T+T Storytellers: Resourceful Sewing

There are many ways to be resourceful when sewing, but one of our favourites is to take a look at what we already have on hand, and use it as creatively as possible.  Upcycling textiles, such as garments or tablecloths that are no longer in use, getting creative with the scrap bin, and even shopping our fabric stashes rather than going straight to the store.  There are so many ways to give textiles new life, keeping waste out of landfills and saving money in the process.  

Here, T+T Storyteller Mieke does exactly that, upcycling an unused wool coat to create a gorgeous little Pixie Coat to keep her wee one warm when autumn arrives.  With a bit of fabric scrap puzzling and a lot of creative reuse, she sewed a garment entirely with materials she already had in her home. 

Perhaps you'll be inspired to look at textiles differently, and do some resourceful sewing of your own!  The results are ever so satisfying.  

It is very tempting to buy new fabrics for every project – or perhaps even to buy fabrics without even having a project in mind.  It’s addictive and also just very fun.  But, while making your own clothes is a lot better for the world than buying fast-fashion, there are still materials required that aren’t always fairly or organically produced.  I really try to think about that when I pick my fabrics, and I try to produce as little waste as possible.

This month’s Storyteller theme is about Resourcefulness and that really speaks to me.  My family has just moved to a new (and very cold) place and my youngest needed a coat for this upcoming autumn.  I was very eager to buy some new fabrics but decided to make it my resourceful challenge to only use what I had at home.

A few years ago, I made someone a pair of tights and as a payment I received a woolen coat. It’s beautiful, but not really my style.  So, I decided to turn it into a Pixie Pea Coat for my one-year-old.

When I make new clothes out of old clothes, I always like to keep some details. Sometimes this is purely out of laziness, like keeping a zipper in or keeping the hem of a shirt, like when I made this Breeze Shirt out of an old shirt.  Sometimes it is actually more work to save details, but I like to do it anyway!

For this Pixie Coat, I decided to keep the deep pockets from the original garment.  Deep pockets are always a good idea, right?  You can collect so many stones in them!  The pockets were too big for this small coat so I just simply cut them and closed them again.  

For the lining, I really wanted to use this nice fabric from Fossan Design, but I only had really small scraps.  So, I decided to use this fabric for the visible parts and add some other fabric to complete the lining.  I was looking for dark blue, but I only found really thick blue linen which would make the jacket too stiff.  Then I found some scraps of thin green fabric, which matched the other lining fabric perfectly!

I always buy buttons whenever I’m at a thrift shop, and if I need to throw away or upcycle a garment, I keep the buttons.  So I have quite the collection now, but it was pretty hard to find some matching buttons!  In the end I went for these dark blue ones - simple but pretty.

With the buttons sewn on, here is the finished Pixie Coat in action!

The strategic piecing of the beautiful lining fabric ensures that the print shows on the hood lining, the cuffed sleeves, and the button band.  The deep pockets from the original coat add a unique and useful detail.  

I hope I have been able to inspire you to use what you have or make old clothes into new ones.  My next plan is a pair of Rainhaven Overalls out of a jacket that I found in the new house (the new house came with ALL the stuff in it, which is very cool but also very stressful because we now own so much stuff!).

Mieke is a originally from the Netherlands and currently living in Sweden. After running a small business for a few years, making custom-made clothes for children and adults, she is now running a B&B together with her partner and two young sons. Custom orders are paused at the moment but of course there will always be time for sewing!  See more of Mieke's work here.  


There is lots more great Storyteller content on the T+T blog!  Click here to view all of the Storyteller articles.