Search Results for: me made may

Let’s Talk About Refashioning

let's talk about refashioning, the artyologist

Refashioning. Recycling. Upcyling . . .

What exciting words full of promise and possibility! Here is the chance to turn something old, ugly and unusable into something new, special, creative, and, well . . . useable.

I wholeheartedly agree with all of these sentiments, as refashioning is such a great idea. It’s eco friendly by using something that would otherwise be thrown out, and instead of letting it become end-of-life, rescuing it and transforming it into something better. Refashioning saves existing textiles by recycling them, so that the garments are kept out of the landfill. Someday it is my goal to be zero-waste, so it totally makes sense that I would be completely into refashioning. And yet. . .  I have a confession to make. . . I don’t really love refashioning garments. I hate altering things, and I love cutting into brand new fabric. To be completely honest, I just don’t enjoy the process of upcycling, as much as I love the idea of it.

On the surface it sounds so great- take something that is old and useless and transform it into something good again. Our thrift shops today are overrun with used, ugly, or cheap clothes. They are full of garments from the 80’s and 90’s, that were never cool and definitely won’t ever be again. There are clothes that are ruined because they are either stained or ripped, and are only good for rags, but if something can’t even be used for a rag, what happens to it then? All that is left is for it to be thrown away as an end-of-life textile.

I don’t know why people don’t talk about it more often, (maybe it hits just a little too close to home) but the fashion industry is the second largest contributor of pollution on earth. That’s right: the second largest in the world, behind only the oil industry. I don’t know about you, but when I think of things that are damaging to the environment, I think of, yes the oil industry, but also things like, clear cut logging, or chemicals in farming practices. I don’t think about the innocent t-shirt hanging in my closet.

While we hear a lot about the impact the oil industry has, we hear hardly anything about what the fashion industry is doing to destroy our planet. The fashion industry is full of synthetic dyes and chemicals, abundant water usage and waste, and airborne pollution to name just a few. Not only are the chemicals, water usage and pollution bad enough, but many of the cheap garments being manufactured today are made from fabrics like polyester blends, that cannot be recycled, do not biodegrade, and are so poor in quality that they wear out and are almost immediately thrown out, contributing to landfill waste.

I get depressed just thinking about it all.

This is where I start thinking- what can I do to put a dent in this endless cycle of waste? There are a few ways we can help to turn the fashion industry around, and one of those things is refashioning existing textiles. Because refashioning uses textiles that have already been produced and cast aside, they are no longer a harmful part of the fashion industry cycle. By refashioning them you are giving them new life.

These are the inspiring things that I hear and tell myself, and so I decide that I am going to refashion! Instead of buying new fabric all the time, and continuously adding to my stash, I start buying fabrics and garments from the thrift stores that I can restyle and upcycle instead. I decide to join in challenges like the recent Refashioners challenge. I see a dress at the thrift store, and say to myself “This has potential. I’ll take this old thing and make something new out of it. If I just alter this, it will be perfect. If I just remove the sleeves, recut the hem, etc. then I can make this unusable thing useable again.” And I forget to take into account that a preloved garment, comes with predetermined issues.

Often the fabric is skewed or stretched over time. Sometimes I find snags or stains I didn’t notice before, or the fabric is unevenly faded and I have to make some strategic, emergency adjustments along the way. Often there isn’t enough fabric to make what I originally wanted to, so there is a lot of pattern hacking involved and changing plans midway. There are seams in odd places, and sometimes the seams have weakened the fabric, or left holes in it. Hours of frustration ensue in which I question everything, “Who made this ugly thing in the first place? Who sewed that seam crookedly, so now I can’t measure or cut where I want to? Why did they do this or that or the other? Why did I ever get the idea in my head to embark on this project????”

In short- what sometimes seems like such an easy and quick fix, is not. There are a whole host of problems with refashioning. But, nothing in life is easy, and sometimes the best things in life are a challenge to overcome, right? There are sometimes a whole host of problems that come along with sewing something brand new too.

So, after the hours, days, (weeks? months?) of my refashioning project, I put the final touches on the garment. It’s done, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I persevered through it all, sometimes with mixed results. But then I look at what it was before, and what it is now, and I feel that sense of accomplishment! I promise myself I’ll never do it again… but boy did that turn out great!

