Thursday, October 18, 2018

Boot Failure

This is a project that has been stewing in the back of my mind for quite some time, but the Refashioners contest pushed me to try doing it using all refashioned materials. Unfortunately it didn't work out quite as I had hoped but I figured I may as well blog them anyway so that I know what I did for next time.

So my plan was to make a pair of warm snuggly knee high boots - I have a couple of pairs of knee high boots that I love, but generally to get boots to fit around my huge calves they tend to be very wide around the knee - I wanted to try and make a pair of fitted boots that zipped up.

I was browsing my favourite shoe brand the other day Socofy.  I love their shoes but have never bought a pair - the problem being that when I look at their size chart I need a size 5 in length but a 9 in width so I just don't know what to buy.  But anyway I was browsing one day and found this pair of boots that I loved.  So of course I decided I needed to try and made myself something similar.

The black material in these reminded me of a pair of pants that has been sitting in my "to be refashioned" bin for a while.

These black and white paisley corduroy pants.  I loved these pants but the material did not stand up to the everyday wear that they were subjected to and I ended up with a great big hole in the seat of the pants.  I tried patching it, but once it ripped a second time I gave up......  But now I could see them being reborn as a pair of knee high boots!

I would have loved to been able to find some red leather to really emulate my inspiration pair, but that was not to be, so instead - for the leather portions - I used leather (or fake leather as the case may be) reclaimed from a pair of  old knee high boots, these were cheap and after a couple of wears the heel collapsed and they were so uncomfortable to wear.

A couple of years ago I took one of them apart with the plan to remake them but never got around to it.  So the good news is I was finally able to put them to good use.

I used the studded portion from the knee as the front part of my boot and the "leather" from the leg as the heel.  I was then able to get the little bits I wanted for the top of the boot out of the scraps I had left over.

The zippers for the boots I salvaged off an old suitcase that I was throwing out.

To make the boots really cozy and warm I lined the insides with some black fuzzy material that I had left over from making myself a cardigan.

I used a small piece of the leather as the undersole but I'm not sure it this was the best idea as when I went to glue on the actual sole I had a big problem getting the bottom of the shoe to sit flat against the sole and as such I've ended up with some big unsightly gaps around the sole where you can see the glue which I'm really not happy with,

I also find that despite making the ankle as tight as I could I still get sagging and rumpling around the ankle.  I'm still not sure what I can do about that.

I'm not totally in love with these boots.  There's something about the way the front of the boot sits that just isn't quite right - and I'm still not convinced that I didn't use the left front piece on the right boot and vice versa - it would explain a lot.

So I'm going to wear these for a while and see how they go and then I may have to try again.  I'm a bit sad that I've wasted this beautiful material but maybe I can salvage it if I can ever get the pattern to work properly.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Refashioners 2018 - Inspired By Part 2

As I alluded to in my last post I have made a second entry into the The Refashioners - Inspired By contest .  Whilst browsing through the local thrift shop I found this beautiful purple plaid shirt.

If it had been just a smidge larger I could have worn it as is, but unfortunately no - or maybe fortunately because I love this shirts second lease on life.

Once I ruled out using the purple plaid with the green plaid in my previous refashion (I still think that could have been a great pairing)  I knew that I wanted to use this fabric to make myself a new bra.   Something like this!

Inspiration photo
But I wanted to make it 100% out of upcycled clothes.  To that end I needed a some bras to cannibilise.

Luckily I have lots of those.

This old sports bra had been consigned to the recycle bin as it didn't provide anywhere near enough support for actual exercise and it would never get worn day to day is it gives me a serious monoboob.  So I took it apart and reused the black elastic around the bottom and the hook and eyes.

This is a totally unworn bra - I bought it cheap but it just didn't fit so never got worn. I've used bits and pieces of it before.  For this project I used the underwire channeling, the pink lace off the cups, the power mesh from the back band and the pink elastic  from the sides, plus the little bow.

