The Refashioners 2016: Marilla

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

First of all I just want to say thank you to Portia for including me in the refashioners 2016. It is a pleasure to take part and reminds me of how much useful cloth we are surrounded by that can be reused and re-purposed. Thanks Portia x

So this year’s challenge is denim! Such a great start! I have probably refashioned more jeans than any other item of clothing and rarely give away good denim. It’s one of those items where the cloth still has a lot to offer in terms of durability and is often superior to equivalent fabrics you can find by the metre. For that reason I am a jeans hoarder.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

I set aside two pairs of jeans for this challenge and  was immediately thinking of the different blue hues and the signs of wear on my garments. I was reminded of traditional Japanese textiles, their use of indigo dye and the boro mending technique. Boro garments and textile items I have seen are rich in colour variation and texture. Below is a better description of traditional and ‘true’ Boro textiles.  Japan’s mended and patched textiles are referred to as boro, or ragged, both in Japan and abroad.

” Boro textiles are usually sewn from nineteenth and early twentieth century rags and patches of indigo dyed cotton.  The diversity of patches on any given piece is a veritable encyclopedia of hand loomed cotton indigo from old Japan. In most cases, the beautiful arrangement of patches and mending stitches is borne of necessity and happenstance, and was not planned by the maker.  Imagine that boro textiles were stitched in the shadows of farmhouses, often at night by the light of one dim candle and on, on the laps of farm women. This unselfconscious creative process has yielded hand-made articles of soulful beauty, each of which calls upon to be recognized and admired as more than the utilitarian cloth they were intended to be.” Source.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

When I was approached about the challenge I had recently acquired a new jacket pattern and immediately knew this was what I wanted to make. I used the fabulous Falda jacket pattern by Pattern Fantastique .

My approach with refashioning jeans always remains the same.  I unpick the inside leg seam and flatten both legs out to get the most amount of flat fabric.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

Inside leg seams are often sewn with a chain stitch, which if you pull the lower thread from the right direction you can just unravel without any tricky unpicking. See this instagram clip I posted here . It ‘s difficult to describe which is the right end, but it’s the base of the chain stitch. Just keep fiddling with both ends until one pulls easily. That’s how I discovered it!

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

It did take a while to fit all the pieces on and I did have to use a skirt back left over from another refashion for the jacket back, but with careful planning I got there. I cut the lower sleeve pieces for the jacket thinking I was going to have long sleeves, but if I hadn’t done that then maybe I could of squeezed the whole garment onto just the jeans. After basting the side seams with short sleeves I decided I loved it as it was, so omitted the lower sleeve portions from the final garment.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

So here is the final jacket!

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

It is difficult to plan a refashion absolutely and finally, so I let the process be pretty organic. I sewed up the jacket and realised the pocket placement was not working at all, so unpicked them and re-stitched them in a more natural and practical position. I really love the dark, ghost like patches that have been left behind.

The length of the jacket is longer than the pattern states because I just left the hem down. The front facing does not meet the bottom hem, so I just improvised because I really liked the longer length. Well, I liked it after I had a go at shaping the bottom hem. I chopped a load off both sides and didn’t like it, so ended up making Frankenstein style repairs to sew the missing pieces back on! This was actually a brilliant move as it led to all sorts of new additions in an attempt to make good my horrific mistake.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

Once the construction was complete the most fun bit was adding all the finishing details. I topstitched everything fairly neatly for the main body, but then incorporating my disaster into the garment allowed me to play with some finishing ideas. The inside seams are zig zagged with the gold topstitch thread which mimics the original finish of the jeans and then different colour bias tape has been used for mending and finishing the front edges and stabilising the raw edge hems. All the hand stitching is done in white thread for a point of difference and is used to mend and also anchor down parts of the facing.