And then much to the consternation everyone around me, who is forced to listed to my agonizing over the project, I’ll invariably end up starting another refashioning project. Is it possible to hate something so much, and yet love it too? It really is so satisfying to be able to look at something that was once wasteful and is now a productive member of society again 🙂 Some of my favourite garments are ones that were refashioned. I love them, just like I love my vintage pieces, because they have history. They have a story behind them. And I put a lot of work into them even if, like my latest refashioning project, it wasn’t a beast to sew, I still invested the time and effort into it. But isn’t it true that we tend to love those things that we had to work for?

So, I hope that, even if you aren’t into refashioning, you will take some tiny steps too. Maybe it’s fixing that blouse where the seam came undone, or the button fell off, instead of tossing it out. (Or getting someone to mend it for you, if you can’t do it.) Maybe it’s seeking out garments that are made of recycled materials instead of new materials. Maybe it’s choosing to buy your clothes at the thrift store, even if you aren’t refashioning them. (There are, obviously, a lot of nice clothes in the thrift stores that require no refashioning- and I think my fellow vintage lovers will have this one down-pat. Wearing vintage is like the ultimate planet saving practice!) Maybe it is buying quality, timeless garments in the first place, so they don’t end up in the thrift stores, stretched out of shape, pilled and out of style within a year, destined for the landfill. Or, maybe it is a more ambitious project of refashioning an existing garment into something completely new. (And if that is the case, good luck, and you can look at this year’s Refashioners challenge for tons of inspiration!)

The bottom line is, if we each take some tiny steps, even if they seem rather insignificant on their own, then together we can make bigger difference. Sometimes it really can start with something as simple as refashioning an old pair of jeans into a retro top, rather than buying a new one. You’ve got to start somewhere, so it may as well be there, right?

What do you think of refashioning? Have you ever refashioned anything before? Do you have any other ideas for ways to help decrease the impact of the fashion industry on our world?

The Reveal: Refashioners 2016 & Gertie’s Butterick 5882

The Big Reveal: Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick 8882, the artyologist

Hooray! I didn’t wait until the last possible moment to finish up my entry for The Refashioner’s 2016. This is a record, I think. I was fully expecting myself to leave it to the last week, (day? hour?) but I actually finished this project up last Wednesday- with a full week and a half to spare! (Let’s just overlook the fact that it took me 8 weeks to get the project done, even though it actually only took three afternoons of sewing to construct it. . . hehe.)

When I first heard about the Refashioners 2016 challenge at the beginning of August, I was intrigued, but also a bit apprehensive. I am not a denim girl. I used to wear blue jeans all the time, but in the last few years, they haven’t found much of a place in my wardrobe. Not that I hate denim, I just don’t seem drawn to it as much as I used to be. I did at one point have a pair of skinnies that I liked to pair with my fur coat as it made me feel rather hip 😉 but they have worn out now, and the only other pair are designated for painting and other messy home renovation projects (designated as such, because they are covered in paint). So, even though I loved the idea of taking part in the challenge- I had to think seriously about what I could make that I would actually want to wear after I made it- and I came up with the answer: a retro styled bustier/playsuit top. (And just in time to put it away for winter too! What ridiculous timing. . . )

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, second view, the artyologist

So, in case you are here only to see the details, here they are first, and then I will continue after this to ramble on about how I made it, what mistakes I made (what? mistakes!?), and whether I will make it again. Oh, and show you a billion more photos too.

The Low Down:

  • Butterick Patterns by Gertie 5882 bodice pattern
  • Dark denim bodice made out of the bottom cutoffs of my sister’s old jeans
  • Light denim pleated inset made out of the back piece of the pant legs of my brother’s ripped jeans
  • Floral lining made out of a remnant from a past project
  • Boning leftover from a past project
  • A recycled vintage zipper from the stash
  • Thread we already owned
  • Cost= $0.00, since everything was from the stash!

