Category Archives: Refashion

Laurel, Laurel

Laurel Blouse and Laurel Jumper

Laurel blouse and a Laurel Jumper

I finished sewing four more Laurels this month. It was a fun personal challenge to plan a few variations that would fit into my wardrobe. My favorite is this little black blouse. LaurelBlouseTweeds DressI took an old dress that I no longer wore but had always felt great in and picked it apart. I was able to squeeze the front, back and binding out of the skirt portion, and cut out new sleeves from the old sleeve section. I got rid of the center back seam and made the blouse longer because I had the extra length to work with, and I really love it. The fabric is a very drapey crinkle rayon, and the blouse looks nice tied and tucked in, or on its own over a narrow pair of pants. I followed the directions in the “Extras” booklet from the Colette website, but modified the keyhole to be much narrower and shorter. The fabric was so slippery and tricky though, it stretched a bit during construction and looks to be about the size the original pattern intended. I’m glad I modified it as much as I did, or the blouse might have been a peep show disaster!

I made the plaid jumper to go with it from the same pattern, modifying the dress neckline and narrowing the silhouette. I added single welt pockets to the front using guidance from Claire Shaeffer’s The Complete Book of Sewing Shortcuts, which is one of those sewing books on my shelves I find myself referring to over and over. I lined the jumper with bemberg rayon, and used this very cool technique from Pattern Scissors Cloth to line up the plaid when sewing the side seams. I am stoked that the invisible zipper in the back is really invisible. I’m quite pleased with this one and, like the blouse, see it getting a lot of use.

Laurel BlueTunicGreen Check LaurelMy muslin to work out the neckline and fit for the jumper was this blue wool tunic, and I ended up liking it so much I decided to finish it off for an arty layering piece. I played with the hemline to find a length I liked over trousers. I drafted the patch pockets to be wider than the pattern and found an old silk necktie at the local thrift shop to cut into bias strips and edge the pockets with. I had enough bias to go around the neckline as well, but held off because I thought it started to look too apron-y. I think it was the right decision and just the right amount of detail. I also lined this jumper with bemberg rayon to slip over layers easily.

And lastly, but actually the next Laurel I finished after my initial flannel attempt, is this green check version. I extended the center front to allow for the addition of pintucks. I am planning a longer tunic version out of linen based on the same variation.

Phew! Now I’m Laurel’d out for a bit, but have several more variations percolating in my brain and will no doubt be inspired by the Colette Flickr group for a while to come.


A Sketch Journal: MMM Days 4–8

Me Made May continues: Here are some sketches of what I’ve been wearing!

What I wore Me Made May Days 4 through 8

hmm. obviously a pretty random color scheme to my wardrobe!

  1. Colette Rooibos – details below
  2. Blue and Green Plaid Flannel Shirt
  3. Liberty hankie – details below
  4. Colette Ginger with Parfait pockets
  5. Butterick 5678 – 2nd version of this shirt, with 3/4 sleeves

Day 4: Work at home. Nice spring weather.
Worn with thrift store cardigan and gray converse sneakers. Thrift store cardigan refashioned/rescued in the most basic, simplest way: I cut off the too-tight cuffs.
Day 5: Weekend warrior. Cool weather.
Worn with jeans to work in the garden.
Day 6: Looks like a fail, but sometimes life is larger than blogland challenges. Woke up this morning to a family crisis and did what anyone would do in a similar situation: reached for jeans and a comfy t-shirt hanging over a chair and dealt with the weight of the issues at hand. Me Made May never flickered in my brain until late in the day when I realized I had, in fact, dabbed my eyes on a handmade hankie kept in my pocket.
Day 7: Back to work. Worn with sandals and a tee.
Day 8: Work. Rainy, dreary day, cool. Worn with jeans and loafers.

On to some specifics: I finished this Colette Rooibos late last summer, just as the weather turned cool. I never got around to photographing it so here is its first debut.

Summer Rooibos dress

Cute, but not what I was expecting

I have to admit, I feel a little bit taken by the marketing for this pattern. The photos of the model wearing the navy version with cream piping had me thinking that this was more of a wiggle dress. Then the line drawing on the pattern, which we all scrutinize for Clues to the Truth, confirmed my hunch. What I sewed up, and what I ultimately saw others sew up as well, was definitely more of an A-line and floaty silhouette. I keep looking back at those original photos and wanting that dress. I know I shouldn’t be taken in by pretty photos, and I know I shouldn’t expect the movie at the theater to live up to the hype in the funny two-minute trailer, but I never thought the line drawing on the pattern would lie.

