Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Recycle, Reuse, Reduce - An Afghan Nomad Dress Made From Scraps



What on earth do you do with.....

A rayon kurta from off the £1 rail, a scrap of vintage sari fabric, the rest of which was used to make this off-the-shoulder top, a frayed and sun-damaged embroidered Indian skirt and a Banjara tribal skirt which hadn't been worn in ages?


Chop 'em up, sew them together and make yourself a Afghan nomad dress!

Just in case you can't make it out - the red skirt was cut up and made into sleeves with cuffs edged with orange braid taken from the kurta, the scarp of sari fabric formed the bodice which has a sequinned neckline (also salvaged from the kurta) and the Banjara skirt was simply sewn to the bodice. Like the traditional Afghan dresses, it pulls on over the head and fastens up the side with press studs.


The back is trimmed with the remaining orange braid.


  I didn't use a pattern, I laid everything out on the floor and played around with different combinations until I was happy. Everything I used from the cotton, the embroidery thread, the pinking shears, the needle, the press studs and the dressmaking pins came from charity shops.


In keeping with a traditional Afghan Nomad dress, I hand-sewed all the pieces together, a wonderfully therapeutic thing to do when it's lashing it down with rain outside. Take that, Storm Gareth! 


Just as I was putting the finishing touches to my dress, I turned on the TV to tune into last night's Great British Sewing Bee on the BBC only to discover that the theme was Recycle, Reuse, Reduce. The contestants had to make a pussy bow blouse using up to five secondhand garments along with a placket from a man's shirt, an item of clothing from the scraps accumulated from the last five weeks of the series and a made-to-measure garment using every day household fabric (ie., curtains, blinds or upholstery material). 

The best episode ever! 

A lot of people say that sewing is an expensive hobby - but it doesn't have to be. You don't need sewing lessons, a state of the art machine, fancy fabric or posh trimmings - get down to your local charity shop and let your imagination run riot. Other than a disastrous school term when I was 11, I'm entirely self taught. I found my vintage sewing machine dumped by the side of the road. Even if what you make doesn't turn out to be a huge success, you won't have spent a fortune and you'll have learnt something along the way. There's nothing to beat the feeling you get when you finally make something wearable especially when people stop you and ask where you bought it and you can say, I made it myself!

Self-sewn Afghan Nomad dress worn with original '70s purple suede platform boots (charity shop) and Indian earrings (50p from Walsall market)

We're trading in Walthamstow, E17 on Saturday 16th March (details HERE)


See you soon!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday

75 comments:

  1. Brilliant! That is stunningly gorgeous!
    I love the colors- how amazing that your boots match perfectly!
    xox

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    1. Thank you, Bibi! It's uncanny about those boots, isn't it? They were waiting for this dress to be made! x

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  2. fab as always loved the sewing bee too .oh and i finally crocheted a granny square after a lifetime of trying

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    1. Yay!! Well done on the granny square, that's a real accomplishment! xxx

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  3. It is truly stunning. It does go to show that you must not throw anything away that is reusable - you never know when you might need it

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    1. Thank you so much! It's a great way to utilise all those bits and pieces too tatty to wear but too precious to part with. xxx

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  4. I agree the best ever sewing bee. WOW,WOW,WOW! Your dress is wonderful. I wish someone would do a sewing series on reusing and recycling it would make people dit up and think especially if the creations Evan came close to yours. Xx

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    1. Hi Shelagh! Thank you so much! A series on reusing unwanted clothes would be a brilliant idea, I'd be glued to that. xxx

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  5. Stupid phone that should have been, "sit up" and, "even"ūü§∑‍♀️Xx

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  6. I will be catching up with GBSBee later and it sounds like a good one!

    Your new dress is absolutely lovely and looks gorgeous on you with those fabulous blue suede boots. Well done, you! I can see how easy it could be to make clothes, but I would rather read or crochet or walk so I don't think I'll start sewing things now. I did once make a small pair of curtains, though, and that will have to remain as the peak of my sewing achievements!

    I expect there'll be no stopping you now, Vix!
    xxxxx

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    1. Did you enjoy the Bee? I loved Shelagh's idea of a series about refashioning old clothes. It would certainly be a helpful step towards remedying society's wasteful ways.
      You'd never be able to squeeze sewing into your already hectic lifestyle. My crochet has taken a backseat now my sewing mojo is back with avengeance. xxx

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  7. Gorgeous. I wondered if you had see the Sewing Bee. It was fantastic wasn't it. Loved the curtain hook belt.
    Arilx

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    1. Thanks, Aril! The Sewing Bee was the best yet. Riccardo's belt idea was inspired, such a clever idea anyone can copy. xxx

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  8. Hear hear, you're a girl after my own heart.
    I absolutely love what you've done with all those scraps, it looks beautiful and amazing that you hand sewed it. xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Sally! I enjoyed the hand sewing, it was wonderfully restful when the weather was so bad last week. xxx

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  9. this is your best make yet, it's beautiful and so clever. I am feeling inspired.

