The Refashioners 2016: Mirjam

The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

Hi, this is Mirjam from and I’m wearing a top made out of a pair of jeans!! But first things first. I was so excited when Portia asked if I wanted to take part as a blogger in this year’s refashioners. Of course I wanted to! I really got a kick out of last year’s community challenge, and contributing my piece as a blogger this year is just a little bit mind-blowing. So here I was, with a piece of thrifted and washed but unwearably frumpy clothing: the old pair of jeans.The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

Last year I made trousers from a shirt, so this year I would go the other way and make a top from trousers. I set myself two challenges. Firstly, I wanted to use just one pair of jeans to make a new piece of clothing (I only used a second pair of old jeans to produce some contrast bias binding for the neckline). Secondly, I did not want to leave any waste from that one pair of old jeans I was using. I used up practically everything from my original pair of jeans, except for some tiny scraps and offcuts. I got enough material from the jeans to make a top and was even left with some shorts to wear it with.

To begin with, I cut my jeans four times and reassembled the pieces to make the top and shorts.The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti


So simple, right?! This is what I love most about refashioning: It really doesn’t take much at all, just some bold cuts and a little constructive rearrangement. I used the bottom parts of the trouser legs as sleeves, leaving the original hem intact. The mid-part of the trouser legs I turned upside-down, so the wider parts of the legs would be sitting around my belly – I haven’t told you yet, but I’m making a maternity top here, so I’ll need the extra belly room!The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

I ripped the inner leg seams to expose the dark edges. Then I joined the two legs to form the bodice. I’d only just gotten a new toy – my very first overlocker machine – so I played around with the stitches a bit. To close the centre front and centre back seam I used my overlocker’s flatlock stitch. For this you stitch two layers of fabric together and then lay them flat open and wiggle and jiggle the layers of fabric until the seam is all flat. Magic!The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

Next, I attached the sleeves, adjusting the fit a little by cutting off bits of fabric here and there. To give shape to the sleeves and to make them sit on my shoulders I opened half the shoulder seams, taking in a bit of fabric when restitching. To finish the neckline I used bias binding made from another old pair of jeans.The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam LiechtiThe Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

At this point, my top was really boxy, if not huge. A good thing around the growing belly, but not very flattering. So I added bust darts, but left enough room so I wouldn’t have to add any closures. I can easily pull the top over my head. And there’s still enough room for my belly to grow (at the time of writing I have four months to go!). I finished the hem by folding it over and inserting a thin elastic strap to keep the stiff fabric from sticking out too much.The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti


So that’s the top – what about the shorts, though? Well, these were basically just left over, as I’d only used the trouser legs to make the top. I left the shorts as they were after the first cuts.The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

They fit nicely around the hip and I like the length I cut them in the first place. The edges are left raw and for that decent denim look I’m now waiting for the shorts to fray with washing and wearing.The Refashioners 2016 - Mirjam Liechti

Thank you, Portia, for creating and organizing such an inspiring challenge for the sewing community. I really can’t wait to see what everyone makes of it!

Well first of all…HUGE congrats Mirjam on your impending new arrival!!  Secondly…do you know what floats my “oooooh that’s clever” boat most about this make??  The way Mirjam has cut the armscye curves/sleeves out of those leg cuffs, and that the “opposite” curve in the leftover leg then informs the shape of the neckline. Flipping those larger pieces upside down with the wider part at the bottom. Doing it like this gives maximum use of the fabric available.  And when it comes to refashioning jeans, (where flat fabric is at a premium) it’s a very clever approach and one worth noting! Replacing those flat fell seams with the less bulky flatlock approach also makes the seam more fluid. Nice touch!

You can find  Mirjam 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 go 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.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+

Refashion: Fleece Sweatshirt to Minimalist Cropped Jacket

refashion a fleece sweatshirt into a cropped jacket

It’s been all about the cozy around here. Temperatures as we know have been less than balmy and Shedquarters has been a little chilly to say the least. So an extra layer (or two) has been a prerequisite recently. Enter this oatmeal coloured “blah” fleece!