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, details, the artyologist

My inspiration, and details that I wanted to include in the final project:

  • A winged “collar” or any other bust detail for interest
  • 1″ crisscrossed or straight straps. No halter straps as I find they give me headaches 🙁
  • Ideally, I wanted to make the top out of patterned or coloured denim, or utilize two different washes of blue denim for contrast and interest
  • I thought about using topstitching or preserving some of the flatfelled seams, but it ended up coming across as “biker chick” rather than “vintage girl”
  • I was nervous about sewing with a stretch denim, but decided to do it so the top would be more comfortable for hot summer days (note that this pattern is designed for woven, but I was able to sew the stretch just fine. I also cut my lining on the bias, so that it would have some stretch too.)
  • I wanted to try out an exposed zipper, since I was planning on a centre back zipper anyways. Now that the exposed zipper trend is now. . .  you know. . . going out of style and all that. I’ve never been one for following the trends anyways 😉
  • In the spirit of the challenge, I wanted it to be made out of all recycled or remnant materials

inspiration for playsuit top the artyologist

photo source: 1, 2, 3 (my Grandma’s wedding dress) & 4

I have seen several fitted bodice tops like this before, such as this one from Deadly Dames, and I really like them, as they are an easy summer option to pair perfectly with 1950’s style skirts. My original plan was to take a tried-and-true dress pattern that I have, bone it, and then add a collar flip to the top neckline. This was a popular style of bodice in the 1950’s, as I have seen several patterns utilize a detail like that, and even my Grandma’s wedding dress from the 1950’s has a collar flip like that. The Sweetheart Sundress pattern from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing uses this detail as well. I’ve always liked this style, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. Well, as you can see from the finished garment, I obviously didn’t end up sticking with that plan, and here’s why.

first-try_edited-1

Left: the failed first try. Right: so many different colours in one pair of jeans!

I started with an old faded pair of stretch jeans from my sister, (just to test things out first) cut out the pattern, sewed it up, tried it on, and then decided that it just didn’t have enough structure (as I was planning to wear this without any other underpinnings). It just felt like the bodice was the wrong shape, even with the addition of boning, and I thought that I would always feel slightly uncomfortable wearing it. I also wasn’t happy with the shape of the top neckline. After fiddling with it for a while, I decided to change plans. (Which is not unheard of during my sewing projects!)

pattern-and-materials

Top: The cutoffs, lining and zipper. Right: I don’t think anyone minded me cutting these jeans up. Used for the inset bust detail. Right: Butterick 5882 pattern

The other option I had run across when deciding what to make for the challenge, was the bodice of Gertie’s Butterick 5882 pattern. I had not used this pattern before, but have wanted to for a while. We got it when it first came out which was. . . a few years ago, and there it was still waiting in the pattern drawer. This was the perfect project to try the pattern out on, and get all of the potential fitting issues out of the way, before I committed to making the dress out of a more expensive material. I am happy to say that we did manage to get the majority of the fitting issues out of the way, so next time should be a breeze. Also, it was an exciting pattern to make, as it was my first time using boning, sewing a shelf bust style, and sewing with a heavier denim material.

cutting-out-and-too-much-ease

Left: Pattern placement on the denim cutoffs- perfect amount of material! Right: A bit too much ease I would say. . .

I chose to cut out the pattern at a size 16, as I thought it would be better to cut it out one size too big, as a test run, than a size too small. However, when I basted the seams up and tried it on . . . there was a lot of ease. I could’ve omitted the two back pieces and it still would have fit. So, I cut the pieces down to a size 12, which fit much better, though I did still end up taking some material out of the centre front pieces, the sides and the back to get better fit. I also sewed the front seams with a curve as pictured (below) for a nice smooth front. Also note, since this was a refashioning project and I was working with limited material, I cut the centre front piece as two separate pieces, and seamed it up the front.

boning

Top: I curved the front seams in a little bit, for a closer fit. Bottom: The boning sewn into place on the lining.

Once we had gotten the majority of the bodice fitting down, the rest of the top went together pretty straightforwardly. The boning went in much easier than I was anticipating. I don’t know what I was anticipating, but I was expecting it to be hard, I guess. The kind of boning I used had a pre-sewn channel which was nice. Considering how nice of a fit, and the structure that the boning created, I am now hooked and thinking of all the other projects I can bone! I now see why so many vintage patterns use boning- it just makes a really nice structured bodice, eliminates crumpling and fits really well.

seams

Left: The ill fated seam of doom. I sewed it wrong, but it was also very thick! There were a lot of layers of denim in that seam. Right: You can see the exposed raw edge a bit in this picture (right where the strap meets the front). It is covered from the right side by the strap. Bottom: Sewing the strap down covered up the problem.

