Refashion: Men’s Shirt to Toddler Dress

In November I’m running a course called Upcycle: Sustainable Fashion; it’s all about refashioning textiles into something new. So recently I’ve been sewing up some ideas to bring with me. Here’s one!
A men’s shirt – which most people have lying around – to a girl’s dress.
My inspiration hunt began at Pinterest, and I found a nice tutorial so I actually just used that instead of my own brain… here’s the link to it!

I began with a lovely lilac shirt – not too masculine!

shirt to dress refashion

As per the tutorial and using a dress that fits Little A as a guide, I chopped the shirt up as shown in the photo below, unpicking the chest pocket also. I discarded the rectangle in the middle and the shoulders pieces, and only kept the upper part of the sleeve.

shirt to dress refashion

This is where my in-progress photos ended; but I basically followed the tutorial linked above. It took about an hour in total.

Here’s the finished dress!

shirt to dress refashion

Cute or what?!

Having used this as a practice-run, I then made a dress out of a little girl’s Dad’s old military shirt, as a commission. This is before…

shirt to dress refashion

I made it in a very similar way – I just also had to move some of the Velcro, unpick the zip that was in the way, and unpick the pockets on the sleeves. It was fun! And everyone apparently loved it!

shirt to dress refashion

shirt to dress refashion

Let me know if you have made or do go on to make something similar!

Beth x



Jeans Refashion Tutorial: Patchwork Dungarees

My little girl has recently become rather obsessed with Bob the Builder. So, sewing mum that I am, I naturally thought I’d make her some “Bob the Builder” dungarees. AKA denim dungarees, that she can wear as normal dungarees, not just for dress up!
I won’t keep you in suspense; here’s the outcome:

jeans>dungarees refashion

Pretty cool, eh?! I won’t lie: I LOVE them.

I’ve written a quick tutorial for you in case you want to do something similar. The same principal (patchwork denim) can be used for any clothing, too – not just toddler dungarees. Skirts, dresses; adults or kids. The possibilities are endless.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Those of you who have been following me for a while will likely know that I’m keen on refashioning and upcycling. In fact I’m starting 5-week-long refashioning courses in November (alongside my dressmaking). So partly spurred on by that and the need for more examples, I decided to upcycle some old jeans that have been hanging around. Who needs to buy new denim?
So I used these two pairs; one was in fact my mum’s, and one was mine. Both much loved and a little worse for wear.

jeans>dungarees refashionI used all I could of these two pairs, plus a little bit of denim I had in my scrap bag (that would’ve been from another pair of jeans). With the addition of just a couple of buttons (and thread) that of course I already had, this was a really frugal make.

Now on to the tutorial… 🙂

refashion jeans to dungarees

Begin by cutting up the jeans; cut along the seams, discarding the bulky seams. Incorporate the back pockets if you like, and save the tops of the jeans for another project!

jeans>dungarees refashion

For these dungarees I used a pattern which I highly recommend: Vintie Overalls by Tadah Patterns. But you can use any pattern you already have, or create your own. You will need to use the pattern piece to help you with the placement of your denim pieces. This pattern has four large pieces (2 x back, 2 x front) and some top yoke pieces. I patched the large pieces.

So lay out a pattern piece, and (ideally using a rotary cutter, ruler and mat) chop up your long legs of denim into squares and rectangles, creating a patchwork. Ensure you overlap each piece by the seam allowance you wish to use. Take your time and thought to try to lay the colours out in a way that’s pleasing to the eye. It’s interesting how many different shades of blue are in a single pair of jeans!

jeans>dungarees refashion

It’s fine to have some fabric sticking off the edges; in fact, that’ll be helpful just in case you need a bit more allowance than you initially think.

Once your pattern piece is entirely covered up, it’s time to sew.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Sorry, I forgot to take photos of the sewing stage! But you will basically sew all the pieces together as if making a patchwork quilt. I sewed then overlocked the seams as I went along.

Once you’ve done all your pieces, you’ll end up with something like this:

jeans>dungarees refashion


Now, place the pattern pieces on top, and neatly cut – as you would if that was just regular non-patchy fabric underneath!

jeans>dungarees refashion

There we go; nice and neat.

And then just take the extra bits for the yokes and straps (if you’re making kid’s clothing there’s probably no need to patch these unless you really want to; they’ll be big enough). And sew together the dungarees according to the pattern instructions. Sorry, I’m not going to tell you how to do that – you’ll have to buy the pattern!

jeans>dungarees refashion

If you do make something like this, I’d LOVE to see it. Any questions, do ask in the comments below!

