Ugly dress to Upcycle top. My #SewUpcycle23 entry

When I set up Bornella Fabrics in 2021, I was very clear that my business needed to champion sustainability in as many ways as I could. Product sourcing and selection is an easy place to start but I am also keen to extend that to helping to drive change in mindset and behaviour. So we're thinking more consciously about the clothes we wear.

When Karen and Becky (@sew.little.time and @notes_from_the_sewing_room) approached me to sponsor #SewUpcycle23 this year, I jumped at the chance. This is a great challenge as it encourages up to use fabric that already exists and adapt it to make a new garment or bag out of it. Because the most sustainable option is always using what we already have.

I decided to upcycle a jersey maxi-dress from Gap that has been in my cupboard for about 10 years and probably unworn for around 8 of those. He's the 'before' picture. It was not very 'me'.

For a maxi-dress it had surprisingly little fabric so I ended up piecing one of the sleeves and the neckband. I decided on a complete redesign and made the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top with the ruched sleeves and the plain bodice. And I LOVE it. It's sooooo much more wearable and will go with absolutely everything. I don't have many monochrome items but perhaps I should have more.

It's my first time making this pattern. There are a few options of sleeve length (long / elbow length) and style (ruched / plain), and a couple of bodice options too - ruched at the front neckline or plain. I chose the plain bodice and ruched sleeves as I do love a statement sleeve. Sadly I didn't have enough fabric to make the long sleeve version, so I went with the option that ends just above the elbow. 

It's more fitted than I was expecting but I think the sizing is actually spot on for the size chart. I'm just not used to wearing figure hugging clothes! I cut a straight size 4 with no mods. I did originally decide to have the stripe running along the neckline and cut the piece. But as it was preloved fabric, the grainline wasn't straight at the stripe took a wander along the neck binding piece. So I cut a new piece with the stripes running width ways and it looks much better.

The only criticism of the pattern is that the pattern had a start point on the sleeves on where to attach the elastic, but no end point. So I wasn't sure how much I had to stretch the elastic... so I guessed. I looked at the picture on the pattern packet and placed the end of my elastic in a similar spot. It worked well, but it would have been nice to have some guidance. 

Overall, I'm really happy to get a very wearable outfit out of a disused piece of clothing and it has a new lease of life!

Happy sewing 

Tanya xx