Sunday, November 07, 2010

Refashioning Handmades

You might recognize this skirt from a few posts back. It's one of my favorite refashions of all times, and one that hasn't been properly documented here, I don't think. Best of all, it proves that you can resuscitate the (hopefully few) handmade items that get made but never worn.

This started out as two skirts: a thrifted bias-cut blue and brown plaid wool skirt that was tea length and just tight enough to warrant the wishful thinking "if I lost 5 pounds this would fit perfectly!"; and Skirt #2, never blogged, a navy fine-wale corduroy skirt traced off my favorite denim skirt at the time - fitted through the upper hips, then flaring out slightly to an A-line, with cute patch pockets in the back (the denim version bought from a Japanese department store in Taiwan, so you know the detailing was nice!). Unfortunately, Skirt #2 suffered from that hip-bubbling-incorrect-petite-length problem that all my fitted-at-hip skirts experience, and never got worn.

Initially I had just planned to refashion the wool skirt, so I cut 4" off the top and then improvised some asymmetrical pleats in the front and 2 pleats in the back, one over each, er, cheek. But when I tried it on it looked all wrong. First of all, I got that puffy bum look going, and moreover the asymmetrical pleats in front needed something extra to prevent them from looking like pleats that were mistakenly placed to one side only.

Enter Skirt #2. I carefully unpicked those patch pockets and slapped them on over the pleats, effectively tacking them down and reusing the little buggers that took me forever to make! Then I put in a faux pocket patch on the front to tie the look together:

Still not yet satisfied, because the pocket patch looked a bit random from the front, I decided to hack off the bottom of one skirt and attach it to the lining of the second. I'm pretty sure there's a better way to do this, but I just made a straight cut across the bottom, basted it to the lining, and then used a piece of bias tape to cover the raw edges:

And tada! A completely reworked skirt. By now you can see that the corduroy is starting to show signs of wear because I'm always reaching for it.

As a sometimes-quilter, I often find myself making little stacks of coordinating fabrics. In this case, the contrasting textures of the corduroy and plaid wool drew me in, and I loved the contrast in scale between the pin dots in the brown quilting fabric and the plaid. Mixing fabrics in dressmaking can be challenging since you're not just matching fabrics, you're also matching them to a pattern, matching drape and print scale, and then matching the finished garment to the rest of your wardrobe.

As much as I love the effect you can get from combining fabrics in a single item of clothing, I find it pretty challenging to make it work ... and to not get the "hm, a patchworked vest, interesting" vibe (although I firmly believe that patchwork can work in clothing, but it's tricky!) I think all the mixing and matching here works because the skirt has a pretty streamlined A-line shape, it's visually interesting with just enough "funky" to keep me satisfied, and the navy and brown are both neutrals which makes it easy-ish to match.

I wonder if I'm the only person who fights this urge when they sew clothing? Or if other people are veritable fabric-matching-junkies like me, how do they incorporate these into their garments?


poet said...

Very cool remake! I love when one is able to take apart and combine several pieces of clothing... I call it "frankensteining"! :)


Violet said...

Looks great. I think you make it easier on yourself when you mix and match only two fabrics, whereas in my mind patchwork is made up of multiple fabrics ("tricky", I think the fashion term for it is...)

Zonnah said...

That is one cute skirt!

Sigrid said...

Rather brilliant re-use! I like to mix it up when I am sewing, but I find that I gravitate towards a simpler look when I am getting dressed. So yes, I have this struggle too, and I think that's why I like to use rather outre linings, bias tape and buttons.

Bindu said...

I like your idea of refashioning. Can I send you crocheted flowers as a gift? Please reply.

ReLove Projects said...

So cute! I just got some plaid skirts from the thrift store to renovate- this gave me some great ideas!