The Refashioners 2016 – The Colette Team

The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

One of the best parts of working at Colette HQ is being around people who are just as obsessed with sewing as you are. It can be a solitary activity sometimes, so having friends you can talk to every day about what you’re making, how you’re making it, and what you’re learning is a complete joy.

That’s why some of us decided to join The Refashioners project together. Because the only thing more inspiring that a good creative challenge is watching how other people tackle the same problem.

Four of us participated this year: me (I’m Sarai, the founder), Delaney (our pattern manager), Anna (our designer), and Meg (our communications manager).

Here’s what each of us made, and how. You can read more about each of our projects on the colette blog, where we’re each sharing more photos and details this week. – Sarai


Anyone who knows me (or even follows me on Instagram knows that I’m kind of obsessed with roses. I’m even a member of the Portland English Rose Society, an unofficial rose-growing club that mostly involves a bunch of ladies getting together to sip champagne, eat rose-flavored treats, and pore over garden catalogs. So when I saw these 90s floral jeans, I knew they were meant for me.

I modelled my dress off something very similar by Stella McCartney. I’ve wanted a little denim cut-out sort of dress since last summer, and I loved the interesting construction details. Of course, mine ended up quite a big shorter because I used every bit of fabric I had! I drafted the pattern using a combination of draping and flat pattern making, made a muslin, and got to work! Some pieces needed to be cut on the cross grain to get things to fit, but somehow I ended up with just the right amount of fabric. The most time consuming part was definitely taking the original garment apart.

Though in retrospect, the fun seamlines on this dress probably would have been a lot more visible in a solid denim, I can’t deny that all these big red 90s flowers make me very happy.

Read more about each of our projects on the colette blog this week .


I had no clue of what I was going to make before I went to Goodwill. I snaked through the aisles, collecting possible combinations, creating garments in my mind and subsequently rejecting them all. I finally settled upon a pair of mens size 50 black jeans, two pairs of  the same purple stretch denim, and a fabulous pair of black floral stretch denim.

The next step was to find out what I would make with them. Many years ago, I purchased a Bellville Sassoon pattern from vogue to make my junior prom dress, yet sadly, I wasn’t asked to go. I felt obligated to work this pattern into my design, and I loved the gored skirt (without the mermaid flare of course). I paired the skirt with the Madonna bodice pattern from the book Famous Frocks by Sara Alm and Hannah McDevitt, and my refashioned design was ready to be patterned.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

I had to alter both patterns to make the gores from the skirt and bodice line up and blend smoothly. The Bellville Sassoon pattern didn’t have a waist seam, so I laid a different skirt pattern on top of the traced skirt pattern and marked a waistline on each gore. I then aligned the stitch line of the bodice pieces with my new waistline on the skirt and trued my seams. The process was easy, and required little alteration.

Apparently purple stretch denim isn’t popular here in the northwest, so I was lucky to find two pairs! Before I cut into my jeans, I laid the pattern pieces to make sure there was enough, and there was plenty. The construction process was fairly simple and the dress came together quickly. I struggled with the fit on the skirt, and was ready to just make the bodice into a top. After throwing the dress the corner of my sewing room, I went to bed frustrated and defeated. I woke up the next morning determined to make the skirt fit, and I’m glad I did.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

I thoroughly enjoyed this project. It reminded me of my early sewing days when I would buy thrift store garments and hack them apart to make a pattern. I used to go into projects without any fear or hesitation of whether or not the end result was perfect. This project allowed me to let go of the rules of sewing and just have fun.

Read more about each of our projects on the Colette blog this week 


The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

For my refashioners project I decided to copy a favorite denim jacket that I own, as far as shape and silhouette. I love wearing and sewing with denim, so when Sarai asked the office to participate in the refashioners 2016 project I very enthusiastically accepted the challenge! For my project I used 2 1/2 pairs of men’s XXL wrangler jeans from Goodwill. When at the store I was excited that I had found a few pairs of pants in the same denim wash, which can be difficult, especially as I was wanting a light blue wash denim jacket. However, when I began cutting out my pattern pieces and positioning them next to each other, I realized the denim had faded in different areas and the jacket was beginning to look a little to patchwork for my liking.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

Distracting  from the varying blue colors, I decided to add some actual patches to the jacket, and lots of hardware. I have been embroidering a lot lately, and had a few patches already made up.

My favorite artist and designer is Nudie Cohn, famous for his Nudie Suits, and clothing big country acts like Gram Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Elvis, Hank Williams, and many more. The way he utilizes embroidery and hardware to decorate a garment, or full suit, is very inspiring to me and I wanted to do something similar for this jacket. Another artist I am very inspired by is Ft. Lonesome. The company is based out of Austin, Texas and is known primarily for making chain stitch embroideries and then adding them to various custom garments.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

Although my embroideries do not even come close to comparison with these two artists work, I did my best to make a garment reminiscent of their work. The project was very fun to accomplish, and I am happy to now have a handmade, recycled denim jacket that fits just as well as my original favorite denim jacket.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

Read more about each of our projects on the Colette blog this week 


The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

I wear way too much denim. I really didn’t need another denim garment in my wardrobe, but I did need a new backpack for summer camping trips! So I made the Cooper bag.

I’m stoked that 100% of this bag is refashioned. I used jeans for the flap, bottom, pockets, and straps, and old denim curtains from IKEA for the contrasting fabric.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

The lining is thrifted cotton from my stash. All hardware came from an old bag I had in a donate pile at home, and the snaps came from an old sweater. The patch is from my old Girl Scout sash!

I ripped the jeans apart at the sides and crotch, but I kept the legs intact at the inseam, which is why the flap and bottom have a center seam. After that, I didn’t have much jeans left, so I got creative with the rest. I used the actual back pockets from the jeans for the pockets on the outside and inside of the bag, and the waistbands from the jeans for the backpack straps. The waistbands came off the jeans nicely, and it meant I didn’t need to assemble straps. I even kept the button from the fly as a fun little detail for each strap.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

From the outside, you can’t tell that it’s made from jeans, but take a peek inside, and the Levi’s pocket gives it away.The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns

Read more about each of our projects on the Colette blog this week 

The Refashioners 2016 - Colette Patterns


I don’t think you’ll find a better example in one post, of the massive scope of potential in refashioning unloved jeans! So interesting to see how completely different everyone’s take is on the challenge in terms of aesthetic and approach.  And Delaney’s comment particularly resonates with me….and one of the reasons I LOVE refashioning so much: “I used to go into projects without any fear or hesitation of whether or not the end result was perfect. This project allowed me to let go of the rules of sewing and just have fun.”

Thank you so much to Sarai, Delaney, Anna & Meg. Awesome job!!!

You can find  the team 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!!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+


  1. kathryn August 8, 2016

    Every time I read the latest refashioners post I think ‘this is my favourite yet’, and definitely this is! I love how everyone changed it into something completely different. I feel so inspired now and wish I could get to the charity shop instead of being in work!

  2. Sue August 8, 2016

    Another inspiring post, and I love the different approaches and outcomes. I immediately began thinking of a backpack pattern that I have, and I immediately regretted cutting up a pair of ’90s skinny floral jeans to make a bag, which wasn’t very successful! I am going to persist with the jeans refashioning, it’s so exciting!

  3. Nancy Sopp August 8, 2016

    I am very much enjoying reading these blog posts. Thanks!

    • Portia Lawrie August 8, 2016

      So glad Nancy!!!Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *