Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fix it February

Thank you for all you lovely comments on the Macaron dress. Yes, I see it in my future too, because having parted 40 bucks for the pattern (I can hear your sharp intake of breath from here) I want to get value for money out of it. Besides, how much easier will it be second time when all the alterations have been done already? (oh and yes, that was piping you saw, I put a line of piping in between upper and lower bodice to soften the transition between the fabrics).

I decided that this month I wanted to spend some quality time going through all my "almost nearly right" projects to see if I could make them "I really rather like this."

First up, the "frump" dress - a Simplicity one (sorry can't find the number now) which was the culmination of many bad choices. I still liked the fabric though, and decided it would benefit from some "less is more" treatment.



I got rid of the collar - which is a combined stand and collar number and never sat properly, shortened the sleeves and the hem and added a belt to give is some much needed waist shaping. A big improvement - I wore it today and got a compliment, always a good sign, because when people don't like something I make they say, "did you make that?" followed by "oh."





Next up, I had to fix the Amy Butler weekender bag. I broke the zip trying to stuff some fabric I bought at the op shop in. I don't know about you but replacing zips is not my favourite form of sewing so this time I invested in some heavy metal.

If you are thinking of sewing this bag, be warned about the fate of plastic zippers:




And look how nicely the new zip matches the lining:




Finally, I had to do something about this coat (Burda 11-2008- 107). Double breasted knee length wool coats are too hot for this climate and I will never make another. I can wear this about a week a year without overheating. The problem is that the front overlap adds considerable warmth, and has to be worn closed in order to hang nicely.

The design was always a bit of a risk. I loved the pleats and waist shaping but the collar and collar stand are totally out of proportion and have a propensity to sit flat, giving rise to the nickname, "the jester jacket."

I think the real problem for me with this coat is that it would be better on a bigger person. By bigger I mean taller and broader. All the details are so large scale that I feel a bit swamped in it.



here's another view - all in all, I didn't do too bad a job with this, but at the time it was actually beyond my skill level - my hands were shaking with fear as I finished the hems!



To fix this was going to take considerably more effort than the other two projects. I wanted to reduce the size of the collar and stand, take up the pleats at the bottom, put in some side inset pockets and convert it to a single breasted button through.

To do this, I had to get out my old pattern drafting books, because one thing I've learned about sewing, when you wing it, it shows.

Full length view so you can see the new proportions (and my white as white pants - the day is yet young):



I left the shoulder tab on as a reminder of what it had once been:



The vintage buttons I used on the front:




I really enjoyed all of these refashioning projects as they required me to be more creative than usual. What's more, all the pieces of fabric came from the Sally Army, which also made me be more creative than usual.

There are several reasons why I am "making do and mending" this month. One is because we are planning a major renovation on our house but I'm not sure when, or where we'll be living while the roof's off. I'm mentally starting some of the clean up process now. Secondly, it's easy to get into the mentality of "what's next" when you're sewing. More patterns, more fabric, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to make. This process has enabled me to take a few steps back and it's very satisfying to bring the potential of these garments out.

So now it's back to the wardrobe to find other things that would benefit from a little attention. There is no shortage of worthy projects.

24 comments:

  1. Wow, what inspiring improvements, especially the first shirt-dress into shirt refashion. That is so styley and a great rescue of the fabric. The coat is also looking good in its new form but I can't imagine how you felt inspired to work on it in this heat!
    PS. We are going out for dinner tonight so I won't be home till later- I'll call you about 8.30 okay?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mary Nanna, I am impressed with the skill displayed in these re-fashioning projects. Each is very clever.

    You are right - this is creative work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great fix-its! You've must have been reading my mind with a title like this, half my wardrobe needs refashioning, and I really should stop making new things and fix up some of the old ones. Like the skirt that had the waistband ripped off because it was too tight, and still has a raw edge, a year later...
    Thanks for the motivation!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, wow, wow! Lots of work, but oh so worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent work, the re-fashions are like entirely new garments. I'm none too excited to take care of mending projects either, but seeing results like this, hmmm, maybe I should rethink and then REDO!

    ReplyDelete
  6. very nice with the do-overs! the dress to shirt is MUCH improved, as is the jacket! i have not sewn a metal zip yet--i should try it sometime!

    ReplyDelete
  7. WOW! That coat looks amazing now! UH-MAY-ZING! You look amazing too, by the by.

    ReplyDelete
  8. so impressed. THe macaron dress was so over my head I couldn't even comment. It didn't help that I misread it as macaroon and looking that up got nowhere. I'm afraid mending/alterations in this household go in the bin, but then its different when you already have a/an time/emotional investment not to mention all those beautiful fabrics. Replacing the zip earns you alot of credits.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You've done a great rescuing these garments. The coat is an amazing remake and the tunic is so much more flattering than the dress.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I really *love* your new tunic. It looks great! I never would have seen it hidden in that frumpy dress. Awesome job! Also, my hat is off to you for replacing the zipper. I would procrastinate till the end of time on that one :) I liked your coat before and I like it after. I take your point that you needed to make it more practical for the climate that you live in.
    Good luck with your building project. It's not much fun, but I am sure that the results will be great.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You are like a magician! Great work.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your hard work is very inspiring! Love all the improvements--you are right, they all look terrific on you in their new format.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Bravo you - great work on that trench coat. It is soooo much more flattering now. How very clever and amazingly patient and thorough of you to go back to it and sort it out. Man, I can't even imagine where I'd begin.

    Anthea

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am just ignoring that whole section about it being too hot for you to wear a double breasted knee length coat in chilly NZ. Surely you have to stand around in a paddock during the depth of winter between 8 and 11 pm? (That is where I plan to wear my double breasted knee length coat, and I am not joking). Aside from that, I am very impressed with your fortitude, not to mention your skill. I find it much less appealing to revisit than to start over again from the beginning, and your refashioning looks impeccable. Replacing the zip is mending. Mending is almost housework. Where is your halo?

    ReplyDelete
  15. All your fix-its look great. You've reminded me that I have a black trench coat that I love but is too long. I look like a hobbit in it and it's due for a revamp!

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a good idea! I don't much like recycling project that take a perfectly good thing to make something else out of, like pillows out of sweater which were felted on purpose. Can't see anything very green in that process.
    But this redoing of kind of blah projects is wonderful! Not only true recycling, but really good exercise for the sewing eye as well. And much skill and patience, I certainly don't think I'd have bitten off the coat :-). Congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Mary Nanna, that jacket is brilliant. Why would anyone want that first shape when the second was so elegant and flattering? I really like what you have done with it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow, I'm amazed at the improved garments. Remaking is not much fun, but your efforts really paid off.

    ReplyDelete
  19. GREAT fixes on the dress and coat - You're making me think I should go and take a look at a few things in my wardrobe.....

    ReplyDelete
  20. Stunning improvements, both to the dress/shirt AND the coat!
    Kudos to you for not tossing out the 'close-but-not-perfect' items, and instead, making them work!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Those refashions look like a lot of work...especially the coat. Bravo to you!

    ReplyDelete
  22. You're amazing! I especially love how you transformed the dress (which didn't look frump to me anyway) and made a gorgeous top; it's very flattering, you look so lovely in it. I'd give you a compliment on the street too!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow, all of your fixes do indeed make the garments incredibly flattering. The zipper would have caused me to throw the bag aside for a long while too. It must feel really good to have that replaced with a sturdy, good-looking zip. I am most impressed with the trench. It really looks great on you!

    ReplyDelete