The Refashioners: men’s suit jacket refashion how to

Some you may remember I started blogging about refashioning way back in the day. No worries if you weren’t around then it was kinda a low-fi affair (but you can sneak a look at all the embarrassing riches/good restyle advice here if you’re nosey).

So I’ve got to say it’s been pretty cool to return to my roots to take part in this year’s Refashioners challenge. If you haven’t heard of this epic challenge, you should definitely read this post here and then seriously consider taking part. The prizes are off. The. Hook.

Essentially the aim of this year’s challenge is to take a two piece suit and refashion it into something wearable and fabulous, using as much of the original suit as possible.

I’m going to warn you now, this post is chalk full of details, breaking down how I went about this challenge. I’ve tried to separate all the steps I took so it’s much easier to find the juicy bits.

Right then, let’s do this…

Inspiration

A good refashion starts with a loose vision and I had a few of the ideas of what I might want to achieve.

I knew I wanted something inspired by suits but more casual to fit with my style and general approach to life. In the end, I took inspiration from the loose, buttonless hanten jackets from Japan and from the beautiful Pattern blocking used at Ace & Jig.

Finding my suit

OK, cards on the table. I ended up having to tweak the rules.

I knew I wanted a linen suit and I wanted the jacket to have as few seams as possible so I had maximum fabric to work with. It took me weeks of searching for a suit that would work, but in the end I defaulted to a one piece – an XL navy linen suit jacket with cotton lawn lining.

The suit is from a UK brand called Evans, which I didn’t think was a particularly fancy brand, but I must say I’m super impressed with the quality of the fabric and the finish. It’s ancing what you discover when you gut the insides of commercially made clothes.

I also knew pretty early on that I wanted to exploit that fab lining and that I wanted to use it in some way to show how you can consider all elements of a piece of clothing in a refashion – not just the main fabric.

Honestly, I’m still kinda bummed this didn’t come with matching trousers. I would have been so tempted to make a pair of wide-legged culottes or relaxed linen pencil skirt. But sigh. That’s life.

What I did

Overall it looked a little something like this:

Gutting the suit

I started by dismantling the suit so I could see what I had to work with. I removed all the lining and the padding and horse hair inserts to leave just the main suit.

The suit had a lot more interfacing then I was expecting, which meant I had to be a bit clever with how I used the fabric – basically I had to follow the lines of the suit instead of recutting new shapes.

Shaping what was left

The next stage involved a lot of pinning and trying on to get the main body of the suit to be the right dimensions for me.

In the end I sewed new shoulder seams and side seams and took the bulk of the top sleeve head off so I could make it into more of a dropped shoulder effect (like the hemlock tee pattern).

Adding new elements

I also was keen to add some lapels and at first I went I to my stash for fabric, but nothing was quite working for me. So I revisited my scarp pile and found some of the pieces I had cut from the bottom of the jacket were perfect lapel size. They were also pre-interfaced which was handy as well.

I attached the lapel at the centre back and tidied up the ends by hemming the ends, like in the illustration above.

It recreates the subtle pattern blocking of my original Ace & Jig inspiration, which makes me pretty happy.

I also added a really, really simple lining using fabric from my stash. If you’d be interested in learning how I did it in more detail let me know and I can set up a tutorial. I was pretty happy with it as a quick n dirty technique.

If I’d been a true bad ass, I’d have finished the edge with a Hong Kong seam, or some other fancy method. But done is better than perfect, so I overlocked the edge.

Finally, I overlocked the hem, turned it up once and hemmed it. I sandwiching the lining in the turn of the jacket fabric. I also folded the fabric of the jacket and the lining in the sleeve and slip stitched them together.

The cami

I knew I wanted to use the Ogden cami pattern. Compared to my adventures in tailoring, this was pretty straight forward.

Though to be fair, it did take a bit of fiddling to get the pattern pieces. I had to alter the pattern to make it fit within the lining, but I think it worked out rather well.

Verdict

Maybe it’s just me, but I really like that this refashion takes the concept of a two piece suit and turns it on its head a little – reinventing what a modern two piece suit might be. I’m also really pleased I could show that you can use every piece of a suit in a refashion.

I’ve worn the jacket lots since I’ve made it. It works really well with jeans and is the perfect autumn/fall jacket.

Refashioning definitely uses slightly different brain muscles than straight up pattern following or drafting. It’s like a kind of frustrating Tetris, but it’s INSANELY satisfying. If you haven’t given it a go you should definitely consider starting!

A big thanks to Portia for inviting me to take part and for reminding me how much fun refashioning can be.

If you haven’t already looked at some of the other blogger’s posts you definitely should. There is a crazy amount of inspiration out there!

  1. Reply
    PsychicSewerKathleen

    Love your jacket & cami – the fabric you found in this jacket is incredibly beautiful – who knew they made men’s suit jackets out of linen lined with cotton? I’ve never seen such thing (not that I know of anyway!) Your outfit is very chic and modern. I bet you’ve worn it loads!

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      I know, right? I lucked out with the fabric it’s really beautiful. I was surprised at the quality of lining in men’s suits – they’re really good quality generally

  2. Reply
    Michelle

    So clever and so wearable! This is my favourite suit refashion yet.

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Aww, thanks Michelle. That means a lot given the quality of the Refashioners so far!

  3. Reply
    Helen

    Love love love! This is so clever. Every time I try to refashion I end up stuck and frustrated but every time I see another person’s refashion it seems so obvious. Having said that, using the lining to make another garment is pure genius! So clever. Well done.

  4. Reply
    Let's Get Sewing

    Wow, the results are amazing! I love both the jacket and the Cami.

  5. Reply
    Dream Aloud

    Amazing suit refashion! Great!

  6. Reply
    Lesley

    Such a wearable and refreshing take on a men’s suit jacket. Congratulations x

  7. Reply
    Ayo

    Amazing idea to use the lining. I am definately going to give refashioning a try.

  8. Reply
    Dalton Karen

    Wow, your post is excellent. You shared a lot of good images. I liked the jacket you posted. I think it may assist all of you. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!

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