‘Refashion’ is a buzzword right now. Dictionaries tend to define it as making over an item or garment, but in the world of Make it and Menders it means so much more. So here’s our definition of refashioning, a few ideas on how to get started, plus some new terms that we came up with in the pub.
refashion - make something not fashionable, fashionable, provoke the envy of your friends and never again walk into a party to find someone else is wearing the same High Street bargain as you.
Take a look at what’s ‘hot’ in the fashion industry right now and pick out the signature elements. Think about what will work for you rather than what works for a 6ft super model strutting her stuff on the catwalk.
Sometimes refashioning can be as simple as taking a skirt up an inch or two. >> See our step by step guide to using iron on tape to do this Sometimes you’ll need to lengthen a hem using additional fabric. You can sometimes drop in fabric in at the waist, rather than round the hem.
Fashion signatures at the moment include the Grecian goddess look. Although it officially came in last year, it proved a hit with celebrities and is still around. This involves swathing fabric round your body so it hugs the bust and hips. An old flowing gypsy skirt or sarong might be suitable for refashioning this way.
One option is to wear something figure hugging and then swath the fabric over the top, holding it in place with safety pins. (It’s best not to dance on tables if you take this approach. Pins can let you down.)
Strong colours are also marching down the catwalk so re-acquaint yourself with Dylon dyes. >> Check out the fashion section on their website
Hilary Bruffell, our resident uber-seamstress, is passionate about refashioning: “I have a photo of me and my sisters in little dresses made from our father's old shirts and in sweater dresses knitted from old jumpers of my fathers. In my parent's very glamorous engagement photo my mother is wearing a coat that she refashioned from her mother's old coat.” See Hilary’s article on the subject. >>
In the meantime, there are some great ideas in our Clothes tips section
defashion - get rid of 'aging' fashion elements eg shoulder pads (okay we’re going back a decade or two), frills, lacy bits... The secret here is to create something that’s plainer than the original. Defashion projects often come unstuck when you try to replace last year’s fashion elements with this year’s. Keep it simple. Make it classic.
One of the simplest last-year-into-this-year defashion tricks is taking the bottom layer off a dirndl skirt (so last year). Dirndl jackets were also fashionable but they’re harder to defashion unless you have good seamstress skills. With a jacket you’ll need to remove the gathered layer, recut the removed fabric so it lies flat and sew it back into place.
upfashion - make something even more stylish using your imagination and creativity. The world (or, at least, the button box) is your oyster.
One of the simplest upfashion tips is replacing plain buttons with more ornate ones. When scouring the charity shops for clothes, check out the buttons, not just the style of the item. You may want to purchase something just for the great buttons and then use the fabric in other ways.
Sequinned appliqué patches can be added to pockets. Try crimping in waistlines on boxy jackets by adding a fab belt. (As well as buttons, it’s amazing how many beautiful belts you find in second hand and charity shops.)
downfashion - make something that’s too dressy or formal useful for everyday. For example turning a bridesmaid's dress into a Saturday night frock or turning a plunging ‘nightclub’ neckline into something you can wear around Tesco.
There are 2 key areas that need to be addressed with most defashion projects – necklines and bling. Outfits bought for weddings are a good example. They work great on the day but are a bit too up themselves for everyday wear. By the time the next wedding comes along they’re out of fashion (see defashion above).
Can an outfit be ‘separated’? A jacket may work without the skirt and vice versa. Can the bodice part be removed from a dress, leaving you with a skirt than can be dressed down – or up? (Anne has a great purple netting underskirt, originally part of an over the top dress, that she now wears with leggings and a denim jacket.)
Necklines can sometimes be made more modest with a few careful stitches or the insertion of a cloth or lace panel. Non-sewers can also try wearing a high neckline top underneath something more revealing.
Remove and hold on to the back pockets from old denim jeans and sew them on to too-smart skirts and jackets for a more down-market-but-so-fashionable look.
Oh, and remove overly-fancy buttons and replace them with plainer ones. The fancy ones are great for upfashioning. But you knew that already.