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  10. chapeau! chapeau!!!
    you really catched the spirit of that kind of dresses!!! your version turned out totally gorgeous! <3
    you are an inspiration!
    since ages i play with the idea of such a pattern for all my collected scraps - the problem is - i look extremely frumpy in empire waistlines.....meh.
    xxxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Beate! I'd been procrastinating about making something like this for ages, it's a great way of reducing my ridiculous stash of pretty bits and pieces. xxx

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  11. How clever you are! That Afghan nomad dress is a stunner, and even more so because you've designed and sewn it yourself, recycling no less than 4 garments. Those colours are fabulous! One day, I swear, I'll get my Mum's sewing machine out ... might not be for a while, but one day I will. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Ann! I didn't except it to turn out as well as it did. I'm obsessed with dreaming up projects with my fabric stash now!
      One day the sewing bug will hit you, you'll dig out your Mum's machine and there'll be no stopping you! xxx

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  12. Oh Vix....it's amazing. I just love it.
    Sewing Bee was fab last night wasn't it?
    Hugs-x-

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    1. Last week's Sewing Bee was the best yet, a huge improvement on tracksuits and dog coats out of tents!! xxx

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  13. WOW! That dress is truly stunning!
    I agree completely that sewing doesn't have the be expensive. I get all my fabrics and notions secondhand and have managed to make myself a whole dress for the grand total of £1 before.

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    1. Exactly - there's fab fabric and notions to be had in charity shops. I wouldn't know what to ask for in a haberdashery shop! xxx

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  14. That dress is awesome! I have saved tons by sewing things myself. I just wish I really did know what I was doing. It is amazing how many people today can't even do simple mending/repairs. That's a little more mundane but important as well...

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    1. You're right, it does save you a fortune even if it's just basics like a new zip or taking up a hem. I make it all up as I go along, too - they've throw me off the Sewing Bee! xxx

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  15. What a smash up job you did! It really turned out gorgeous!

    While I can handle resewing some seams or buttons for the vintage I sell I would never undertake something like this. I get frustrated too easily when it comes to sewing. I think that is leftover frustration from my grade 7 Home Ec class.

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. I hear you over that nightmare Home Economics class - it put me off sewing for years! xxx

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  16. Wow! What an amazing dress!
    You are so clever! x

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  17. You have vision-something I never will. Your ability to look at fabric and see a dress, curtains, lampshades-remarkable.

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    1. It all came together better than I ever dreamt it could! x

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  18. I love this! You are so creative!!

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  19. Beautiful work, Vix - you look stunning in it!

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  20. How fun! I love how colourful this all turned out, and so purposeful, like it was meant to be just like this. Very clever, and it shows your imagination, seeing the potential in pieces that would otherwise be rubbish.

    I used to hand-sew a bit when I was younger, and would play with my mom's old Singer electric (nothing fancy about it at all!), but the sewing bug never got me. I'm limited to appreciating what others do!

    That show sounds awesome. There's one here called "Stitched" that I enjoy: https://www.slice.ca/stitched/ - and of course, I watch "Project Runway" (right now, "Project Runway All Stars"). I love the creativity!

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    1. Wow! Thanks for that link, Sheila! Stitched looks right up my street!
      I've never seen Project Runway, it's not on terrestrial TV sadly. xxx

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  21. Vix, you're an absolute sewing genius! They ought to put you on the Sewing Bee! X

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    1. Thanks, Jess! I couldn't go on the TV, I'd die of embarrassment! xxx

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  22. You've outdone yourself! What a fab reincarnation for those four pieces. Very inspirational xx

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    1. Thanks so much! I couldn't believe it when The Sewing Bee had a similar theme. xxx

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  23. beautiful dress...
    have a great day

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  24. Its gorgeous but I am in love with those boots!!
    I do want to learn how to sew this year so I better get started soon...

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    1. Hello Holli! Yes, learn to sew, you won't regret it! xxx

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  25. There should be books written about you, your travels and your artistic stitching!

