Sewing With A Plan 2015 0.11

posted in: Finished projects, SWAP | 6

The upcycled blouse

The SWAP rules propose upcyling which I haven’t really done before. I have recut a skirt or two to make it fit, and have altered the style somewhat, but I haven’t done this before – pulled a garment apart and reused the fabric, so it was an interesting experience. I can’t say it was a great success and certainly it wasn’t worth the effort involved. If there was a war on, and we were genuinely short of materials, then I can see the point. Otherwise the £4 that I invested could have bought me a yard of fresh cloth that would have been much easier to use and could have saved me around five hours work. And maybe someone else would have bought the £4 second-hand skirt, and worn it with pride. 

Make do and Mend
Make do and Mend propaganda scarf

I asked for advice on what to do with the fabric I had harvested. And I got some great suggestions. 

deconstructed second hand skirt
Fabric and lining

Elizabeth suggested lining a denim (or other) jacket with the lawn. Or a blouse back T-shirt, with a solid colour at the front. Annie came up with the idea of a soft contrast inside a collar or placket,  or perhaps a solid top with a contrast pussy bow. Or to use this fabric for wide bias binding that could form a contrasting hem. I loved all these ideas. In fact, over time, I would really like to implement them all.

In the end I joined up the thin strips with the overlocker and used the fabric as one piece to make a simple, sleeveless blouse. Unfortunately it did not lie flat, the fabric was off grain (as manufactured items often are) and had joining seams and the odd repair (where I had ripped the cloth when deconstructing it) in funny places.

recycled skirt
Fabric stitched together

I had also saved the muslin lining which was in one piece but I didn’t expect it to be quite enough to line the blouse. But luckily, when ironed it proved to be just big enough and I decided to underline the top to give it a little more stability, to stop the overlocked seams from rubbing, and to prevent it being transparent. I got a kick out of recycling the lining, and the pattern too, which I had already used for my beetle SWAP blouse.  It is a vintage 1964 pattern, Simplicity 7305, and I modified it by making it tunic length, and by using an invisible zip. (You can see my alterations to this b 32″ pattern).

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Elizabeth wasn’t sure if a floral, feminine patterned fabric is “me” and she is probably right. My husband (ever helpful) said it looked like an overall. But I think it will have a place in my wardrobe, which is what a SWAP is all about. Here it is on the stand, with my daughter’s new wool trousers. I will photograph it on me later.

Simplicity shell top
Shell top in recycled cotton

I tried to place the joins in sensible places including one on the CF. And at the top of this post you can see that Ted did a little recycling of his own, creating a “Ninja headband” from one of the offcuts.

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Some of the joins

6 Responses


    I really like this! I can understand your frustration though if it took 5 hours. I always upcycle things for kids clothes, the patterns are small enough that I can just cut out straight from the garment, no prep work needed.

  2. Stephanie

    Nice job. The sewing looks great, even if you don’t seem so enthusiastic about the top. I think it’s pretty. (Nice headband on Ted, too!)

    I know what you mean about “if there were a war on.” When I was in school I used to buy second-hand sweaters, tear them apart and use the yarn. Now I do it with my own hand-knitted sweaters and should do it with a couple that are sitting in the drawer unworn. That said, even with hand-knitted sweaters it is a pain to unpick the collar and seams, etc. and steam the yarn. I am always cursing while I do it and thinking that I would prefer to just buy something already… That said, I admire people who do this as a regular practise and the war-time knitting was so very inspiring – the way that they used small amounts of yarn and/or fairisle, etc., to make truly beautiful things from little. That skill is something I would love to have.

  3. Kbenco

    Your top looks much more “you” than the skirt. Its a lovely print. I don’t enjoy unpicking either, recycling is so much easier if you can just make a smaller garment, or use the existing seams.

  4. Kristy

    I’ve stopped recycling garments too unless I can cut the pieces out from the garment without having to unpick seams or the fabric is particularly special – I have way too much fabric in my stash to justify putting in so much effort to reuse something that may be donated for someone else to wear. I do like your top though, the piecing is hardly noticeable

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