From frumpy to fabulous-ish

The theme for the February Make a Garment a Month Sewalong on Instagram is “from frumpy to fabulous”, and the idea was to take an existing item of clothing that made me feel frumpy and transform it. I knew I was going to struggle with this as most of my frumpy clothes get dispatched pretty quickly. However, I had been given two magnificent wool shawls when I was in India, which I never wore because they made me feel like Old Mother Hubbard. I couldn’t bear to give them away, so they were an obvious choice for a refashion. I didn’t remember to take any proper photos but did manage to snap this one off in Sarah’s studio, when I was there to collaborate on a new pattern for Pattern Union.


The shawls were fairly big and very decorative – think embroidery, mirrors and beautiful colours woven through. I decided that the only way to ensure that I maximised the decoration was to trace the pattern on to the fabric. This photo shows some of the design. I decided to use the wrong side of the fabric as I didn’t think the mirrors would work in the daytime. Of course, had I had my wits about me I would have made it reversible.


I used the edges of the shawl as the hem, and could not bring myself to waste a tiny piece of lovely embroidery, so I turned it into a pocket. I did have to cut the tassels off as I decided they were a step too far, but I shall be using them on something else as I kept them.


I have made so many versions of this pattern, which is the Esme from Lotta Jansdotter’s “Everyday Style”. This dress does double duty as there is currently a challenge on the #sewover50 group on IG, which is #so50visible, where we are being encouraged to make patterns which use older models  (over 45) on the pattern advertising. The Esme uses Lotta’s Mother-in-Law as one of the models, so everyone is making this pattern as there is something of a paucity of older models on sewing patterns and we’re all struggling to find them. Begin to take notice, if you will, at the lack of representation of older women and men on pattern envelopes and advertising! If you want to participate in this challenge (with prizes), you do not have to be over fifty, just show your make next to a mature model. Everyone is welcome!


This is going to be a much worn dress come the winter. I’m going to be able to wear a thin merino top under it, and team it with tights. I possibly should have given the dress a quick press before taking the photos, but I had to get these first thing in the morning as I would absolutely expire if I had to wear it during the day – it’s been quite warm!


I mentioned that I had two shawls, and the other one has been turned into a lovely new pattern soon to be released by Pattern Union. This is such a useful item of clothing, and I will discuss it in detail as soon as the pattern is released, but here is a little sneak preview. It’s a bit matchy-matchy, but not beyond the realms of possibility that I will team these two together.


I am so happy that these beautiful shawls will no longer languish in a drawer, and I know that I will enjoy both of them greatly. Thank you to SarahLiz for the wonderful prompt.


23 thoughts on “From frumpy to fabulous-ish

    1. Thank you so much for the link. I did know about this designer, and have one of their patterns, but I don’t think I realised how many of their patterns feature mature models. so good!

  1. The February prompt is not an obvious one. I also had to think hard about something frumpy in my wardrobe. Just like you, I tend to give these pieces away as soon as possible! I must say you came up with a very orginal idea. I love this pattern, it’s an absolute workhorse, and it worked perfectly to showcase this fabulous piece of fabric. Well done Sue!

    1. thank you, Hélène, I just adore this pattern, and will continue to make it when I can’t think what else to make!! I was thrilled with how the shawl turned out, as the fabric is really beautiful.

  2. This is a wonderful Little Red Dress and so many beautiful details up close. What a nice handy tunic style too. Great refashioning and definitely fabulous! xx

  3. I’m so glad you were able to use these lovely shawls (and also glad you kept the leftover bits to use elsewhere). The garments look great together or apart–enjoy. The shoes really do make the outfit even better in a lot of ways too, very flattering to the legs, which look great in them.

  4. Loving this refashion, Sue! The colour is to dye for! Out of interest, are those shoes from M&S? I think I have a pair in black :).

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