Hello, sweet sewists! This is Sarah from Grey’s Fabric and Notions, a li’l fabric shop located in beautiful Boston, MA. I was thrilled when Portia asked me to be a part of Refashioners 2015, but also nervous because, aside from a couple of tees that I awkwardly altered at the beginning of my sewing career, I tend to avoid refashions. I love the idea, I’m just not super confident when it comes to making alterations on finished garments. I think that is why, when confronted with a plain shirt, I ended up refashioning it into (brace yourselves) a slightly smaller shirt. I’m a real wild child.
I started with a nice-looking button-up of John’s from Banana Republic that he never wore because the French cuffs didn’t fit quite right under his suit jackets. It was simple and boxy, as men’s shirts are wont to be, and while it’s still a simple design, it is pretty far removed from the original. Drat and blast for forgetting to take a full pic of the “before.”
My idea was to make it into a sheath dress (my favorite pattern of all time, actually) and I thought I had enough fabric after totally unscientifically holding it up and pinching some darts into it. Turns out, not so much. John is a size small and while it was more-or-less dress length on me as a shirt, after cutting it was once again, just shirt sized.
I considered buying more shirts to try to make up for the missing fabric, but ruled it out because it felt like just buying more and more stuff to try to fill the shirt-shaped hole in my soul was a little bit contrary to the make-do-and-mend spirit of the challenge. So, I decided to work with what I had.
I kept the button plackets and shirt tail hem and cut the rest into the basic bodice of my sheath dress. I added four darts in the front and two in the back and finished the neck and arm holes with silk bias tape.
Since the button placement wasn’t quite right for my shape anymore (*shakes fist at boob gaping*), I switched the orientation of the plackets and closed up the original buttonholes with a small zig zag stitch. Then, I added more buttonholes to the other placket. Hilariously, I made three beautiful buttonholes going the wrong way from my markings and had to rip them out and start over. I’m glad that the Sensormatic buttonhole foot on my lover-ly Pfaff Creative Performance is so easy to use because I would have been really frustrated otherwise. I have a little video on my blog showing how fast they are.
Then, I added lace to the collar. I tried a few different configurations before settling on the final version. I sewed it to the collar and then flipped it so that it is doubled over, adding a bit of volume. I started with the same lace, but in white and it was fine, but a little too bridal. Luckily, I have been learning to dye using fiber reactive dyes for our bra kits! The lace is rayon embroidered onto nylon net, which means that each fiber requires a different kind of dye. The rayon calls for fiber reactive and the nylon for acid dye. Because I used fiber reactive, the nylon stayed white and looks almost translucent, an effect that I quite like. I really love this lace and can’t wait to dye more. I hope to have some dyeing process shots up on my blog soon. Here are some detail shots:
Thank YOU Sarah! Sassy! I love that there is a touch of lingerie lace, knowing your love of bra making!! I’m always a little taken aback when talented sewers like Sarah say they don’t feel confident refashioning. But she’s not the only one to have said that during this and previous challenges 😉 There’s a temptation with this challenge to go all out and try a really complicated refashion. I know, because I feel it myself. After all, I’ve lined myself up alongside all these awesome sewers! Gah!! (My shirt refashion is done and in the bag so no going back now! ) Personally I’m a great believer that keeping it simple can create as much of a show stopper refashion as a more complex one. It really depends where that particular garment, and it’s restrictions, lead you. A few clever tweaks is often all it takes to completely transform a garment to suit your style. Those few darts, tucks and embellishments make the world of difference. So if you’re thinking of trying your hand at refashioning (and entering to win that fantastic prize!) remember that the best refashions are almost always those that perfectly express the style of the person wearing them. Not necessarily the ones that were the hardest, and took the longest to do 😉 I think Sarah just proved that!
You can find Sarah here and here. Greys Fabric have also very generously added a $25 gift voucher to the prize package!! Take a look at ALL the amazing prizes to be won as part of The Refashioners 2015 Community Challenge. So get involved for a chance to win!!! Grab a shirt and get refashioning! You have until Sunday 27th Sept to enter! Stay tuned for more inspiration throughout the WHOLE of August!