The Refashioners 2016: And the winners are….

This is a really exciting decision to reveal! But HARD. Man this was hard! This years challenge, I think it’s fair to say, has captivated people’s imagination, creativity and ingenuity more than any series before it. Maybe it’s because we ALL have old pairs of jeans that we keep meaning to “do something with” and this challenge has given us the impetus to actually get on and do it.  Maybe it’s because denim is such an awesome, versatile and timeless fabric. Maybe it’s because jeans themselves throw up so many challenges that the only option is to take the ingenuity up a gear in order to overcome them. Maybe the inspiring makes that have been appearing all over this blog & the various social media channels has opened our eyes to the potential in old pairs of jeans. That jeans refashioning is NOT inevitably going to end up looking all “Becky home Ecky” (unless you want it to which is equally fine of course!). Maybe, just maybe, it’s a combination of all of those things. This years challenge has achieved everything I wanted it to….and then some!! I have been FLOORED by the amount of time, thought and creative energy that has gone into everyone’s makes.  Which of course has made it all the harder to arrive at this decision. But arrive at a decision we must. So without further ado…



This dress by Messy Essy had me (well, all of us) floored from the moment we saw it. The sheer AMOUNT of work that went into this is almost enough on it’s own. That intricate central panel of  quilt pieced cubes itself took days of painstaking work. When I first saw that on it’s own (before it became a dress!) it occurred to me that you could frame it and put it on a wall as a piece of art in it’s own right. Add to that the careful thought and placement of the various hues of blue to achieve not only a 3d cube effect, but an ombre 3d cube effect!!! Hello!! Then, add to that the way it sits perfectly as part of the overall design of the dress, brilliantly executed and perfectly suited to the wearer. The simple elegance of this dress when worn, belies the intricacy and skill needed to make it. All of this making “the cuboid dress” a worthy winner of the first prize.The Refashioners 2016 - Your Makes - Vol I

You can read more about Essy’s process and thoughts on the challenge here.



Our special recognition prize goes to Selmin for this awesome denim sweatshirt. The general consensus is that it was just so well executed, so wearable. Edgy, bang up to date, makes clever use of the original seams. The colour blocking is so well considered and the subtle sashiko detailing acts to tie all of those blue hues together even further. I’ve heard it said that many people prefer their refashions not to look like they were made from jeans. I don’t think this does, but it does subtly nod to the garment’s original incarnation, and denim’s workwear history; and plays a little homage to the way clothes used to be repaired rather than thrown away. Yet it does all this whilst looking modern and, more importantly, really reflecting the wearers individual style. And I just love it for all of those reasons. (And actually would like to steal it for myself!!)The Refashioners 2016 - Your Makes - Vol 2

You can read more about Selmin’s process and thoughts on the challenge here.


It has honestly been astounding, and at times quite emotional (I know I’m a sop) each time a new entry popped up.  And to read all of your blog posts and hear what you have gained from this challenge. That it was hard, but you were glad you did it. That it made you realise that if you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you realise how much more you are capable of. In many instances that this refashioned garment is your proudest make to date. That you will never look at a pair of old jeans in the same way again. That you’ve caught the refashioning bug despite having never really considered it before. Seeing all of those makes and hearing all of your thoughts on this challenge, has made me so proud. Proud that I set the ball rolling on this challenge. But the truth is, I am not responsible for all of this. You all are.  I just set the scene and lit the touch paper. And just LOOK where our sewing community took it. THAT I am proud to be a part of.

Thank you to everyone who lent their energy to this years challenge. And while you may not have won “the big prize”, you have inspired me. And you have inspired your fellow sewers. And you have proven yet again how amazing our sewing community is. Hopefully you will have taken new things from this challenge that you never knew about yourself and about refashioning. And those are all wins. Bigger ones in my book. So thank you.

Question is……what the hell do I come up with to top this next year????!!!!

