Friday, 26 June 2020

Tablecloth to Top Refashion

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

This top would have been my contribution to The Refashioners 2020 which has unfortunately but understandably been cancelled this year. I had already completed my project and wanted to share it with you all as (despite not being the most dramatic refashion ever) it really pushed me outside my sewing comfort zone and I'm hoping it might inspire some of you to give it a try too!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

Portia's yearly refashioning challenge started back in 2011 and carries an important message, encouraging sewers to look at fabric and clothing in a new light. I try to make careful choices when it comes to the fabric I use and how it has been produced. Despite turning away from fast fashion and making my own clothes I am aware that my fabric consumption has its own impact on the environment. One of the best ways to care for our planet and sew sustainably is to reuse and repurpose textiles which already exist. The theme for this year's challenge was planned to be 'use what you have' which felt a little more accessible to me as a newbie refashioner as you can use household items with large flat surface areas of fabric like bedding, curtains and tableware.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

I was still really daunted by this challenge. I've always thought I that the transformation challenge on The Great British Sewing Bee would be my downfall. When I cook I'm not the kind of cook who throws things in to a pan on instinct...I like a recipe! My creative brain just does not seem to think in that way. So I eased in to my first refashion by using a tablecloth. Despite being a flat piece of fabric I really tried my best to make the most of what the table cloth gave me; right down to using one of the loops of edge stitching as the loop for my button at the centre back neckline. In the spirit of 'use what you have' the covered button I had stashed away, salvaged from an old RTW top.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

When I moved to Dorking last summer I had a huge sort out and only brought with me things I thought I really needed so I didn't have any spare textiles asking to be refashioned. Instead I turned to eBay as my source of unwanted textiles. I've long been a fan and follower of the work of embroidery artists on Instagram like Tessa Perlow who embroiders on to existing garments to transform them into unique worn works of art. However, I've never been able to find the time or patience to do this kind of work myself. This project is sort of a cheats way of achieving a hand embroidered top, by using an already embroidered textile!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

I chose this tablecloth because I fell in love with the embroidery. I haven't found a single flaw in the beautiful symmetrical handwork. I felt kind of awful cutting in to it but focused on the fact that all that work is being appreciated and given another life. I loved the colours of it and that it was quite big and bold, plus the embroidered green border added another element to play with. But what really sold it to me was how the embroidery was arranged in clear quarter and semi-circular sections. I enjoyed figuring out how to place those to their best advantage on the top and use as much of the embroidery as possible. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I think my favourite part is the back with those big arcs of floral embroidery meeting in the middle.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

I made the refashioning project feel a little more manageable to me by starting with a pattern rather than diving straight in to draping or cutting something from scratch. Baby steps! However, I did fully flex my pattern hacking muscles to make the design of the top much closer to my inspiration. Pinterest is still one of my favourite ways to collect inspiration for my sewing projects and over the last year or so I've pinned numerous boxy little tops with interesting details and style lines. The simplicity of the example below really grabbed me.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

I considered using the free tank tutorial from Fabrics-Store.com (they have a tonne of great resources, patterns and tutorials on their website FYI) but ultimately decided I did want a bit of shaping in the bust. I was torn between the Afternoon Lyra Tank and the Ashton Top from Helen's Closet. I ended up plumping for the Ashton because it seemed to have a lot of mileage in it with options for an all in one facing or bias faced neckline and all sorts of hacks popping up online. When I'm splashing out on a pattern I like to think I'm going to use it multiple times. I'm really pleased with my choice as I think the shaping and fit is great but I'll discuss the pattern more in depth in a future post as I have another hacked version of it to share with you! For reference I cut the size 6 B cup.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

To start with I extended the length of the shoulder seam a little to match the squarer shape of the inspiration garment. Then I drew a line straight down from the outer edge of the shoulder to the hem on both the front and back pattern pieces. I cut down these lines and attached the pieces I'd cut off the front and back together to create my new side panel pattern piece (after folding the bust dart out of the front piece and remembering to add seam allowances where necessary). I straightened off the top edge of the side panel and shortened it by 3" to create the stepped hem. I found this to be about as much as you would want to remove before you start seeing flesh above the waistband of a high waisted pair of trousers or skirt.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

