Refashion: Vintage Jersey Dress to Tunic Shirt

Finding time to blog my makes (or indeed sew much for myself) has been a struggle for the latter part of 2016. Since The Refashioners in fact. Many things last year took their toll on my sewjo ( What a bloody awful year it was!) and as a result I’ve neglected this blog for the last few months.  I think I’ve been having some kind of  existential blogging crisis. For a while I questioned whether I was just falling out of love with blogging and had my head turned by Social Media. Recently I’ve been more inclined to share on IG. It’s quick. And writing a blog post is not. But I don’t think it’s that….VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

It’s more to do with my sewing and me personally. Creatively I’ve been in a bit of a rut. Emotionally I’ve felt the need to go into my shell and hibernate for a while. I’m doing a gazillion things….but none of them “properly”.  (Which I hate). I have a gazillion ideas.  But precious little time or energy. And when presented with a time window I can use, I’m paralyzed by indecision and procrastination; or worse still, rushing and bodging! So none of them are reaching fruition. I think I just need to regroup.  Take a long deep breath.  How do you clear a creative log jam? Sometimes absorbing myself in simple, mindless tasks is enough for me. Things that occupy me just enough, but not too much. And as evidence of that, right after this little simple refashion, I sewed up something else, that I am really proud of and will share  with you, I promise. But in the meantime….here’s my little icebreaker…

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

Unmistakable vintage M&S label. Back when it was called St Michael! Oh yeah, and pre vanity sizing! This dress dates from the late 70’s I’d say. LOVE the geometric print and thick jersey fabric.  Love the button placket and mandarin collar. Not so keen on the frumpy bottom half. A younger sewist with better legs than I, may choose to modernise this little beauty by going down the mini dress route. On the right person that would look ace. I am not that person 😉

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

So I altered the bottom section to reflect one of my favourite details. A shirt tail hem. Very simple alteration. Lay the garment flat with side seams (in the centre of this pic) pinned on top of eachother.  (Doing this ensures any alteration cuts you make will be even & centred) Draw out your curves in chalk making sure the lines are at 90 degree angles at the folded edges that are the CF and CB (this prevents a peak or wedge in the centre of your curved line when you open the garment out after cutting). The curves meet at the side seam.

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

I pinned along my chalk lines to stop anything shifting as I cut. Cut just underneath the line of pins. I eyeballed an approximate hem allowance. I wasn’t feeling the need to be precise, but you could always mark one in. To finish the hem I simply serged the raw edge, turned under and stitched in place. (Where the curves meet at the side seams, it helps to unpick a little of the side seams to give you room to manoeuvre and turn under neatly).

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

This pic better shows the effect before and after cutting. Apologies for the poor quality. A) It’s winter. B) I totally neglected to take a proper before photo.

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

A simple alteration which makes this garment much more wearable for me. It’s super warm and cosy too! It’s bugging me a little that I didn’t swap to black thread to sew this hem. It didn’t seem as obvious in the gloomy light I was sewing in at the time.  I may go back and change that I think. I have a “sewlution” this year. I don’t normally do resolutions. But if I have one sewing related one this year it’s this: ” Sew less, just sew it better”.  If I’m going to fully break out of my rut, niggles like that are not going to help. Best I go back and sort that hem out then!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+

17 Comments

  1. Fran Banks January 17, 2017

    I love your refashioned shirt. Going look through my closet to see if I can find a dress to redo. Thanks for the idea.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 18, 2017

      Thank you and yay! Hope you find a suitable candidate!

      Reply
  2. Mary-Ann January 18, 2017

    Hang in there, Portia! Soooo many reasons why 2016 will not be missed…
    I love reading your posts, will try to get more into instagram, oh god another thing to trawl through, can I do it, yes I can! Especially love the Refashioners, must be mind-boggling for you but such fun and imagination. Best for 2017 from Adelaide, South Australia.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 18, 2017

      Ah thank you Mary-Ann! Big hugs from Essex, England 🙂

      Reply
  3. Patricia January 18, 2017

    Nice to see you blogging again! I always feel inspried by your projects !

