Tank Top Transformed

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Just a quick one today folks. I’d like to tell you about this rather ugly jumper that I bought from the YMCA shop in Middlesbrough for £2.99.

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The overall shape is very ‘old lady’, and there isn’t a natural fibre in sight, but it has a pretty embroidered section around the neck in shades of blue and green.

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Exploring The Brave New World of Bare Midriffs

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Greetings, Refashioners! I’m back with another monstrosity-turned-masterpiece for your viewing pleasure.

I bought this Cambridge-blue (Tiffany-blue?) polyester/viscose top in the Scope shop in Lewisham, a while back when they were having a sale. It was £2.00 (reduced from £3.95). Score!

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Like the magpie I am, I had totally fallen for the silver-coloured beading on the front yoke. Delightful!

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The top is a little big, and the effect of the overall shape was a bit third-trimester, but it had a lot going for it.

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Fabricado Em Portugal

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Just a quick one today folks. I purchased this gloriously colourful skirt on my trip to Lisbon a few months back, at the famous flea market called ‘Feira da Ladra‘ (‘Thieves’ Market’). The market is basically a large car boot sale in one of the squares, with all sorts of junk available. A lot was antiques and old things, but there were quite a few people selling modern second hand goods too. My favourite to look at were the stalls selling antique tiles from the buildings – they were beautiful.

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There was one stallholder with piles of old clothes, mostly your standard charity shop fare but some vintage. I had a good rummage for unusual prints and bought two pieces, including this skirt. I confess that I paid 8 Euro for both pieces (4 Euro each), mainly because I don’t speak any Portuguese so wasn’t really up to haggling with the stall holder. I only understood that it was 8 Euro because she was holding up eight fingers. So I do feel like it was a little expensive, but I had good fun rummaging so I was happy. Here is me with my purchases:

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Unlike my last international debacle, I was delighted to see that this one was ‘FABRICADO EM PORTUGAL’ (‘Made in Portugal’).

It is marked 100% polyester – basically it’s a nasty acetate lining and some kind of cheap and cheerful polyester mesh with flowers printed on it. I would hesitate to call this fabric, it’s essentially plastic.

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Silver Screen Chic: Pretty in Pink

First of all, thanks everyone for all your support on my last post! I’m overwhelmed :-)

Today I’m very happy to be launching a new occasional series in collaboration with my friend, film writer Hannah who blogs over at I Watched This on Purpose. In case you haven’t seen her blog, Hannah is taking us through an analysis of her favourite movies in a bid to discover what makes them great. It’s well worth a read, especially if you’re into obscure and not-so-obscure movies from the 80s and 90s.

This collaborative series is going to be about refashions and fashion transformations in the movies. Hannah will be writing about the role each movie refashion takes in the plot, while I’ll be creating refashioning projects inspired by the same movies. Our first project together is on the classic thrift store fashion and refashioning movie, Pretty in Pink; I’ll be remaking this pink bridesmaid dress into something a lot more wearable.

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Special Announcement: Capital Chic Patterns

Today I have something very exciting to share with you: I’m starting my own pattern company, Capital Chic Patterns.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know about my fondness for drafting patterns and creating unusual garments using both drafting and draping techniques. On seeing so many wonderful indie sewing pattern companies become successful in their own niches, it was a natural next step for me to start a new venture which might allow me to make a little money while doing something I love. I am a big supporter of indie pattern companies but felt like there wasn’t one around that fully matched my personal style – modern, fashionable dresses and separates that suit my lifestyle. As you know, I live and work in central London and favour slim silhouettes, clean lines and tend towards the smarter or more formal end of the spectrum. That’s why my new collection of patterns is designed primarily as work wear and cocktail wear, though depending on the fabrics, these shapes could carry you through from weekend shopping to date night, or the office party to that summer wedding. I feel that there are people who sew whose personal style doesn’t necessarily fit into the vintage/retro style that a lot of indie pattern companies cater for, and those are the people for whom I’m designing.

Another thing I am passionate about is improving my own sewing skills as well as those of my readers and the community in general. I’m not a sewing expert but consider myself to be experienced in some of the more advanced techniques. I have always tried to share tutorials on ideas and techniques for refashioning and pattern making here on the blog, so that people may learn something new. And this is another thing I’ll be trying to address with the new company – the patterns are aimed at intermediate to advanced sewers. Again, I feel this is a sector that is not necessarily being covered as well as it could be by indie pattern companies at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there is a lot of choice out there for beginners. But what happens when you want to progress and start working on your skills as a sewist? If you continue making beginner-rated patterns, you’ll never improve, and that worries me. I want people to challenge themselves – that’s the only way to learn! All Capital Chic patterns come with fully-illustrated and easy-to-understand instructions which will hopefully enable those that haven’t tried certain techniques to give them a go. The new collection includes things like sew-in boning, French seams, machine-rolled hems and various other techniques that wouldn’t be found in beginner-rated patterns. So if you’ve been making beginner patterns up to now, but are ready for a challenge, Capital Chic is for you.

Without getting too emotional, I want to say thanks to everyone for your support since I started the blog 3 years and 115 posts ago. It’s been an absolute blast, and here’s to the next 115! Huge thanks to those in the sewing blogger community who have helped with testing the patterns thus far. And extra-special thanks to Clare for being a sounding board and drinking companion throughout the whole process!

