This post is particularly relevant as it is Makers for Fashion Revolution Week, a campaign which asks the question “Who made my clothes?” Whilst I make most of mine it has set me off thinking more about where the fabric I buy has come from. I am sometimes guilty of succumbing to the temptation to buy lovely new fabric without too much thought about how or where it was made.
However, I do also buy secondhand fabric and we spend a LOT of time in Chichester’s charity shops, usually doing a trawl of most of them on a Saturday. Our favourite, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is the St Wilfrid’s Hospice Retro & Vintage shop at Eastgate Square.
Over several recent visits I’d noticed a folded piece of fabric tied with string and labelled “?1960s vintage fabric”. I picked it up more than once but the colours weren’t really what I would normally pick so back on the shelf it went. I eventually decided that at £6 I might as well just buy it! There turned out to be three large pieces – I’ve not measured them but there is at least enough for a dress and a skirt.
On further inspection I spotted the wording on the selvedge and did some research.
I discovered that a Conrad Von Hamm moved to Hawaii from Germany in 1890 at the age of 20 where he worked for a successful local businessman named Alexander Young. He later married the boss’s daughter and he and his father-in-law set up the Von Hamm-Young Corp.
After his father-in-law’s death in 1910 Conrad took over and expanded the business and as well as selling machinery and automobiles he began to produce fabric under the name THC Hawaiian Textiles. Apparently any fabrics with a VHY tag is from the 1950s – 60s, THC means that it was produced in the 1960s-70s so the shop label was correct.
Here’s the fabric in all its glory. I’ve no idea what type of fabric it is. When I visit Ditto Fabrics at the weekend I will ask for an expert opinion.
The design has started to grow on me since I posted the image on Instagram and had several positive comments! I think I might try making a dress using Simplicity 1609 as this is a re-issued 60s pattern. I’ve already made a bedsheet toile.
I would dispute the term Jiffy in relation to this pattern as there are a lot of darts to sew – neck, bust, back and seam – but miraculously the bodice is a perfect fit so no changes needed there. I cut the 10 but did need to reduce my seam allowance slightly at the waist for breathing room. Yes, I have put a zip into the toile – Mr Jane Makes is wonderful in many ways but not so hot on pinning someone into a toile to check the fit! I’ve since waited a week to walk off a large Easter egg and it is still OK fit-wise!
There is a front seam too but after a conversation with @vintage_charity (who has made this dress up several times) I think I may eliminate the seam allowance and cut it on the fold to avoid the need for pattern matching on the front.
I have finished my first “Get Shirty” Refashion. I really enjoyed making it and there is a real sense of satisfaction to be had from creating something new from something discarded. This was the shirt I started with, bought from a Chichester charity shop.
As a virgin Refashioner I decided to stick with what I know and adapt this pattern to incorporate the button band at the back.
This is what I did ………
- Cut up the side and sleeve seams and removed the collar to release all the fabric. I also removed the pocket. The fabric is a really good quality.
- Traced off new pattern pieces in a size 8 to take account of the fact that I wouldn’t have to pull the top over my head. I had previously cut out the 10 to allow for wriggle room.
- Traced the back pattern piece as one piece so I didn’t need to cut the back fabric on the fold (the buttons would have made this tricky).
- Cut the back facing in two separate pieces and extended the centre edge by ⅝ to allow for turning under when finishing the facing.
- To make sure I got the top button in the right place I measured up ⅝ plus a fraction from the top of the third button hole down and placed the top of the pattern at this point. I had to start further down than I had originally planned to ensure that the pattern piece fitted on the fabric. I then lined up the centre of the back pattern piece with the centre of the buttons.
- Cut the front from the back of the shirt and the facings from the tails.
I was amazed how little fabric was left at the end. I had to throw the collar away because it was a bit creepy all on its own – like a severed head!
Re-sized Back Facing
From here I constructed the top according to the pattern with a bit of fiddling around at the top of the button band when I realised that folding this under to the wrong side would cover up the back of the top button hole making it unusable! I ended up cutting it off, binding the edge with a zig zag stitch and turning a tiny machine sewn hem. Not perfect and definitely room for improvement but it doesn’t shown when it’s on.
It all came together very nicely after that and I decided to finish the hem and sleeves using a twin needle. I’ve only used this once before and was halfway round the hem when I realised I was using the stretch version but I couldn’t face re-threading it. I think the trick is to go slowly because speeding up seems to make the threads tangle.
Here’s the result. Next time I’ll do the top stitching at the neckline with the twin needle too! I should have thought of that at the time. I did think about sewing the existing pocket on the front but I wasn’t sure and now I’m wearing it I’m glad I didn’t.
I went off to buy another shirt for my next Refashion but my purchase (£5) from the St Wilfrid’s Hospice shop was just too nice and W insisted on changing into it before we even got home. If you were in the Market Avenue car park in Chichester on Saturday morning while the changing process took place I can only apologise!
After bumping into two lots of friends who complimented him on his lovely shirt there was no way I could cut it up so I’m still searching for a new Get Shirty candidate.
If you don’t already know about The Refashioners you should check out this post from Portia at Makery which gives the background to the series and details of this year’s challenge.
For 2015, alongside the big hitters from some well-known sewing blogs, Portia is inviting everyone to take part and become a Refashioner. The theme is “Get Shirty” and Refashions must predominantly involve a button down man’s shirt but the final outcome is up to you!
If you want to take part you can share your creations via Instagram or Pinterest and there is a prize (deadline for entries 31 August).
I’ve decided to give it a go and spent half an hour last Friday lunchtime checking out some of Chichester’s charity shops for a suitable candidate. Is it acceptable to sniff the underarms of charity shop shirts in public? I came up trumps in Barnardos with a really fabulous shirt for just £3.99 but when I got back to the office and checked out the name on the label I discovered that J.Lindberg’s shirts retail from £80 – £120. This one is IMMACULATE and having washed and ironed it I decided I just couldn’t take the scissors to such a lovely shirt in case my Refashion turns out to be a disaster. It is now in W’s wardrobe.
So, up early on Saturday morning and back into town for another look (and sniff) round. I was focusing on large shirts so I know there will be plenty of fabric to play with and found this one in the Cancer Research shop. I can’t remember how much it was but it was another bargain. It’s by Thomas Pink so excellent quality and is certainly large. So far I have washed and ironed it to be photographed on Doris and then washed it again after removing the pocket. I also followed Portia’s advice on removing stitch marks.
I’m not going to try and be too clever with my first refashioning project. All I know at this stage is that I want to preserve and use the button band. It seems a waste to jettison something that would probably take me ages to produce myself having never attempted to make a shirt.
I’ll keep you posted on progress.