The bra pieces went together nicely, with no problems there, but are you ready for the mistake I mentioned? 🙁 I lost track of where my notches were, and accidentally trimmed the seams, so when I sewed the front pleated bra pieces on to the bodice bottom, I placed them too close to the edge, which meant that the raw edges couldn’t be completely encased in the lining seam. At this point though (it was several steps down the road when I realized the mistake and I had already graded the seams) I was not about to take it apart again and move them in. So, instead, to save the situation, I just flipped the straps down instead of twisting them like the pattern calls for. I don’t mind the look, even though it did widen out the neckline more than originally planned. I have seen these bustier tops with every kind of strap under the sun, though, so no one will even notice. Right? I also stitched the straps down all around the front, underneath the inset too, as it kept trying to flip up. I also decided to criss cross the straps across the back, so that I will not have a problem with them slipping off my shoulders.

zipper

Top Left: Removing the teeth from the zipper (sounds painful!) Top Right: The correct length. Bottom Left: Sewing in the zipper. Bottom Right: Slipstitching the lining over the raw edges of the back zipper seam.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I wanted to include an exposed zipper up the back. My criteria for a zipper was one that had brass teeth, as I think that it suits the denim better than a silver zipper would. (And I’m not much of a silver girl anyways.) I originally was going to purchase a navy, separating zipper with brass teeth, since we didn’t already have one that was the correct colour. But apparently, a navy zipper with brass teeth is an impossible thing to want. So, all options exhausted, I looked through the stash again, and found this lovely aged one that came from who knows where. Originally it had been rejected, since it is khaki not navy, but then I decided that it would work fine, and would be even better than purchasing a new zipper as it would keep in the spirit of recycling and reusing. It was too long, but I simply removed some of the teeth with pliers, reinserted the zipper stop, and cut it to size and it works perfectly. Once the zipper was sewn in- I was done! And then I had to wait a few days to take these pictures, because it decided to be fall time all of a sudden.

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, back view, the artyologist

So, would I make this pattern again? Yes! In fact, my original plan for the refashion was to not use blue denim at all, but to use a tan and cream, polka dot pair of jeans I found at the thrift store. However, once I had had the one detour along the way, I decided to continue making the top out of the old denim scraps, instead of cutting into the other pair. That way I could work out any kinks along the way, and then when I cut into the polka dot pair, I can avoid the mistakes of the first trial run. So basically, this denim one is a wearable muslin, and the polka dot one is going to be the next project! Also, I like how this pattern goes together, and fits, so I am planning on making it at some point as a dress, as it was originally designed to be 🙂

So, in conclusion, I am really glad that I found out about the Refashioners 2016 challenge in time to take part this year. I liked the challenge of using a material I would normally not be drawn to, and finding a way around those limitations to end up with a garment that I like- and I do really like how this top turned out. It is completely different than anything I have in my wardrobe, and after looking at it for a while- maybe I am more of a denim girl than I thought I was at first!

So did any of you participate in the Refashioners 2016 Challenge? Or, even if you didn’t take part in the contest, have you ever refashioned something into something completely different? And, what are your thoughts towards denim? Is denim something you are drawn to, or like me, would it take a bit of convincing to make it a part of your wardrobe?

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick,zipper detail, the artyologist

Complimentary windy weather petticoat

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, another portrait, the artyologist

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, bust detail, the artyologist

A very awkward photograph. . .

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, back detail, the artyologist

The Big Reveal: The Refashioners 2016 and Gertie's Butterick, full outfit, the artyologist

Urban Camouflage in My New Hell Bunny Trench Coat

Urban Camouflage in My New Hell Bunny Trench Coat, the artyologist

Do you remember back in June when I visited Rowena, the Retro Glam clothing store in Edmonton? Well, today I am excited to share with you the other item that I purchased that day: my brand new Hell Bunny Trench Coat!

