de ja vu: my Castaway to Couture competition entry

Monday, 12 June 2017
I wasn't planning on entering this year's Castaway to Couture competition run by the Australian Sewing Guild, despite the amazing prizes on offer. I was just plain out of ideas, but the weekend before the competition closed I happened to find myself in an op shop where a large box pleat skirt made from wool in a bold print caught my eye. And in that instant I decided to enter the competition with only a few days to go.

Using New Look 6968, which is my go to sheath dress pattern, I turned the oversized skirt into a fitted sheath dress which is perfect for me to wear to work:

If you're thinking this refashion looks very familiar, you'd be right! I guess I am a one trick pony because this year's entry is pretty much exactly like last year's entry (posted here) which was also a large box pleat skirt I made into a fitted sheath dress using New Look 6968. I wear this grey dress frequently and there's always space for another great dress in my wardrobe, so despite being unimaginative I decided to stick with what I know works best and what I knew I could make in a short time:

In an attempt to be a little more creative, I decided to use the border print vertically instead of around the bottom of the skirt. There was enough fabric to make it either way, which is why a box pleat skirt is a perfect candidate for a refashion - once you've unpicked it and pressed the pleats out you have two large rectangular pieces of fabric just as though you had bought it fresh cut from a roll.

This skirt started life as a size 20 Fletcher Jones skirt, which was an iconic Australian label known for using Australian wool but has sadly since closed. I bought this on a 50% off day, so it cost me $6:

Using Claire Schaeffer's brown paper and vinegar method I managed to press the pleats mostly out, and although they are slightly still there it gives a bit of texture to the fabric.

I decided to place the coloured stripes on one side of my body, which meant that I had to cut one side out upside down. If you look closely you can see some white horizontal stripes within the grey and yellow vertical stripes which are on opposing sides on the front and back, but I doubt anyone else will notice this little detail.

I tried my best to line those stripes up vertically and horizontally, but the darts made that impossible:

I had to eke out the sleeves from the leftover fabric which meant that I couldn't match the stripes there either, but I think all these mismatched stripes makes the dress look very RTW. And the fact that several people have complimented me on the dress but no one has mentioned the stripes not lining up exactly just proves that no one cares about these details as much as we do!

Because I've made this dress so many times before, it came together quickly and fitted like a glove first time. The original skirt was unlined and had a short invisible zip, so I had to use new lining and a new invisible zip but I'll reuse the original zip in another project and there was hardly any fabric left of the original garment, and overall it was a good reuse of the original garment. The whole point of refashioning and recycling is to reduce waste, and it makes little sense to me when I see refashioning projects that use just a little bit of several garments - so much leftover scraps which absolutely no one needs anymore of. I'm also a little bit horrified when I see beautiful garments 'refashioned' just by chopping off sleeves or the skirt to make a mini dress, it makes me wonder if that project won't be worn often or last too long and is in effect just fast fashion as well.

Anyway, if you've read this far can I ask one more favour from you? You can vote for your favourite project over at the ASG website - there are some great other entries in the gallery, but if you like mine the best vote for entry 19 (vote here)!

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