If you’ve ever been vintage shopping, you’ve likely spotted a dress or jacket made out of beautiful fabric, but the actual piece of clothing was just not right for you. Even the most unfashionable pieces can be salvaged with a little creativity. We asked Trish of “Trish Stitched” how she transforms her thrift store finds into gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces. She has transformed a velvet mumu into a gorgeous jumpsuit and an oversized trench into a replica of one of her favorite designer pieces. Prepared to be amazed and inspired!
SB: When and why did you start refashioning?
TS: One of my very first sewing projects was a refashion! I needed a dress for Junior Prom and couldn’t find anything that fit me. I had a dress in my closet that used to belong to my Grandma, so I wound up refashioning it for prom! My favorite part about this refashion was that I actually didn’t cut the dress, just sewed the hem into the upper skirt to give the dress a poofy effect.
After that project, I thought it would be easier to alter existing clothes rather than making them from scratch. My high school didn’t offer sewing classes, and no local place held lessons so I was on my own to learn. Refashioning taught me clothing construction, how to fit, and gave me the opportunity to work with materials I couldn’t otherwise afford!
Trish’s first refashion, Janome Sewing machine
SB: How can you tell if a thrift piece will have enough fabric for your project? (Your cargo-pants-to-vest project uses a little bit of extra fabric, but I’m amazed by how much of it was actually made from the pants.)
TS: I think I have an easier time refashioning because of my size. I am 4’9”, so almost everything I find at the thrift store is oversized on me. (But it’s also why I started sewing in the first place – nothing fits!)
Sometimes, I won’t know I don’t have enough material until I am laying out pattern pieces and realize there just isn’t enough. That’s what happened with my cargo pants to vest project! When that happens, I decide which part would look best in other materials, but I always try to use the most I can out of the original garment.
If I’m not working with pattern pieces, a good way to judge is by wrapping a garment around your body, and visually envisioning if it could work. I recently had a dress that I wanted to turn into pants, but after trying to line up the side seams of the dress onto my legs, I knew I wouldn’t have enough material – so that dress is waiting to become something else.
SB: What’s your favorite refashioning project of all time? (I personally loved your Alice and Olivia inspired trench – it was brilliant!)
TS: Thank you! That trench was such a fun project – and definitely out of my style comfort zone!
One of my absolute favorite refashions is my jeans to bomber jacket project. This project was the epitome of my style, and it is the piece that gets worn the most in my “refashioned wardrobe”. I had two pairs of coordinating jeans, and used one as the body of the jacket, and the other pair for the arms.
I also love sharing this project as an example of using multiple articles of clothing in a single refashion. When I first started looking at refashions online, a lot of styles that came up were patchwork based, and I never wanted to wear a garment that looked homemade. This bomber was a great example of combining garments into a modern look.
SB: What’s a good refashioning project for a beginner?
TS: A great beginner project is turning a dress into a cute top! I did a very easy tutorial a while back showing how to hem a dress in my own closet that I no longer wore into a top that has gotten so much wear! Another really simple refashion is turning old jeans into shorts – and with the raw hem style, you don’t even have to sew to do this one!
SB: Do you have any thrifting tips? When you’re out thrifting, how do you select clothing pieces for your refashioning projects?
TS: My first thrifting tip is to be open-minded and go through all sections of the thrift store. I’ve found great pieces in men’s and kid’s sections! If possible, go thrifting often! I try to go thrifting 1-2 times a month, and sometimes walk out empty handed – and that’s ok! Find pieces that can fit into your life whether that is through color, print or material.
When I look for clothes for refashioning projects, I like to look for the pieces that really need love. If something has tears, stains, or is very out of style, I know that it is less likely to be bought by the average shopper. Being able to give these items another chance to be worn is something I really enjoy. I don’t like refashioning items that can live a life “as is”. If something is in really great condition, I leave it on the rack for someone else who can enjoy it. Or, if it’s a great piece in my size – I buy it to wear!