On that note, don’t worry, nothing will change over here on Charity Shop Chic. I’ll still be buying the ugliest things I can find in charity shops across the world and making them special, and sharing the process with you all. I promise not to become one of those blogs that started out great but became merely a tool for self-promotion. I’m sure you all know that is just not my style! There will be a brand new blog for the new company here where I’ll be talking about all sorts of things to do with the new patterns, such as pattern hacks, sewing tips, fashion and styling ideas and more. If that interests you, you can subscribe to the RSS Feed here. You can also subscribe to receive occasional email updates, on new pattern releases and that sort of thing, from Capital Chic here. And feel free to follow me with my Capital Chic hat on on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

And now, I want to share a little bit about each of the new patterns with you. There are six designs in my first collection and they each come with two variations. Each comes as a print-at-home or print-at-copyshop PDF file, complete with fully illustrated instructions, in sizes UK 10-18. For full details, hop over to the new website.

Martini is a cocktail dress with a twist. In today’s crop-top shape with an above-the-waist skirt, the silhouette helps create the illusion of a narrow waistline. It comes either as separates, so you can show as much or as little skin as you like, or as a lined dress that looks like separates but without the risk of showing any midriff. Martini’s instructions include full descriptions of advanced techniques such as boning, french seams and inserting the zip guard, making it ideal for sewing intermediates looking for a challenge.

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Swedish Blouse from England

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Hello Refashioners!

I bought this white blouse on my recent trip to north Sweden, in the Red Cross shop in Jörn, to be precise. There are very few shops in this small town but amongst them were several second-hand shops (“loppis” – I got some great stuff there too, more of which, later) and a rather fun charity shop run by the Swedish Red Cross (Röda Korset). I had a good browse and bought several pieces there. If you’re in the area, I recommend it. They have free coffee and everything.

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I came across this 1980s white blouse in approximately my size. It has ruffles. I mean, a lot of ruffles. There are ruffles at the neck, ruffles at the shoulder, ruffles at the cuffs and even two big ruffles down the front. I love ruffles but this was a little much even for me.

I paid SEK 30:- which is about £2.60.

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So anyway, I was looking for something especially Swedish to remake. I was delighted to see that the blouse had originally been sold by Swedish department store Åhléns. Thinking that nothing could be more Swedish I happily carried this home to England to be remade.

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On closer inspection…..

D’oh!

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Dodgson! We’ve got Dodgson here! See, nobody cares

This is my entry for the Sew Dolly Clackett competition – you can see the other entries here. This challenge is the brainchild of Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones; the challenge is to sew up a dress in the style of Dolly Clackett – AKA Roisin – to celebrate her upcoming wedding. Roisin has a very clearly defined personal style, which includes a lot of 50s silhouettes, especially fit and flare dresses, bright colours, novelty fabrics and awesome shoes. Check out her blog and you’ll soon get the idea.

After weeks of searching for something suitable (kids bedding anyone?) I actually struck gold at one of my regular haunts, Scope Lewisham. This is actual fabric, people! That almost never happens. I think this is probably only the second time I have ever bought actual fabric from a charity shop in all my years of rummaging. The slightly novelty print is blue and white circles, reminiscent of china plates, and all the circles are the same. I paid £3 – not bad for almost 1.5m. I actually pre-washed this (!) since it was new, and it came out really stretched along the bias. Luckily, being quilting-weight cotton, I was able to press it back into shape with lots of steam and a fair amount of elbow grease.

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Pattern Magic: Cushion Cover in Portugal

I bought this splendid cushion cover without much of a plan for it, but it clearly wasn’t going to stay as a cushion cover. I love working with home dec fabrics because they are often heavy weight and they have bigger and bolder prints. This circular cushion cover had an embroidered motif on it but it was on ‘faux silk’, ie it was closer to garment weight. Check out that piping too! It’s navy, turquoise and lime green on white polyester.

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I paid £2.50 for this little beauty in the Red Cross Shop in Lewisham.

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Burberry Suit – Part 1

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I’ve had this ice blue Burberry wool suit for ages. I pounced on it, magpie-like, in Streatham Oxfam and managed to get it for £17.99. I was so excited about this suit when I bought it that I didn’t really think too hard about what I was going to do with it, just that £17.99 seemed like a bargain, even though it didn’t fit AT ALL. The skirt’s too big. The jacket, well, the jacket is just wrong. Too big, huge shoulders, grubby hem, sleeves far too short. Those buttons though. The buttons are incredible – and there are three on each cuff!

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Happily I have been able to give the skirt the attention it deserves, while the jacket is still waiting for some TLC. So that will have to come in Part 2 at a later date. The main reason for neglecting the jacket is that I didn’t notice (in the dimly-lit shop) that it has a rather large coffee (I assume) stain on the centre front. I have turned the contrast up on the photo below so you can see it – if you look really carefully at the photo above you can just about see it. So anyway, that’s on ice for a while while I decide what to do with it. Back to the skirt.

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Kenya safari skirt

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You can’t beat a bargain like this – £2 reduced from £3.95 from the Hospices of Hope shop in Orpington.

I have had this silk skirt in stash for a while now, but it only ever had one destiny: to be part of my safari wardrobe. The khaki green colour, which I’m generously calling ‘olive’, conjures up safari and jungle images for me. It’s a colour I’d otherwise never wear, and you know I am fond of a challenge, so I set to work.

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