Hurrah!!! Another edition of The Refashioners challenge is here and I’m beyond excited to see what everyone makes. I’m thrilled that Portia has asked me to take part for another year, and I hope that my contribution will provide some inspiration for sewers who like to make stuff for kids.
After giving my approach some thought, I decided to use this year’s challenge theme to explore different types of denim. I wanted to try a few refashioning projects using jeans that varied in thickness and stretchiness.
Matching projects and patterns to the properties of different fabrics is an element of sewing that is often tricky; add to that the extra challenges thrown up by reusing existing garments rather than sewing from a flat piece of new fabric, and you’ve got some sewing fun to be had!
Everyone knows, three is the magic number. So I sourced three very different pairs of jeans to hack into. The first pair was a fairly wide legged hipster style (the kind I would have ADORED in the early 2000’s) made from lightweight denim with no stretch that a friend of mine ended up with at a recent clothes swap. The second was a pair of ‘dad jeans’ (thick, sturdy denim but pretty loose and shapeless in style) my husband owned but hated actually wearing. The final pair was the tight, stretchy, skinny variety donated to me by another friend. What is genius about this year’s installment of The Refashioners is that the source material is so easy to come by. If you asked around everyone you know, I think you’d be hard pushed not to find someone with a pair of jeans (or ten) that they no longer want. On to my creations…
I couldn’t think of many options for refashioning the skinny, stretchy jeans, particularly with this pair, as they originally belonged to a very petite friend of mine. I decided not to break my brain over it, and to simply make a toddler pair of jeggings from the adult pair. Although my daughter has recently begun to insist on wearing a dress every day, I can often sneak a pair of leggings or trousers on her underneath, which I feel is particularly important for chilly and/or very outside-y days, so I know these will be useful in the future if she doesn’t close that loop-hole!
So the first thing I did was make a fairly sizeable mistake. Just so others would be able to avoid doing so themselves of course! I started out by cutting the jeans up along the outside leg seams so I could preserve the lapped seam and nice topstitching on the inside leg. Sounds like a good idea, no?!
I opted to use a tried and tested kids skinny trousers/jeggings pattern, the Hosh pants pattern by Lou Bee Clothing , for this project (size 3 but length 4 because I think this pattern comes up a bit short). As you can see in the above image, when I positioned the main pattern piece on the prepared jeans, it is too wide for the amount of denim I was left with. GAH!
I couldn’t figure out a way to rectify to situation, so I took the coward’s route out and found another pair of skinny jeans made from a denim with a similar weight and stretch and started again, this time cutting up the INSIDE legs (see above). This time I could fit the main pattern piece on fine whilst also incorporating the original hem so that was a construction step for my toddler jeggings that I could skip. As you may have noticed, the Hosh pants pattern has no outside leg seam, but to fit that pattern piece on an existing pair of jeans, you have to include the original outside leg seam, which I feel gives a nice little nod to the source material.
The rest of the pattern consists of a pair of front waistband pieces, and a pair of back waistband pieces. I squeezed out one of each from the top of the legs and the final front waistband piece from the centre of what left just under the fly front of the original jeans. The second back waistband piece was cut from a scrap of flamingo print quilting cotton that I had found in a scraps bin a while ago.
The Hosh pants pattern features an adjustable elasticated section at the back, and I think that two layers of denim would have been too stiff to gather sufficiently anyhow.
I recently made a few of these sun hats in quilting weight cotton, and at the time felt that the pattern could easily cope with being made in a thicker fabric so the hats would keep their shape better. Now was my chance to test that theory. The Dad-jeans were unleashed (well, cut up the outside leg seams and laid out flat). I printed out two copies of the Oliver + S free bucket hat pattern, trimmed one set to the size small pattern pieces and another for a set of size medium.
The biggest challenge I faced with this project was the faux-and-actual-wearing and distress of the original jeans. Unlike with the pair I used for the jeggings project, here I faced lots of different shades of blue, worn out sections and some holes. It would have been very little hassle to harvest enough denim with similar shading for just one hat. However, I was determined to make a pair of hats so I just had to do my best to avoid the holes and group the pattern pieces so the smaller one would be formed from the darker sections and the larger utilised the more mid-blue parts.
