Goodbye old friend – hello new wardrobe

Have you ever had an item of clothing in your wardrobe that you love, love, love and even though it’s battered and ripped, you just can’t bear to part with it? Have you looked at this item and thought ‘If only I had bought ten of these then I could wear it forever…’?

I certainly have,and that’s why I went to a fantastic Wardrobe Cloning workshop at Oh Sew Brixton! on Sunday afternoon. As the rain hammered down on the skylight and the thunder and lightning lit up the London sky, eight of us were busily rummaging through our wardrobe ‘can’t-bear-to-part-withs’ with our tutor Yolanda, tracing outlines and seams, darts and zips onto greaseproof paper.

As the name suggests, the Wardrobe Cloning workshop teaches you how to create a dressmaking pattern from your favourite items so you can recreate them again and again. We brought a few items each but the work was so intensive most of us got through just one garment.

Old friend dress

I brought this dress I bought years ago from Warehouse. I love it. I’ve worn it a million times and always get a compliment whenever I do. It fits perfectly. But it’s getting old. Alas, wearing and washing have taken their toll and now I can only wear it with a long cardy to hide the various little rips and holes. I’ve had it recreated by the tailors of Vietnam, but in fabric so hideous I couldn’t bear to wear it. (I was on holiday! I had sunstroke! I was drunk at the time!) So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

First Yolanda talked us through the piecing of a garment and how to notice the shape and drape of it, taking notes of darts, zips and curves to the outline as well as the feel of the fabric. In essence – what makes us love the item and what we want to recreate in the pattern.Tracing seams

Then it’s down to work. Laying greaseproof paper over our items we traced every dart and seam, measuring, measuring and measuring again.The bodice was fairly easy on my dress, but trying to get my back and front skirt to line up together was tricky. Garments change shape over time with wear and tear so it’s a matter of straightening up, second guessing and a little bit of alchemy, as Yolanda put it.

Measuring measuring...

The three hours whizzed by and many of us were just finishing up at 5pm on our first piece. I can’t wait to make this dress. I think putting the pattern together myself takes a huge chunk of fear out of making it. I understand the pattern perfectly – because I created it. I’m still going to make it out of cheap fabric first though – I’m not that confident yet.

Front and back plus a Peter Pan collar

Wardrobe Cloning is just one of the many workshops that Oh Sew Brixton! offers, but if you’re interested then get booking for the Sat 20th August class from 2-5pm. Costs £35 which is a bargain in my book if you consider how many clothes you can re-create as a result of the skills you’ve learned. Just think what you can do – charity shop finds in awful fabrics can become templates for glorious new items. Love a friend’s dress but can’t get it anymore? Trace it and make it yourself! Though before I get carried away on a reverie of the possible – I need to get down to the practical… and make the darn thing first. Watch this space for further updates.

What about you? If you could clone one thing from your wardrobe – what would it be?

7 thoughts on “Goodbye old friend – hello new wardrobe

  1. Just a thought – but couldn’t you have unpicked the version of the dress in the horrible fabric to use as the pattern? Although I do see the real advantage of learning to clone other items where you don’t have a hideous version!

  2. Hmmm good point! If I’ve not thrown it out or given it away already I might see if I can do that. The horrible fabric version also had longer sleeves which I’d like to experiment with too. Cheers Bridie.

  3. “I’ve had it recreated by the tailors of Vietnam, but in fabric so hideous I couldn’t bear to wear it. (I was on holiday! I had sunstroke! I was drunk at the time!) ”

    You are hilarious. Thanks for the laughs. I found your blog b/c you commented on my post on FB, and I read all your posts back to the start. Keep at it! I started blogging very recently as well, and I have had many of the same thoughts. Like, where the hell was I when sewing went all blog crazy? How fun is this? Or that I am getting addicted to blogging. I find all these cool sites and get a million ideas about what I want to try on mine next. And then I think, gads, now I want to learn how to use Photoshop, Polyvore, Pinterest, etc. It’s a lot to learn, and it is all fun. Cheers!

    • Heheh thanks Sandy – loving your blog too! Yay – another wordpress blogger 🙂 I am loving this too – it’s opened up a whole new world for me – it’s quite astonishing!

  4. I have a shirt dress I love (its got that retro 40’s feeling to it). Its great for all seasons and is so comfy and flattering. I did actually have it remade an another fabric. And when that one falls apart I’ll have it remade again.

    (just working my way through your blog.)

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