08 October 2011

A Refashion Tutorial

I know there are countless tutorials for recycling,  upcycling, refashioning (whatever you want to call it) t-shirts, but have you ever tried to do something with pants?  There are usually a lot more interesting details to utilize.  I think I may have another pair of cords whose fate might be similar soon!  What have you been refashioning lately?

* * *

When I got an email from Cheri inviting me to participate in her great Refashionista Event, I excitedly said YES!  

Then, I panicked.  

I'll be frank.  Refashioning isn't my favorite thing to do.  It takes more thinking, planning, finagling, and re-working.  So, maybe I'm lazy?  I normally prefer the blank canvas a cut of fabric straight from the bolt offers.  But, from this experience I share this story:

I had this pair of dusty rose corduroy pants I ordered online [I know, my first mistake.]  It was a bargain, and they fit, o-kay.  But, we all know about items of clothes that are just o-kay.  They sit in the closet until we dig them out one day and put them on only to remember how much we want to wear them, but don't feel 100% confident in them.  These cords would find their way to the Good Will bag, and I would even make the drive, pull out the bag to hand to the Good Will employee.  I would get a glimpse of that dusty rose corduroy and fall in love again, snatching it out, just before the bag got tossed onto the mound of other rejects, despite the raised-eyebrow-crazy-lady look from the Good Will guy.  I would smile sheepishly back at him, but the cords would again come home and get shelved once more.

This was my state when I accepted Cheri's invitation.  I began to look around and scope out what I wanted to refashion, not even considering my cords.  I was at H & M and found a spaghetti strap dress for $10 that I knew would make a dynamite skirt.  I came home with my purchase tucked under my arm to find my dusty rose corduroy pants looking at me with those puppy dog eyes that corduroy pants tends to do.  And I knew.  It was the time to give my cords their second chance.

Now I know we don't all have the same pair of ill-fitting pants, nor do we all have a willing 2-year-old, so I am going to offer some refashion guidelines and pointers for a successful refashion.

a   the first refashion I did, I prided myself on the fact you couldn't tell what the new article used to be.  I took a different approach with this project and incorporated and used to my advantage, features already constructed such as the buttons and zipper from the fly*.  You can also omit features from the pattern like the buttons for the straps--I just sewed the straps as the zipper allows the in and out a 2-year-old needs from clothes.
b  I liked the fly, but obviously the whole pattern piece I needed wouldn't fit there, so I added a seam.  Simply cut your pattern piece [or trace on some freezer paper] and add a seam allowance to keep the piece as a whole the same size.
c   the pattern called for a facing, but corduroy is so sturdy, it doesn't necessarily need any additional layers, so I finished the armholes with a strip of bias cut from the bottom of the leg.
d   inspect the construction of the original piece and try to used similar methods, such as double stitching seams, which is often done on pants and jackets.
e   I couldn't fit the two front pieces on a section of the pants without seams.  This really bothered me at first, but then I thought, this is what I have to work with and decided to place the pattern piece right over the leg seam to add visual interest.
f   use existing features to your advantage.  Instead of adding another casing for the elastic in the center back, I inserted the elastic in the sides of the existing waistband.*
g   once again adding seams in order to include the features on the pants, double stitching to match the original construction.

*note: If you use the original finished edges in your refashion, be sure to take out those hem/seam allowances from your pattern piece[s].

not shown in the layout: the straps and the bias strips cut from the lower leg

One more feature:  Claim your Refashion!  Add your own tag, or even sew a contrasting color ribbon loop in one of the seams.

The pattern I used for the jumper is a vintage pattern no longer in print, but you could use this McCall's pattern [view E], removing the leg seam and adjusting the outer seams to an A-line instead of straight.

The model I used was found wandering around, as she has now learned to escape from her bed.

Thank you, Cheri, for making me use my brain.
It was refreshing ;)


  1. How adorable and the color was a perfect choice for a young lady.

    I do like the challenge of upcycling clothes and furniture. A very talented blogger once said to look at items for what they could be rather than what they are currently. Lately my upcycling has been for the new little man in our family.

    Just think of all the boy clothes, I think I see some Jon-Jon rompers on the future dill blog.

  2. I never would have known the front was from pants if you hadn't told me. I can see it now. Super cute! Makes me want to go sew!

  3. I missed this post somehow. You never cease to amaze me with the possibilities you see in something. I make almost all of my shoes that I sell from thrifted clothing. I call it harvesting fabric, buttons, embellishments... These were once the bridesmaid's dress I wore in my sister's wedding. They're going to the first granddaughter of a very close friend of the family. http://littleredwoods.blogspot.com/2011/10/for-holidays.html

  4. You have the most adorable model in the world! Great refashion.

  5. I absolutely love this tutorial, I pinned it for the Recycle-week I organised for Dutch-speaking bloggers:

  6. but can you take that jumper back to pants (for that little boy dill)? hehe :>)

  7. mary e-ha! do i dare take you up on that challenge?

  8. From Catalonia... me ha encantado!!!

  9. When my husband's casual dress shirt finally got too tatty, I remembered this tutorial, and I looked at what I could use. I made my son some shorts. I used the shirt front pocket as the front for the shorts and cut accordingly. This is a big boys size shorts, so when the pattern was bigger than front of the shirt, I used pieces from the bottom, stripes going he other way. I added the cuff of the shirt for the back pocket. Elastic waist for comfiness. I added the photos to your flickr page (sorry about the bad lighting, it is night and it was now or never). Thanks again for all your inspiration!

  10. Love it! I think I'll try it but with a boldly printed quilting cotton for the straps that could go through the belt loops on the back and then tie in a bow.

  11. IN.CRE.DI.BLE! I really had to relook at it a couple of times to see how on earth you figured out how to piece that together so well! I say dye it brown when Clover outgrows it so mystery-named baby boy can use them too :)! Great job!

  12. this turned out so great :O) can't believe how much Clover has grown up since then!
    i have a feeling that tomorrow will be the name day. Sunday, October the 9th. a lovely day to announce your darling's name:O) Ack!! i totally respect the process and importance but i can't wait!!! hope you are continuing to heal and adjust Katy. get those good baby snuggles while you can:O)

  13. Adorable! That turned out so well. One would never know those were once pants!

  14. I love it! I featured it today on TheTrainToCrazy.com!

  15. me ha encantado ,pero que ingenio y tan gr√°fico!!!!!!

  16. SO cute. As always. I love the color. And the tag is so cute too. :)

  17. So sweet.

    Do you have a source for vintage patterns, or was it a lucky find?

  18. hannah--it was in my MIL's stash she was getting rid of, sorry!

  19. Seriously adorable! Crazy, because it's so casual, but this may be one of my favorites of your creations! Now I'm going to be hunting for cords to refashion...

  20. Wow! That is soooo impressive! Excellent job!


Be a lamb & tell me what's on your mind.