I have been looking for a new rain coat for a long time. There wasn’t really anything wrong with my old cream trench coat, which I have had for six years now. It was in great shape, which is surprising considering that it was a Smart Set coat I got second hand, but sometimes I found that the fitted style was hard to layer over full 50’s style skirts, and- let’s be honest- I am fickle and easily bored with my closet and I was really ready for a change. However, do you know how hard it is to find a plain old, classic style, trench coat that is not $3000.00, or “modernized”, or covered in ruffles, or patterned in polka dots, or exactly like the one I already had? Not that I dislike polka dots, it’s just that I have an abundance of patterns in my wardrobe, and I need some basics. And, it seems like the last few seasons have been filled with every kind of rain coat under the sun- except for a basic coat with a classic, retro feel. I searched the thrift stores for a vintage one, with no luck, and even ended up picking up a London Fog coat from the 80’s, which had working buttons and flaps (in short a real trench coat). It turned out to be too long and boxy though, and I was too intimidated to try and refashion it, (Maybe I’ll be brave enough to do that someday!) so off it went to the thrift store again. (I should add at this point that I rarely ever buy clothes online, as I have had some bad experiences before, and I prefer to try on before I buy. Especially as in Canada, we don’t usually get free shipping or returns.)

In short, I was despairing of ever finding a coat.

Enter, the “Bacall” Hell Bunny trench coat (which I have no doubt Lauren Bacall, whom I assume it is named for, would not hesitate to wear, as it is that glamorous). It is pretty much all of my raincoat dreams come true.

My New Hell Bunny Trench Coat, the artyologist

When I was shopping in Rowena, we had been in the store for almost an hour, I had picked out a dress to buy, and as I was heading to the till, we realized that we only had a few minutes left on our parking meter. Then, I saw a rack of coats, and had to take a quick detour to look through them. When I saw this trench coat, I didn’t hesitate for a second to try it on, even though I knew we were in a hurry to leave. I first tried the medium, but it was a bit too big. They didn’t have any other sizes out front, but they had more in the back, so the sales girl went to check. In the meantime, the clock was ticking, and it was a race against time! She found the coat and brought it, still in the bag. I quickly tried on the coat to find that it fit, bought it and the dress, and we rushed out the door and made it to the vehicle with less than a minute to spare on the meter! It was the fastest purchase I have ever made in my life, and I usually need a lot of time to think my purchases through, but I have absolutely no regrets about buying this coat.

So, what do I love about it?

  • It is the perfect length to wear over knee length skirts, and is full enough to accommodate a petticoat, if I choose to wear one.
  • It has a tie belt, rather than a belt with a buckle- that is just a personal preference.
  • The lapel collar has a button hole so it can be buttoned across to keep out the wind and rain, like real trench coats do. And the separate back yoke gives the classic trench coat silhouette.
  • The sateen finish on the fabric makes the coat a bit dressier (especially compared to my last coat).
  • And, the best part: you can pop the collar up and pretend that you are a lady spy from the 1950’s. (While taking pictures in front of a mural that is right beside an intersection, so everyone driving by can stop and see you and wonder what on earth you are doing. But the pictures were worth it, and this coat really is perfect for blending into the black and white mural. Which makes it great for pretending that I am a spy.)

Pretending to be a spy, hell bunny bacall trench coat, the artyologist

What don’t I like about the coat?

  • It is only available in black. (And, I looked on their site, it doesn’t appear to be available from them at all anymore, although many retailers are still carrying it. I’m not sure if they have discontinued it or not?) Black is classic, but I own a lot of brown, which, although not impossible to pair with black, takes more thought and effort to pass off well. It is simply not as effortless, for my personal wardrobe, as a khaki or tan coat would be. That being said, the black is lovely, and I will get a lot of wear out of it.
  • The other thing I don’t like, is that the buttons stop just past the waist, and the skirt of the coat is liable to blow open in the wind and rain. You will get wet if the wind catches it (voice of experience). I am not sure why they didn’t add a couple more rows of buttons, as that would have solved the problem, and made this coat so much better for blustery, windy weather.
  • It is, as far as I know, not fair trade. The coat is made in China, and I don’t know what that entails. I did struggle with my decision to purchase this coat, as it goes against my goals for an ethical wardrobe, since I don’t know where/how it was made. More transparency in their manufacturing process would be good.
what I don't like, hell bunny trench coat, the artyologist

Here you can see how far the coat opens, which can catch in the wind, resulting in… you getting wet.

