Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Refashioners Contest 2017 - Suits You!

It's that time of year again.  Time for the Refashioner's Contest, hosted by Portia over on

The theme for this year is Suits You!  The challenge  - Use a suit (or two or three) and refashion it into something else.

As per usual with these contests my first thought is always - Holy Crap what am I going to do with that! So I let the theme marinate in the back of my mind for while - checking out all the inspiration posts every morning.  Every time I thought about the suit challenge I came back to the same basic idea - what is it that I like about suits? -- the material.  I love the wool fabric, I love the pin stripes etc so this gave me the idea that I wanted to make something showcasing suit fabrics.

 But where do I get my fabric? I don't have any suits that I was willing to cut up - and I assumed that my husband didn't want me cutting up his good suits (In fact when he saw the finished product and I told him it was made out of suits his reaction was "I hope you didn't use my suits", so I started trawling the local second hand stores.  Most of the places around here only had suit coats - and they were $9.99 each.  I knew I wanted a couple of different coats/fabrics and that I wasn't willing to spend all that much on this project so I kept moving on - and then one day I decided to drop into the St Vincent DePaul store and found that they were having a sale - anything with a blue or green tag was 99c.  I headed for the rack of suit coats - yep, some of them had blue and green tags on them.  That's what I was looking for.  So I pulled out all the appropriately marked coats and pants and started going through them looking specifically for different fabrics that went well together. 

I ended up with a navy blue with a white pin stripe coat. 

A black with white pin stripe coat,

a charcoal grey (almost black) with faint herringbone pattern coat,

And a pair of light grey pants. 

$3.96 and I had the beginnings of my suit refashion.

Next I had to figure out what I was going to make.  I think in my mind I decided pretty early on that my garment was going to be a coat so I sat down and started sketching.  I came up with a couple of different ideas making features out of different parts of the suits but nothing really grabbed me.  Then one day this post turned up in my feed.  The Dog Bed Dress by Handmade by Caroline.  I love this dress - the style lines are fantastic (and the fact its made out of dog bed material just makes it even better).  I was really inspired by all the different shapes and lines made by this dress and wanted to see what I could do applying that basic concept to a coat.

And so my design slowly took shape.  I sketched out a basic coat shape and then divided it into sections, I then assigned each piece a colour based on the fabrics I had (I had to do a bit of switching around once I took my coats apart and found out how much material of each kind I had).

OK I have fabric I have the design now to make a pattern.

I started with the Burda asymmetrical funnel neck jacket as that had the neckline that I was looking for.  I took each of the pattern pieces and split it based on my sketch, moving the darts around as required to get the fit I wanted.

I made a muslin with whatever fabrics I could find lying around and had to make a few adjustments around my hips.  Even with my modifications its still a tad tight around the hips and over my butt.

After taking a short break to participate in the first two rounds of the pattern review sewing bee I decided it was about time to get started for real.  I started taking my coats apart.  The first thing I did was to check the fabric labels.  I probably should have done that earlier, but you was all about the colours.  Turns out only two of my four pieces are actually wool - the black and the charcoal.  The grey is actually a polyester, the blue had no tags at all.  I also realised just how much difference there was in weights of the four fabrics.  But that's ok, I figured I'd just interface the ones that were lighter.

It took me an entire day, at least 8 hours, to take apart my coats and cut them up into all the pieces I needed, then another couple of hours to interface them as required. Some pieces had interfacing already applied, some required 1 layer of interfacing, some two to try and get all the weights to balance out.

I sewed all the pieces together, pressing each seam open and top stitching on either side of the seam to hold the seam allowances in place.

You can see here that I had to add extra interfacing to a couple of pieces to get the weights correct.
I then had to go back and stick all my pieces back together to make a pattern for the lining.  The material that I used for the lining is a beautiful multi-coloured Rayon.  I've used this fabric before - once as lining for a pair of wool pants, and once as a shirt.  I felt like the suit materials, whilst beautiful were a bit subdued for my tastes and wanted the inside at least to be really bright.

I also used the lining pattern to cut out an interlining in warm and natural batting. 

I trimmed the interlining around the neck and just hand basted it to the collar seam allowance but otherwise it is free inside the lining.  The lining is sewn to the suit fabric around the collar and then I bagged the lining to the bottom of the suit coat.

 and the front is finished with a simple zipper.

zipper insertion at neckline

finishing of front edge below zipper
There is a notch at the center back and the lining is hand stitched to the fashion fabric around the raw edges.

I finished the sleeves using the existing sleeve hem from the charcoal grey suit with its four buttons.

Inside the sleeve I turned the lining fabric over the end of the interlining and machine stitched it in place.

I also used a couple of other features from the suits.

I used the pockets from the black pin stripe suit as pockets in the front of the coat.

flaps out

flaps in
I used the back welt pockets from the gray pants as an embellishment on the top of the sleeve.

I had planned to reuse all the padding in the chest and shoulder region, but the pattern that I used for the shoulders looked better without any padding in it.  It was like it was designed to slope straight into the sleeve, so I left that out in the end.

Overall I really love this coat.  I feel like I stayed true to the original suits whilst making something that I will definitely wear.  Thank you Portia for once again helping me step outside of my comfort zone.


  1. Love this! You did such a great job of blending all the different pieces and colors together into one awesome coat! It looks so great!

  2. love it - and some amazing sewing - such symmetry and techniques - it looks great - all the fabrics work so well together

  3. What a great idea! Thanks for the details. I found this very interesting.

  4. This jacket is AWESOME!!! Seriously...your sewing mind is amazing. Best of luck in the contest! This ought to be a real contender!