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan (1)

“Blah” because of the shape. But the fleece itself is super soft and has the appearance of felted wool….except way way softer! So I set about chopping it up….and this is what I ended up with!turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

A cute little cropped cardi/jacket with simple lines, that sits just on the hip at the front and dips down at the back. Couldn’t be simpler really. No raw edge finishing required as the fabric doesn’t fray. Just a few cut’s and minimal sewing. You can apply this to any similar fleece or sweatshirt. Here’s what I did…turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

Trimmed away the neckband close to the stitching and rounded off that V shape a little (optional)…

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

Cut straight up the middle to create the opening….

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

Cut a dipped/curved hem, removing the hem band in the process…

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

Cut the sleeves down to my preferred “bracelet” length, leaving a little extra for turning…

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

Turn and hem the cuffs and bottom hem…

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

Turn and stitch a narrow hem arround the neckline. This would normally be a no no but as this fabric had a degree of stretch (and I didn’t have any fabric left for a facing) I went with it and it worked fine 🙂

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

Then turn under and stitch either side of the opening….

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

In all instances stitch as close to the raw edge as poss. This will give you a super clean finish and as you can see, that rule breaking I did with turning rather than facing the neckline? Not a problem 😉 Still a nice clean corner there . You can also see a double row of stitching along the vertical edge of the opening. (Partly decorative. Partly functional)

turn a aweatshirt into a cropped cardigan

And that’s that! It’s a perfect little extra layer to chuck on and much much less blah than the original! Even better, it takes about 30 mins. Gotta love fleece/sweatshirt fabric! More sweatshirt stuff coming up this week. Watch this space!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+

Top Tips: For “Skinnifying” Jeans & Trousers

tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

When looking for jeans or trousers I have the relatively common problem (especially when you’ve had kids!) of trousers that fit me in the waist/tum/bum area being waaaaay to big in the legs for my liking. Luckily I sew 🙂 So for years I’ve been addressing this minor annoyance by buying (usually thrifting) jeans than are super comfy in the waist/tum/bum area and simply reshaping the legs to fit my style. “Skinnifying” them if you like. I’ve been asked a few times if I am going to do a tutorial on the subject. Well, yes and no. This is a tutorial of sorts. But I hold your intelligence in high enough esteem to know that you probably get the gist that narrowing trousers means pinning the legs. Sewing a new seam and cutting away the excess. So while this post touches on that obvs, I wanted to focus on some of the other considerations you might want to take into account….

Fabric & Stretch: The “jeans” predominantly featured here are not jeans in the truest sense. They are not constructed in quite the same way as “traditional” jeans. (I’ll touch on that a bit further down) But they are made from a stretch denim. In my experience, denim with stretch is by far the most forgiving and easiest to work with when refitting the legs on jeans. And lets’s face it, the most comfortable to wear too! It’s also not a heavy denim. Another consideration when you’re using a home sewing machine which simply won’t have the power of the industrial machines that would have been used for heavy denim when they were originally produced…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers (2)

Seam Construction: Both the inner and outer leg seams of this particular pair of jeans were constructed using standard straight seams. These are your friends when it comes to reshaping the legs on jeans or trousers; because it means you can easily narrow the leg evenly on both sides. Traditional construction uses a flat fell seam, usually on the inside leg, which is tougher and harder wearing. If you can avoid those….do.  I’ll touch on that a bit further down…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Prep: To prepare the legs for reshaping it’s easier to completely unpick the hems then press the hems and the sides seams completely smooth and flat. Put on inside out, then pin to your desired fit. Take them off and even out the row of pins. Watch out here that you don’t narrow soooo much that you can’t get your foot through the ankle. Yep….done that. 😉

At the ankle, where you are going to hem, the pins should be at right angles to the original hem fold for the whole hem section. That section needs to be the same width above and below the hem fold in order to allow for proper hemming….tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Blending: In order to make the new and old seams blend seamlessly (so you don’t get an obvious dimple or tuck on the outside once you’re done) pin then start sewing within the original seam allowance and gradually cross over the original seamline to your new line of stitching…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers (4)