I have been to enough photo shoots as an art director to now realize that there must be big orange clips holding back part of that dress on the model. Unfortunately, I don’t have the nerve to walk around with big orange clips all day, and it sure would feel uncomfortable sitting in my office chair anyway.

Summer rooibos dress All right, now that that’s off my chest! The actual dress is cute—I made a few muslins of the bodice before cutting into fabric, and I’m glad I did. I needed an erect back alteration, narrowed and brought the shoulder straps in a bit, and lowered the neckline. The high neckline was not doing my middle-aged bustline any favors. The pockets are awesome, and the collar definitely needed tacking down. I wrestled with the piping around the collar and I’m sure I committed some sort of piping crime by cutting out the cord right at the points trying to make it work. I used some hearty weight cotton fabric which is probably meant for a child’s ottoman or nursery curtains. I thought it would be the right weight for a summer version, but I think it will look better in something heavier like a wool for fall. I sewed this up before I discovered the wonders of Fashion Sewing Supply’s interfacing, so I used some craft store cardboardy stuff that unfortunately makes the facing line show through the bodice.

So, next version: heavier fabric, lighter interfacing, and most likely a lining too. I may play with the silhouette to get closer to the Rooibos in my head!

Liberty handkerchief

Only the best for my nose.

The last project I’ll leave you with is one of a few Liberty handkerchiefs I’ve sewn up lately. Have you seen these? So often I find myself in a fabric store and am drawn like a magnet to the Liberty Tana Lawn without knowing it. As soon as I reach out to pet it, my heart sinks, and I know I’ve done it again. A look at the price on the end of the bolt confirms my suspicion. Liberty cotton is so exquisite, and priced that way. I would love to wrap myself up in a bolt of it, seriously. One of my treats on my recent trip to New York was stopping in at Purl Soho, and I picked up a 1/4 yard of two different Liberty prints for these hand-sewn rolled hem handkerchiefs. I looked for two prints whose wrong sides didn’t look too wrong, if you know what I mean. The hankie “recipe” calls for 12.5″ squares, but I was able to squeeze out 5 slightly smaller squares out of each 54″ cut. (They cut a generous 10″ width and there was a little shrinkage after washing.) I’m enjoying the handwork and have stitched up 3 so far. I feel quite luxurious having a beautiful handkerchief in my pocket or bag.

A Sketch Journal: MMM Days 1–3

Me Made May began rather gray and cold, allowing me to grab some wool to start off the month! Here are some sketches of the handmade or refashioned things I wore the past few days.

Me Made May days one through three

May 1st, 2nd and 3rd

    1. Butterick 5678 – long sleeve eggplant stretch cotton – (Mentioned at bottom of post here)
    2. Green cabled wool hat
    3. 22.5 Degree Scarf
    4. Ribbed wool socks – made for husband. Stolen out of husband’s drawer a year ago when they weren’t worn frequently enough
    5. Liberty hankie – tucked into pocket of jeans
    6. Colette Ginger – thrift store brown pinwale corduroy, with added patch pockets for dog treats!
    7. Cotton string market bag
    8. Schoolhouse Tunic
    9. Refashioned totebag – Took my favorite Strand bookstore bag apart and made it roomier by adding a flat bottom and side panels, and lined the whole thing

Day 1: Work at home. Chilly, rainy day.
Worn with jeans and clogs. Hat and scarf worn while walking the dog.
Day 2: Work at home. Warmer!
Worn with thrifted floral cardi, brown tights and loafers. Used bag for trip to the grocery store.
Day 3: Errands, work at home.
Worn with skinny jeans, bright green long-sleeve tee, and gray converse. Used tote to carry knitting project while son took driving test. (He passed!) 

Me Made May. Sorta.

I’m going to jump in and challenge myself to try Me Made May 2012.

I, Lynn (, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’12. I endeavour to wear one sewn/refashioned or knit item each day for the duration of May 2012.

I think this will be a good challenge for me. I don’t have quite enough hand-sewn items to fill out a month’s wear of clothing, and it will encourage me to refashion those items I’ve been meaning to, get creative with the things I do like to wear, and determine what types of items I’d really like to add to my wardrobe. I threw in knit items too, but I don’t know if May will be cool enough for wool hats or socks, so we’ll see how that works out!

The one thing I’m not sure about is a daily photo parade here or via uploads to the flickr group. I will document my participation in some fashion, but at a slower pace and with a change-up of me standing in front of a shrub. I don’t think that would be that interesting, so I’m not sure why anyone else should! Maybe I can muster a weekly photo collage of closeups or details of the outfits I come up with. I’m a graphic designer—I’ll figure something out!

Have you ever participated in anything like this before? I know these challenges have been around for a while. What was your experience?