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 18, 2017

      Ah thank you Patricia:)

      Reply
  4. Dawn January 18, 2017

    I hate getting in those sewing funks. I go for a long walk, and make a whole new wardrobe in my head, then get home and slip into the funk again. Then, if I force myself to sew, I usually make a shapeless garment (which doesn’t flatter my somewhat shapeless middle-aged body) that I never wear! It would be much better if it was acceptable to grab your bag, ditch work and rush home at Olympic speed whenever inspiration strikes

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 18, 2017

      That would be a much better solution Dawn! But yes…the shapeless thing that I’ll never wear happens to me too!!

      Reply
  5. PsychicSewerKathleen January 18, 2017

    I love your re-fashioned top! I’ve been doing a bit of this myself – how wonderful it is to find just the right garment to play with and this one was it. Love the style and the fabric looks lovely too. So many knits in the ’70’s were honestly rather awful (I’m 62 so I know from experience 🙂 but this one definitely looks like a find 🙂 Good luck with reclaiming your sewing mojo – I think you’re on the right path with this beauty!

    Reply
  6. AniSue January 18, 2017

    Portia, I hope you get out of the funk soon. I find they come on strong in winter time. Your ideas and the other Refashioners give me inspiration to sew more and remake. Thanks for that!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 26, 2017

      Thank you AniSue! Actually just interacting with you guys again has me motivated and feeling more positive. So…thank you!

      Reply
  7. Catriona January 19, 2017

    Very happy to have you back! My ‘sewlution’ is to turn my ‘maybe-I’ll-refashion-this’ pile into wearable garments (or at least honourable attempts…). Always inspired by your blog.

    Reply
  8. TamsinW-P January 19, 2017

    Glad to see you back! I had a period in the run up to christmas where I didn’t sew anything for about a month or so. I missed it, and had plenty of opportunity, just couldn’t pull myself together enough to do anything about it. Just as I was getting back into it I got poorly and spent almost a week in bed the week before christmas, which wasn’t very helpful for anything! Since christmas I have been sewing non-stop, just need to get the blogging element back now! Love this refashion btw!

    Reply
  9. Janet Rodgers January 25, 2017

    Hi Portia, I have never heard so many people saying 2016 wasn’t a good year! I’m one so I can understand the effect it has had on you but I’m so glad your deciding to continue blogging. If only more bloggers took a tip from you. You’re words are witty, interesting, concise and to the point. You don’t take loads of unnecessary pictures showing slight variations on angles. Blatantly gush about the ‘in’ things some bloggers have a tendency to do which puts me off. Your very honest and down to earth and that’s why I hope you don’t give up and I really like your style too! If the Marks label is still on your lovely tunic, which used to be called double jersey, now ponte, have a look at the reverse of the label as they had a code, department, item no and sometimes year. They had, as you may know, a great returns policy which was abused, I’m sure. A sister of mine caused me dreadful embarrassment. I went to exchange to a larger size a tee shirt she gave my child as a present, couldn’t find one, on asking for help I was informed it was the previous years reduced stock, this was pre the indelible star they put on and technology, of course. I never attempted to exchange anything she bought ever again!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 26, 2017

      Janet what a lovely message! Thank you so much! It’s interesting too because all of the things you say you like about the blog are the things that are important to me too 🙂 I had a look at that M&S label and there IS a label with various codes on there! No obvious date BUT there is one that says 4/84 which has me wondering if it relates to the 4th quarter of 1984? What do you think?? If it is, then it’s alot later than I thought, but looking at it again style wise, I guess it would have been at home in the early 80’s. Especially for M&S client base back then which would have been almost exclusively the more mature lady! Intriguing! Thanks for that little factoid….I LOVE stuff like that!

      Reply
  10. LYNN HOLLAND January 28, 2017

    What a super find and transformation. I’ve got a lot of St. Michael vintage pieces and wear them everyday.
    I laughed when I read your first paragraph, sorry I know I shouldn’t have, but I honestly thought it was me. Gosh we could be twins.
    I hope you get focused soon and I hope I do too haha
    Kind regards
    Lynn

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie January 30, 2017

      Ha ha! Laugh away Lynn! Glad I’m not alone. I think alot of us have those times tbh! Px

      Reply

Leave a Reply

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