Finally an old swimsuit bottom.  I bought this because I loved the fabric at the front, but the bottoms were always too big and the tops too small so I never got to wear them.  I finally decided I never will, so I  used the plain white spandex from the back of the bottoms to make the back band portion of the bra.

I also had to use another hook and eye from my stash taken off old bras as two hooks (from the first bra) doesn't provide enough support for me.  I prefer 3 but since they are hard to come by in cheap bras I usually just use two twos together.

I used the same pattern that I've been working on here, lining the cups with the purple plaid as well.  I didn't bother with underwires as they just aren't comfortable.  The straps have no elastic in them as I find that this makes them more supportive.  I did however use a small piece on interfacing in the straps to give them more structure - the only new materials in the whole thing.

Once the bra was made I knew I wanted to make a matching set of undies.  I wasn't quite sure how the non stretch flannel would work for undies, but it turns out they're surprisingly comfortable.

I had to add in extra panels in the side to account for the lack of stretch - and added some length to the pattern for the same reason.  As I was working from scraps I needed to put a seam down the center of the entire thing.  I used some more of the white spandex from the bikini bottoms to line the crotch but I didn't have enough reclaimed elastic so all the elastic and the black knit fabric used for the waist and leg bands are from stash.

 I'm really quite happy with my new bra and pants set.  Probably not something to wear in the middle of summer but I'm looking forward to wearing them through winter!.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Refashioners 2018 - Inspired By

Once again it's time for the Refashioner's Contest, hosted by Portia Lawrie over on  This years theme is "Inspired By".  From the blog the idea is:

Start with an image that inspires you. An outfit or garment that you covet. A style icon that you admire. A look that you want to recreate.  Find your inspiration….Then we want you to go ahead and recreate it!! The only caveat is… can ONLY use existing, unloved garments to do so. These can be from charity shops, from your own wardrobe, or even your old me mades that you don’t wear anymore. The key here, is to demonstrate, that whatever your heart desires, there is a way to achieve that by reusing unwanted garments IF you get creative.

Of course the first thing I did was spend hours in the internet browsing for inspiration.  I'm not the sort of person who gets inspired by designers or fashion - mainly because I never really see it.  So I had to go looking to see what is out there.  I found a number of different inspirations, things that I thought I could do with the right fabric, but then when I finally got out to the thrift shops it was only to find that there was nothing useful there - nothing that I could use to make these pieces.  

In the end I came home from my shopping expedition with just three items.  

1..  A green plaid women's jacket, Size 2 which then shrunk when I washed it (no way am I using anything from a thrift shop without washing it first) so not a lot of fabric to work with there.  The fabric is 100% wool and feels beautiful - I just wish there was more of it!

2..  A blue and black wool checkered womens jacket - A size 6 this time so again not a lot of fabric, but it is 100% wool.'

Showing the texture of the blue/black jacket

And 3..  a purple plaid flannel womens shirt.

The next thing to do was find inspiration for what these articles could become.  I started searching with just the word plaid.  Because I had so little fabric I latched onto the idea of making a plaid corset.  I knew it was unlikely I'd ever wear it but it would still be cool - and then I ran across these images.  

A plaid motorcycle jacket.  I loved it and I figured if I combined both of my jackets I should have enough material to do something similar to this with the side panels and under arm panels in a contrasting colour like this.

Since I had such a small amount of fabric to work with I wanted to salvage as much as possible so I got my unpicker out and spent a good couple of hours taking everything apart at the seams.  

For a pattern I went back to the Burda Larissa.  I used this pattern last winter to make this wearable muslin and then modified it to make this jacket.

The back piece I was able to cut directly out of the back of the original plaid jacket (extending into some of the front piece to get the width required).   The main sleeve piece took up the entire sleeve of the plaid jacket and then I used the blue/black sleeve to cut out the back/under side of the new sleeve.  