Back & Front Leg Ratio: The back leg of a pair of jeans/trousers in general, will be wider than the front to allow for the calf muscle. You’ll want to retain this ratio in order to keep the side seams completely vertical when wearing. So when you press and pin make sure that this excess fabric remains distributed at the back leg…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Ensuring Even alteration: You’ll want to ensure that you take away the fabric evenly on both legs. To do this I pin one leg to my desired fit. Then I line up both legs along all seams and use those pins to pin through both legs at the same time…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

So essentially you have both legs pinned together with the pins on top marking an identical line on the other leg underneath. Make sense?  You can also see in this pic the additional fabric of the back leg all bunched up in the middle…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Marking: Obviously I can’t sew it like that! So I mark on top and between the pins on both sides to mark my new seam line…I have a set of pastel pencils that make an awesom alternative to tailor’s chalk btw!tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Sewing: Then simply remove the pins, sew on top of my chalk line, zig zag close to that line, then trim off the excess and hem…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Considerations for “traditional” Jeans: So I mentioned flat fell seams.  Traditional jeans will generally have a standard seam on the outside (your friend) and a flat fell seam on the inside leg (not your friend!). You can see below the amount of stitching involved in a flat fell seam. This makes it super sturdy which is fantastic for the longevity of your jeans but not so great if you want to take it in at that seam. It is not possible to smoothly narrow  and blend that seam without unpicking all that stitching first. Even then you have that point wher the crotch and inside leg seams intersect to contend with. I have tried in the past and I will never bother again! So to my mind, and in my humblest of all humble opinions, it just isn’t worth it. I prefer to accept the limitations of traditionally constructed jeans and only narrow the leg on one side…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers (15)

This does of course limit the amount you can narrow the legs by before it starts looking uneven; and that is just a matter of trial and error and personal taste. When narrowing just one side of a pair of jeans I will always use a long stitch to baste my new seam line and test the fit first before committing to cutting away the excess fabric.

If you are altering traditional denim then another consideration is the thickness of the fabric; especially at the hem. To retain the original hem you’ll likely be sewing through 3 layers of denim (see the pic below) plus an additional 3-4 layers when you sew across the intersection of the flat fell seam! tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers (14)

My machine is not powerful enough to do that on sturdier denim. So I reduce the strain by removing that bottom section of hem…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

And opting instead for a single fold hem with the raw edge zig zagged or overlocked…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Another area where it can get pretty bulky is up in the hip pocket area. If you are beginning your blended seam as high up at that then there will be studs, pocket bags and top stitching to navigate. Which is why when I select jeans to refashion…I opt for those that don’t need taking in at the hips (these were the other half’s jeans)…tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers

Tools/Equipment: I thoroughly recommend using the right tools for the job. In my opinion and for my machine, denim needles make a difference in the ease of sewing and the quality of the resulting stitch. For an authentic looking hem, then top stitching thread matched to the original colour will give a professional finish. For sewing over the bulkiest part of the hem, placing a shim at the back of the presser foot will keep your presser foot horizontal and help avoid the skipped stitches that occur when sewing over bulky seams and the presser foot has to “climb” at an angle over the bulkiness of it all. You can buy shims. But a folded piece of card does the job for me. Also, machine needle cases are almost the perfect thickness to do the job; and if you’re lucky your presser foot may have a little button on the side that locks it into the horizontal for skinnifying jeans and trousers


So that’s that. My top tips for skinnifying jeans and trousers. Anything you want to add?? Please feel free to share!!!

