ALL SEWN UP: Something Pre-loved, Something New.

by Jamie on November 25, 2014

Pin hem alterations

This is my very first finished project post!

So without further ado let me introduce today’s ‘All Sewn Up’. but before I tell you what it is, I need to tell you a little back-story first.

My lovely cousin Prue lives in country Victoria along with her partner Stacey.

They both decided a few years ago to give up the city life, get out of the rat race and start to carve out a more sustainable life in Clunes Victoria. They bought some land with a little cottage called White Stone Farm, and began to work towards their dream of finding a like-minded community and creating positive change for themselves and the environment.

Since arriving in Clunes they have worked on developing innovative ways to grow their own organic food, create their own energy sources and generally live in the most sustainable way possible.

It’s a life long project, but Prue and Stace are truly getting closer to living their dream of self-sustainability.

So what does this have to do with my recent sewing project?

Well, I’m happy to report that my dear cousin and her bow are finally getting hitched! And it is no surprise the wedding they have planned reflects their views and practices on sustainability – from the locally grown organic produce on the table to the beautiful hand-woven table runners Prue is creating on her own loom.

And there is a little matter of the wedding dress. Let’s be honest, the wedding dress is probably one of the greatest symbols of throwaway fashion there is!

But of course, in line with her sustainable views, Prue found a beautiful pre-loved wedding dress in a local thrift store, a fitted empire-line bodice with a romantically floaty skirt. The dress fitted her to perfection – and at a fraction of the price of a brand new dress.

web pic -dress

There were however a few adjustments to be made to the dress. The layers of georgette and duchess satin needed taking up a few inches at the hem and the delicately diamante studded straps also needed to be shortened.

“If there is enough fabric left from the hemmed skirt piece, would you mind making a little drawstring purse that I can put my lippy in during the wedding day?” Prue had asked me hopefully.

I was not quite sure about it. The pieces were literally 3 inches wide at a push. But not wanting to dismiss the request outright I said I’d do what I could to make it happen.

I loved the idea of creating a useful item from the remnants of the hemmed dress instead of throwing away what would normally be considered unusable scrap fabric. It fitted in so perfectly with my cousin’s wedding and her sustainable philosophy.

When I started the purse I had no idea of what the finished article would look like. I gave myself permission to fail and set to work cutting approximate lengths of strips to sew together. This was a real create-it-as-you-go project and after experimenting with a flat square bag shape I decided upon a round and full bottom, with a simple drawstring casing and no paper-bag top. I felt this shape would be more in keeping with the soft and flowy nature of the dress.

Drawstring purse 1

I layered the georgette over the duchess satin to create the same floaty transparent effect as the dress. I used a scrap of duchess satin to create a shimmery drawstring casing and used the pinhem turn-up on the old georgette scrap to make the drawstring strap. Done!

But the purse still needed a little something. With leftover scraps of georgette and satin, I made small rosettes and tiny leaves attaching them just under the casing on the drawstring side of the purse.

Drawstring purse 2

It was nearly there, but not quite. The purse needed a little bit more lift. I then remembered the discarded diamantes from the shoulder straps and set about attaching them to the fabric rosettes – truly nothing wasted and it worked a treat!

Drawstring purse 4

So as I write this post the dress is still on the mannequin waiting to be placed into the clothing bag for pickup and the purse is finished and waiting to be wrapped in tissue paper – a little pre-wedding surprise, as I have not yet told Prue that I managed to cobble the purse from the scraps.

Drawstring purse 3

I think she will be pleased.

I was taken on a journey with this project – not knowing when I started how I wanted the end product to look. This was indeed risky and could easily have made its way to the rubbish bin.

However, I started in the knowledge that in the process of creating, one can sometimes turn near disasters into creative brilliance if lucky. I find mistakes or slip-ups can show me a way not previously considered.

Does a create-it-as- you-go attitude work for you? Can it work out better than you imagined? Have you ever made something completely new from old?

Please let me know.

Sew, Wear, Love


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