Gingerly Working With Gingham

SEW! Time for the second challenge in this season's Refashion Runway... gingham. 

What do YOU think of when someone says gingham? I think of summer school uniform (mine was red and white gingham) - but that's not particularly helpful when you're trying to be creative, with a fully-grown adult garment! To get the schoolgirl fashion out of my head, I set about putting a Pinterest page together, interestingly most of the garments I liked the look of were in black & white print...

I knew it was, in a way, irrelevant what colour I was instinctively drawn to - as my refashion would be dictated by what the charity shops had on offer... and sew I went scouting, and found THIS!

From a distance it looks pink... but I assure you (and close-up pics to come will confirm) that this XXL men's shirt is gingham!
I picked today's blogpost soundtrack for two reasons, 1) this challenge drove me CRAZY, worrying I'd end up looking like a waitress/cleaner/school girl and 2) just watch the video just for a couple of seconds... Britney's first outfit says it all!!

I knew the print would be a little overwhelming, so I started to think about what sort of trim I could use, and headed into the sales to compare lacy trims against the shirt... I'd decide what to do with it later!

I unpicked the pocket from the front of the shirt, hoping the colour behind it would match that of the rest of the shirt (it could've been a stronger shade, with the rest of the shirt faded with time).
Removing the sleeves, I also cut the collar away.

I then put a black dress over what was left of the pink gingham shirt, added a 2inch seam allowance around the edge - and cut out the basic shape. (*much in the same way I did with the chambray dress refashion from earlier on in the month). I then sewed the new silhouette up the side seams, almost all the way up to the top, before adding back darts, and darts through to the bust.

I then used the long shirt arms (that I'd removed before) to create long strips of material... I sewed these together into one long strip...

...before ironing out (yes, that was back-to-front of me!) - and sewing onto the dress, as both trim and new straps.

I started to think something was missing from the dress - it was just too much... pink. So I started to play around with bits and pieces from the lace top around the neckline, 

and I also moved the buttons across... from masculine shirt buttons, to small soft white fabric covered feminine buttons... It reminded me of when I first moved into my house, and changed all the knobs on the kitchen cupboard doors; I felt it really made a difference! (although maybe I was trying to make myself feel better, for not being able to afford an entirely new kitchen!!)

I wondered if white trim on the hemline would be too much... at this rate I could end up looking a bit 'French maid'! In fact, I think I was teetering dangerously on the edge of fancy dress with this one, although I hope you feel it's still wearable... :) I'm telling myself it's not too dissimilar from the Motel version on my Pinterest page:

I also think a denim jacket could make it look more like day wear, but it was too warm for that on Wednesday night - so a cardigan seemed more fitting for the pics...
The sun was still shining when we got to Marble Hill park to take the photos at 8pm, I was so relieved it was a sunny day. Marble Hill House, and it's grounds, is an English Heritage site, I'd really recommend going if you've not already done so. With the Thames running by one side (during the summer hosting plenty of boating activities) - and lots of dog-friendly park space (also good for frisbee/cricket/tennis if you're dogless!), there are even guided tours of the house itself; all I can say is, it's worth a visit! There is plenty to do, for free - and ice-creams on site too, what's not to love?!

King George II had Marble Hill House built specifically for his mistress, Henrietta Howard; it was used as a getaway pad for the rich and famous, the jet setters of the time, if you will... Back then I'd have most likely been wearing a mop cap, and cleaning the fireplace, so it's a good job it's 2015! Here's me in front of Marble Hill House, pretending I'm just leaving home... three versions of me, through the same door ;)

As I write this, I can't hide the fact I'm VERY excited to see what the other ladies in the comp have come up with... I haven't seen their entries yet, and last week proved that one challenge can yield such different results!

And of-course, my personal favourite (when it comes to reading other people's refashioning blogs), the Before and After shot!!

