For those of us interested in refashioning/upcycling/remaking garments, what a phenomenally fascinating couple of weeks we were recently treated to?! I am, of course, referring to the Refashioners project/challenge organised and hosted by Miss P in which 11 (yes, 11!) talented seamsters flexed their imaginations and sewing skills to transform some previously unloved charity-shop finds into wonderful, wearable garments. The results were posted over two weeks, and I thought it would be great to hear the thoughts of Miss P herself about aspects of the project.
Z: Your own refashioning project was a phenomenal success, but clearly a lot of work. Did it take you out of your comfort zone?
P: Why thankyou Zoe! Yes, COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone. I would never in a million years have brought that dress home with me voluntarily, lol ;) But that's kinda one of the points of the challenge; and in the end, it was nowhere near as tricky as I'd anticipated! I had visions of making one small cut and every single bead on that dress hitting the floor, lol! (Funny how we build things up in our head!) In terms of how I arrived at the final garment; I was totally winging that one as I went along. I knew I wanted to do the panelling thing, but no firm idea when I started, how I would incorporate it into a garment. The pencil skirt incarnation was a last minute U turn. Originally it was going to be a black top or shift dress with all the panels down the back, (or even a bag at one point). But once I'd assembled all the panels it became apparent that they were just too substantial for what I'd originally planned, and they naturally lent themselves to a structured skirt. With some refashions, I know immediately what I want to do with them. This one stumped me a bit at first (because of those beads), but in the end, I just took the first few steps, then let it kind of grow organically from there. Draping, pinning, and trying different ideas out as I went.
Z: Out of the other Refashioner's projects, are there any of them, or elements of them that you're itching to try for yourself now?
P: HELL, yes!! I'll probably use elements from all of them at some point. I love Dixie's cross over back (pictured above), and the effect the bias armhole finish had on the stripe direction in your make, Zoe. Tasha's use of the existing armhole shape to create pockets was inspired. I'm liking the idea of a little denim or leather bolero (thanks Karen!), and I really want to try out Marie's cut out technique. Liz's tutorial would work on any pair of trousers (pictured below), so that's a good one to have in my refashioning arsenal! Sally's refashion has motivated me to try a coat refashion; when you break it down like she did in her tutorial, it's nowhere near as hard as you think. I like Elisalex's use of contrasting panels in one make which is kinda chiming with my interest in colour and texture blocking right now. I'm AMAZED what Joanne managed to squeeze out of a pair of pillowcases AND I'm really liking the shape of the Kelly skirt so will probably check that pattern out at some point. Did I forget anyone? Ah, yes...Lauren! Lauren's is the only make I can categorically say I won't be replicating. Her "hot hot booty shorts" kick some serious ass! But my ass? In those shorts....I wish! ;)
Z: What effect do you hope the Refashioners challenge will have?
P: I hope that people will think twice about throwing valuable fabric away. After all, old clothes really are just fabric in disguise! I hope that people who might have never tried garment sewing before will see refashioning and tweaking an existing garment as less daunting than starting with a bolt of fabric, give it a go, and fall in love with sewing as a result. For seasoned garment sewers, I hope they can see the wealth of creative potential (and the quick creative fix to be had) in refashioning existing garments. For anyone who has clothes that don't fit them or their personality, I hope we've shown that you can take something really "meh" and put your own personal stamp on it and REALLY use your clothes to express your personality. I hope the charity shops get well and truly plundered! If all of the responses left on The Refashioners posts are anything to go by, we've gone some way to achieving a little of all of those things; and I couldn't be more chuffed about it!
Z: Many people walk into a charity shop and feel a bit blinded by choice and find it difficult to select one item as a basis for a refashioning project. As a veteran refashioner, do you still feel like that at times? What advice can you give to a novice Refashioner who's feeling lost when they go in to a charity shop?
P: Hmmmm.....I guess SOMEtimes I will walk into a badly organised charity shop, and if I'm in a crap mood, I'll turn around and walk straight back out again! But that's rare! I live for a good 'ole rummage. It's the treasure seeker in me I guess! I tend to have a system though, to keep me sane when faced with particularly crammed rails. I tend to do tops, knitwear, trousers, linens, homewares. In that order. No particular reason for that order, it just helps me to focus on one section at a time. I will look at the sections on each rail that carry my size or bigger, but not at anything that is smaller. So anything from a size 10 right up to plus size is fair game. Anything under a size 10 I rule out without even looking (You can size something down alot easier than up and let's face it, the teeniest sizes don't give you much fabric to work with!) I'll then zone in on the colours that appeal to me and fit in with my general wardrobe palette. For me that's any and all neutrals, plus earthy tones.
Then I'll employ the "fondle" test to see if I like the feel of the fabric. (You learn to quickly identify stuff like silk and cashmere over time just by touching it.) Only once a garment has passed the size, colour AND fondle test, do I pull it off the rail to see what it is. If it hasn't passed those 3 tests, I don't want to know what it is. At that point I'll decide if I like it as it is, and if so it goes on my "pile". (I always start a little pile on the shop counter of stuff that I want to buy. Saves me carrying armfuls of stuff around and keeps my hands free to carry on hunting). If I don't like it as it is, I look at it's refashioning possibilities (or in some cases repairs). If those are good (and my refashioning queue isn't ridiculous already!), it goes in the pile. If not, back on the rail. Simple as that. Of course if the shop is a real "jumble sale" some of these will not apply. If things are not sorted by size or garment type for instance. But you can still zone in on colours and employ the fondle test before you dig anything out!
Thanks so much Miss P for your organisational ninja skills in bringing about all the inspiration The Refashioners has provided us. Here's hoping we won't have to wait too long for The Refashioners: Round 3!