The only regret that I do have, which is not Hell Bunny’s fault in the least, is that I was so excited to get a new coat, that I got rid of my old one a tad hastily. This coat is just not suitable for all situations and colour schemes, and I kind of miss my old one. Oh well, that just means that I am on the hunt for another coat- this time a classic khaki one. It’ll probably only take me another 6 years. 😉

Trench Coat: Hell Bunny Trench Coat, “Bacall”

Bue Silk Scarf: Ten Thousand Villages

Navy Shoes: Vintage Naturalizer, thrifted

Sunglasses: bought online several years ago

Purse: Bought in England from a consignment shop

My New Hell Bunny Trench Coat, the artyologist

Isn’t this a great mural?

urban camouflage in my new hell bunny trench coat, the artyologist

urban camouflage in my new hell bunny trench coat, the artyologist

retro sunglasses, in my new trench coat, the artyologist

being a moviestar in my new hell bunny trench coat the artyologist

urban camouflage in the hell bunny bacall trench coat, the artyologist

Refashioning a 1980’s Dress into a 1940’s Pinafore

Refashioning a 1980's dress into a 1940's pinafore the artyologist

Do you ever have an idea of a project, and then when you do it, for one reason or another it doesn’t turn out anything like the original plan?

I got this dress a few years ago (yes. . . years) from the thrift store, with the thought that I would refashion it into something a little less “1980’s bag lady”. However, time went on, and I could never quite figure out what to do with it, as there never seemed to be enough material to do anything with. I loved the gingham print, though, and the fabric was rayon, which I would much rather prefer to the poly/cotton blends that all gingham seem to come in. So, I didn’t give up on it, and finally, a few weeks ago, when the canola was in full bloom and I needed something to wear in the field, this gingham came to mind: it was the push to finally do something with it!

gingham refashioned pinafore before and after the artyologist

My first plan was a simple dress, like this sketch below. Simply remove the sleeves, dart the bodice in, hem it to knee length using the excess fabric from the hem to create a tie belt, and add some eyelet lace. It would be easy and simple and wouldn’t take too long.

Gingham pinafore inspiration and sketch the artyologist

(Something like this, minus the ruffles. I love the ruffles, but didn’t have enough fabric)

Yes. Well. Nothing in life is easy, and most definitely not refashioning garments. So, here I outline how I ended up, not with a sleeveless dress, but a pinafore instead. (And in the process, reveal all the wonky bits that didn’t turn out quite as nicely as I would’ve liked them to!) 🙂

The first step, was removing the sleeves and fitting the bodice. This was easily done, however there was a malfunction when I fit and cut the armscye. (Which, by the way, is the curve of the armhole, and is pronounced arms-eye. In case you didn’t know that already. I didn’t know that for the longest time and was going around tongue twisting “arm-sky”, or “arm-sis”, which are not correct in the least. So, now I have saved you embarrassment, or maybe I have just embarrassed myself, I’m not sure which.) I cut the new armscye shape, and the cloth shifted when I cut it, and it ended up too low on one side. . . and so basically the bodice was ruined. Ooops.

So, now that the armhole on one side was too low, I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about it for a while, and then decided that gingham would be perfect for a pinafore, as a pinafore doesn’t have armholes anyways. So, on to plan B!

I was looking through some of my sewing books, and through some vintage blogs. I came across the picture above of a yellow gingham pinafore style dress which I liked, from one of my sewing books, and I also remembered this dress from that Solanah of Vixen Vintage wore a few years back that I had on my list of ‘dresses to make”, and I thought that I could make this dress work.

gingham refashion how to cut bodice the artyologist

I ended up picking apart the bodice on the sides, and detaching it from the skirt, so I had two flat pieces to work from, rather than a partially constructed bodice (as that had already been proven to lead to disaster). Once I had the two pieces flat, I cut the neckline straight down at an angle, basically just cutting out the rounded corners, measuring each side to make sure they were even. (The straps were 2″ wide.)

Then, I cut out the new sides, leaving 4 inches up from the waist, which would form a fake “waistband’ on the side. I cut it at 4″, which allowed for 1/2 seam allowances on top and bottom for a finished 3” side panel. Remember to leave seam allowances for all of your seams. With this project I used 1/2 inch as I didn’t have much fabric to work with. For reference, the finished bib width is 13 1/2″ at the outer top edge of the straps, and is 9″ wide at the bottom (where to the two yellow lines form a right angle in the diagram above).