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  1. Catia October 14, 2016

    Excellent choices Portia! They are both amazing and so inspiring! What an amazing challenge! Can’t wait to see what you come up with for next year 😀


  2. Jane October 14, 2016

    You must be seeing denim in your sleep! I had to abandon my refashioning plans this year for various reasons but have loved seeing everyone’s creations. This dress was absolutely bloody brilliant and definitely the right choice to win! Amazing. Well done to you for organising everything again this year – I really don’t envy you having to come up with next year’s challenge!

  3. Alyssa Wesselmann October 14, 2016

    Congratulations Messy Essy and Selmin! Great job choosing Portia! The winning entries are truly amazing!

  4. Hilary October 14, 2016

    Yes and Yes! Congratulations Messy Essy and Selmin! And congratulations, Portia for choosing well, having the stamina to see it all through and for setting this brilliant challenge. I learnt such a lot doing my own challenge and gained such inspiration from everyone else’s. Love it, love it, love it!

  5. Nancy Sopp October 14, 2016

    I’ve really enjoyed all of your posts and links and I look forward to next year’s challenge.

  6. PsychicSewerKathleen October 14, 2016

    I couldn’t agree more that Messy Essy’s cube dress is definitely a first prize well earned and granted! Beautiful, stunning, perfect! The fit, styling, and of course that cube design on the front just make it a stunner. How amazing she accomplished this with OLD denim!

  7. Gweneth Branch-Rice October 14, 2016

    I love both of these, great job choosing. I’m sure it was tough.

  8. sew2pro October 14, 2016

    Argh it can’t have been easy! But such creative ladies.

  9. eimear October 14, 2016

    so many stand out entries, it cannot have been easy. messy essy’s cube dress was really something, so perfect – and selmins lovely sweater is so cute… really enjoyed reading all the posts, thank you so much for organising it!

  10. Sam October 15, 2016

    As soon as I saw MessyEssy’s dress I thought that’s a winner, congratulations to both ladies & you Portia for organising it. It has been truly inspirational, I have a big pile of jeans and tons of ideas that I will get round to transforming in my own time!

  11. Fabric Tragic October 15, 2016

    Great choices!

  12. Gail Felker October 15, 2016

    Good choices! Those impressed me as well. Mine was a Becky Ecky, I realized after seeing what really good patchwork could look like and I am challenged, actually, to try again soon (even without a contest!) and see if I can improve my technique. After all, that’s what this is about, right? To spur one another on! And an idea for next year… how about neckties?

  13. Lisa October 15, 2016

    Great choices, Portia. I still don’t know how you managed to run all of this, but you did a great job. The submissions were amazing. I think you deserve a rest now! 😉

  14. Nicola October 16, 2016

    Well deserved congratulations to the winners. Brilliant entries. I too loved this challenge, knowing I learnt something from the experience as well as enthralling in the entries. Each one gave pause for thought. I loved it and I am still sewing with denim as it was so enjoyable. Thanks Portia for organising!

  15. Jill Green October 16, 2016

    Well deserved beautifully executed entries and winners. This was my first year at this and you have all inspired me to carry on refashioning old into useful. Thank you Portia for accepting me into the group I’ve loved it x

  16. Michelle October 18, 2016

    It was so fun to be a part of it, and to see what everyone came up with! I t is amazing how we all started with the same material, and all the projects came out radically different from eachother.
    Thank you for hosting!

  17. Izz October 20, 2016

    Congrats to the winners !
    I loved being part of this adventure and it was great seeing everyone else’s oh so inspiring entries.
    Merci Portia, it was great fun ! 😉

  18. Christine December 7, 2016

    I love seeing all the ideas and projects. For next year, how about sweaters? I have a box of shrunk sweaters, ones with moth holes, felted ones, some that were beautiful but never fit right. I have a lot of things that I do with them, and I’ve seen some great things online, but there is plenty of room on that bandwagon, IMO.

    • Portia Lawrie December 7, 2016

      That’s defo on my list of possibles Catherine. Thank you!!


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