The Refashioners 2013 – Me!

Well peops…today is the 11th and final instalment of The Refashioners 2013! I don’t know about you, but the past fortnight of guest posts from some of the blogosphere’s most talented and ingenious stitchers has left me gobsmacked and inspired in equal measure. It’s been an honour to host these ladies here on my little ole blog and I’ve been so gratified by all the hard work that they’ve put in, AND the fantastic response the series has received from all of you out there in blog land.

But just in case any of you were under the illusion that I had managed to side step my own challenge and sit back while the others racked their brains as to what to do with the items I sent them….fear not! Sally very kindly sent me my very own little mystery package to transform; and my jaw kinda hit the floor when I saw what was inside! A rather showy little beaded number! This project was a challenge for me, not least because my “style” (if you can call it that!) has never been particularly showy or embellished. So what to do? How to incorporate all that beading in a slightly more subtle incarnation? Enter the “bumble bead” skirt!

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I’ve been inspired recently by colour and texture blocking. So I decided this was the perfect opportunity to try out an idea that’s been buzzing around in my head for a while. This outfit heralds a couple of rarities for me. Legs out, heels on, and much more dressy than my normal uniform. Although I feel a little at odds being “dressed up”, I’m rather pleased with the overall look, and the finished garment. The bugle beads lend themselves rather nicely to what feels like a kind of 20’s vibe with a modern twist…or is that just me??

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This garment had it’s technical challenges from the outset. The beads are sewn in a continuous undulating pattern onto a top layer of chiffon. The problem with this kind of embellishment is that once a thread snags/breaks…you’re likely to lose whole lengths of the beading. There were several “bald” patches (like the one below right) around the dress. Add to that the prospect of cutting and sewing across beads, and, well…let’s just say , I was nervous about this one! I wish I could have included audio with this post. So you could hear the sound of the pitter patter of beads hitting my sewing room floor at pretty much every stage of this make….

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I decided to make a feature out of the beaded chiffon. So my first step was to deconstruct the dress(below left), remove the lining (set aside for later!) and Β figure out what workable pieces of chiffon I had. In the end it was the front panel that gave me the most options because most of the beading was intact and it was the largest piece of beaded fabric uninterrupted by seaming/zips etc (below right)…

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While I wanted to make a feature of the sheer fabric…I didn’t want it to be see through. So I nabbed a pair of sandy coloured linen trousers from my refashioning pile to see how it would look as an underlining to the chiffon…that’ll do then!

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From one of the trouser legs I set about making my panels. After cutting along all of the side seams I was left with 2 large oblongs. I folded then in half lengthwise and squared off all the edges….

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Cut along my squared off lines and then along the fold…

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This gave me 4 linen panels…(in the end I only used 3)…

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I pinned these to the underside of my beaded chiffon…

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Now to stitch the underlining panels to the chiffon. I opted to sew with the beads facing upwards because a) I didn’t want the beads Β getting ground up or falling into the feed dogs of my machine, and b) I could better see what I was doing. If the needle hits those beads at the wrong speed/angle then the needle is history and/or you have bits of glass bugle bead shattering everywhere. (Just trust me, ok!) I opted for a long stitch to give the needle a better chance of skipping over the beads rather than through them. For the most part, this strategy works. (Only one broken needle) But, GO SLOW! Very, very, very slow…and watch the needle on every downstroke. If it looks like it’s gonna hit, stop, lift the presser foot and adJust the position of the fabric oh so slightly, then carry on….

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Voila, underlining stitched to beaded chiffon…

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Trim close to stitching. It was tricky to cut this as every inch or so my lovely (once sharp) dressmaking shears would snag on a bead (man it sets your teeth on edge when stainless steel crunches on glass beads!). So again, it was a slow process, adjusting the angle of the cut ever so slightly to avoid the beads…

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My floor is covered in this stuff!

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Anyway, finally 3 underlined panels (below left) I then cut contrasting solid black panels from some plain black fabric in my stash….

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Then sewed them all together, much as you would a patchwork, again using a long stitch. However a long stitch will not hold this skirt panel together for very long and the seams look all puffy, right? ‘Cos I can’t press those puppies properly because of those pesky beads, you see?! Sooooo…..

