I began to learn to make my own clothes when I was around 14. This was led by the desire to wear the kind of clothes I couldn't afford/find in high-street stores, and to have things in my wardrobe I wouldn't see anywhere else. It used to really bother me when I'd see someone wearing the same thing as me (or even something similar) so I wanted to make unique pieces that were an expression of my personality.
This also became a love of thrift shopping and the excitement that comes with finding a real gem in need of a new home. These types of pieces really tell a story and I love to embellish that tale by giving them a new lease of life through alteration, re-fashioning and upcycling.
In August 2019, I scored an absolute treasure in a charity shop in my local village of Holmfirth. I had to double-take when I came across this quilted beauty. Not only because it's so eye-catching, but also because I'd had a length of the exact same safari fabric in my stash for about five years....but it was purchased from another charity shop...11,427 miles away...in New Zealand!
It was meant to be. It needed some work, for sure. But I had plenty of ideas of ways to transform it. It was just a matter of time - or lack of! Since making clothes has become my career, it's rare that I have the chance to make garments for myself these days. So the jacket sat on the rack at the pkt Studio, untouched, for nearly two years!
Until last week, when I was in need of a pick-me-up, and found myself picking-it-up from the rack and making it a little promise that we were about to start our new life together. Me, the lions, tigers AND the bears.
As the fabric is so jazzy, I felt a 'less is more' approach felt right so I started by removing the collar, cutting 5cm off the hem, reshaping the shoulder, centre front and neckline. Since the original jet pockets were gaping, I decided to sew them shut and add patch pockets instead, cut from the fabric I already had in my stash and laboriously pattern-matched to blend in with the fronts.
I also removed the lining, as I'd had a lightbulb moment when the idea of making the jacket reversible came to me. I love how loud the print is, but knew I would reach for this piece in my wardrobe more if there was the option to wear it with a slightly more subdued side as the outer. I used the offcuts from the main fabric to transfer the changes I'd made so they would match perfectly, by pinning the cut out piece to the unpicked lining and cutting along the raw edge.
I chose this delicious Jacquard Cotton from Merchant & Mills to be the optional reverse side of the jacket and provide an extra layer of warmth too. I used the altered lining pieces as a pattern and added more bound patch pockets...because there's no such thing as 'too many pockets'.
After constructing the inner layer, the two layers were stay-stitched together before finishing the edges with handmade bias binding.
I'm over the moon with the final result and stoked I have another me-made garment to add to my wardrobe, especially one as versatile as this! I decided to re-visit this project whilst feeling overwhelmed and weary after some upsetting news. Sewing has always been a form of escapism for me, one that's easily taken for granted when it becomes your livelihood too.
After spending a few hours re-working the jacket - a process which I found incredibly joyous - I not only had a new piece for my wardrobe, but also a smile on my face, a huge sense of achievement and the realisation that making time to make things for myself was so vital. I shared the process on Instagram as I was making and had so many lovely messages saying how fascinating it was to see the transformation process.
I've decided whilst I'm still gradually phasing a return to working full-time, I going to dedicate one day a week to making something for myself, or as a gift. Not only will I be able to keep doing what I love as a form of self-care and for the pure joy of it, but it will also give me the opportunity to share the process with you here, which I hope will be interesting and perhaps inspire you to give sewing a go yourself if you've never tried it before!
I've also been working on bringing some new designs to life, that will be available on a made to order basis - including this cute little vest!
I sampled the design last week, with some chocolate brown moleskin lined with luscious Liberty fabric. There's a few tweaks I need to make to the pattern before I can grade it into the size range and get a listing up on the store. It will be available in these fabrics, as well as a limited range of vintage pieces, or in a fabric of your choice which I can source just for you so yours will be totally unique!
Stay tuned for more re-worked pieces soon!