knit | sew

Slowtober: Remaking 1

October 16, 2017

This is Slow Fashion October, a time that we pause and reflect on where our clothes come from, how they got here and how we might be more involved in their making, wearing and enduring over time.  Just recently, I read Folk Fashion: Understanding Homemade Clothes (2017) by Amy Twigger Holroyd which explored the idea and practice of remaking.

Remaking is using the unworn clothes you already have to make a more wearable article of clothing. It is more than just altering or modifying for a better fit, more than repairing or mending but may involve all of these processes. It may also involve embellishing, deconstructing or upcycling.

Upon reflection, I realised that an example of remaking was the unravelling of parts of my Endurance sweater when it no longer fit me, and reknitting it to fit my son.

Similarly, turning my old yoke sweater Talisman into a cardigan is another example of remaking. I cut it up the middle and knitted on button bands.

This has given Talisman a new life and the sweater has gone from something I could no longer wear comfortably to a daily standby. I had just finished remaking Talisman when I read Folk Fashion and it got me very focused on the usefulness of addressing old garments that aren’t quite working.

For me, the key to remaking is to break it into steps.

  1. Identify a garment that is unworn but still precious in some way.
  2. Identify the problem with the garment.
  3. Remake the garment addressing the problem.

For Talisman, I realised I still loved the sweater but just couldn’t wear it comfortably, a bigger bust meant that the yoke was too tight and the hem rode up to compensate. The remaking meant that the top buttons can be undone to create chest width. Everything else fits just fine.


Remaking is valuable as it focuses on what we already have, particularly the handmade things, addressing issues that are preventing them from being useful and putting them back into service as clothing again. Just like mending, remaking promotes an ongoing relationship with our clothes where they can change as our needs/preferences change. Essentially, it conserves resources.

So I decided that for Slow Fashion October, I would focus on remaking. I started assessing all the clothes I wasn’t wearing and thinking about how they might be remade.

I started with a denim skirt I made last year when body changes from my CFS meant I couldn’t fit into any of my skirts.

The adjustable nature of this wrap skirt meant that if things changed again, the skirt could still be worn. But it wasn’t being worn very often. The ties created a big lump that could not be worn under tops and jackets.  Remaking  changed the tie closure to a button closure and now enables me to layer garments over the skirt without an unsightly lump at my hip. This change extends the usefulness of the skirt from summer only to all through the year.

Fueled by this success, throughout October I am going to tackle some other long standing garments in my wardrobe that are not being worn.

Do you have any Slow Fashion October projects?


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  1. Looking forward to seeing any further re-makes! I am in awe of the skills you have demonstrated in refashioning your knits. I do re-make but I also just give things away to people they fit better, or who like them more, and try, try again. Sometimes I lack the imagination to figure out how to re-make. On the other hand, I am a dedicated mender once I have decided for a garment. At this stage the bottom end of my wardrobe is composed of items up to and over 20 years old, many of which have seen serious wear. I am considering remakes more along the lines of t shirts becoming quilt batting and shorts becoming bag linings or foundations for piecing…

    1. Dear Mary, you are the Remaking and Mending Queen of all she surveys. You have turned the salvaged, remade bag into an art form. You raise the very important thinking process that happens before remaking. Is there someone who can use this article as it currently stands, without any changes? That passing on is the most frugal of all resources as no other materials or time are required to make the article useful again. It is only the things we find we cannot bear to give away that get remade. Similarly mending is the humble, least glamorous of skills and yet it is so important in maintaining the usefulness of those article of clothing that do fit and work well in our wardrobes.

  2. I love this post particularly as we are trying in our home to go rubbish free and that includes not throwing out clothing. It takes a long long time before I will give up a beloved garment and at present with a full schedule I don’t have time to sew but I am keeping things laid away thinking of my daughter and the fun she will have dressing up in Mamas clothes when she is bigger.

    1. Dear Heather, good on you, zero waste is a great goal. We had some great systems going before we moved but it is amazing how quickly that plastic creeps in when you don’t have solid shopping habits sorted. Your daughter will be loving your treasures you’ve stashed away.

  3. Great inspiration, Rebecca!! I have a pullover that should be made into a cardigan and will overcome my fear of steeking to make it happen. A few piles of material are waiting for the scissors to become tops and pants this month. I need to stop spinning and knitting for a while and get the sewing done……. and don’t even mention the weaving of yardage!!!

    1. Dear Elaine,
      You have your own textiles factory running at your house I think! There is so much going on! Yes, definitely try a steek. For the time it takes and the transformation that takes place, it is a wonderful fix. And there are so many wonderful youtube resources and tutorials to help these days.

  4. I have a man’s shirt that I bought recently in an M size, that wouldn’t fit over my hips. I exchanged it for an L, which will fit my hips, but which is now too wide in the shoulders. This doesn’t usually bother me; I have many men’s shirts that droop of my shoulders. But this one is french seamed, and the fabric is stiff enough that the armholes are firm and the shoulders stick out like epaulettes now, so massive remaking is in order. I’ll have to remove the sleeves and see if I can trim the shoulders, and put the sleeves back on. Risky. Stay tuned!

    1. Dear Frith, You are a brave and courageous woman. I know exactly the problem with the over large shoulders to fit elsewhere. I have seen the solution but not attempted it. I have seen other fixes for the problem that leave the sleeves in place but take out fabric from the shoulder line, disguising the cut in a pintuck or pleat. I am super intrigued with how your project turns out…keep in touch.

  5. I am inspired to dig out a couple of sweaters to remake into cardigans. They are both thrift shop finds, one in Shetland wool and the other a silk/merino mix. Thanks, Rebecca.

    1. Dear Diana, These will be exciting projects and I am very curious about how you will approach them. Have you got yarn already in your stash for the button bands or will you have to source an appropriate yarn? If you post on IG I would appreciate a tag to me so I can see them.

  6. I am a great fan of remaking (as you will know from my recently re-fashioned sari-dress 🙂 ) but I do think we are lucky, Rebecca, in having the skills (and the confidence!) to tackle these projects. So many of my friends won’t/can’t even pick up a needle. It is such a shame – so much potential. That said – I have never steeked, and I think it might be time I gave it a go … even have a pullover in mind ….

    1. Dear kaydeerouge, I do love your remaking projects, you are ready to tackle anything as I remember from old forgotten tapestries, broken down bags and of course that, amazing sari project. You do raise a really important point about skill. Specific sewing and knitting skills are invaluable not just in the success of the actual remaking but in having the knowledge to see what is possible in the first place. Fast fashion has deskilled us as a culture and reskilling has become fringe and privileged. How do we make such skills commonplace again?

  7. I’m so excited by this.

    Are you familiar with the Aussie Bale Project ( They’re putting together a bale of blended natural sock wool at the moment. The minimum order is 1kg; the fibre goes on to be resold in smaller quantities by local indie fibre businesses, often hand-dyed. (The Corriedale/silk bale was the hit of this year’s Bendigo wool show.) I’m really looking forward to trying the sock fibre when it’s released.

    1. Dear Penelope, I have heard of it but as i am not on Facebook, haven’t followed it closely. I didn’t realise they were doing a sock fibre blend. How exciting! I will go and explore. Thanks.

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