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I removed all of the beads that fell within the seam allowances on each panel (left), graded the seams (middle) then flipped the seam allowances away from the beaded sections…

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Becauce there are no beads under the black piece now, I can topstitch with a normal stitch length (below left) which reinforces the seams and allows the edges to sit flat and flush instead of puffing up (below right)….

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Phew! I now had what was basically a flat piece of fabric to work with. Enter the Charlotte Skirt pattern. I simply cut my front piece from my panelled piece of fabric. (That’s the reverse you can see, with the linen backing. Looks even more like a bumble bee!) The back pieces I cut from more of the plain black fabric…

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One sticking point was that the darts on the panel overlapped onto the beaded section. I wasn’t going to be able to dart the beaded section. B*****ks! Well, as luck would have it the fabric I was using had some stretch. So I just sewed the skirt as normal without the darts in front, then pinned it to fit at the waist/side seams…..worked just fine!

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The rest of the construction was as per the pattern apart from the waistband, which I faced with grosgrain ribbon. (Just find a faced waistband more comfy). I used the original zip by shortening it and then hand picked it. (I don’t think I’ll ever machine a zip in since discovering the hand picked method early on in my sewing journey). The side seams received the same topstitch treatment as the panels. I also used the lining from the original dress to line this baby. The eagle eyed might notice that there are only 2 beaded panels in the final skirt as opposed to 3. Well, in the end, when it came to it, the length just looked totally wrong. Like AWFUL. It just hit at the wrong spot on my calf. It was only a matter of an inch or so to make it right. But if I had just taken up the bottom black band by that, then the panelling effect would have been completelyout of balance. Taking it up to the next panel would’ve meant hemming over beads! Ack!.So I just lopped the bottom 2 panels off, et voila!

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Essentially I created the blocked front section using patchwork techniques; just in straight panels instead of squares/triangles etc. This technique can be employed to create your own unique piece of flat fabric using scraps/sections from any number of garments. Once you have your flat piece of fabric you can just go ahead and cut your pattern piece as if it were any other piece of fabric. When it comes to incorporating colour blocking into a commercial pattern, it seems to me to be a much more straightforward route to do it this way; Β (make your colour blocked fabric first, then cut your pattern piece from it) as opposed to slicing your commercial pattern up into various pieces then tracing them and adding seam allowances, cutting all the fabric seperately then having to stitch it back together again. Don’t you think??

Anyways, I didn’t stop there. Some of you might be wondering about the rest of the dress? Well yes. Actually I did sit there and unpick all those beads over 2 evenings. Sad? Moi? Yup! What did I do with them? Ooooohhhhh…..

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I made these too….

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There are far too many photos in this post already, so I have some separate DIY posts lined up for these.

But in the meantime a MASSIVE MASSIVE THANKYOU to all the ladies that took part this year!! Has it inspired you to get out there and raid the charity shops (or plunder the depths of your wardrobes) for unloved items to lavish a bit of refashioning love on? I do hope so πŸ™‚

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43 Comments

  1. Marie June 16, 2013

    Oh my word Portia…this skirt is so hot! You, in this skirt? Also extremely hot! I know you’re more casual in everyday life, but what an incredible outfit to have in your closet for special occasions! Such a clever and inspired refashion too…and the necklaces at the end…wow! Can’t wait to see more on how you made them.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, just like the last one…thanks again so much for inviting me to take part!xxx

    Reply
  2. beassewingadventures June 16, 2013

    Awww, it’s sad that it’s all over!

    I love love love that skirt, and it’s making me think I should bring some bling into my own wardrobe, somehow.

    Reply
  3. yoshimi June 16, 2013

    That is grand! Congratulations, your refashion is very successful. I love the skirt and matching necklace… they’re so pretty.

    Reply
  4. Megan meggipeg June 16, 2013

    This series has been excellent and I love your skirt and necklaces (wow!). Reading about the beads really struck a chord with me as I’ve just yesterday finished making cushions from a very heavily beaded wedding dress. Broken needles, broken zip, blisters and lots of shouting at the fabric and they are finally done! I think I may say that never again will I work with beads…but your skirt is so pretty I may change my mind!

