When I was 90% through I suddenly had a panic. What if I had completely misunderstood the point of The Refashioners? Maybe the idea was to take an item and improve it, not rework it entirely?! But to me refashioning can cover any sort of improvements, from just a bit of embroidery or new buttons, to changing the function and look of the item in its entirety. Pillowcase to pretty skirt! What’s not to like?
Thank you Portia for pushing me out of my comfort zone and making me love sewing again after my hiatus. I can’t wait to make another Kelly skirt in denim or cord and I’m seeing all sorts of home furnishings in my local charity shops in a brand new light! Now I just can’t wait to see what all the other girls have been up to!
Joanne of Stitch & Witter
Joanne, thankyou so so much for agreeing to take part. We’ve missed your wit and general loveliness on the blogging circuit and I know for a fact there will be very many readers pleased to see your lovely mug back on t’internet! I’m more than a little honoured that you chose this series to break your “hiatus”!
I LOVE the fit and shape of this pattern! Just LOOK what you can squeeze out of a pair of pillowcases peops! I think these cost me about 50p each from my local charity shop. The linens section of a charity shop/thrift store is a fantastic source of plentiful and affordable fabric. They’re usually natural fibres like cotton and in the case of curtains, can come in some rad patterns and colourways. As Joanne so aptly puts it, “refashioning can cover any sort of improvements, from just a bit of embroidery or new buttons, to changing the function and look of the item in its entirety”.
What is not to LOVE?!