Happy refashioning!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+

Refashion: Contrast Texture Sweatshirt

This sweatshirt has been sitting in my refashion pile for several weeks. I have a preference for raglan sleeve sweatshirts as I find the fit more flattering. But this sweatshirt was so soft I nabbed it from the charity shop anyway. What’s more the underside of the fabric was really interesting to me (loopy terry texture and a pinkier colour than the right side) and even as I was lifting it off the rack in the shop, I knew I wanted to play with contrasting the wrong side of the fabric with the right side…sweatshirt refashion (1)

Whilst I am not overly sold on the final fit of this garment, I am in love with the contrast elements of it. I think it’s a really effective way of adding some interest to a plain sweatshirt and has applications for both refashioning and “from scratch” dressmaking. I’m sure it’s not just me that looks at the “wrong” side of the fabric and thinks….well that’s just as interesting as the intended right side. In fact I often spend time deciding which side of the fabric I prefer and want to use. The answer could be…..use both sides!sweatshirt refashion - contrast texture detail

The sleeves were a simple case of removing the ribbing cuffs and creating a turn up to display the underside of the fabric.

The triangular panels are also pretty simple. I did wing this a bit as it was an experiment. So there’s a couple of areas where I’ll tell you what I should have done to make things easier. But hey, the outcome is pretty much the same!sweatshirt refashion (14)

I began by opening the whole thing out. I knew I was going to need to reshape it at the side seams anyway. So began by cutting it open along the side seams and underarm seams…from the hem all the way to the cuff. Both Sides.

In this pic the whole thing is opened out (like a big cross) and then folded along the length, lining up sleeves and side seams so it lays flat and I could deal with the front and back of the sweatshirt separately. This is the front. I marked out and cut a wedge from the side. From the underarm to the hem. Cutting through both layers at once…sweatshirt refashion (15)

With hindsight, I’d actually advise removing the hem and any other bulkiness like it (I had those bulky hem vents) before marking and cutting the wedge. And actually I would measure and mark each side separately rather than cutting through two layers at once. The bulk of those seams and the double layers of thick sweatshirt fabric skewed my scissors resulting in slightly “non-identical” wedges. We need them to be identical for the next step.

Flip those wedges over and apply them to the opposite side of the sweatshirt (with a scant seam allowance) from which they were cut. Essentially reconstructing the shape of the sweatshirt. But now you have those contrasting wedges either side! sweatshirt refashion (16)

Press SA towards centre and top stitch.

Then repeat that process on the back…sweatshirt refashion (17)

…and reconstruct the sweatshirt by placing RS together and sewing together from cuff to hem on both sides…

I wanted to continue the “contrast triangle” element onto the neckline and swap out the ribbed triangle …sweatshirt refashion (3)

Plus I prefer a slightly deconstructed look as opposed to a thick band of ribbing…19

Pretty simple to do this using reverse applique.

First of all I made a snip up to the stitching line on the neckline ribbing…sweatshirt refashion (4)

sweatshirt refashion (5)

…and cut that ribbing away right next to the stitching line.

I’d shortened the sweatshirt at this stage so had some scraps left over…sweatshirt refashion (6)

I cut a square large enough to cover the triangle detail I was looking to reverse applique…

…and pinned it behind the triangle with the textured side facing outward…sweatshirt refashion (7)

Make sure it is smooth and flat.

Over at the sewing machine, line up your needle with the existing top stitching around the outside of the triangle…sweatshirt refashion (8)

sweatshirt refashion (9)

Then stitch right on top of that line of stitching to secure the new scrap of fabric in place…

This is how it looks on the reverse….sweatshirt refashion (10)

sweatshirt refashion (11)

Trim away the excess on the inside close to the line of stitching.

On the outside…make a snip into the “old” ribbed fabric that you want to remove being careful not to cut the new fabric behind!sweatshirt refashion (12)

sweatshirt refashion (13)

Then with small sharp scissors cut away the old ribbed fabric close to the stitching, to reveal the new fabric behind!

Hem…and that’s that!sweatshirt refashion (2)

I’m planning on revisiting this concept with my preferred raglan sleeve sweatshirt shape as I don’t feel 100% comfy in this shape. As I said, the fit part of this I’m not entirely content with. The contrast element concept though??sweatshirt refashion - contrast texture detail

Well, I think I should call that part a win don’t you??

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 16 |