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  27. wow! so creative! great way to re-do the clothes and make it so very much better!

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  28. I kept going from first to the second photograph trying to figure out how you put it together and only then I read the description. But it is good that I looked and tried to figure it out first, because it is a good practice for me as I'm trying to learn more about sewing. This is really a fantastic dress you put together. Bonus points for it being environmentally friendly. One of the reasons I decided to take a sewing class is because I hoped I might use some vintage clothes and materials I have sitting at home, mostly items that don't fit or that used to belong to other family members (although I'm getting old enough for some of my clothes to be called vintage). I love DIY projects and things like that. Another thing was the realization that vintage fabrics were better (in terms of quality). Sewing is an expensive hobby only if you buy new and pricey materials to use, unlike painting where you can't avoid buying a canvas and paints (but even there you can save some money by making your own canvases or just getting creative with your art supplies). I mean where there is a will, there is a way. People sometimes get put off because they think arts & crafts are expensive but it all depends. One can practice or make a painting with less expensive paints. I made some Barbie dresses from scraps I had at home, not every DIY project has to cost money. If you have an idea, try to make it happen, I always say. My grandmother says that we learn best by doing things and I couldn't agree more. Maybe the dress would turned out great if you had used a pattern, maybe not...by taking it into your own hands (kudos for the hand-sewing part) and figuring it all yourself instead of relying on some pattern, you also got the chance to better control the end result and you probably learned something from the whole experience. Recycling can always teach us a lot. This Afghan nomad dress did turn out beautifully and it fits you perfectly. I love how authentic it looks. Maybe because it was hand-sewn? The combination of colours and patterns is everything I love about folklore fashion and folklore inspired clothes, just so full of life and creativity.

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    1. Your Grandmother sounds very wise. We only learn by throwing ourselves into a project and, of course , really wanting to achieve something. xxx

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  29. This is wonderful - I wish I had more patience for sewing. I have ideas for projects and fabrics piled on my kitchen table next to the sewing machine, but they rarely get done.

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    1. I have to be in the mood to tackle all that sewing stuff but when I'm in the mood I'm like a thing possessed! xxx

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  30. I love recycle and reuse clothes, I almost don't buy new clothes...and once, being in NY a woman came to me to questioned where I bought my blouse "I love it" she said, and I said: In fact it was a skirt first, I made the blouse with it...I remember I felt so proud. The dress you did is awesome! Kisses from Madrid!

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    1. Hello Mariel! Lovely to hear from you. Isn't it the best feeling when someone thinks your me-made clothes are shop bought? xxx

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  31. In fact, I paid for the riginal skirt, 1 euro at local market...;-)

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  32. Gorgeous, Vix! I'm awed by your creativity and talent in putting pieces together. And hand-sewn too - you have an inner calm and patience that helps you create beauty. xox

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    1. Thanks, Patti! Nothing beats hand-sewing in front of the TV when it's blowing up a storm outside! xxx

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  33. you know how much I love a 'Frankenstein dress', and yours are the best ones I could ever dream of!. Love the colors, the embroidered details that you reused, everything is Art!!
    you totally Rock!
    besos

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    1. Thanks so much, Monica! All hail to the Frankenstein dress! xxx

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  34. Vix! You have surpassed yourself. Not only is this gorgeous, it looks just like tribal use of colour and fabric. A celebration and not too serious. I hope you have many more wonderful days wearing it.
    xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. Thank you so much!! I was amazed at how quickly it all came together! xxx

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  35. But I LIKE my fancy fabric! ;-) After that episode, as we were wandering around a charity shop, Pete suggested buying shirts to make things from - it's having quite an influence. Your nomad dress is absolutely gorgeous.

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    1. I don't blame you, your fancy fabric is the stuff of dreams!! I loved the idea of using the placket from a man's shirt - I'm hopeless at buttonholes. xxx

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  36. Wow, wow, wow! this is stunning, I love it!
    I keep forgetting that the Sewing Bee is back on, I'm going to have to see if I can find that particular episode on iPlayer. I watched one the other day where they made garments out of parasols and deckchairs, it was brilliant.
    xx

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    1. Thank you! I loved the recycling/upcycling episode, I wish they'd dedicate an entire series to inspiring others to rework existing garments. Wasn't the parasol challenge good? Loved all the makes! x

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  37. You really are a genius - that dress is stunning! Is there any possibility we might see you on The Great British Sewing Bee yourself one day? :) (We've been hooked on it too over the last few weeks, and feel somewhat bereft now it's over.)

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Lots of love, Vix