I refashioned garments from the denim brand most synonymous with jeans and added touches of the original branding here and there.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

Here is the original leather label sewn onto the inside of the jacket back with hand stitches.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

So a combination of different denim washes, stitch techniques/thread colour and recycling of the original elements has produced a very “boro like” garment. I really find denim to be very malleable and a bit of a rough finish here or there only adds to the charm. There are so many nice hidden details to be discovered and the softness of the worn fabric makes this a very tactile item. It is actually more interesting off the body than on in some ways, but is also a completely relevant new item of clothing from old.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

If you hadn’t guessed, I really enjoyed this challenge! I can’t remember if I mentioned this last year, but this really appeals to my textile design background and I love considering all the detail placements.

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

I pinned bits on and removed them, stitched bits and unpicked until all was completely how I wanted and achieved a balance I was happy with. This just goes to show that if you don’t instantly love your creation, it may just need some tweaking to become perfect!

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

Thanks again Portia and thanks Pattern Fantastique for the great pattern! I have been wearing it all day and am set to wear it all the days!

THE REFASHIONERS 2016 - MARILLA WALKER

 

So are you tempted to give refashioning a go? One or two old pairs of jeans are definitely the best place to start (in my opinion). Check out some previous denim refashions I have made here  and here.

Not much can go wrong and remember frayed edges are cool, so don’t fret it! 😉

I really love this approach to refashioning. Starting with an idea of the type of garment you’d like to end up with, but not having an overly rigid approach to how you get there or exactly how the finished garment will look. Adapting to the challenges your base garments throw at you as you go and allowing the final garment to evolve. It’s a free flow approach that really allows creativity into the process and can result in some unique details and “happy accidents”. It’s also far less stressful than trying to wrestle a garment to conform to rigid preconceived idea, when it just doesn’t want to be what you want it to be! I always remember my sewing tutor telling me (in relation to fitting a garment) “Watch the fabric. It will tell you what it wants to do”. Same applies to refashioning in my experience.  I tend to think of it as working WITH the garment. Not against it. Or to put it another way,  just roll with it and see what you end up with 🙂

You can find Marilla here or here. And if you’re inspired to get your refashion on and enter the Community Challenge and be in with a chance of winning some epic prizes…DO IT! Deadline for entries is 30th Sept. Midnight GMT.

The Refashioners 2016 - Huge Prize Package

….I think you’ve got the idea now right? Essentially we want you to refashion some jeans! (You can find the full details/small print of the brief here). BUT, if you want to be in with a chance of winning one of these amazing prize packages you need to SHARE that refashion with us in one of the following ways:

  • On Instagram: Share a pic using the hashtags #therefashioners2016  and #jeanius
  • On Pinterest: There is a community board here where you can pin your makes. (You will need to request an invite to join)
  • On Facebook: There is a community board here where you can post your makes (You will need to request an invite to join)

Only entries shared via the above 3 methods will be entered into the competition. Closing date for entries is 30th September 2016 Midnight GMT. Good luck!!

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7 Comments

  1. Wendy Ward August 17, 2016

    I’ve been so looking forward to seeing this Marilla I love it!! Especially all the little boro inspired details. I like the way your jacket evolved a life of its own too rather than being constrained within a strict plan – that’s one of the many beauties about refashioning and working with recycled textiles.

    Reply
  2. Nancy Sopp August 17, 2016

    Reading your blog first thing in the morning is a wonderful treat for me this August. Thanks for all of the inspiration! I’m also subscribing to all of the participants’ blogs for ongoing inspiration during the long winter.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie August 17, 2016

      What a wonderful comment to receive! Thank you so much Nancy!

      Reply
  3. m(i)e August 17, 2016

    I’m in love!

    Reply
  4. Beth - Sew DIY August 18, 2016

    This is gorgeous! And thank you for sharing the information on Boro. So fascinating!

    Reply
  5. Helen S August 19, 2016

    Marilla, I really like your approach to a refashion, your 2015 shirt to top was one of my favourites. The incorporation of original jean details really adds interest and using reclaimed fabric often seems to lead to some kind of morphing of the garment from the original plan, its all part of the fun of the challenge.

    Reply
  6. Kathryn August 21, 2016

    This is so cool Marilla!! Ive read a few things about Boro recently and it’s so interesting and such a lovely organic look. Your jacket has so much character!

    Reply

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