A nip and a tuck

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am useless at this refashioning malarky; so when Portia Lawrie announced that the theme for  The Refashioners 2017 was  “suits you”, I did a little snort and a happy dance because no way was I going to participate in that! I had donated every suit I own to the op-shop because, being retired, I could never imagine needing one, let alone needing one to refashion.

Then I found myself trawling op-shops, on the pretext of looking for a white/cream suit for Tom to ruin at something he was going to, giving myself face slaps about why I was really there, and was happy to find no suits under $30. Then I found this suit and silk tie and the lady in the op-shop was most apologetic that she charged me as much as $10 for the combo. I tried not to look too pleased in case she put up the price!

The suit is a beautiful Australian wool and doesn’t look like it has ever been worn. All the pockets are still sewn down. Mind you, that means nothing; how often do I see men walking round with the display labels proudly exhibited on their suit/coat sleeves? I even found a GQ article on the matter!



My suit was flung across the table and lay there rather insouciantly for three days while I looked at it with no clue as to how to start. Looking at the labels made matters worse! This was a fine suit I was about to hack into and probably ruin for evermore.


Even the lining is fancy! It has maps of New Zealand woven into it. I rather like the fabric. It is plain black with an interesting weave , and doesn’t feel overtly masculine. I could imagine buying this fabric if I wanted a skirt or a pair of trousers, or even a suit!


I even managed to get a couple of photos pre-hackery. This suit belonged to a rather corpulent, short gentleman as the trousers are just about the right length on me. Everything else is on the large side though.

Oh where to start? where to start! Ok, I began by taking out the sleeves as that seemed like a logical start. Like other people I was fascinated with the innards of this suit, particularly the jacket. It seems as though it is built up in layers. I had thought I’d make a bomber jacket, but other people have done this, so I decided against it, meaning I had no plan, and you know what they say about failure to plan…

Having removed the sleeves I tried it on. It seemed that opening the side seams and doing some sort of clever draping might work and then I saw that the pockets traversed the side seams. Back to plan – er, no plan! I tried it upside down – nice because I couldn’t see my head, then I put it on back to front. I pulled over the back and quite liked the tunic effect this gave, especially with the double vent. So this became the plan. My only problem was that the back neck was now the front neck and was much too high. I unpicked the back of the collar, trimmed the neck down, took a deep breath and cut the collar in half, and then joined everything back together. I feel as though the neck is still a smidge high but there was no way that I was going to repeat this process.


Of course, making the neck lower increased the length of the neck edge and I had to fit it back into the now cut collar. This is where the tucks come in. I did one long tuck and a couple of short ones. Worked a treat. Unfortunately I then had to gather the lining to fit everything together and decided that it was just too untidy. I solved this by picking apart that lovely silk tie and cutting a strip of what is essentially bias tape, and handstitching it over the inside neck. I think I like this part the best, it’s so pretty.


I replaced the two original buttons with two of my own, that had come from the Morrison sale. Not that my buttons are anything special, I just thought they were slightly more interesting than the original jacket buttons.


I didn’t think I’d like the back at all and was laughing with a friend that I would have to have a long scarf hanging down the back to hide it, but I quite like it, weird breast pocket on shoulder blade and all.


All that remained was to sew some bias binding, cut from one of the sleeves, round the armscyes. Sounds easy, but in my wisdom stupidity I decided to not grade the fabric and interfacing around the armscye, but leave it all fat and chunky so that I would have a distinctive edge, sort of like a sleeve roll. I handstitched the binding to the inside so that said rounded edge was prominent, but this has caused a couple of issues, coupled with the way the long tucks hit the armscye, I have a bit of gaping on one side, so this will be redone. Not today though as I have other things to do!


Whilst I was wrangling the jacket I was formulating a plan for the trousers. I’ve seen where people take men’s trousers in at the back and sides and somehow finish up with perfectly tailored trousers. May I just say that this does not work for me! I had to unpick all the seams and the waistband, only leaving the front fly area and front waistbands intact. I laid my block on the trousers and could see that if I wanted to retain both the front pockets and the fly, I was going to have to do something creative.


My original flat fronted trousers became pleated front trousers. I began with two short tucks, but had to extend one to take a bit of excess fabric out of the front. I tweaked the crotch seams and basically sewed the legs back together the way they had been – how galling was that? I hadn’t needed to unpick those legs, they were even the perfect length for me, and of course I couldn’t get the seams to sit as nicely as they were originally in spite of so much steam I had to take my glasses off!DSC09775

I am absolutely thrilled with the fit of these trousers at the back, and they are brilliantly comfortable. They are lined to just past the knee which makes them feel lovely. I was aiming for Katherine Hepburn/Lauren Bacall but feel a bit as though I’ve finished up with Humphrey Bogart without the cuffs. Care factor is zero though.


Couldn’t resist this photo as my step-daughter’s dog, whom I am looking after, came and had a look as if to say “what the devil are you doing?”DSC09777

So this is my entry in The Refashioners 2017. It’s not fancy, I haven’t really transformed my suit into anything except another suit, but I feel as if I have maintained the integrity of the original with very little waste. My biggest scraps are the leftovers from the sleeves, everything else is very small. IMG_6349

The only outside elements I’ve introduced are the two buttons and part of the tie that came with the suit.

There are plenty of things that aren’t perfect with this make, but if you can’t see them, I’m not going to tell you, and I feel as though I may have got away with it. Will I wear it? I will most certainly wear those trousers a lot, and I shall probably throw on the tunic/jacket for fun occasionally.

I have, as always, been blown away by the creativity of other refashioners, and I always had that epic suit refashion by Sally from Charityshopchic in the back of my mind, oh, how I would have loved to have the skills to do this (and perhaps the youthful body to wear it!). Anyway, it is what it is, and this is the result of my labour. It didn’t take too long in the end, although the procrastination was epic all the way through.


I am wearing a tangerine long sleeved merino t-shirt, which I’ve probably blogged but can’t find the post. It’s just a simple, self-drafted top. Also wearing my old lady loafers which I felt went perfectly with this outfit. They are Letitzia, from the Letitzia shop in Claremont.


17 thoughts on “A nip and a tuck

  1. The trousers are certainly going to be worn lots – they look ace! Do you use a clapper as part of your pressing equipment? I would be lost without mine as it can make even lost causes look better.
    Great refashion (I’m not brave enough to try 😉)

  2. So good! I’ve worn my trousers loads too. I think I must have a mannish shape on my lower half because mens trews always fit me rather well. 🤔Procrastination was also epic over here 😂

  3. OH, how I loved reading your story! Chuckled out loud more than a few times…

    I think the suit refashioning challenge is the most difficult yet and you’ve scored yourself a great pair of trousers!

    I’m feeling very NOT up to the task of this year’s challenge, but I never say never, LOL.

    1. Oh have a go Sue, it is fun. I’m still looking at that top and it might get a revamp at some point, but those trousers are definitely totally wearable.

  4. I am not particularly keen on this year’s challenge either but enjoyed reading your post. The trouser fit does indeed look very good. At least we have the added interest of dissecting all the details on the inside of a tailored jacket. No need for any guilt in cutting them up, I don’t think there are many takers for the suits in the charity shops.

  5. that looks great Sue! I especially love how the jacket looks at the back, and the trousers turned out absolutely beautiful. Fantastic!! xx

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