I’ve decided to join in Portia Lawrie’s Refashioners challenge – Suits You this year. The challenge is basically to refashion an old, unworn or unloved suit!
Most people entering the challenge have raided their local charity shop and bought a XXXL men’s suit to give them lots of fabric to work with. But no, old daft me decided that wasn’t enough of a challenge! I decided to use an old pale blue George at Asda ladies suit that I found in the loft, which I’m clearing out due to a rewire in the new year! I have no idea why I bought it as it’s soooo not my style, although it actually seems to fit me pretty well, which is where the extra challenge comes in as it doesn’t give me very much extra fabric to work with, doh!
I had a lot of fun playing round with the suit and trying to decide what to make with it but in the end I settled on a version of one of my TNT patterns – the BlueGingerDoll Winifred dress. I’ve altered the pattern quite a bit to fit me well, the shape suits me and I wear my existing ones quite a lot, so would be nice to have a new but also different version.
Although I have made the collarless version of the Winifred dress recently I do like the collar feature and decided to take advantage of the jacket collar and integrate this into the design. Lots of pinning and fiddling was undertaken at Liverpool Sewing Club, with me trying on again and again to ensure the button holes were not visible and the new centre front seam was straight and actually in the centre. Then to figure out the rest of the bodice fitting! As the jacket had princess seams it didn’t actually need the tuck darts that the dress usually features, which help create the bust fitting and flowing skirt. So when I figured out where to finish the bodice/jacket section and finally got the fit I liked, it was time to make the first cut!
I decided to shorten the sleeves to elbow length, which i find really comfortable but I normally make short-sleeved Winifreds. As you can see from the before photos, the sleeves were a tiny bit tight, so I decided to remove the sleeve lining (I’ve left the bodice lined) to see if that helped with the fit. This is where I noticed the big difference in the seam finishes between the areas of the suit that would be visible (the trouser seams) and those not visible (sleeve seam). This is after all a budget suit and the manufactures need to save money and time where they can!
At this point I decided to remove the shoulder pads as a) it’s no longer the 1980s, and b) they really don’t suit me. During this unpicking and deconstruction of the jacket stage it became obvious the difference between my Asda suit and the high end men’s tailored suit, that a lot of people, such as Portia were refashioning:
Now to move onto the skirt construction. The Winifred dress usually has an elastic casing or shirring at the back waistline but I wanted to test the fit first, so I decided to construct the skirt pieces separately first and check or fit before adding this detailing., The dress front is normally put as a full bodice and skirt all in one but my refashion needed a seam adding. I unpicked the side seam on the trousers and after a little maths and playing around with the layout decided to press out the hem and keep the inside seam in place and use this as the centre front centre back seams, as the skirt flares out and obviously so do the trousers at the hips. Although this flare isn’t enough to create the full width of the skirt, so now comes lots of patch working! I used the extra pieces from the bodice, trousers and sleeves to create extra width to get the rough shape of the Winfred dress. I then had tacked (yes me, the worst hand sewer known to mankind!) the two skirt pieces to the bodice and the rough shape of the skirt together.
I needed to try the dress on and see if the shirring was needed or if the fit was okay without it and I was very pleased to find the shirring was not actually needed. A combination of the jacket bodice princess seams and the fact that I am extremely pear shaped meant I could lose the shirring and still have a great fit! Any good me-made dress has pockets, so time to go back to my leftovers from the suit and I used the lining from the bottom of the jacket to cut some side seam pocket, using the pattern piece from another BlueGingerDoll dress, the Odette, as a template). I’ve hacked this pattern before to add pockets but if you’re not sure how to do this then By Hand London have a great tutorial on their website, with lots of photos, which always help me as I’ve a very visual learner!
Now it’s time to put it all together properly! I used my pattern pieces as a rough guide and cut off the excess no longer needed, machine stitched all seams and remove the tacking (whilst watching Strictly of course)
All finished, or is it?! Hmm, it’s very nice and I’m happy with the fit but it’s rather plain and therefore not really very me! My hand embroidery skills aren’t up to scratch, so I decided to have a look around for a co-ordinating trim. I really like peacocks feathers and found this one on Moksha Trim, so decided to stitch that to the waist but still wasn’t 100% happy, so had a play around at Liverpool Sewing Club with the ladies helping me work out the best placement and having a laugh in the meantime
Yay, all finished! Cue lots and lots of photos:
Patchwork side panels!
I’m really please how this has turned out and that I’ve managed to do it from not a lot of fabric and without adding any extra fabric, just 1.5 meters of trim!
Myself and my friend from Liverpool Sewing Club Jan visited the first ever Great British Sewing Bee Live at the Excel in London a fortnight ago and it was AMAZING!
We travelling down in the Friday, visited Liberty and went to see Kinky Boots the musical in the evening. The show is fabulous and we have brilliant seats in row B so had a great view. I’d definitely recommend seeing it and if it goes on tour and comes to Liverpool I’ll definitely be going again!