The side panels were cut out of the back/sides of the blue/black fabric.  

The right side front piece was able to fit on the remaining front of the plaid jacket but to get the material I needed for the left front piece I had to open out the facing of the original jacket.  Unfortunately when they made the jacket they didn't bother to plaid match the facing piece so there is now some terrible plaid matching right down the front of my new coat.  I'm a bit sad about that but I didn't really have any other choice - there was no remaining fabric to re-cut it and even if there was getting it to line up would have been highly unlikely.  As it was I had to take out the existing pockets and sew the original cuts closed - it's not the most beautiful finish but it's not TOO noticeable.

The remainder of the sleeve and the front pieces of the blue/black jacket were used to piece together the underlap and facing for the front of the new jacket.

I took all the shoulder pads and sleeve heads out of the original jackets.  I reused one set of sleeve heads when I installed the new sleeve, but chucked both sets of huge shoulder pads!

The only place where I used some new materials in this coat was my thread and some interfacing when inserting the two main pocket zippers as seen above.

I looked at making a collar out of the blue/black fabric but couldn't find any pieces big enough - then I picked up the button band from the plaid jacket and figured that I could use that as a mandarin collar.  I really like the way this turned out!

I also used the original back facing piece from the plaid jacket  as I didn't change the back neck curve.  I suppose I should take out the original label at some stage.

As for the lining - I used the green lining  from the plaid jacket for the back, sides and some of the front -wrapped it around as far as it would go and cut out the new arm hole. I then just filled in the remaining sections between the green lining and the facing with some of the black lining from the blue/black jacket.  

The sleeves were done as per the main coat - green for the main section with black on the back/under side.  

The lining was bagged and almost the same length as the coat - The coat is very short and I didn't want to lose any length turning the hem so the the lining goes right to the bottom of the coat.

In the end all the remained of the two coats was a bunch of tiny little scraps.

I knew from the start that I wanted a number of zippers in this coat as per my inspiration photo.  I went through my stash of reclaimed zippers and found one that was a great colour match - I beautiful green that almost matches the green in the plaid.  It was pretty short since it came off a hoodie that my daughter wore at about age 4.  But it was long enough for the main zip as far as I was concerned.  

However I couldn't find anything that would work for the pocket zippers.  So headed to the local charity shop, they don't sell any clothes, but they did have a couple of purses.  I found one that had two great bright silver zippers on the front plus two other black zippers and figured that that would be perfect. 

I took the bag apart entirely - I'll keep that cool sparkly fabric - I'm thinking that'd make great shoes at some stage.  But for now I just needed the zippers.

I put the two sparkly silver zips in at an angle for pockets.

The angle on these zippers is not the best for comfortably resting your hands, but it was the best look visually and they are functional.

The other two zippers from the bag were installed at the same angle over the left side of my chest.  There is only one pocket bag for the two chest zippers - but both zippers do work - they just both open onto the same pocket bag.

All the pocket bags were made using left over lining fabric.

The buckle and the magnetic snap at the top of the main zipper were salvaged from an old handbag that my best friend was throwing out.

The magnetic snap was added at the end when I realised I needed some sort of closure at the top of zipper.  I'd already enclosed all seams at that point so to install the snap I cut a round piece of leather with the snap still attached and sewed the whole circle onto my coat - I'm quite happy with how this looks.

I made the shoulder tabs and the lower band tab out of scraps of the plaid fabric backed with some of the black lining material.

The sleeves were too short at their original length so I used the pocket flap pieces all unpicked to extend the length of the sleeve.  I then took the original mandarin collar from the plaid jacket and used it to gather the extra width at the bottom of the sleeve.

I really like my finished jacket.  It's not the most beautifully finished of garments, but's it's amazing what you can do with a couple of left overs.

Not a bad match to my inspiration!

Stay tuned to find out what I do with the purple plaid - I have a plan - just need to see if I can make it work!