Friday, 30 August 2013

Refashion Friday: Interviews Recap

Sometimes I feel that, in the race to blog about all the things we desperately want to voice and document, some seriously awesome content often gets quickly swept underneath the carpet of our blogs. Personally, I feel that some of my blog's most interesting and inspiring content has been the interviews undertaken by some of the seriously talented refashioning bloggers I've contacted as part of my weekly Refashion Friday slot. I am so grateful to these women for the time and brain-space they gave up to respond to my questions that today I'd like to highlight and revisit those posts once more in case there are any that you have missed.

So in order that they were published we have...

A detailed and thought-provoking interview with inventor of The Refashioners, Miss P!

 A fabulously frank interview with one of the funniest women on the internets, Jillian from ReFashionista!

A sweet and lovely interview with super-stylish new-refashioner on the block Miche from Buttons and Birdcages!

If you have any ideas of other bloggers who partake in refashioning that you'd like to read more about, please do let me know. Or if you yourself fancy being interviewed, don't be shy. You can either leave a comment on this post or email me directly to sozoblog (at) gmail (dot) com. What with some seriously major life changes going on with me right now, I don't have even a fraction of the time I'd like for reading and discovering new blogs, so your help in finding interview candidates will be gratefully received. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Modern Muumuu: The Least Flattering Garment I'll Ever Make?

Umm, I'm not even sure if this garment can legitimately be described as a muumuu because I think technically a proper muumuu may have to have sleeves (note to self: check( this fact... NEVER). But it certainly feels as frumpy as the image often conjured up by the word 'muumuu'. Plus, unless my washing machine breaks down or a horrendous clothing-based accident occurs over the next five-ish weeks, this is the last maternity garment I'll be making for this pregnancy. Let's end on a low, hehehe! 

Those who have been following my previous pontifications on maternity garment sewing will have seen this Simplicity 3799 pattern (pictured above) crop up in posts a couple of times already. A few weeks ago I became very aware that I was due to go on a little holiday to Southern Spain in full-blown Summer, with bugger-all hot weather clothing to take. I reached for this pattern in somewhat of a panic, thinking its loose fitting nature and sleeveless-ness might provide some assistance in a hot climate. It also looked like a pretty simple make. 

I selected the size M (14-16) and adapted the front panel a bit by adding more fullness to accommodate my now-substantial bump. The size M's neck band ended up being a bit too wide than would be ideal, but considering how little I plan to wear this garment, I wasn't that fussed. It did, as predicted, stitch together really quickly. It's basically the same construction method as the sleeves version of my long lost pattern-crush, Simplicity 4589. If the fabric is looking eerily familiar, it is because it is yet more of the synthetic slinky stuff (damn, I'm being so technically accurate today, this has virtually turned into a science blog!) that I made my Lady-like pussy bow blouse from. I may salvage the fabric from this garment and make something else from it one day. 

Annoyingly (or thankfully) I didn't get any pictures of me wearing this whilst on holiday. But I can report that, despite feeling like Queen Frump of Frumpsville whilst wearing it, this dress did see quite a bit of use during the four days, especially worn over my maternity tankini going to and from the pool and to quickly cover up for my frequent night-time visits to the loo. Sisters who've experienced third-trimester pregnancy will what I'm talking' 'bout with that second point. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Refashion Friday Tutorial/How-To: Bow Front Tank Top

Here's a refashion/remake that I made towards the tail end of last Summer that I thought I'd wait to share with you this (Northern Hemisphere) Summer. Seeing as August is galloping along, I just remembered in the nick of time then! It was inspired by a rash of bow bandeau type bikinis that kept appearing on Pinterest (like the one pictured below found on the We Heart It site, apologies I couldn't find the original image or garment source). I thought they were a really cute idea, but decided to try and reinterpret the look for someone who never has cause to wear a bikini (like me). 

I started my creation with an unwanted mens T-shirt (pictured below) that I remade so it had a more feminine fit. I harvested strips of white jersey from another secondhand T-shirt to use as binding for the recut armholes. Of course you needn't go to the trouble of remaking a garment before you stick a bow on it (is that as catchy as 'stick a bird on it' I wonder?), this idea could be used to spruce up any plain garment. 

So once you've found what garment will be the basis for this project, it's time to make a bow. There are probably lots of bow-making tutorials out there, but hey, I'm going to throw my hat into the ring and add another as I really like the chunky bows my method produces.

