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The Refashioners – 2018

The Refashioners is back again this year and we are delighted to be taking part. After the strict themes of the last couple of years, this years loose title “inspired by” let’s us choose an iconic outfit or look from anywhere and recreate it by upcycling clothes. To see some of the other amazing makes this month head over to Portia’s blog for the full scoop.

Coming up with what I was going to sew was tricky, I liked having the flexibility of choice, but what to make? Was I going to be Julia Roberts in the iconic spotty dress from Pretty Woman…. hmmm not really me. Anyone who’s refashioned something will know how long it takes so I wanted to invest my time in something I would wear IRL.

Image: medium.com

For anyone who hasn’t watched the Marvelous Mrs Maisel... you must do so immediately, yep that’s an order. Set in New York in the late 50s it’s the story of Midge, a housewife helping her husband get into doing stand up comedy, and she ends up being one of the first woman to be on the stand up comedy scene. The character is based on Joan Rivers, it’s beautifully written and had me howling with laughter. The costumes are out of this world, and had me wishing I could add a little more glam to my life, but there was one outfit that really got my pulse racing…

Hilariously it was her most casual and ‘off duty’ outfit but I loved of the black trousers, polo neck, ballet pumps.. and that jacket. A mix of a trench and 50’s swing jacket, in particular I loved the big statement pockets, think of all the stuff you could store in those. I wanted to recreate something like this but with less of a vintage vibe but a definite nod to Midge.

I wanted to start with a trench, and one that was good quality and had a heavy feel to the fabric. I managed to find this beauty in a charity shop and it has a padded lining that you could unzip and I thought this would really help when putting it back in at a later stage. I looked for a trench coat that was a larger size than myself, purely so there would be excess fabric I could make the pockets from. Here an idea of how it looked before I got going.

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to tackle it but decided to start unpicking the whole thing, removing two sets of lining in the process, this way I could see what I had to deal with and could start reshaping. This process took nearly a day to do… can you believe it?

I started by pinning the front and back bodice pieces together, I’d removed the side panels and wanted to keep these for the statement pockets. I tried it on and really needed to add some more fullness into the CB to make it more of a swing coat shape.  I used one of my precious side panels for this and incorporated the back vent. I created a box pleat and was quite pleased with the finished look of the back of the coat.

I then had to alter the shoulders quite dramatically and then reshape the armhole. I decided to use a sleeve pattern I already have to recut and luckily this all went in pretty easily. The next step was the collar, I was hoping I wouldn’t need to mess with this too much, but sadly it was still looking really like a trench so it needed some attention. I decided to remove the collar stand and I then pinned it and tried it on, this made a big difference and started to look how I’d imagined. I managed to sew the facing back in, moved the zip (for the lining) and then it was time to tackle those pockets. I decided to cut out the pocket bags from the original pockets and made from the same fabric as the body of the trench. I also used my remaining side panel to make them bigger to cover up the old pockets.

The pockets have two seams in them which give them quite a utilitarian feel and I’d have preferred them without this feature..but what’s a girl to do! The buttons I’d ordered didn’t arrive in time for the photos, and the lining hasn’t been altered yet but I have to say I’m pretty pleased with it. I was going to rush to get it finished for the deadline but decided to take my time and finish this over the coming month.

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