With the tricksome cutting out of the way, the rest of these makes were simple. I chose some red anchor print quilting cotton that had been generously offered and sent to me by IG user @craftandthrift to line the smaller one (which is going to be for the mini-dude currently growing and kicking in my belly). And for my increasingly girly little almost-three-year-old, I picked out some very pink ditsy Liberty-esque cotton lawn for a lining.
I had both red and dusty pink topstitching thread in my stash, although not as much of the pink, which is why there aren’t so many rows of stitching around the brim on that one!
I conclude this second experiment by formulating the following equation: one pair of Dad-jeans plus some stash lurkers equals two small peoples’ hats.
Finally, I used the wide leg pair of jeans, so denim was relatively abundant compared to the other two. It’s still surprising to me how it can be tricky to get a baby’s garment out of something adult sized though! With the current project ratio of 2:1 in favour of Dolores, I thought it only fair to make another garment for the mini-dude.
One of my regular students recently gave me this baby layette sewing pattern, and I thought the dungarees project would be a nice basis for some cute embellishment. I traced out the 6 month sized pattern pieces, but extended to the 9 month length as they looked pretty wide and I thought the hems could be rolled up for a while to get maximum usage from my hard work.
The wide legged style of the pattern used almost all the lower portions of the original jean’s legs. Thankfully the denim didn’t have lots of fading so there wouldn’t be too many weird patches of shading on the finished garment. With all the pieces cut out without too much of a headache, it was time to embellish them before construction could commence.
I’ve been collating applique ideas on a Pinterest board for months now as I’m always amazed by how the simplest addition can transform a simple garment. A basic cloud image is one that has appeared on my board numerous times, and is pleasingly gender neutral. I sketched out a simple cloud shape and cut out a few in different sizes from a scrap of thin grey leather. I appliqued them by first fixing them in place with Copydex, then carefully stitched round the edges using the walking foot and my sewing machine cranked down to slooowwwww. The clouds on the legs are meant to add reinforcement to the knee areas, but I think they will probably have ended up too low to perform that function! Youtube taught me how to make French knots, which I used to hand-embroider the eyes on the main cloud, and I used a running stitch for the mouth in topstitching thread because that’s all I could find.
With the embellishment complete, it was time to construct the garment. I chose to pleat rather than gather the top of the leg pieces into the yoke as I thought the gathering looked a bit girly. I picked out some plain silver buttons for the closures, and a scrap of sweet juvenile print quilting cotton for the facings…
Everything for this project came from my stash, except for the press studs that allow the inside legs to open, as I had run out of those after a recent spate of dribble bib making.
It’s impossible to say which will be the most useful reworking of a pair of jeans, as all four items are currently too big or for someone who hasn’t even been born yet! But it’s safe to say that I get an enormous kick from making kid’s clothes from unwanted adult ones. There are soooooooo many unused and unloved garments out there in the world, and there’s few things that make me happier than giving some of them a second chance with the application of some inventive sewing.
Thanks, as always, to Portia for her truly brilliant organisation of this, the most awesome of challenges! At time of writing I have no idea what the other bloggers have produced, so it’ll be super exciting to check in each day to see what everyone has come up with. Good luck and well done to everyone who is submitting a project to the community competition. Seeing all the denim (re-)creations will no doubt be one of the creative highlights of my year so I thank you all in advance!
Oh Dolores!!! You gorgeous little lady!! I hadn’t learnt to sew “properly” when Elliott was first born. Had I had the skills then that I have now I would have DEFINITELY have been sewing little dude dungarees and hats….and everything else come to think of it!! I would probably be busy refashioning my pre pregnancy jeans in fact! Refashioning is perfect for kids clothes. Not just making adult clothes smaller of course, but adapting clothes so they can continue to be of use as they grow. One of my first memories of sewing was around the age of 7 or 8. When I outgrew a favourite dress (they were all smocky in those days:)) my mum would lop the top of the dress off and then show me how to hand sew an encased elastic waistband, so I could still wear it as a skirt. Which may just have been the seed where all this started, lol! Thank’s again to Zoe, who’s contributed to every single series of The Refashioners since it began!
You can find Zoe 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.
….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!!