Step 1:

Use a tape measure to gauge how wide and deep you'd like your final bow to be. This process might work better if you put the top on (if you are making it for yourself) to get the proportions right. 

Step 2:

Measure a piece of contrast fabric twice the width of your desired final bow width plus 2 X seam allowance, and twice the height of your desired final bow height plus 2 X seam allowance. Please note: the gathering step of the bow construction usually makes the final bow a little less wide than the initial measurements, so you might want to add a few cms to the width of the fabric before you cut it out. 

Step 3:

Fold the fabric lengthways, right sides together if your fabric has a wrong and right side, and stitch along the edge with your chosen seam allowance.

Step 4:

Press your seam allowance open. Turn the tube of fabric through so that your seam allowance is hidden inside but positioned along the middle of the tube. Press the tube of fabric flat so that is now a strip rather than a tube.

Step 5:

Fold the strip of fabric in half, right sides together, and stitch the remaining raw edges together. Press this seam allowance open, then turn this loop of fabric the other way so this shorter seam allowance is inside positioned in the middle of what will become the back of your bow. Apologies, the picture below isn't very clear because my white stitching is almost invisible against the white stripe of the fabric. 

Step 6:

Decide how wide you want the 'knot' of the bow to be, then put the main bow piece to one side for a moment. Cut a strip of your fabric twice the width you'd like the knot to be, then fold the edges of this strip in to the centre and press as pictured below. 

Step 7:

Put the knot strip aside for a moment and thread a hand sewing needle with a double thickness thread. Take hold of the main bow piece again and pinch in the centre to create a nice gathered bow effect. 

Step 8:

This it is a bit fiddly, one of those 'I could use another hand' moments! Keeping hold of the gathered bow with one hand, and with the other fold over the raw edge of the end of the knot strip and place it in the centre of the back of the main bow piece. With the pre-prepared hand sewing needle, stitch the end of the knot strip to the centre back of the bow main piece. 

Step 9:

Wrap the rest of the knot strip firmly round the centre of the bow so it controls the gathers that you have previously been pinching in place. Cut the knot strip to the correct length leaving enough excess to fold under the raw edge of the end. Hand-stitch this second knot strip end on top of the first.  

Step 10:

With your bow complete, position it evenly in the centre of your top and hand-stitch in place. Alternatively, stitch poppers/press studs onto the four corners of the bow and one in the centre so the bow is removable for washing. This will help retain the nice structure of the bow you have created. 

So there you have it. A humorous and cheeky little top that retains a touch more modesty than the bikini version! 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Follow me on Bloglovin'!

Hi there peops. I'm finally getting round to some blogging housework, so if you use Bloglovin' as your preferred method of blog reading then do please: Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, 16 August 2013

Refashion Friday: Other People's T-shirt-to-Undies Creations!

Happy Friday! Today I wanted to remind you how fun and easy it can be to make underwear from unwanted T-shirts (I know, I know, as if you'd forget!). You could of course use my free vest/camisole/singlet pattern or my free pants/knickers/undies pattern as a starting point, or any of the other no-doubt awesome free undies patterns that can be hunted down on the interwebs. You can find more thorough instructions for reusing T-shirts with my vest pattern here, and for reusing T-shirts with my pants pattern here. But let's take a look at some other super-creative ladies' versions! The picture  below is of fabulous former T-shirts made into vests/camisoles/singlet's by Made By Trisha using my downloadble pattern.

Another awesome T-shirt-to-vest creation is pictured below created by the ever-awesome Scruffy Badger Time. Of the pattern she says:

"To say that this is a quick and easy make would be too obvious. I need to say that I succeeded in making three of these in 2.5 hours: cutting out all three took 30 minutes before we went out for a curry; sewing them up and adding the elastic took me no more than two hours... Not only is it great as a summer top, but it will be long enough for being worn as a warming layer in the winter. My inner granny has already clocked that it’ll be nice and long to tuck into even low rise trousers and keep your lower back nice and snug! I’d recommend this pattern, such a useful practical make."

And if you want to see a fabulously naughty former T-shirt turned into cheeky pants using my free downloadable pants pattern, then those not of a nervous disposition should head over here to the superb Dapper Duds blog!

