Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Revisting Refashioning

Despite having signed up to the Wardrobe Refashion pledge for life, I actually do hardly any refashioning of existing garments per se. The last time I made a garment that started out life as a different garment (as opposed to a flat piece of fabric), was back in June when I made a top out of a crazy blouse I found lying on the street next to a bin. Even then I'm not sure that counted as a refashion as I almost completely deconstructed that original blouse before cutting the new pattern pieces, using only the buttonholes and hem when making the new garment.


Over the last year and a half, I've been attempting to make an increasing variety of garments, particularly since getting over my fear of using stretch fabric. My initial Me-Made-March challenge, in which I attempted to get through an entire month wearing only things I had made myself (excluding bras, socks, tights and shoes) proved a massive catalyst in this process. To complete this challenge, I quickly realised I would have to get to grips with making all kinds of previously unattempted items (like a coat and underwear) if I was to succeed without freezing or being excessively uncomfortable. Well, I succeeded, if you can call rotating between two tops for a whole month a success, and was spurred on to repeating the challenge (Me-Made-May). So I hit the sewing machine to create a wider variety of garments so virtually no outfit repetition would ensue during May and I'd enjoy the challenge more.


I guess I kind of got hooked on the challenge of pushing myself further and further, relying on the fruits of my sewing more and more, to the point where now I have created the vast majority of my wardrobe. I'll admit, have been toying with the concept that if I can't make it, maybe I shouldn't be allowed to wear it. But I've recently started to question that potentially overly evangelical approach. Perhaps it's because Winter is well on its way and I still haven't really mastered knitwear and I'm getting really cold that a more pragmatic approach is starting to seem more appropriate. I'm starting to think that it may be better to have had a hand in forming every garment I own rather than having made every damn item completely from scratch, and allowing more refashioning projects back into my life and wardrobe.

Aside from the desire to avoid freezing my arse off and going back to a two-top rotation, I have recently been (re-)reminded that refashioning has some significant benefits over making all garments from fabric off the roll. For me, the main benefit is that by using a previously loved garment, it is possible you are extending that original garment's lifespan, possibly even preventing it from ending up in a landfill. Also, by not using new fabric from a fabric shop for your project, you are not creating a need for and directly supporting the production of more new fabric, which we all know by now can be a frighteningly destructive process, environmentally speaking. By refashioning, you can be one in a chain of individuals to have used and enjoyed a garment, the thought of which may gross many people out but which I personally love. Also, if the project allows, you can often retain necklines, fastenings, seams, hems or a combination of the above from the original garment, therefore removing some of the sewing processes and speeding on your creation no end. Who doesn't like a quick-fix, wear-it-that-evening sewing project from time to time?


Don't get me wrong, I'm still thoroughly committed to making my own wardrobe and encouraging others to do so. I am more so than ever, but basically I have got off my high horse about feeling the need to have stitched every single damn stitch I'm wearing at any given moment. I'm just relaxing a little and taking the opportunity to mix my stitching up a bit. The creativity required to turn an old hideous garment into a wearable thing of beauty is, after all, a slightly different set of talents compared to those needed to concieve of something and make it from scratch. It's time I flexed some of those muscles, before they lose their strength all together!

13 comments:

Tamsin said...

Fab dress - sooo much nicer than the original! I am planning to refashion a couple of my kids jersey halter neck dresses into skirts to extend their lives, and chop up a pair of husbands jeans to make a pair of jeans for my youngest.

Angie - Sew I Thought said...

I love a good potato sack dress makeover!! Looks spectacular!

Veronica Darling... said...

I agree babes! It's not really about having everything made by you entirely... How often have you had a major fail making up something and had to send something to the op shop, or hand it over to a friend?!

Kat said...

Love the dress! It looks great on you. I haven't been op shopping in ages but am really being inspired lately by all the great thrifting finds and refashions I am seeing in the blogworld. I might have to make a dedicate op shopping day soon.

Clare said...

I really love seeing giant sack dresses given new life - this one looks great now! I know what you mean about knitwear, I've usually got at least one woolly on between October - April and my knitting skills aren't up to producing wardrobe-worthy items. I keep looking for giant mens' jumpers to refashion but charity shops round here seem to be full of really nasty stuff from Tesco and Primark!

Minnado said...

Great post Zoe and I agree with you about the value of refashion. The dress looks great, I like the red belt addition. I also agree with Clare that there is a surfeit of Primark and Tesco in many charity shops at the moment. I am suffering sewing withdrawal at the moment due to malfunctioning machine. I am startign to miss it very much!

sewistafashionista said...

I'm happy if on most days I am wearing at least one garment I have made, but I don't sweat it if I'm not. I think your abandoned shirt counts as a refashion - you made another garment from an existing one. Happy Refashioning!

Thera Joyce said...

That dress is super cute!

Darci said...

Well put and FAB (I want to rip it off your body and make it my own) dress!

Go, Zo!

Zoe said...

Thanks for your comments laydeez.

Sorry, this is very UK specific, but I massively hear you Clare and Minnado about the Primark and disposable fashion quotient in charity shops these days. In fact I feel a new charity shopping post coming on to address some of these gripes.

Thanks xxxxxxxx

Ali said...

Zoe, I've been lagging in the comment department, but know I stop by regularly!

I loved your lady in waiting post and I particularly loved this one. As with you in Self-Stitched September, I've got a new job that's taking up all my time and so refashioning really fits the bill--it allows me to indulge my thrift store shopping, my desire to sew (and enjoy it), and, if done right, is low-investment, high-reward.

I just picked up "Little Green Dresses," for some ideas on basic pattern drafting and reusing existing clothes/fabric -- I'm excited to get started. I think I should take a tip from you and pick up a few large dresses to have fun with :) Hope all is well!

vanessa said...

that dress is adorable on you. nicely done.

Anonymous said...

I am so with you on this. I haven't bought anything in two years. Mostly because the sweater I want does not exist in retail. May have to sew something. again. Remaking things that come from a thrift store is the best way to clothe my daughter and has given her some of her most comfortable items.

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