It's re-fashioners time again! When Portia invited me to take part this year I jumped at the chance. I love refashioning and the fact that participants could choose their preloved items this year got me all excited! I actually couldn't think of what direction to go in for ages and then my husband had a major shirt clear out! He has a change around about once a year due to elbows wearing through and underarms not looking so fresh and I am always the happy recipient of them. Generally I use them for pocket linings and harvest the buttons for clothes making, but that does not make for an exciting refashion does it? I find these garments endlessly useful, so I was pretty pumped to show you how much potential they have to become something completely different.
Before diving into my actual refashion I just want to show you how I have previously used James' old shirts. These are ideas that you can immediately copy and implement with your own garments that are no longer fit for purpose!
First off, always save the buttons for future projects!!!
Pocket bags. So obvious, but I do this aaaaall the time. Shirting cotton is the absolute perfect weight and is so silky and smooth feeling to use. Hands down my favourite way to use old shirts!
Cushion cover backs! You can make use of the original button placket and save yourself adding a zip! This was an idea from Kirstie Allsops book 'Kirsties Homemade home' and the kids really love the little shirt pocket to put little toys in. On the front is a vintage embroidered piece of linen.
Onto the refashion! I was considering trying to use the fabric from all the shirts to create a new item of clothing, but once I started handling them a bit more the fabric was not inspiring me one bit. It had gone quite thin on most of the garments and the colours were really not giving me a happy feeling. I needed to change the fabric completely and decided to refer back to a brilliant textile design book I obsessively referred to throughout my degree 'Knitwear in fashion' by Sandy Black. I studied fashion and textile design with an emphasis on combining knits and wovens so you can see where I'm going here. One of the images that has always struck me from the book is this one of a jumper completely covered in this crusty metallic print. Such a fabulous texture!
So, I started shredding one of the shirts into approximately 1.5cm wide strips which I sewed together and wound into a ball.
I promptly knit this up on 5.5mm needles to see what sort of fabric could be produced.
Actually, I loved the marled yarn effect of this striped shirting, but I foil printed it to try and get a crusty effect like my inspo image. It has such a leathery feel now. So fun!
A whole shirt (minus cuffs, plackets and collar) produced a piece of fabric measuring 19 x 32cm. Right, so at this point it was clear I was not going to make a garment from my fabric, but an accessory? Why yes!
I had fun making self striping yarn from two particularly badly worn shirts. The blue was fraying an uncomfortable amount, so I decided to overlock the entire yarn length folded in half. Tedious, but I was just making it up as I went along.
It was still looking very shirty when knit up and I wanted to add more interest so chucked some colour on it.
I then unravelled the piece and re-knit it to break up the colour and make more of a speckled yarn. From this point on I just kept chucking stuff at it until it looked totally un-shirt like and way more colourful!
I was a bit concerned as my piece is quite small and this is a garment challenge, but this was quite an involved process of creating the yarn and knitting and unravelling a couple of times and I really love the end product (which is the most important bit right? ;-) I would say that the piece I made is made from approximately two thirds of two shirts, so I have a third of the yarn left to make into something small. Dishcloth?
So what I've made in the end is a pouch. I will either use this as a knitting project bag (most likely) or a clutch bag for an evening out (probably that too).
I lined the bag with some of the shirting fabrics I was left with...
and backed the pouch with some reclaimed leather I bought second hand off ebay some time ago.
I'm not sure if the fabric has photographed particularly well, but it has so much interest in it and I thoroughly enjoyed getting all mucky and free with texture and colour. If I had a lot more time then I would love to knit up a whole load to sew into a garment. I think it has a very Chanel-esque look to it. You know how they use those really fun bouclé's in their collections (see below)? Anyway, I hope you are inspired to give some new life to old rags.
Keep an eye on Portia's blog for more refashioner projects. More info below.
Check out the AMAZING prizes on offer this year!