Refashioning Your Old Clothes Into Stripes

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Well hello there Sewcialists! I’m Eve, from The Creative Curator, and I jumped at the opportunity to write about sewing with stripes for the Sewcialist’s Stripes month!

Why? Well, I like me some stripes, and I love to refashion. For this post I wavered between making a striped panelled Kalle, or a refashioned pair of my banana pants. The decider was that Kalle is in the #sewmystyle challenge for March, and I need trousers desperately!

I had two old natty pairs of trousers that Iโ€™d salvaged from my boys โ€” one was a pale green pair of chinos and the other a red brown version. They were tattered with torn knees, back pockets ripped on the bum, and a few ink marks too to be fair. But, there was a good amount of usable fabric in them, so a couple of months back, I had set about cutting them up, with the intention of making patchwork banana pants. Then life got in the way…

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As soon as I saw the call for a stripes-based guest post here on the Sewcialists blog, I KNEW I could use the deconstructed trousers for the refashion.

I added in some old brown cotton fabric; it has been a leftover in my stash since my uni days. I finally felt like I had three colours that worked together, and a proper plan!

The Banana Pant Plan

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Now, the banana trousers are just that. The pattern for both trouser legs looks like a banana. They are super comfy, and gather up on the inside of the leg, creating a draped effect, and I knew from having created the striped plain version once before that it would look fab, with the right colours for the stripes. There’s a difference between fun and cool trousers, and clown trousers right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Constructing The Stripes

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Working with stripe panels, rather than striped fabric, is an interesting way to add a unique look to your hand sewn clothes. And because of this, using stripes can be a great way to use up fabrics from deconstructed clothes.

You can see from the photo above, that pattern pieces won’t always fit within the amount of fabric you have, and so getting creative is key!

I love textiles โ€” perhaps more than fashion? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ โ€” and so creating something in this way gives me a lot of joy. Yes, itโ€™s time consuming, but I have the patience when it is going to pay off.

Piecing The Sections

So yes, I spent an entire day, piecing together my stripes. There are 9 for each leg, and I wanted the legs to be symmetrical, so it really was a piecing job. You can see how carefully I pieced the sections in place with pins.

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I should point out (it’s kind of clear in the photo below, right?) that due to the original trouser leg shape, and the new shape for my banana pants, a lot of the fabric is not actually on grain.

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Now, I would normally be a stickler for matching grainlines with pattern pieces, but when it is a refashion project, and the shape of the pattern pieces means youโ€™d be cutting across grains throughout, I say roll with it, and make something epic!

To add an element of fun, I pieced the fabric sections for each stripe together using the zigzag stitch on my Bernina, and used a contrasting thread to make it more colourful.

Putting The Constructed Sections Together

Finally, it was time to actually sew the trouser sections together. Being banana shaped, the sections are joined as curves, so for each seam there is a convex and a concave curve.

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For this reason, I decided to stitch each constructed stripe with a straight stitch, to be better able to match the curves up. Then, once the seam was pressed open, I again topstitched the seams using the same zigzag stitch I had used to piece the fabric remnants together; this time, I used the dusky pink thread throughout.

I made sure to use as much of the original trouser leg hems as possible, and then topstitched along the original line to add some more pizzazz.

Creating The Waistband

Finally, I needed a waistband. Usually I attach a piece of satin ribbon to the top of the banana trouser, to create a channel to feed elastic through, and this has worked well in the past. But lack of elastic in my stash called for something different. You can ONLY just make out the waistband at the top of the image below โ€” I’ll have to reshoot a better version! โ€” but it does a fab job at holding the trousers up, so they’re not hanging around my hips.

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I measured the trouser waistline, and drafted a 5cm / 2in wide waistband, then cut this out from what was remaining of the dark brown cotton and then used two large grommets to ย feed a length of ribbon through.

I then stitched together the waistband sections, fed through the ribbon and topstitched the waistband closed from the right side.

Using The Contrasting Thread

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I loved using the contrasting pink thread all over, and incorporating the little worn details from the original trousers really helped keep them unique.

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The front pockets were included in the outside leg panel on the front, so that i would have built in ready made pockets. And the patch pockets on the back of the trousers were added in too, although slightly smaller than they were originally, but it adds to the funkiness of the design.

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All in all, Iโ€™m really happy with how my constructed stripes worked out for this project. Itโ€™s a fab way of making sure that as much of the fabric as possible is used up when refashioning old clothes. My other half is beyond envious, and thinks he should get to wear them too. No chance! ๐Ÿ™‚

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What do you think? Are you thinking that constructing your own stripes is worth the effort yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: If you, like me, dream of being as creative as Eve, she has a free email course on pattern-making basics available through her website! – Gillian


15 thoughts on “Refashioning Your Old Clothes Into Stripes

  1. Stunning! I like the detail of the stripes lining up over the pleats.

    Back in 1999 or so I refashioned a skirt out of t-shirts by piecing vertical stripes. This makes me want to try it again.

    1. Thank you! That sounds like a fun skirt, you should definitely give it another go! I love the complete uniqueness of refashioning items – no one is EVER going to be wearing the same things as us! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Oh if I had the time! I too love textiles. But I didn’t discover it until late in life. I had no previous exposure until I started sewing again and found “sewing” blogs! So my creativity is just starting. These pants are beyond my wildest dreams! (I have a house full of children and run a Group Home for adults) But I will forever be inspired to do more with my lovely textiles after seeing this!
    Thank You! Thank You!
    p.s. Lately I have been doing more hand sewing than machine sewing just because I love the textiles in my hand! The machine seems to take away from that.

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you found it inspirational Eliz! And that you’ve discovered getting creative with sewing! I would love to see any future makes you make, with different textiles! I’m planning a LOT of refashioning projects over the coming months. And they’ll all be quite ‘texture’ driven! Exciting!
      PS. Hand sewing is fun – I want to do more embroidery, to really add to the uniqueness of some pieces I have made! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. These pants are fabulous! After constructing a very messy patchwork skirt, I’m wondering if you used only a zig zag stitch when piecing together the remnants for the panels or if you did a straight stitch first like you described in final construction and then zig zag over top.(I hope that question makes sense.)

    For my patchwork skirt I kept all seams on the inside with just a straight stitch and it was super tricky to get everything to lay flat with oddly shaped pieces.

    I love love these pants and am feeling very inspired by the number of former pants I have from my husband. Do you have any recommendations for other patterns that use this kind of paneling? My husband wants a pair for himself so a men’s pattern would be ideal.

    1. Ah, thank you!I did in fact patch the sections together with just the zigzag stitch, unless there was a previous seam (inside leg edge of chinos) which I then straight stitched down, for added strength. If you do zigzag together, you may want to use a smaller length – I have one section on the back leg that is clearly taking some strain at points, as the edges of the fabric there is fraying / creating a hole. Something to be aware of.

      Using other pants patterns – if you’re comfy hacking pattens, you could take any trouser pattern really. To get the ‘banana’ shape, you would need to divide the pant leg up horizontally, and open up along the outside leg. If you’re more about the striped panels instead, divide the leg pieces of any pattern up into vertical panels, add new seam allowance amounts to the new edges, and sew them together! ๐Ÿ™‚

      If you do give it a go, I’d love to see the results!

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