And if not – I hope you enjoyed the post regardless.

Beth x


Quick denim skirt refashion

Check me out – I sewed this today and I’m blogging about it today! 😀

Well I do like a nice little refashion. This is a super simple ladies skirt to child’s skirt refashion!

So to begin with, this was a soft denim skirt, originally from New Look however I imagine I bought it from the car boot sale or somewhere…

denim skirt refashion

I really like the style (i.e. denim circle skirt!) and have worn it a few times, however it’s pretty short and does ride up, too. And can you see the hem? It’s dreadful and really irritates me. I don’t know if it was designed to be like that or just badly sewn; either way, I don’t like it.

denim skirt refashion

Sooo I’ve been looking at it recently and thought it was destined to become something else;  a little girl’s skirt. Or, a big girl’s skirt, I should say – for seven-year-old S.

It’s a simple refashion, so I took some pics along the way. First I lay a skirt that fits S on top of the denim one. (Conveniently, I made the zebra one!)

denim skirt refashionAs you can see, the length is just about right already! And there’s just a few inches difference in the waistband. About 2″, on the fold.

denim skirt refashion

First of all I unpicked the little seam on the waistband, and tugged that elastic out. Luckily the elastic wasn’t sewn in, or else I wouldn’t have been able to do this.

I measured 2″ (folded), and cut.

denim skirt refashion

Then took a moment to inspect the elastic and found that it had only been sewn together with one straight line. I tend to sew a square as it’s stronger…

denim skirt refashion

So I did! Sometimes I sew diagonal lines inside, too – but didn’t bother if even a single line was strong enough before! With a nice contrasting red thread, because that’s what was in the machine…

denim skirt refashion

I then tucked the elastic back inside, and handstitched up the gap. That’s the waistband sorted!

denim skirt refashion

Now, I could have left the skirt like that and it’d be fine – but that wiggly hem would annoy me for the rest of my days, so I had to chop it off. I had the length to spare, as I know the zebra skirt I compared the length with is a tad longer than it needs to be.

So I chopped off the hem just above the stitching, and sewed a double-fold hem.

denim skirt refashion

Ta-dah! I have to say, I much prefer my hem!!

denim skirt refashion

S loves it, she’s wearing it now ready for Rainbows. And I love it too – I much prefer it on her! Job done!

Beth x

Mens Sweatshirt to Ladies Tank Top *Refashion*

My boyfriend is one of those people who wears something once or twice and then gets bored of it.
This sweatshirt was one of those things.

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

When he said that he no longer wanted it, of course I swooped in and hung it on my to-refashion rail. I like the design, and it looks new because he probably wore it only once. Now it’s all miiiiiiine. I got out my scissors and sewing machine, and an hour later I had this:

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank TopI love it!

Here’s a quick how-to if you’re interested:

Refashion a mens sweatshirt into a ladies tank top!

Firstly you need to find a tank top that fits and place it on top of the sweatshirt.

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

Cut around it, leaving some seam allowance. You should leave a good couple of inches if the top you’re using as a guide is stretchy and the sweatshirt isn’t. You might also want to cut off the store label!

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

I chose to leave the hem in place until I tried the top on. Only then did I decide to cut it away, too – but you could do this at the beginning. If so, put it, along with the sleeves and neckline, to one side (you may use these for something else; waste not, want not!)

Next, with right sides together, sew down the two sides.

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

You may leave the top like this if you like – after turning it right side out, of course – as the edges shouldn’t fray if it’s made of a normal sweatshirt material. However if you are not too keen on this look, you can turn under the edges of the hem, neckline and armholes and sew, close to the edge. (Which is what I did, after some deliberation!)

Mens Sweatshirt Refashion Into Ladies Tank Top

And there you have it – a new top in an evening, and an old sweatshirt saved from landfill.

Quick selfie!

*Refashion* Mens Sweatshirt into a Ladies Tank Top

Beth x

Kids Clothes Week ~ Upcycled Trousers

Last Friday I found out that it’s Kids Clothes Week this week. This is a challenge where you sew clothes for your kids for an hour every day for seven days. The theme this season is ‘upcycled.’ So it’s right up my street!

I didn’t have any time to plan so on Monday I plucked an idea out of my head and dove straight in.