I left the side pieces as a waistband, even though most pinafores don’t have a side panel. A few years ago I sewed a pinafore and it ended up looking so much like an apron that I actually ended up turning it into an apron. For the longest time I couldn’t quite place my finger on why it looked like an apron instead of a dress, and I have come to the conclusion that it is because the sides were completely removed. By leaving a couple of inches, it gave some structure for the skirt, and it looked more like a dress. Because even though a pinafore is an apron, I don’t really want people to think that I am actually wearing an apron.

After I had finished cutting the bodice pieces, I traced the shape and cut out two pieces of lining fabric, lining the entire bodice so that all the seams would be encased.

(This refashioned dress I made a few years ago, used the same technique as I did for this one, only instead of cutting the sides and neckline square, I curved them, so you can see how you could use this technique for a different style of dress)

button detail and bodice lining gingham pinafore the artyologist

Once the bodice was finished, it was time to attach the skirt. At this point, I discovered that the fabric had, over time, stretched out of shape, and the front button placket no longer hung straight. I also discovered that when the fabric had initially been cut, it was cut off grain.  This was noticeable as the gingham pattern revealed the fact, but there wasn’t much I could do to square it up, without sacrificing too much material. So, I left it: I wasn’t concerned that it would shrink, as it was a pre-owned and washed garment. I made the decision to remove the button placket on the skirt and just leave the four decorative buttons on the bodice. Once the skirt was gathered and sewn to the bodice, I inserted a side invisible zipper. I would have liked to have used a white zipper, but I did not have one and the local store doesn’t sell invisible zips. So, I used a navy zipper, which worked out ok- it’s on the side anyways, so is not super visible. I was really in a “it’s now or never” state of mind at that point (two days in). If I had to place the dress to the side, I don’t think I would have finished it, with the amount of frustrations I had already had with it. That, and the canola was in full bloom, and I needed the dress now, not next week when it would be too late!

gingham and lace hem the artyologist

Now the dress was almost done, and needed only to be hemmed and lace attached at the bottom. This was the part where I was tempted to cry tears of frustration. Remember how I said that the cloth had stretched and warped over time? Well, it was completely out of whack, and I couldn’t straighten it along the pattern. I tried measuring down, I tried measuring from the edge, and every time I pinned it, it was crooked and hung down in the back or the side. And nothing makes a garment look worse than a crooked hem. (Unless I suppose it is a train, and is done on purpose, which in that case is great!) Finally, after pulling out all my hair (oh and did I mention that I was doing this at 12:00 at night?) I decided to measure up from the floor, like those hem markers do. I placed the dress on my mannequin and measured up with a yardstick, pinning and pressing it into place to see if it worked- and it did! So, as you can see the hem does not follow the pattern of the gingham, but it is straight from the floor! And as long as I stand on level ground it will be so 😉 I decided that I would rather have a straight hem, than worry about the pattern of the fabric, and as it is at the hem, no one is going to notice it anyways. Well, I guess now you will. Oops.

lace and hem pinafore the artyologist

The last step was attaching the lace to the hem, adding the pocket, and then changing the buttons to white, as the other ones looked a bit dingy with age. I made the pocket out of one of the sleeves, and edged with the same eyelet. There were originally supposed to be two pockets, but the measurement was off, and it would have run over the zipper. So, I decided the dress was good with just one pocket, and called it done! I placed the pocket at an angle, as the fabric squares wouldn’t line up, and also so you could see it on such a busy background.

back view and pocket, the artyologist

Whew. Somehow this project rapidly went from a quick and easy alteration, to three days of tears and frustration! But, it worked, and I am satisfied with it, as it turned out looking a lot like the 1940’s style pinafores. And, for all of the headache it caused, I love that my “new” dress is also keeping one more garment out of the textile waste cycle.

(Oh, and we got the pictures in the canola field too, which is why I started this whole escapade in the first place!)

Do you ever start projects and have to change to plan B, C or D partway through?