The final thing I needed to do was to cut a strip of linen to fill in the centre back which I wanted to cut two separate panels for to make the most of the beautiful embroidered detail along the edges of the table cloth. I hemmed the top and bottom of this little infill, overlocked the long raw edges then topstitched it in place between the panels 3" up from the hem again. The infill finishes about 5" down from the neckline creating a sort of keyhole opening which fastens with a button at the nape.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

I'm really enjoying the combination of the modern cut of the top constructed with the more traditional embroidery. The weighty beautiful vintage linen turned out perfect for this style of top as it holds the structure nicely. I did have some scraps of white linen left over from my Wrap Top to use for the centre back and side panels but I actually only used it for the bias facing in the end.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

I'm so proud of myself for embracing this creative challenge and can't thank Portia enough for encouraging me to try something a little different. It has really pushed my creativity and construction knowledge and proved that I can do more than I think with my sewing. I'll definitely be looking at textiles differently in future and will make an effort to incorporate more refashioning into my sewing practice. I even feel like I might have the confidence to move on to something a little more challenging next time!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Refashioned Embroidered Tablecloth to Helen's Closet Ashton Top Hack

21 comments:

  1. Aah, this is such a great refashion, Fiona! It's a really pretty top and the embroidery will be seen by a lot more people now (or... when normal life resumes) so no need to feel bad about cutting it up at all. Thanks for the description of how you hacked the pattern, as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much! I like thinking of it that I have given it a different and longer life now rather than cutting up someone's hard work on the embroidery!

      Delete
  2. This is really stunning! I love the higher side panels, such a clever detail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yeah I was so drawn to them when I spotted the inspiration image on Pinterest. Such a nice feature

      Delete
  3. I really like what you have done with the tablecloth, turned into a beautiful top, very impressed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much Janet, I'm really proud of it!

      Delete
  4. I subscribe to very view bloggers- maybe 2- but I am so glad you are one of them! I always enjoy seeing your makes and this one prompted me to comment. WOW! This is absolutely beautiful- I love the back, too- you did such a great job of maximizing the use of the embroidery and the back is stunning!! Nice detail provided as well- maybe when I'm a bit more experienced with sewing I will attempt a re-fashion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O wow what a compliment thank you! I'm really proud of how this turned out and the placement of the embroidery in particular. It has given my sewing confidence a real boost and I've found myself diving in to more complicated projects now
      I can't encourage you to try a refashion more, even if you have limited sewing experience. It really makes you think about sewing a bit differently and more freely

      Delete
  5. Wow! I love this top Fiona. Years ago I inherited several tablecloths and tray cloths that my Auntie Mabel had hand embroidered. I've been wondering lately what I can do with them. I tried to make something for one of my Granddaughters but I would have to cut through some of the embroidery which would spoil it. Thank you for this idea. I'll get the cloths out again and see what I can do. It is a shame to keep them hidden away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O this is such a lovely comment! I do hope you make something you love with them. I did find it difficult cutting through the embroidery but I hope I've done the hard work they put in justice and am now showing it off in a good way. I held my breath when I made the first cut!

      Delete
  6. Lovely. Summery. Perfectly you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think blogger ate my comment 😅 basically.... WOW I LOVE THIS!

    ReplyDelete
  8. So beautiful Fiona! It reminds me of one of my favourite scenes of all time...Scarlette O'Hara, Gone with the Wind, taking down those gorgeous velvet curtains and having them made into a dress to impress Rhett whom she was planning to hit up for financial help. A gorgeous embroidered table cloth into a unique and well fitted summer blouse! Lovely :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O we can all take inspiration from Scarlett! Thank you

      Delete
  9. Such an inventive refashion - perfect for the summer!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I can't believe this was a refashion. It's amazing! I love how you managed to get the edging perfectly on the seams. Great job :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much! I spent a long time playing around with the placement of the pattern pieces and couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out

      Delete
  11. Super impressive hack and use of the fabric!

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!