I remembered that I bought these funky trousers [I’m tempted to call them jeans but they’re not really… The fabric is a nice medium weight and has some stretch] in a charity shop for the sole purpose of refashioning them:

Trousers to upcycle

Look at the print! Cute or what?!!

print close up

They were originally from Topshop and size 8; meant for a woman… I think that fairytale print is destined for a little girl… So on Monday I cut them up to fit my little girl. I used a pair of jeans that fit her nicely to figure out what size to cut the legs. I wanted the legs, back pockets and waistband; the middle chunk was saved for another time.

upcycling trousers

I’m not sure if that took me one hour – if it did that was rather slow of me… But I guess I did make sure I was doing it right and had some distractions – namely EastEnders – oh, and I did also press the seams of pockets ready for sewing!

On Tuesday I started the fun bit – or rather, what was supposed to be the fun bit; sewing it all together. Instead of my prescribed one hour sewing, I took nearly three. I think I did more unpicking than sewing. But eventually, I ended up with this; a mini pair of trousers:

Toddler trousers - upcycled from a woman's pair of trousers @AfterDarkSewing

Awwwwww 🙂

After the success of last weeks dungarees, I was feeling confident. If I can make dungarees out of old jeans, I should be able to make trousers, right? Well the result is – right… but that waistband nearly finished me off. More on that later.

The first thing I did was sew the back pockets in place. I didn’t bother with front pockets. Life’s too short; she’s only nearly-2. I’m much happier with these little pockets than I am with those on last week’s dungarees. They sit in line perfectly.

Toddler trousers - upcycled from a woman's pair of trousers @AfterDarkSewing

I toyed with the idea of inserting the fly but came to the conclusion that it would be too much effort seeing as it probably/hopefully won’t be needed; I never use the zip if there is one on my daughter’s trousers. So I saved that for another upcycle!

Next I stitched the crotch together and then tackled the waistband. Keeping the original was supposed to make life easier, but it just wasn’t playing fair. It was fiddly, and when I eventually got it stitched down in place pretty neatly, I took it off the machine and was greeted with this:

Toddler trousers - upcycled from a woman's pair of trousers @AfterDarkSewing

Can you feel my pain? It took me forever to unpick that mess. And I couldn’t even see a reasonable explanation for it. And then when I re-stitched the waistband in place, of course it wasn’t as neat as it was the first time. ARGHH!! But I kept reminding myself that my daughter is growing fast and they won’t be worn for long so does it matter if they’re not perfect? No.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. I forgot to leave gaps to insert some elastic the first time – so I did that on the second try! It was fiddly but I shoved a piece in the back and stitched it down on both sides, so that it’s just elasticated at the back. I’m pleased with how this turned out!

Upcycle old trousers into cute girl's one! @AfterDarkSewing

Did you notice the label/ribbon above all the mess, though? That, I do like. I sewed it on top of the Topshop label – just in case anyone would have thought Topshop made them. They do still have the Topshop (Moto) button on the front, though. Oh well – it’s not a bad brand!

Toddler trousers - upcycled from a woman's pair of trousers @AfterDarkSewing

I’m pretty pleased with how the button sits. It took me some time to figure out how to get it all lined up, but I did it! I topstitched some lines where the pockets and fly would be, but you can barely see them because I don’t have a proper thick topstitching thread and my thread was a very good colour match!

Upcycle old trousers into cute girl's one! @AfterDarkSewing

Yes, they are a bit long. I will probably do something about that, though, because they’re a bit low on the bum. This is possibly because my little one wears cloth nappies so could be rectified by potty training; but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. So I will probably sew further down the crotch to make them bigger in the bum and consequently shorter in the leg.

Upcycle old trousers into cute girl's one! @AfterDarkSewing

Yeah… she doesn’t seem to mind, but they are rather low down her bum!

There’s still four days left of Kids Clothes Week and I have an order of matching girl’s skirts to fulfil. Of course I will be back to share them! Til then… Happy upcycling!

Beth x

Jeans to Girl’s Dungarees Refashion

I’m sooo excited about this make. I have to say that I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.

I made my 5 1/2 year old some dungarees; she’s been pestering me for some ever since I made her little sister some last year.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

If you have been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I made my last dungarees with the help of Made by Toya’s fantastic free pattern. Well the pattern is for a 2 year old, and I wanted one for a 5 year old. So, I had to use my noodle this time round. I didn’t even bother looking for another ready-made pattern, which in hindsight was rather odd.

