I may have mentioned that I was thinking of joining the Refashioners 2017 challenge in the last post. I has all sorts of ideas running through my head, all dependent on what sort of suit I could find, and how much I wanted to spent. And whether anyone would wear what I came up with in the end… Warning this is a long and picture heavy post!
I rummaged in the local charity shops in town and came home with my wallet £30 lighter and my bag two suits fuller. The first to be used is a size 18 ladies Marks & Spencer wool trouser suit, navy with grey windowpane check. I sort of thought of making a pencil skirt from the trousers, and turning the jacket into something shorter and more fitted. Of course, I started pulling it all apart before I managed to remember that a “before” picture might be required. Thankfully I managed a photo of the jacket, sort of halfway through being unpicked.
I started with the trousers. I really wanted a long, fitted pencil skirt, like the Pulmu in shape. But there wasn’t enough fabric for that plan. There was a photo from the 2018 Carolina Herrera Resort Collection on my Pinterest board that I really liked, shape, angles etc. As I thought this refashion might be worn by daughter no 2, I showed it to her and explained what I wanted to do. Nope. She liked the fitted shape and wide shoulders (sorta) but didn’t like the bottom half of the top at all. (The best bit in my opinion!) So I took ideas that would work, the centre seam, 45 degree angles, wide shoulders and fitted bodice.
Turning to the bodice block I drafted something I thought would work, only to find there just wasn’t enough fabric, the trousers are too narrow. A compromise meant I needed to cut flanges for the extended shoulders (and honestly, they could have been wider) and insert them into princess seams in the front and back. I still wanted the angles though, so the upper fronts are cut on the bias, after drawing on the lines of the windowpane to make sure they’d be lining up properly. All pieces are cut like this, I wanted everything to line up.
It didn’t turn out too badly, to be honest! Not all of the windowpane lines line up exactly, but with the angles going on I’m still happy with the result. I had in mind that it would be more of a waistcoat-type top than a top-type top, and thought I’d use a separating zip in the centre front. But instead we have an invisible zip in the left side seam – client requirement.. 😉 The armhole and neck edges are bound with navy bias tape from the stash, so all I had to purchase to complete the project was the zip.
The top has a shaped hem, dipping lower into a slight curve in the front, and being higher in the back with a “v” notch in the centre back, reminiscent of a waistcoat. I like the shape of the top, it looks really good with high waisted trousers! Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of it on a person, Betty the dummy will have to do. That’s Part One of the project!
Part Two took a little longer… I really wanted to turn the square, only slightly fitted jacket into something much more interesting. I had thought of using the Bellatrix pattern, but it would never have fitted onto all the bits of jacket fabric remaining. So I thought of a biker jacket… I also wanted to reuse the jetted pockets – no point remaking something that’s perfectly good already. But biker jackets don’t have pockets in the position that these were in, so they needed to change orientation. More angles!! Also, this is when I remembered the September 2017 issue of Burda magazine had a pretty sweet biker style jacket in it that might be useful. I liked the shoulder yoke shape and knew I could do something with it and the existing parts of the jacket I wanted to save. I traced daughter no2’s jacket block and set to work! This project is part pattern cutting and part draping!
I used the stylelines of the Burda jacket to get the proportions right, and pinned and draped onto Betty (my vintage dressmaker’s dummy). There were bits of paper and fabric all over my sewing room while this went on, a real mess. There was just enough fabric in the existing sleeves to recut sleeves to fit, the cuffs for the sleeves were made from what was left over from the trousers. I reused the sleeve head pads, they give a lovely sharp shape to the top of the sleeve.
I managed to reuse the waistband from the trousers to form the hem band on the jacket, which was brilliant! I did have a small meltdown moment when I realised the whole jacket wasn’t going to come from the fabric I’d managed to harvest. That’s where suit number two came in very, very handy. It was a men’s 3-piece wool suit in grey. I’d deliberately chosen it to be able to combine with the ladies suit fabric if that’s what I’d needed.
I cut up the waistcoat to make the shoulder yokes and the contrast “V” on the front. This makes the jacket much less formal, gives it a sporty vibe that contrasts quite nicely with the suit fabric. The original lining was a dull, unfriendly colour, and not enough in the right shapes and sizes to reuse, so I dived into the stash and found a yummy raspberry satin lining left over from a coat I’d made years ago for daughter no1. I love these two colours together!
The only thing I wish I’d taken more time over is the zip. I should have waited to be able to buy a longer length, but as I couldn’t get what I needed locally I opted for “this will do”, which is ok, but actually never does “do”. A longer zip would nave finished at the neckline instead of a couple of centimetres short. At least the snaps work! I got 6 large, dark bronze sew on snaps for the hem band, cuffs and neck. They’re sewn on using buttonhole stitch, they aren’t budging for a long time!
I really love the finished project, I’m glad I took the time to pin all those check intersections on the fabric, and drew all the lines onto the pattern pieces to ensure I’d have a better time pattern matching when it came to the sewing. Patience makes so much difference! I wish I’d had enough time to refashion the second suit for the challenge, but other things had to be done too. I will refashion it and show you what I managed to do, but it won’t be soon. I have in mind a pair of culottes and a long line blazer, but it might not work! The thing with refashions is to be prepared to change your mind, go with the flow and adapt to what you have to hand. It’s certainly taught me something!
Click on the individual images below to see them in detail.