So, if you want to take part, and do your bit in the voting process, check out The Renegade Seamstress blog, specifically this week's voting page - with everyone's finished garments for you to pore over :D Voting is REALLY easy, you don't have to sign up to anything - simply click on the button, next to your favourite, at the bottom of the page, then scroll down to the bottom of the box and click on the vote button. Otherwise your vote won’t be counted.  That's it! You only get ONE vote, so use it wisely :D 

And a quick footnote, before I leave you to cast your vote, I've made a decision regarding this competition...

You know when you watch a horse race, there's always one horse that carries on to the finish line - long after the jockey has fallen off? Well that's what I intend to do! I don't mean horse racing, I mean - as and when I'm voted out of the comp, I'm going to carry on (as if I'm still in the running) to the very end... The reason? This has been so good for me, it's really shaken me out of a sewing lull - and I want to show my support and love for the comp through to the end! Yes, I may sound a little strange - but I realised, as I was making my gingham dress, that I could have been voted out already (we find out after submitting the next entry) - but it didn't matter to me, because I was enjoying myself so much. SO... that's that.

In other words, whatever happens, I'll be sewing up the next challenges, and as a reminder they are...

  • Saturday 8th August: Handbag, Tote bag or Clutch
  • Saturday 15th: Maxi Skirt or Dress
  • Saturday 22nd: Boho Chic, then finally,
  • Saturday 29th: Asymmetrical

(FYI, I'm MOST interested in the Boho Chic week, both from a personal point of view, and from a 'what will everyone make' point of view!).

Have a fab week, I'm off to look at some arm candy (handbags), in the name of refashioning research... ;)

Gema x
STOP PRESS! (Update: 29th Aug 2015) I came joint first in the gingham challenge!! Click here to see the bag refashionings... :)


  1. That's a great re-make, I 'm sure you will live to sew another day. Lucky to find such a large shirt.

  2. Thank-you! Fingers crossed ;) and yes, I found it in the 4th shop I went in, I was starting to worry I wouldn't find anything big enough!! Thanks for visiting! :)

  3. Loved loved loved this refashion! I'm remaking a man shirt right now and this gave me so many neckline ideas. The original collar was huge, so it had to go. I'm too tall for a man's shirt to ever be a dress, but I'm never quite sure how to square off the bottom of a shirt tail hem evenly. Where do you start measuring from to make sure it's straight?

    1. Thank-you so much Canna! I used a (huge) collar in my cambray dress refashion, by cutting it in half, and re-attaching it upside down (hard to explain, better to see!).
      If it was me (as there are various ways you could measure the hem length) I would either use the existing hem as a guide (marking up at regular intervals of however many cm's, or inches, you want it to be, before cutting along in a long line) - or use another shirt from your cupboard for guidance... Hope that helps, and let me see it when you're done! :)

    2. I hope it comes out well enough to show anyone. Not all of my experiments work. I'm into Boho and I used to embroider, so I'm thinking about white embroidery around the new v neckline and sleeves. I still get lots of women's clothing
      catalogs in the mail, but now instead of buying, I just rip out the pages of shirts with embroidery on them and keep them in an idea file for future projects. This shirt just happened to be my favorite color, a grayish blue purple, so I couldn't resist it. I agree about changing the boring man buttons too!

    3. Well it's great to play around - and I'm always harvesting bits from magazines too, it's a fab way to generate fresh ideas. I've not tried embroidery yet though, it's on my 'list'. And that sounds like a fab place to start... white embroidery on a greyish blue purple shirt..? Sounds gorgeous!

  4. A great effort, you look very classy in the photos ( not that you don't always of course..) have voted, good luck.

    1. Classy?! One of the best compliments ever!! (never feel that, so if I look it, I'm chuffed!) Thanks Brian :)

  5. forgot how stunning you look. and the dresses look fab too ;)

  6. So cute, Gema! I think it's interesting that 3 of us used lace in this challenge. Great minds think alike :)

    1. Yes!! We're all thinking the same thing, there is such a thing as "Too much of a good thing '! Love the sleeves on yours :)

  7. Wonderful ideas as usual from my talented daughter. I love the dress and your workings were inspired. Well done again. Mxxxx


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