My motivation to get them made this month was my recent joining of The Monthly Stitch. If you’re not aware of this, it’s basically a collective of sewists who can join in with monthly challenges related to sewing. And you can dip in and out as you wish so I joined in December and will partake in any challenges that I fancy! Hopefully it will keep me sewing and push me further into experienced-seamstress-land.

January’s challenge was ‘Denim Never Dies.’ I imagine the name was borne from the fact that denim never goes out of fashion, but I took another approach to the ‘never dies’ part of the name in that I used recycled denim.

I started with this:

jeans to upcycle

And had a lot of fun chopping them up into this:

chopped up jeans

[In case you’re curious, here’s the tutorial that I used for cutting them up so that I got as much fabric as possible out of them. I was only left with a few scraps.]

So next I thought about how to go about creating dungarees to fit my daughter. Luckily my daughter has a dungaree-dress that fits so I basically copied the bodice, adding on a seam allowance. I drew quite a generous seam allowance so that I could make it smaller if I needed too! I took a risk here because I went straight ahead and cut out the denim. I guess because it was free I didn’t panic about wasting it. Or maybe I have a lot of faith in myself?!

making dungarees

I took out Made by Toya’s dungarees pattern and measured the clothes up against it. As you can see below, my daughter’s jeans are not much bigger than the pattern for a 2-year-old(!) so that helped a lot.

RTW jeans

First, I made the bodice. I had to cut the pieces in two halves rather than a whole because of the small amount of fabric I had. But I think the seam running down the centre isn’t too noticeable.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

The first thing I did was to decorate the bodice pocket. You may have seen the sneak peek I showed on my Sunday Sevens post last week! I embroidered a Hello Kitty face using a simple chain stitch. And it’s not perfect – her face should be more squashed than circular – but I’m pretty darn proud of it!

Hello Kitty Embroidery

So that went on the front pocket of the bodice. That pocket was one of the most irritating parts of the whole project because I attempted the topstitching along the top edge three times to get it accurate! And then found that the denim had stretched so the pocket is not as square as it should be… I hope it’s not too noticeable.

I’m happy with the back bodice, which all lined up pretty damn perfectly even if I do say so myself. You can’t really see but the centre seam is spot on running into the ‘v’!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I used a hot pink thread instead of a blue that would have been more forgiving for wonky stitching for two reasons: 1) There was a bonus ‘pink’ challenge on The Monthly Stitch so I thought I would incorporate some pink (hence also the pink linings), and 2) it makes it that bit more unique!

I had a moment of sheer genius-ness when I thought I could use the belt loops on the jeans to create the loops for the straps to go through (I wanted to copy the dress’s straps that I was using for reference/measuring).

Girls dungarees

I love how that part turned out. The straps slip through the loops, fold over and fasten with a purple heart button. The buttons don’t match, but hey-ho, I was using what I already have.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I then sewed up the bodice as per Toya’s dungaree pattern. All went swimmingly, I am very proud to report!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

Finally I got started on the trousers section. I totally made this up as I went along because I made them differently to how you usually make basic trousers. I had to cut up another pair of jeans (incidentally although they’re too short for me they’re one of my favourite pairs; this was the ultimate sacrifice!)

Jeans to refashion into dungarees

Yes, I did only start the trousers once the bodice was finished; a risky move because I wasn’t sure if I could even find some matching denim… but I was getting excited!! Luckily the denim is a pretty good match.

I literally chopped off the legs and kept them as they were – I just cut curves into the crotch to make that, and unpicked some of the seam on each side to fit the pockets in. The jeans were bootcut so rather flared on a five-year-old, so I narrowed one of the seams on each leg; but I kept the thick seam and the hems!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I flipped the legs around so that the part that’s more faded and worn from my knees is at the back – and it doesn’t look bad at all.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

My daughter loves the front pockets as they are apparently bigger than normal ones! I cut them (and also the lining for the bodice front pocket) in a Hello Kitty fabric I had lying around. I love that I could make an item of clothing so uniquely tailored to my daughter’s taste! I don’t know what happened to the length of the pocket, by the way, but it was all OK in the end!

Little girls Hello Kitty dungarees

The lining for the front pockets, back pockets and bodice is a pink spotty “fabric” that was a duvet cover. So this really is an upcycled garment!