Do you like refashioning garments, or would you rather start from scratch?

walking away in gingham pinafore the artyologist

Fresh as a Daisy in Retrolicious Vintage Repro

retrolicious nostalgia dress fresh as a daisy the artyologist

At first, brown, mustard yellow and cream do not seem to be a summer colour palette, but then I looked out into my garden and saw a patch of daisies blooming. It turns out that it is a summer palette after all! 🙂

This is the new dress that I mentioned last week, and it is my first vintage reproduction dress! Living in Alberta, which isn’t exactly a major centre for vintage style boutiques, I had never come across a shop that sold vintage reproduction. I have never had much luck shopping online either, and for things like dresses, which need to fit well, it was always just too much of a gamble. Then, a few weeks ago, while shopping on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue, I discovered this little shop called Rowena. Rowena is a “clothing, accessory & household item store specializing in pinup, rockabilly, psychobilly, tattoo and alternative cultures.” As soon as I walked in the door, I was in heaven. Seriously, my mom and sister who were with me, can attest that I was like a kid in a candy store. Never have I ever seen such a large and fabulous selection of vintage reproduction in one place. All of the items they have in store, are available in their amazing online store Retro Glam, if you would like to check it out. Anyways. I did find a few lovely items, and actually it is amazing that I came home with my bank account intact! I’ll be back for sure, though.

retrolicious dress daisy the artyologist

I was so excited to wear this dress; I wore it the very next Sunday. It is the Nostalgia dress by Retrolicious. I had never heard of Retrolicious before: it is a sub brand of Folter clothing “made in the USA”.

I can’t really attest to the quality of the dress, as I have only had it for a couple of weeks, and I haven’t washed it yet or anything, but I love it so far. When we were in a different shop that same day, the salesperson told me that the dresses they were selling were “couture dressmaker’s fabrics, not just regular old cottons”. When I looked at the tag, they were 57% polyester/ 43% cotton blends. I’ll take the cotton please.  Thus, I love that this dress is 100% cotton, and cut on the bias, which gives it a comfortable amount of stretch without containing any spandex/polyester/nylon.  I don’t know about you, but I just hate synthetic fabrics. I mean, sometimes they are fine for certain garments, and I do own some myself, but I just hate the fact that there is such an abundance of synthetics in every piece of clothing you find, it seems. Maybe this is just an irrational fear I have of synthetics, tracing back to the time when I was a child and my mother told me that nylon melts. I was scared to wear my nylon pants for years. Anyways, that was a bit of an aside. . . where were we. . .

The dress! It is lovely, comfortable and breathable (it was a hot day, when I wore it) and it has pockets too; I never think to put pockets in my dresses, but really they are the best! Basically this dress is a winner, it is my new favourite, and now that I know where Rowena is, and I know what size I am in several other repro brands, I may never have any money ever again. . .

(PS: After I had finished dressing, I realized that the accessories in this outfit are exactly what I paired with my outfit for Easter Sunday- the straw purse, brown sandals, and cream coloured hat. Even the pearls are the same. What can I say? If you’ve got a good thing going. . . )

(PPS: Another quick note: I do know that cotton, unless it is organic, contains a whole host of other environmental problems, 🙁 but as it is difficult to find organic cotton material and clothing, when faced with a choice, I will choose cotton, as it is still a natural and biodegradable fibre, rather than a man made fibre.)

Edited a couple of years later to add a review on how this dress held up:

I wore this dress quite a few times, but one thing I did notice is that the circle skirt ended up stretching out of shape. This happens when a bias-cut skirt hasn’t been hung for long enough before being hemmed. Often modern garments aren’t hung at all, but are hemmed right as the garment is being assembled, without allowing for drooping. I had hoped that, for the price tag of this one, that wouldn’t be the case but sadly it did end up a bit out of shape. Since the dress was on the short side for me (I’m 5′ 6″ and it hit at the knee, and I prefer below the knee) I decided against re-hemming it, and ended up selling it at a discount. In case you are interested in purchasing from Retrolicious, keep this in mind if the style you are looking for is a circle skirt. Other than that, the dress was very well made and held up well in the wash (I washed on cold, and hung to dry). 

Outfit Details:

Dress- Retrolicious, Nostalgia Dress (not available any more it seems, but they have many others!)

Purse: Vintage from a thrift store

Hat: Vintage from an antique sale

Shoes: Franco Sarto from a few years ago

Earrings: Joe Fresh from a few years ago

Necklace: Pearls; a gift from my parents!

retrolicious dress the artyologist

daisies the artyologist

retrolicious by folter nostalgia dress the artyologist

retrolicious nostalgia dress by folter fresh as a daisy the artyologist

retrolicious dress folter clothing the artyologist