Tag Archives: recycling clothes

Recycling: Why I can never throw anything away

Almost anything can be repurposed, renovated, re-invented, renewed.  With that realization I am going to have an even harder time clearing out my closet.

As an example: Sometime in the 90’s one of the shirts I made when I needed a nice wardrobe for work on the road  was an oversized military-style shirt made with purple silk charmeuse.  At the time I had discovered  ‘designer ease’ which fit right in with the extra large silhouettes of the time.  Ease is the amount of room built in to a garment.  Wearing ease is big enough to be comfortable, not too tight but designer ease can be anywhere from four to ten inches, huge in other words.

Why the big shirt?  Because it was the style, dude.  And I thought I was bigger than I am.  Who knew?

Why the big shirt? Because it was the style, dude. And I thought I was bigger than I am. Who knew?

I wore this shirt a lot in its initial form, long sleeves with cuffs and long enough to belt with skirts.  finally the cuffs were starting to wear and I was wearing shirts shorter so I cut off the extra length and made short sleeves and wore the shirt that way for maybe ten years.

I KNOW, who keeps shirts that long?  Well I do, for one.  If you take good care of your clothes they really last.  I always wash my silk garments by hand with a silk wash.  I like Forever New.  The clue is in the name, folks. The only real change over the years is that parts of the shirt more exposed to the sun have faded which just makes the garment more interesting.

So, in recent years I haven’t worn it much because it was still too big for my current look, wide through the torso, but the fabric is still good so I had a flash: why not turn it into a vest?  I’d been wanting a new purple vest to replace a finally worn out raw silk reversible vest that I finally gave up on.  I have a purple vest that reverses to olive green quilted silk but it’s more a fall/winter vest so My thought was; single layer for summer.

The shortened version before conversion.

The shortened version before conversion.

I opened the side seams and cut off the sleeves.  Then I removed the pockets and flaps because they were too high for the vest.  I also let out the inverted pleat in the back. then I used my pattern to cut the fronts keeping the front placket and buttons.  When I removed the pockets and flaps the holes from the original stitching were visible so I cut bias strips of purple silk chiffon and some tie material in a painted silk jacquard.  I added extra pieces for style then I repositioned the pockets and used the epaulettes instead of the flaps. A small scrap of another purple silk charmeuse became bias binding for the edges and the widest parts of the sleeves became the belts in the back.  Now I have a useable and fun layer for summer work.

Detail of the vest front.  Cobalt blue glass buttons

Detail of the vest front. Cobalt blue glass buttons

I like vests because they tie an outfit together, help to disguise my asymmetrical form, and take the place of a jacket when it is too warm to wear a jacket.  Of course this one will push the envelope for the business look but I go for the quirky, bohemian boss-lady image: firm but fun.

Vest back.  The vertical strips cover the previous stitching holes

Vest back. The vertical strips cover the previous stitching holes