Wednesday, 12 October 2016

68: Joe Browns inspired Upcycled tunic or top

I have had these swing dresses in my wardrobe for about 3 years now. Originally from AX Paris online ( you can see them below). I bought them in a sale (The most expensive was around £6) and they never fitted very well. They are too tight accross the shoulders. Having measured the sleeves on a variety of patterns that fit me I can see why. They are tiny next to normal sized clothing. Interestingly they are actually a size larger than I usually need to buy in RTW. I went up a size thinking they would definitely fit then since I was unable to try on before buying due to being bought off the internet. I decided to keep them because you have to pay return postage with AX Paris so I would never buy off them again as it happens. Or not online anyway. In fact I kept one which I do not even like because it was cheaper to keep it than send it back! That one I have not yet cut up because it does not go well with these being as it is made from velour. These are similar to activity/performance fabric.

These dresses have gone into my charity shop bag so many times but I keep rescuing them. Last time was right outside the shop before I donated everything else in the bag. I just like the fabric and the patterns so much that I need to make something I can really wear from them rather than just keep them in my wardrobe in the hope one day they might really fit me.

Excuse my decorating it is still ongoing after I started to strip off the paper and half the paster fell off:

I cut up the zigzag striped dress before I thought to take a photo of it but it is exactly the same as the other three. I just cut each one appart at the seams so I could lay my pattern pieces on top of each bit.

The thing about these dresses is they are all a similar fabric which is a polyester/lycra blend and they are all really nice patterns. If I had known I was going to do this though I would have bought the largest sizes available rather than what I thought would fit me.

Still I thought then that I would like them!

The dresses when laid out are shown below and are simple A-line swing dresses.

So I took the decision to cut them up but what to make from them?

I really love the Joe Browns look and their multi fabric mixed up tunics and dresses about at £28 upwards I simply cannot afford them. I get a leaflet sent to me every season. No idea why because I never ever bought off them or signed up to receive the leaflet but I usually keep it because it inspires me to make things. Currently thes new season tops and dresses look like these:

Winter Warmer Dress: Go Anywhere TunicSassy Suedette DressMixing rich knitted fabrics in beautiful tones of purples, this sweet little dress is an essential for the colder months. Simply pair it with our basic leggings for an instant autumnal outfit. Approx Length: 90cm Our model is: 5'8"

There are even more similar designs saved to my pinterest page here:
I spent ages trawling through online pattern companies - why I do not really know because my pattern collection has grown so big it is a problem storing it. I then decided there were no patterns exactly like I wanted  even after sitting for two evenings scrutinizing my Burda collections so what to do? In theory I can pattern hack but I am not confident drafting a new pattern so would rather start with a ready made pattern. I ended up going back to my old favourite free raglan pattern from Its Always Autumn

First I cut my dresses apart as shown above. Then I cut two front pieces and two back pieces from my back pieces from my cut-apart dresses. I did not put the CF or CB on a fold but instead added a seam allowance and cut them as two halves. This gave me 4 pieces which I sewed at CF and CB. Then I cut the sleeves. As already stated the original sleeves were tiny so I used the back dress pieces for this. I deliberately widened the sleeves so as to waste as little of the fabric as possible. I also wanted to have flared elbow length sleeves. It worked surprisingly well. I aligned each sleeve on the fold and cut with an extra "flare " to give wider hems or "witchy" style sleeves. Well Halloween is very close and I was just inspired to make the best use of my fabric and cut as little off as possible.

Once the top was sewn up I decided it lacked something. I never took a photo here so will explain as best I can. I needed to make my front CF seam look more "made" rather than just bits of different fabrics sewn together so I decided to cut it appart again - it was overlocked so no unpicking here especially since I was not sure anything would eventually come of this project. I cut up CF and then cut a rough triangle of a different fabric to the two front halves and inserted this and overlocked it back together again. Now I have a top but wanted a long tunic or dress. Going by a few of Joe Browns tops I then cut two frills for the bottom edge. The bottom frill is made of several bits from the wider bottom edge of the original dresses. However whilst playing around with the fabric I decided I did not want two frills so in the end only used the one which I angled so its a slight high low hem with a dip at the back. It looks offset on the pictures but is actually longest at dead centre back.

Then to finish all the edges I decided to use black stretch lace. First I sewed with twin needles two rows on each side of my front insert. Then I overlocked all the edges including the neckline with stretch lace. However this did not lie as flat as I wanted so I then twin needle stitched it down. It is not perfect and there is some tunnelling. I also ran out of both overlocker thread half way through and then the top bobbin thread when twin needle stitching due to not paying enough attention to my threads rather than concentrating on my new top which was by now evolving into something surprisingly wearable.

this is my frill made form offcuts of the hem of the original dresses

One things for sure I like it much better than the dresses I cut up and I have enough fabric left to make at least 3 more tops especially if I mix a different fabric in with it like maybe black lace or fishnet which I have some of both left from other projects. 

Thanks for reading and for visiting my blog and feel free to comment or send me an email.

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