I like to think of myself as a fairly seasoned refashioner. This will be the fourth series of The Refashioners I've been invited to take part in, and I've spent the best part of my life taking things in here and customising things there. I regularly skulk around my local charity shops, hunting for oversized T-shirts and floral rayon Muu Muus to hack up. I've even made peace with the fact that in the realm of refashioning, I am a 'Harvester' as opposed to a 'Transformer' - as a Harvester, I look beyond the seams and derive a huge amount of satisfaction from figuring out the perfect pattern placement and most efficient way to eek the most out of the limited fabric I've been left to work with. Transformers, on the other hand, will usually let the original garment inspire the direction they take with their refashion, tweaking seams and manipulating the fabric, thereby creating something completely unique and totally fantastical. I say I've made my peace with being a Harvester because I have the utmost admiration and awe for Transformers and the true artistic creativity they must possess, while slightly lamenting my more methodical, both-sides-of-the-brain approach. So yes, I feel like me and refashioning are pretty solid. But then along came Portia... Admittedly, this year's theme got me pretty stuck. I'd never even worn, much less refashioned a suit before. But if there's one thing I've learned from The Refashioners (and there's lots of things I've learned), I can always count on Portia to force me well and truly out of the box!
Inspiration-wise, and taking what I already know about trying to cut something new from something old, I knew that I would be going down the fitted, Roland Mouret / early Victoria Beckham-esque road. Sleek lines, a classic wiggle silhouette. Momentarily I worried that I was becoming too predictable, especially considering that my offering to The Refashioners last year was also fitted and wiggly. After a slightly panicked call to Portia herself, I was assured that predicability can actually be a good thing when you re-frame it as having a strong personal identity! So that's what I'm going with... Now on with the details!
My local Traid in Kilburn is always my go-to - and it did not let me down in the search for my suit. I even stumbled upon a vintage tweed Burberry jacket! It was stunning, naturally, but a little too small for what I was looking for, and no matching trews, so sadly that one got left behind... I came away with a lovely (and large!) pinstripe suit, 100% wool, and lined in silk.
Among a sea of pinstripe suits, the things that stood out for me on this one were the quality of the fabric (always a high priority when finding stuff to refashion), the great little tabs on the trouser's waistband, and the yellow stripy sleeve lining.
My original plan had been to make a Sophia Dress complete with epaulettes not unlike the ones below seen at Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall 2017 show:
Then, I was going to make a whole bunch of strips to sew onto the skirt like structured ruffles, or a sort of half peplum if that makes sense? The idea was that the strips would mirror the shape of the epaulettes (only placed horizontally as opposed to vertically) and nod to the the fact that this outfit once had a real collar.
Sadly, the bodice and epaulettes plan went in the crapper as soon as I realised that no matter how hard I try, I simply couldn't get a bodice out of my jacket. Too many seams and pockets! That realisation made me sad for a while, but then I remembered that sensational sleeve lining and decided that a skirt - with the stripy silk as a waistband (interfaced, of course) and those tabs as a fastener in back and detail at the front - would be just fine :)
I got going with the skirt, which, other than a little mishap while I was unpicking all the seams...
...went nice and smooth. I used up most of the trousers from my suit to make the skirt, saving the jacket panels and sleeves to make the peplum strips. Almost done, I popped the skirt on the mannequin in order to make a start on the ruffle strip peplum thingy, but immediately then I knew that I was in danger of getting ahead of myself, and that the skirt was in fact, done. I put it on and tried placing some of the strips while looking in the mirror and I could see that while it would have certainly made for an interesting, design-y, slightly out-there look, it wouldn't have been something I would ever wear again. And these days, with two closets bursting at the seams (literally), making clothes I don't love and want to wear all the time simply isn't an option for me anymore.
So I kept it simple. No bells or whistles, just a fabulous skirt with a couple of thoughtful details that quite frankly, makes me feel chic AF.
I still have all those jacket panels leftover, which I certainly have no intention of wasting. They've been squirrelled away until inspiration strikes - and with another two weeks of blogger posts and then the whole of October to see YOUR makes come rolling in, I'm sure it'll be sooner rather than later before those scraps get dug back out!
Don't forget, during October, The Refashioners opens up to the sewing community at large! We want to see your interpretations of the theme Suits You! - simply share your creations on instagram with the hashtags #therefashioners2017 and #suitsyou, and you could be in with a chance of winning some INSANE prizes! For all you need to know, and to be drip fed more inspiration, head to Portia's blog makery.uk.