Because I made the trousers a funny way (keeping that seam and hems) it did take me quite some time to get them sewn up… the main annoyance was the back pockets. They’re still not straight now, which bugs me – it really shows up in the photo below – but to be honest I’d had enough of the stretchy denim!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

As you can see, I also did some embroidery on these pockets – Hello Kitty’s bow and initials. I am aware that the K is a bit wonky; I should have taken more time over it to be honest. I was impressed with my youngest daughter who said ‘Hello Kitty’ when I was halfway through the bow! Bless her, she has excellent observation skills. She’s only 2; she clearly has an older sister with Hello Kitty everything!

All that was left to do once I’d got the trousers stitched right(ish) was to attach it to the bodice. I have to say I’m pretty impressed with my seam matching considering the denim is stretchy!

I slipstitched the bodice lining in place to cover the messy seam – this is probably my favourite part of the whole garment!!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I literally finished these at 10:30 last night – with today, the last day of January and the Denim Never Dies Challenge deadline, left to take photos and put up this post!

Sorry that was loooong but there was a lot to say!! Well done for getting to the end – and thanks! 🙂

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

Bring on the next challenge, I say – which is ‘solid colours’ if you’re curious…

Beth x

Clemence Skirt – Take 2

2015 is going well so far. I made a Clemence Skirt (from Tilly Walnes’s Love at First Stitch book) that FITS!!

[If you’ve been reading my blog a while you may remember that I made a lovely Clemence skirt that turned out a good few inches too big for me. Gutted!]

The fabric I used was very expensive. Ha, only joking – it cost me 50p. It was a tablecloth I bought from the car boot sale! I picked it up and my 5-year-old said “you could use that for fabric.” She knows me too well!

I think it’s polycotton and I don’t know how many washes it’ll last before it goes funny, but it actually feels nice and looks almost denim-y.

So I chopped it up and – ta-dah!

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

It’s great fun using a pattern for the second time. It’s such a breeze.

I totally winged it in terms of sizing, though. I wasn’t sure exactly how big my first Clemence was so didn’t know exactly how much to chop off of the pattern. So, I didn’t chop the actual pattern in order to not mess it up. Instead I chopped a couple of inches off the waistband at the cutting stage and hoped for the best. And I thank my lucky stars because it was pretty much exactly the right amount! Phew. I also remembered to try it on before inserting the zip (pinching the seam allowance together at the back) to make sure I didn’t end up with the same problem as last time! I’m learning!!

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

The best thing was that my unpicker stayed firmly in its little drawer! OK, so you are meant to use it to unpick the gathering and tacking stitches, but… I put my gathering stitches in the seam allowance so left them there, and I skipped the tacking stage [tacking the gathered panel to the waistband before stitching it down]. I was feeling all confident that I could do it without tacking. And I did! 😛 Plus I saved time by only sewing two lines of gathering stitches as opposed to three… luckily none of the threads snapped so I got away with it!

I found the gathers much easier to pull than those on my first Clemence. I don’t know if that was because I used fewer stitching lines, or because the fabric was thinner this time – or maybe a mixture of the two. Either way, I had a better time with this skirt!

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

I did all right stitching in the ditch but missed a few places as you can see below. Luckily the thread I used is pretty much bang on colour so it’s not visible unless you’re taking close-up photos of that area!

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

The zip went in easily but it’s not quite concealed at the lumpy bit where the seams join. Never mind! I’m impressed that my seams match up nicely. But not so impressed with my corners. They’re a bit bumpy… but at least I can’t see it when I’m wearing the skirt; out of sight, out of mind and all that!

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

I made the basic version, without any pockets or fancy details. I’m thinking about embellishing it somehow, though, as it’s a bit plain. Any ideas?

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

I would have liked to put pockets in, but wanted to finish the edges with French seams more – so that’s what I did! And I’m pretty impressed with the insides:

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

I think I owe a lot of the neat-ness to the fabric I used. The hem was so easy to do because the fabric was very easy to handle.

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

I must also give credit to my new iron, which I love! It has made my life a lot easier! I was using an cheap Woolworths(!) one and after using my new Philips one I am wondering why I didn’t get a nicer one sooner. Pressing is SO important and I was very happy to get some boring presents for Christmas!!

Yep, I’m really happy with how this skirt turned out. Bring on the next one!

Love at First Stitch Clemence Skirt (aka an upcycled tablecloth!) @AfterDarkSewing

Beth x