    Reply
  5. Joanne June 16, 2013

    Oh wow that is simply amazing Portia. I love the blocking and all the problem solving you did with this make. So inspirational. And the jewelry? To die for! Well done and thank you again for making me part of this. It was such fun xxx

    Reply
  6. Erica Louise June 17, 2013

    Excellent job on your skirt Portia, looks amazing

    Reply
  7. Sheila June 17, 2013

    What an Awesome refashion. Totally enjoyed the construction process. Love the necklace. Tfs.

    Reply
  8. Shey June 17, 2013

    Wow, you are amazing, I recently found your blog and I love it! You are so talented!

    Reply
  9. Milena June 17, 2013

    I love how you took something super gaudy and tacky and turned it into a modern garment with a more toned down detailing. I got super inspired by your challenge and made a summery top out of an old dress, which I am posting tomorrow. Thanks for doing this!

    Reply
  10. Eileen Cox June 17, 2013

    And then there’s the shouting when you realize that after all that difficult and beautiful reworking, you’re going to have to sit on those beads. Ow.

    Reply
  11. Sarah June 17, 2013

    fantastic and fabulous! what a great way to wrap up this years refashioners. I am so glad you re-used all those extra beads and sequins – so good! thank you so much for hosting πŸ™‚ I would love to be challenged to be a part of it another time πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Thank you for all your inspiration ! xx

    Reply
  12. turtleandi June 17, 2013

    You are the Queen of the Refasioners!

    Reply
  13. DressUpNotDown June 17, 2013

    You are such a trooper! I have a solid beaded jacket that I need to do something with, but every time I pick it up I get overwhelmed by ALLLLL those beads! Your skirt seems very worth all your time and trouble, it looks so beautiful. Now I’m off to search for information on your hand stitched zipper method… :o)

    http://www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

    Reply
  14. Adina June 17, 2013

    That is a very interesting idea!

    Look at that: http://www.lifestyleonabudget.com/camasa-cu-2-fetze/ … a shirt with 2 “faces” . Unfortunately the article is in romanian language, but you can “read” the pictures πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  15. ette June 17, 2013

    Thank you very much for this great series. I can’t wait to spend an afternoon in my favourite charity shop, digging for hidden treasures.
    It was so inspiring to see how all those different Bloggers worked with the materials given and how everyone ended up with something so beautiful and so very matching their own style, no matter how strange the original garment looked like.
    This was really “advanced refashioning”, so much more than only shortening a skirt or tightening a blouse. It is incredible, how many possibilities those old garments hold.
    And your refashioning is so great. Thank you for showing us how to work with beaded fabrics and what beautiful things you can make from such a dress. Those necklaces are just stunning!

    Reply
  16. Sam June 17, 2013

    What a fantastic re-fashion. It looks like it had you tearing your hair out at some stages, but the end result is definitely worth your efforts.

    Reply
  17. Jo H. June 17, 2013

    Incredible! I can’t believe those necklaces as well!

    Reply
  18. charityshopchic.net June 17, 2013

    You really stepped up to the plate with this one, Portia! I deliberately sent you something challenging to work with. I knew you’d be taking us all out of our comfort zones so wanted to return the favour! Your skirt looks fantastic with the beaded details and I hope you get some wear out of it. I know you like jewellery making too so I was hoping you’d do something with the left over beads. I will keep my eyes peeled for that jewellery post. Congratulations on a very successful series of ‘The Refashioners’!

    Reply
  19. Kathryn June 17, 2013

    This has been such an enjoyable series, again! Thanks so much for organising it all. Your skirt looks lovely, and really suits you – perfect for special occasions. I’m looking forward to seeing how you made the necklaces.

    Reply
  20. Annabellouise June 17, 2013

    I have been so inspired by this series. As well as adding some new blogs to my reading list, I’ve got a few ideas of my own for refashioning. As soon as I can sew properly again, I will be trying them. Your skirt is lovely.

    Reply
  21. Kat June 17, 2013

    Wow! That looks awesome. What a cool idea to do the blocking with some plain fabric. I love it! And I’m totall getting the modern 20s vibe too. Very cool!

    Reply
  22. Lori June 17, 2013

    Gorgeous skirt and necklaces, too. Thank you so much for this series, I have enjoyed it tremendously.

