There are three main things I have learned from refashioning an old suit: 1) Having a refashioning plan in your head does not mean you’re finished (okay, I knew that before, but I just wanted to point out for any future generation of refashioners). 2) A suit jacket does not have a lot of fabric to offer, even when it’s too big. 3) Always have a lint roller at your fingertips when unpicking a blue corduroy suit on a white cotton sofa. This thing makes a mess. A real mess.
My hunt for a proper suit already started in April, shortly after I recovered from the major excitement of Portia’s e-mail that invited me to join The Refashioners 2017 blogger line up.
The challenge was to find a suit consisting of a fabric that would fit smoothly into my casual style everyday wardrobe. And since I had imposed a one-year clothes shopping ban on myself, buying a suit from a thrift store was out of the question. When I stumbled upon this Italian suit made of gorgeous blue corduroy in my friend’s box of outsorted garments, I knew this was THE ONE. Warm and soft, this suit would definitely become one of my future wardrobe pieces for fall.
What I had in mind, was a laid-back jumpsuit with a shirt top and a stand-up collar for the cooler season. For the shirt part, I wanted to use Tilly’s Rosa Shirt pattern. I love the close-fitting cut and the feminine princess seams and had already sewn a lumberjack style Rosa shirt. So I knew which fit to expect. The shirt’s size was much smaller than the suit’s jacket, hence I was confident that I would not even have to completely deconstruct that thing. Just pinning the pattern pieces on it and cutting along would be enough. Having the jumpsuit already completely finished in my head, I procrastinated the actual making process until a week before my presentation post. The fact that the trousers of the suit fit me quite well around my hips, also increased my certainty that this refashion project would be a piece of cake. I was slightly wrong. The suit took over this past week of my life.
The size of the suit jacket was much smaller than the paper pattern sizes with all their seam allowance. Of course it was! The pattern pieces did not fit at all. So I did have to unpick the whole jacket: Removing the lining and all the other impressing parts that came to light with this elimination: Shoulder pads, wool paddings, woven paddings, interlinings, pocket linings, gosh, so many details to make a man look decent and proper. Sorry to whoever constructed that suit, but this ignorant lady here just needed the pure outer fabric. All of it. I carefully unpicked the sleeves and ripped the front body from the back body and gave all pieces a good press, using a towel to avoid flattening the corduroy piles.
Then my tetris game began. I had already measured and marked the approximate lengths of the shirt that would allow me a convenient movement and had added a few more centimenters on the pattern, just to be on the safe side. In order to make the pattern pieces fit on the material, I had to shorten this extra allowance again. Who doesn’t love a little suspense when sewing, right? Even with the shorter pieces, I had to be careful not to end up with a misplaced pocket at the back of my shirt. It literally took hours until eventually the pattern was cut.
After having finished the shirt, I started unpicking the inner waistband of the trousers. I wanted to insert the shirt neatly between the inner and outer waist. I also had to remove the back pockets, which rather made the trousers look bulky on me and trim the generously installed seam allowance. Boy! Even the insides of a men’s suit’s trousers are extremely packed! So much lining everywhere! I tell you! I was grateful they already fitted so well, so that I did not have to seriously work myself through all this textile hullabaloo. There is still a certain amount of ease, which allows me to move freely within this non-stretchy fabric.
Measuring the scale of the trousers and shirt around the waist edge, I had to tighten the shirt in order to adjust it to the trousers‘ waist. In constant worry, the jumpsuit would be too tight to move conveniently (you realize, freedom of movement is of severe essence here), my basting, fitting and unpicking journey began. And so did the part, where I started to continue sewing in my underwear. Slowly, but in the the end, the two pieces turned into an actual fitting one piece garment. Pheeew!!
For the leg’s shape and lengths, I used good fitting trousers as a pattern, unconventionally putting them on the legs and marking the area to be sewn. Again, basting, fitting and unpicking until they had the right shape to look as close-fitting as possible but still to have enough ease for…wait for it…moving freely.
Sooo, my piece of cake project took about four days of unpicking, vaccuum cleaning lints, measuring, basting, trying on, sewing and postponing other duties waiting in line. After all, I am so happy the jumpsuit turned out exactly the way I had it in mind. The only thing that surprised me at the end was the fabric wrinkeling so easily. But life’s too short to worry about wrinkles, so I can live with that. For all those skeptics out there, doubting I could sit with this thing, I made a gallery of myself sitting, people. Yes I did.
Should you have read this far and wondered, why the heck I have not shown any pictures of the making process yet, well, it is because I was too busy documenting everything on video. My four days of jumpsuit making, put into 3 minutes of moving pictures (Moving! You got it? Haha!). Here it is, a WORLD premiere of my first Youtube video ever. Tadaaaa!
Thank you so much Portia for organising this awesome challenge and letting me be a part of it. You have no idea how special this is for me! And also some special thanks to my blogger colleague Antonia from Craftifair, for taking my outfit pictures and the video on a fun city tour through Cologne, introducing my jumpsuit to the world. Thank you, lady!
If you want to stay up to date with The Refashioners 2017 and see all the other inspiring refashions from my fellow bloggers, click over to Portia’s Refashioner’s category on her blog.
And if you want to join the Refashioners 2017 community challenge click over to her article to see how to enter and win one of the amazing price packages.
Sending you love!