So if you are looking for a gratifyingly super-quick sewing project to undertake plus already have some old T-shirts no longer being worn that are clogging up your wardrobe, why not download either (or both!) of my FREE patterns, get some elastic, and have a good ol' time?! 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mini-Interviewed by The Village Haberdashery

I'm very pleased and excited to announce that the first two of of my new classes at The Village Haberdashery take place THIS SATURDAY!!! The Sew Your Own Knickers class is fully booked but there are still a couple of places on the Sew a Kid's T-shirt class (as well as the afternoon Renfrew class taking place on Saturday 31st August).

Anyways, in celebration of these facts, Annie the owner of The Village Haberdashery has asked me a few questions for a little interview for their blog. If you are interested in taking a look, head over here!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Refashion Friday Inspiration: Frill Hem Denim Shirt Remake

Hmm, I must admit I'm not in love with this project. It was very much an experiment I did last year when I had some spare time. I'd had some ideas floating round my head and I wanted to try and make them a reality, and while I don't think all the elements I've ploughed into this garment work in unison, I do think there are some good ideas in here that might inspire some more successful refashions in the future. 

So what IS going on here? Well, it's basically a bodice with a gathered strip of fabric to form a frill at the bottom that kind of brings a peplum effect. I wanted to try remaking a shirt with a princess seam bodice pattern rather than the usual bust dart shirt remakes I've made in the past. To be honest I can't remember which pattern I used, but any princess seam bodice pattern like the By Hand London's Elisalex dress would be a good basis. I really like how the recutting of the shirt front slices up the original pocket detail (pictured below). 

The frill was made from fabric harvested from the removed sleeves and seamed together to form a simple long rectangular strip. Plus, as you may have gathered, the cap sleeves are made from the original cuffs. I've seen this done better on other peoples' refashions! I think mine would have been better if the proportions were a bit more subtle, perhaps if I removed the buttons and brought the cuffs/caps in a bit so they don't protrude out as much. 

But anyways. My intention was not to present you with a garment and then to list its flaws, I just wanted to show you the results of an experiment I had in the hope that an element or two from it might trigger some ideas for your own refashionings. Have a fabulous weekend. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

More Maternity Madness: Some Selfless Stitching

Don't be thinking that all the maternity sewing that's been happening round here has all been for myself, oh no! With only two months left to go, I'm trying to get by on my limited selection of maternity clothes (with the exception of a new dress which I'll blog about next week). However, I'm in the lucky position to have a bit of free time for sewing at the moment so I was able to come to the aid of my good friend Anna (also preggers) when she announced that she was rapidly growing out of her clothes and having a bit of a maternity wardrobe crisis. 

I made her a version of my nautical batwing and black batwing dresses in a super soft, light-weight grey knit that had been sitting in my stash for about a year. Anna lives in Madrid so it was very important to make something in a light-weight fabric. You can't see them here, but I added a few little pearl buttons to the sleeve bands/cuffs for some extra detailing. I also elongated the pattern a bit because Anna is a tall lady, her height being the cause of some of her problems sourcing decent maternity clothing. Not only do a lot of the dresses and skirts end up indecently short on her (she has a proper grown-up's job where that would NOT be cool, even if she felt comfortable in them), but also she's found that being taller means that the positioning for the bump in some dresses ends up in the wrong place for her. As you can see in the photo above, she looks AMAZING in the batwing dress! Damn that girl can accessorise! And the shoes? I can't even talk about those shoes right now...

The second garment I flowed Anna's way was actually kind of a happy accident. I'd made a gathered side jersey top (pictured above) as a toile using my own maternity top tutorial instructions but tweaking the measurements a bit. It came out a bit too long in the body for me and the gathers to accommodate my bump were a bit low, but seeing as I hadn't expected the first version to be perfect, I wasn't bothered as it helped me perfect the pattern for my next attempts (the spotty dress remake and grey fancy sleeve top). I thought it might serve as something for me to sleep in, but when Anna said she needed maternity wear, I realised this would ace for her, considering it had been a bit long for me. The jersey print is pretty mentally bright (more random stash fabric), but hopefully she can get she wear from it at home or at her preggers yoga class. 

So, who wants to see a pic of me and Anna in the 1990's?! EVERYONE (no doubt)!!!:

Hahahahaaaaa. The 1990's! Look how drunk I am! Seeing as we are both about to become mothers, Anna and I will probably never be that drunk together again.  