    Reply
  23. becstitches June 17, 2013

    Oh my, LOOK at those necklaces.. Genius!
    I’m sad it’s over, I really loved the series πŸ™‚

    Reply
  24. Tasha June 17, 2013

    Oh Portia, what an amazing send off for this year’s Refashioners series– I love what you did! I think you were totally right taking the extra length off, and the final skirt is a little dressy without feeling too dressed up. And that necklace…!!

    Thank you so much for hosting and inviting us to participate, it’s been wonderful all the way around. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  25. Anne Weaver June 17, 2013

    Your skirt is GORGEOUS!! Wow!! I posted on Craft Gossip with a link to your project. –Anne

    Reply
  26. Just read through all the posts in your refashioners series and have loved every single one! Such an inspiring idea πŸ™‚

    Reply
  27. Lauren June 17, 2013

    Wow!!! I’m amazed! and your jewelry with the remaining beads is beautiful.

    Reply
  28. LLADYBIRD June 17, 2013

    Oooh, finishing off the series with a blast of sparkle, I see πŸ™‚ I am really amazed at how you pulled this one off… I would have sat on the beading and cried a little, ha! Also can’t wait to see how you made that jewelry, it’s fabulous!

    Reply
  29. flossiejamieson June 17, 2013

    I am truly amazed by not only your skills but those of all the Refashioners! This has been a delight for crafty eyes, and now I am keen as mustard to crack on with some more of the garments in my own refashioning pile. Truly inspiring is what you are Miss P – my life would now very much not be the same without your creative sewing trickery. Top marks for having the patience for dealing with all those bugle beads too!

    Reply
  30. sharoncreations June 17, 2013

    Wow, super impressed by the end products and how much patience you had to deal with those beads!

    Reply
  31. sharoncreations June 17, 2013

    Amazing patience and refashions!

    Reply
  32. Helen June 17, 2013

    Amazing! I never fail to be impressed by your creativity! I would never in a million years have thought to do this. So classy and you look fabulous!

    Thanks for such an great and inspiring series! I’ve really enjoyed seeing what is possible with a bit of thought and creativity! Thank you!

    Reply
  33. EmSewCrazy June 17, 2013

    Fabulous series and what a way to end it! You know how to go out with a bang! I have no place to wear something like this but I think I need a beaded skirt now.

    Reply
  34. thequirkypeach June 17, 2013

    LOVE THIS! Everything about this post is awesome – end of a great series, an amazing paneled/beaded/textured skirt, and you made freaking jewelry – get out of town! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  35. pandchintz June 18, 2013

    Loved this series – thank you! And your skirt is sensational – working with all those beads…wow!

    Reply
  36. The Crafty Novice June 18, 2013

    Love the way this skirt came out! I found your blog through cotton and curls and can’t wait to log in each day to see what you’ve posted, thanks!

    Reply
  37. thesecretlifeofseams June 19, 2013

    A complete transformation! Love those necklaces too. This has been a great series Portia, thanks so much for running it, and to all those who took part. It’s really inspiring, and takes some of the fear out of re-fashioning and sewing.

    Reply
  38. Sue Schuster June 20, 2013

    I love this outfit. You do such great work refashioning clothes. I know that I could do it too if I put my mind to it. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  39. Wow, the skirt is so lovely! I really like how you minimized the embellishments. They look more classy colorblocked like that. And I can’t believe what an insane amount of patience you must have to put together those necklaces!!! πŸ™‚ Lisa

    Reply
  40. Jacq C June 24, 2013

    I’ve really enjoyed this series, thank you for all the inspiration. I’ve finally plucked up the courage to do my first refashion (So Zo was really helpful too) – I’ll definitely be doing it again πŸ™‚

    Reply
  41. jude June 24, 2013

    Your skirt is absolutely gorgeous! I love the whole series and am feeling very inspired. sadly I have still not managed to find a single charity shop where I live in Bonn, Germany (and I have been here more than 2 years!). I am hopefully moving back to the UK soon though and as soon as I do I will be looking out for A) leather and B) bed linen fabrics to refashion.

    Thank you for running this series – completely brilliant! Jude

    Reply
  42. Anonymous August 5, 2013

    Congratulations!!! It’s amazing!!! I love it.

    Reply
  43. DA E October 22, 2013

    you are just an incredible inspiration

    Reply

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