#fashrev day 4: garment making


I don’t remember learning to sew, I’ve just always done it. I’ve never had any formal training and I’m still learning, I make so many mistakes, it baffles me that I’m still at it. But there is something about the feel of the fabric, the sound of my machine and the joy of wearing something I’ve made myself that keeps me going. I’m fascinated by the clever way in which a garment comes together, like a beautiful puzzle.

I want to share this passion and I want to find time to do more sewing, so I’m starting a sewing club. I’m launching this during Fashion Revolution week and we’re aiming for 1134 hours of sewing in 12months as a tribute to those people who died making clothes for the Western market in the  Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. I’ve gathered together some friends, either because they sew or are willing to have a go at learning (or re-learning). We’ll each pledge a number of hours of sewing each month and once a month we’ll get together … chat, compare, share of our trials and triumphs. We’ll do everything from a full pattern to mending / altering or learning to use a sewing machine … anything that might enable my friends to use clothes they already have rather than buy new. We’ll be posting some of our 1134 hours on social media.






total upcycle, bomber jacket bodywarmer

Ethical fashion code: for trends, shop second hand and upcycle. Here three garments become one and I have a bomber jacket .. one of this spring’s trends.


It wasn’t all plain sailing though, in truth, this one was a bit of a nightmare and left even me wondering whether I should jump on the bus to the high street!


Getting the armholes even was the first challenge. It was very oversized and I guess as a sleeveless jacket the shoulders looked more exaggerated than they had when they had sleeves. Then I got caught out by the lining .. when a garment is made from scratch there is a particular way it needs to go together so that the finishings are hidden and edges enclosed … circumventing this and working backwards as you have to do with upcycling is sometimes a bit tricky. Then, just when I thought I was on the home straight! Doh! I thought I was being clever using raw edged denim, no need to finish the edge and picking up on a Spring trend. But oh no, I realised I had not considered the edge of the wadding and the jacket .. oops, I didn’t see any of that on the catwalk! Learnt a few things about zips too (it doesn’t actually fasten)!

All in all, many lessons learned and with the help of YouTube tutorials, we got there and I’ve worn it twice this week. Had a few nice comments from friends which always makes it feel worth the effort. It’s not perfect but one day I’ll have another go and make another one. As far as upcycling goes, I’m chuffed with the fact that I managed to use the welt and collar from an unwanted jumper and the denim from an unwanted pair of jeans … TOTAL UPCYCLE!

A bit of a side comment … go careful when you hear the word “vintage”. I bought the jacket from a well known second hand market place online, advertised as vintage, worn by a very cool looking model with a price tag to match. Actually, I don’t think it is vintage at all but I probably paid three times what I would have done if it had just been labelled second hand … another lesson learned … my brain is hurting now!

dressing up … dip your toe into upcycling

Fancy a go at upcycling but not sure your own wardrobe is ready to be the guinea pig? Fancy dress costume is a great place to have a go. What’s more, if you do it for kids, they get the added bonus of helping to make it. It might not be as polished or flashy as a shop bought costume but I find the kids are more taken with the idea of having made their costumes than whether it looks exactly right or perfectly sewn.

I’ve just read an article from The Guardian about home sewing making a come back, which also said that sewing is sadly not taught in schools any more, so you can also provide them with a good start to a fun and essential life skill by having a go at sewing together.

We went double whammy with this one, an old blanket was upcycled and then upcycled again …. UP-UPCYCLED or DOUBLE UPCYCLED? I’m off to dig out some more pics of costumes past ….

quangle wangle

I’ve shared the article from The Guardian on Facebook if anyone is interested.

upcycling: layers & stripes

I’m off for a child-free spa weekend and we’re going to a trendy restaurant in Liverpool on Saturday night! So, what to wear? My go to bible for such a moment is Grazia. It’s perfect for the time I have available, I can quickly pick up on the latest trends and feel inspired. A quick word about “trends” … I used to dislike trends with a passion and found it an overwhelming part of fashion design, trying to anticipate the next trend and keep on top of the ever changing styles. However, I’ve relaxed a bit and I now use them to give me a bit of guidance and actually, they can be useful for limiting my choices rather than complicating them. I just don’t get hung up on them anymore or worry if I’m not following every change … (thanks yoga!;)

So I had flick through Jan 18th copy and found a few images that inspired me … trendspot … long layers, wide leg pants, cropped tops and bold stripes.  Then a rummage through my collection of “clothes to do something with one day” …. here’s the result, before and after, with a couple of work in progress pics.

green stripes (jan 22)

black top(wip) green t-shirt(wip)

green & striped_after

upcycling: cardigan becomes waistcoat

grey cardigan

This was my Mum’s cardigan and she washed it on a high temperature and …. it shrunk! I retrieved it from the recycling pile, took the sleeves off and changed the buttons to make a gilet which I am wearing in my profile photo. A quick and easy upcycled garment which I wear a lot … my attempt at a funky presentation in photoshop was not so quick and easy but I’m learning!

upcycling: turn a dress into a suit


This dress was given to me, the zip was broken and the belt had been lost. The fabric and style is very 70s and only the most committed 70s fashion follower would have worn it as a dress. However, I liked the fluidity of the skirt, the way it dropped and flowed and the unusual pleated sleeves. So, working with those two aspects I decided to upcycle it into a skirt and jacket. I separated the bodice from the skirt, added a black waistband and turned the bodice around to make the jacket. It is now a wearable outfit with 70s inspiration.