Friday, 2 August 2013

Refashion Friday: Interview with Miche from Buttons and Birdcages

Just when you think you've seen most of what 'refashioning' has to offer, you go and discover a new-to-you talent full of fun, creative ideas bringing a fresh approach to the genre! That's how I felt a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon the 'Buttons and Birdcages' blog written by the super-sweet and talented Miche. With her focus firmly on style, she's busy breathing new life and direction into thrifted finds. Luckily for us she agreed to be interviewed on the subject for Refashion Friday, so let's hear from the girl herself... 

Z: What appeals to you about refashioning and can you remember how you begun? 

M: For me, it's a creative outlet and it's really fun. As an avid thrifter, I was constantly coming across dresses that didn't fit, or weren't quite in style anymore. I finally decided to do something about it, so I took a chance on a $3.99 dress from Goodwill, and a new passion was born.

Z: What role does refashioning/upcycling/remaking (whichever term you prefer) play in your life? Has that role changed over time? 

M: What started as a hobby is starting to become a passion. Finding that next frock to refashion pretty much makes my day. As of now, it is still a hobby, however, a lot of friends have asked me to start selling my recreations, which I'm not quite sure they're good enough for that, but who knows what the future may hold.

(Zooey Deschanel: Miche's modern day style icon)

Z: You clearly love a good thrifting adventure, how often do you visit thrift stores and what are you looking for when you are there? 

M: I typically go about once a week. Usually I go straight to the dress section and then work my way through the racks and over to the furniture/random stuff (some seriously awesome gems buried in there if you take the time to look)

Z: Who or what inspires your personal style? Where do you go (physically or virtually) to find inspiration? 

M: I consider my style to be pretty eclectic - I draw inspiration of course from classics like Audrey Hepburn, and mix it with some modern day Zooey Deschanel. I love getting lost in personal style blogs like and browsing through the new arrivals section on

(A double dose of 90's garment refashioning!)

Z: What would you say are your three favourite refashions you've completed? 

M: This purple dress (pictured at the top of this post) was one of the most challenging (and rewarding) I've completed to date (the heart cut out was a nightmare). Another favorite was actually a really simple re-do of a long skirt and denim dress (pictured above). It was so simple, but it turned out to be so wearable and stylish. And I guess I have to say my absolute favorite was actually the first refashion I ever completed (pictured below).

(Can you believe this was Miche's first ever refashioning project!)

Z: Can you share with us three of your favourite refashions by other people? 

M: There are so many! Choosing is tough, but since I have to choose, one of my favorites is the Kitschy Dress project by the Refashionista. She is so inspiring, I never would've thought to dye anything before seeing her do it time and time again on her amazing blog. Another favorite is this velvet dress by Annika from The Pineneedle Collective. It so reminds me of my first refashion, it's simple, and this girl has awesome hair! I am completely obsessed with vintage style - so when I saw this refashion of a Betty Draper style dress by Sally from Charity Shop Chic, I fell completely in love (BTW, you can read my interview with Sally here).

Z: What’s been your most challenging refashioning project to date?

M: I think the most challenging project I've completed yet has to be my copycat Anthropologie dress. It was for the Refashion Runway contest, and the challenge was to copy something from a magazine or catalog. I was so excited to copy an Anthropologie dress that I didn't stop to think about how much work was going to go into it. Not only was it a ton of work, it also didn't allow me to be very creative, which ended up being pretty tough for me personally.

Z: How much of what you wear, day-to-day, has been made or refashioned by yourself? 

M: I'm still building my refashioned wardrobe. Right now, I'd say I've made/refashioned only about 15% of my wardrobe but I'm hoping to increase that number significantly in the coming months 

(Copycat Anthropologie style at a fraction of the cost!)

Z: Describe your dream thrifting day... where are you and what do you find?! 

M: On my dream thrifting day I'm searching through the racks of a thrift store on the edge of town. I come across one dress, a single, beautiful item with an amazing history that I can only begin to guess. Finding the perfect shoes and earrings to match would really top the day off!

Z: What advice would you / do you give to anyone wanting to try refashioning but aren’t sure where to start? 

M: Take a chance. Even if something seems intimidating or you don't know where to start, once you get it off the hanger chances are your creativity will take over. Worst case scenario, you toss it out. Best case, you have an amazing new(ish) piece of clothing :)

Thanks sooo much Miche for taking the time to answer my probing questions! I wish you lots of luck and fun as you up the percentage of self-made/refashions in your wardrobe and I'll be watching closely to the outcomes of that journey.
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