In the Running, in the Refashion Runway, Season Three!

Good news folks! If you keep up with my page on Facebook, you'll know I've been chosen to take part in a blogger sewing competition I normally follow very closely... this year I'm in it! 8 women, six challenges, one goal - to get to the finals of the Refashion Runway, Season Three - as hosted by the Renegade Seamstress!

I put my hat into the ring a few weeks ago, and found out I'd been picked as part of the line-up while I was away in Spain with family, hence why I promptly ran to the nearest charity shop to see what I could find... 

Here's a list of what to expect in the coming weeks, in terms of challenges, so you know exactly what all the contestants will be preparing for!
  • Week 1: Combine Floral and Geometric or Stripes
  • Week 2: Gingham
  • Week 3: Handbag, Tote bag or Clutch
  • Week 4: Maxi Skirt or Dress
  • Week 5: Boho Chic
  • Week 6: Asymmetrical
The challenges are open to interpretation, and the basic rules are simple for the refashioned garments; it must be something you can wear, refashioned from something that was originally something else (it can't be made from bought fabric and a pattern).

Here's today's blogpost soundtrack... I've picked something unusual for today, a mash-up from 1963! Two very competitive ladies (!) Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, singing the most beautiful harmony together (following a short comedy discussion) - and when I say I love them both, I mean it. Not so sure they do, but I do..!

So, as this (the first week's) challenge is to combine floral with geometric or stripes, I bought a fashion magazine in Spain, to get my creative juices flowing... although that's not always the best idea, as not all fashions suit us, do they?! Here are a few I found, with my reactions...

Not too keen on this one, I know the model looks great - but if I tried that, I know someone would ask me if I'd forgotten to put my trousers on. And those yeti boots..? Again, you'd have to look like a model to pull those off convincingly!

Not sure either way about this skater dress... I mean, it looks alright, but are horizontal stripes flattering (on a pear shaped person like myself)? And is this dress a bit too 1995 in general..? Or could it be saved with accessories..? Next!

Sienna Miller, has she had a make-over? Does she have a new stylist? Has she just matured into a new look..? Or would she look good in a sack? We may never know the answer to these questions, but the only question that really matters is 'Would I suit this look?'

And I just don't know... All I know is, small stripes on the top half, and large stripes below, could end up being a migraine for whoever it is who has the dubious pleasure of my company. Much as I love stripes, that might be a BIT too much. So... how about THIS?

I don't mean dressing the same as someone else, I'm talking about fairly simple tailoring, with an effective contrast of colour blocking, possibly leaving out the brogue shoes (just because I don't have time to buy a pair!).

The eagle-eyed amongst you will be thinking 'OK, I see the stripes, but where's the floral bit?' - GOOD QUESTION! I thought I'd apply some sort of floral appliqué over the stripes, using lace off-cuts from last year's black lace dress refashioning... but that wasn't to be in the end. Why? Because I realised, from searching on Pinterest, that 'stripes and floral' is a THING. Normally it looks like THIS:

I'm sure there are various interpretations of what 'stripes and floral' means, but once I'd seen all the combinations of striped tops and bright floral-patterned skirts, I wanted some for myself! Lace appliqué flowers, you'll have to wait, I've got more pressing refashionings to do! Back to my stash...

You wouldn't believe how many stripy garments I have under the bed, waiting to be refashioned... but not so many florals, so I was lead by the only thing that fit the criteria; a high-necked, knee-length lycra dress I bought last year in the sale, that fits VERY badly, with a dreamy/flowery/tie-dye effect print;
I won't go into all the faffing that took place (mostly me pinning things in different ways before cutting, then thinking I wish I hadn't cut it) - I'll just get to the most important parts. 

The dress didn't need much work to make it into a skirt, I merely cut from under one arm across the body to the other, which left me with a 'tube'. I then took the tube in along both sides to fit it to my torso, and encased a wide piece of elastic into a new waistband.

So that was the bottom half sorted... now to the top. I found a large beach dress (or so it calls itself), I bought last year (also in the sale), which was just begging to be changed;
This was a little more complicated, if only because I had so many options! Would I use the horizontal stripe from the top half? Would I take advantage of the chevron pattern down the front of the dress..? And was there a way to use the black stripe from down the side panel of the dress..? Well no, yes, and yes.
Basically, I started by removing the top half from the bottom half, and concentrated solely on the bottom part, removing the side black panels from the skirt, I used that as a temporary collar, to fit the chevron print to my body.
Once I'd worked out how that would fit, I used the black length of fabric as a bias binding to the neckline (which can be tied behind the neck, or in a little bow at the front). The length still wasn't right, however... I felt it worked as a dress, but not as a top to the floral skirt. So I chopped it off, hemmed it, and stuck it inside the skirt. I think it looks better - but you can be the judge of that!

Speaking of which, here are all the entries for this particular challenge (*updated 25/7/15) -  please take a look! There is SO much creativity involved, it'd be great if you do vote - I don't mean for me, I mean for whoever you feel has done the most amazing job; we are all voting for each other, and this comp is all about sharing some great sewing, fashion, and refashioning... so get involved! And let me know your thoughts in general, I really appreciate your feedback :)

(*One final note, before I share the 'After' photos, for the sewists amongst you, I used a walking foot for the entire operation. Just a few minutes with a 'normal' foot on the machine was all it took for me to realise it was going to make strange shapes with the fabric, and not lie flat - whereas the walking foot sorted that out straight away!)

And sew to the reveal!

"Do you think anyone noticed it rained BIG wet drops down my back? No... I think I hid it well..."
I mean, where HAS the summer gone?!! 
(*Determined not to have my spirits dampened, I wore my sunglasses throughout)

And the obligatory Before and After, so you can see it all together...

I'm so pleased to be part of this series of Refashion Runway, it's given me a real incentive to get behind the sewing machine again :)


In other news...
  • I'll be sharing all about the Swishing Event I went to a couple of weeks ago in Ealing; it was such a positive experience - I met such lovely ladies there! More on that soon... and...
  • A fabulous time was had by all in Haggerston School, I co-facilitated a RecyClothes Show - won't spoil it by telling you now, I'll save that for another day :) All I will say is, working with teenagers and refashioning is the PERFECT job!
  • Finally, the next challenge in the Refashion Runway challenge is Gingham... the deadline's next Friday (31st July 2015), and the first contestant will be leaving the competition on Saturday, wish me luck! 
Speak soon!
Gema x


  1. You've done it again my clever, talented, wonderful child ! Where do you get these fantastic, imaginative ideas ? Constantly surprising and delighting - go forth and WIN xxxxxx

  2. Is it especially trick to join the top and bottom half of two different materials? Would you be able to do it without Dolly to fit it on?, I did get round to voting in the end..good ¡Buena suerte!

    1. Well... it depends how much you've done before in terms of sewing, and fitting, but it can be quite tricky. Especially if you're fitting it to your own body, without the help of a sidekick like Dolly. (altho I tend to do both) And glad to hear you voted, thanks Brian! :)

  3. So excited for you, love, another chance to show off your talents. You did SO well last year, second place eh, not bad when you consider the number of countries entering ! So Good Luck and Go For it Gem !!


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