We then spent the whole weekend at GBSB Live and am very glad we bought two-day tickets.Although I do kinda wish we’d waited till closer to the time to book them as we paid almost £30 each and there were some great discounts later. At least booking so far in advance meant we got spaces on two great workshops: The Maker’s Atelier Origami Top with Claire Tyler and Perfect Piping with Celia Banks, I’ll go into more detail later in this post.
I wore the new dress I’d made specifically to visit the show, using the amazing Alexander Henry Home Sewing is Easy fabric from Fabrics Galore!.
As we were wandering along the waterfront from our hotel to visit The Great British Sewing Bee Live at the Excel, we met the lovely mother and daughter Julie & Stacie:
We had a plan to work our way round the stall methodically but got distracted by shiny things, oops! I did have fun over at the Love Sewing Magazine who had a magazine cover to pose in front of and become a ‘cover star’
We also bumped into the lovely Paul Clarke (season 3 GBSB contestant) and his partner Neil. Paul does a lot of demos at my local fabric store Abakhan Fabrics in Birkenhead, so I’ve met him a few times and he’s a fab bloke with rather similar taste in fabric to me!
More random wandering took us to the ‘Absolutely Fabulous – Creating the Costume!’ exhibit, which I browsed whilst Jan chatted to Debbie Shore on the Create & Craft stand.
Met up with the lovely Kara and wandered round the stalls, spending way too much money and enjoying the fabulous displays on goods on sale. How stunning is this dress and dolls from Sew La Di Da Vintage!?
Also had to pop along and see Stitch Fabrics after being one of the first to tell them about the show and make sure they were visiting!
I also saw the lovely folks and Fabrics Galore and met my headless twin!
We then spent the afternoon doing a workshop with Claire Tyler making the Makers Atelier Origami Top. I’ll blog about the workshop and the pattern at a later date, as I need to do a little finishing off on the top. Claire is a great tutor and can happily recommend her classes. Myself and Jan enjoyed making the top and they came together so quickly that we actually ended up running out to Doughty Fabrics, buying another meter of jersey and making a second one!
After the workshop we popped round to see the lovely Melissa of Fehr Trade and her stunning sportswear pattern range. I even ended up buying the ‘Knot-Maste Yoga Set’ pattern! (although it could be a while before I make the trousers as my bum’s too big for the pattern, oops!)
We then met up again with Kara, Julie, Stacie and Beatrice and went to the pub for tea (of course)
We tried to be more logical in our approach on Sunday and started at Melissa’s stall then worked our way round, however 11am was quickly upon us and we had to take our seats for the Super Theatre. Jenny Eclair was an amazing host as she introduced the alteration challenge contestants, each working with a former Sewing Bee contestant. The GBSB judges Patrick Grant & Esme Young were then interviewed, and Lauren Guthrie provided a demo on using snaps. The winners of the alteration challenge were announced and the hour was over!
A little more wandering, a bit of lunch and it was time for our second workshop. This time with Celia Banks of Sew Fundamental – Perfect Piping. Having never done any piping before I was a tad nervous but it was great to see a familiar face in the form of Harriet and her mum Lindsay who were my sewing buddies at The Sewing Weekender
The workshop went really well, Celia is a great teacher and I learnt loads and found that piping wasn’t as scary as I thought and I’m looking forward to adding it to any future projects.
We visited Love Sewing Magazine , so I can be a coverstar again and I decided to sign up for a subscription.
Wandered round a few more stalls and had a lovely chat to Laura from Sew Different and bought her Everyday Chic Dress pattern.
We then decided it was time to watch the final fashion show of the day, with patterns from both the ‘Big 4’ and the independant designers with stands at the show:
Caught a quick glimpse of Lauren in the Live Demo Theatre:
By this time myself and Jan were all shopped out, so decided it was good time to take advantage of the Champagne Bar:
The Vintage Gallery was amazing, full of amazing Liberty garments, I’ve picked out a few of my favourites:
A quick wander round the Bees Gallery was great to see some of the garments from the show up close.
Then time for the return train trip home! Although I can’t finish this without showing you all my purchases from the show.
My fabric purchases:
The purple embossed scuba is from Simply Fabrics;
The colourful peacock feathered jersey is from Stitch fabrics,
The Christmas jumper & buttons cotton are from Sew Sew fabrics;
The galaxy jersey is from Girl Charlee UK
The purple flecked jersey is from Doughtys.
How AMAZING is this Alexander Henry ‘Frida La Catrina’ border print from the lovely Fabrics Galore (poor lighting sorry, the background is actually a dark blue not black)
My pattern purchases:
The Sew Me Something Bianca coat;
The Sew Different Everyday Chic Dress
The bottom 2 patterns from The Fold Line’s swap. I’ve been after a jersey blazer pattern for a while & the Debbie Shore bag is cute 😊
The practical purchases:
1m of fusable fleece from Empress Mills;
Boot socks from Community Clothing,
A subscription to Love Sewing Magazine.
Myself and Jan had a great weekend at The Great British Sewing Bee Live, it’s so good to see a dedicated dressmaking only show, finally!. I loved every minute and am really hoping to be able to afford a visit next year. Although I do wish they would follow in the style of The Knitting & Stitching Show and have one up North as well, so I can spend more money on fabric and less on travelling and accommodation! 🙂