Getting down with upcycling

Well sewing peeps, I’m afraid there is little to report from the sewing room this week. Mostly because I spent the weekend at ATP’s I’ll Be Your Mirror at Alexandra Palace, and spent the following two days recovering… I’m too old for this palaver you know.

Highlights from the festival (ooh too many to mention but I’ll give it a go) included a storming performance from PJ Harvey who looked like some fabulous medieval folk witch, an extremely noisy set from Liars (have you ever felt a drum beat reverberate in your belly? I can safely say I have now…) plus dreamy schwoozy indie pop from Beachhouse.

But I digress. Back to sewing. I did manage to get some more work in on my cloned polka-dot dress on Sunday morning but found that whilst I’d traced my darts correctly (bravo) I’d failed to add the necessary extra four cms to the width (for shame). And I’d already cut out my bodice material and lining. Oh the waste. But I have plenty of spare fabric left so will just have to do it again. Or lose a rib or two. And maybe a lung.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is going to be a sloooow project as I’m so nervous of making clothes. I don’t know why. I can approach a cushion or a tote bag fairly confidently now but I’ve still got the ‘dress stress’. Anyone else get that feeling? Excitement, apprehension, quaking fingers, a sense of impending doom and failure? Or is it just me?

So in the absence of a completed made-from-scratch project to show you, I just thought I’d share some ‘easy’ upcycling jobbies I’ve been doing on my wardrobe. Much less stressful than creating something from scratch and so nice being able to get more use out of things you never thought you’d wear again.

Monsoon dress

This was a very fine dress from Monsoon, bought for the ballet a few years ago and never worn since. It was just that wee bit too long and formal for work or play. All I did was raise the hemline by about, ooh, seven inches or so and added a bit of rick rack to the bottom. Now it’s just a pretty little dress I can wear anytime.

Upcycled cardigan

This is one of my favourite upcycling projects. I bought the cardy from a charity shop in Muswell Hill for £6 (I know – steep for a charideee shop but hey it’s Muswell Hill dahling) as I wanted to do some serious cutting. Inspired by Casey’s tutorial on reshaping knitwear I made the long sleeves ¾ length and added a vintage lace trim round the cuffs and edges. I love this cardy so much I’m in danger of over-wearing it. So sorry I haven’t got the before pic for you but I’m sure I’ll be tempted to do it again, perhaps to a scarlet version. I would definitely recommend giving it a go if you have some old knitwear lurking in the back of your wardrobe.

Upcycled dress/jumper

Finally, this dress was worn just twice and never again – the frill felt a tad too girly for me. So I chopped off the bottom and did a rolled hem. Now it’s a cute and perky jumper – perfect for autumn (or July, considering the London weather recently). I had to forcibly restrain myself from adding more rick rack though. That stuff is addictive. Word.

What about you? Any upcycling gems you want to share? Or do you have any tips for the dreaded ‘dress stress’? I could do with some reassurance that it’s not just me.

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5 thoughts on “Getting down with upcycling

  1. OMG this is the best thing EVER! I especially love your little cardie. I’m going to give it a go. Maybe this could be a good one for a crafternoon workshop?

    Why on earth do you live in Scotland or wherever it is you live and not round the corner from me in nice South London so we can have some sew-a-thons?

    How about a little outing to VV Rouleaux one evening after work?

    • Thanks Fi! Yes – why not bring a cardy to Crafternoon and work on it there – that’s a great idea! An definitely up for an outing to VV Rouleaux – I hadn’t even heard of it before now. Fantastic!

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