Eliza Wyke / Style  / Recycle, Reuse, Remodel

Recycle, Reuse, Remodel

Late last year I had the privilege to bring to life a bride’s extraordinary vision.  She presented me with a rough sketch of her design and several bags of remnant / scraps of materials, beads, braiding and chiffon flowers.  From a large mound of fabrics (my cutting table overflowed!), I created a boned bodice, circular skirt (although for that we did buy extra fabric!), and a splendid train.  The bride, an artist, had amassed this collection of trims and fabrics over a number of years and from various trips abroad, making the dress extra-special. 

Where it all began with the bride’s vision:  Patchwork bodice made from oddments and scraps of velvet, brocade and trims

i have to admit, when I commenced the project, I was skeptical.  What was effectively turning scraps of fabric into a patchwork dress would be a success.  However, as I became more involved, and disregarded the conventional tailoring / dressmaking norms, it became a creative challenge to produce the most elaborate textile design, in fitting with the style of the bride.

The bride wanted the velvet as a centre piece for the train (which was only 50cm wide).  The colour so rich it needed to be a focal point.  So incorporated the beaded lace and sari fabric to create width and length around the velvet, mounting the fabrics on net, backing the net with lining (so it wouldn’t stick to the floor!) and covering the joins with more trims, beads and flowers.  Essentially no amount trim was too much!

The Bride and Groom

Whilst the dress was might be a little overwhelming for some tastes, the concept of recycling, reusing or making do made me think.  As we are becoming ever mindful of over-use of natural resources, and the effects over-consumption is having on the plant, and in particular the harm caused when producing fabrics, why not utilise what would ordinarily be discarded?

For Christmas I received Fashionopolis: the price of fast fashion & the future of clothes which makes eyebrow raising reading.  Whilst I’m nowhere on the scale of fast fashion, a tailoring studio can be a wasteful environment.  Many suppliers only sell in full metres – so if a part-metre is required, you need to round up (obviously!).  Likewise, some styles (especially the circular skirt) are simply wasteful.  With the most careful cutting, there can still be a good half metre left at the end of the project.  Not enough to make a garment, but too much not to feel guilty about throwing away.  

Whilst my production is small scale and will not make a tremendous different to the planet, I feel I should still do my bit.  Because, if none of us are mindful about use / waste, then change will never happen.  I’m not going to stop buying new fabrics and creating new clothes, but I’m going to be mindful of waste and make a few things over the course of 2020 as a Project Recycle/Reuse.    

Sample from December 2018 – wasteful on fabric with large “remnants” remaining

My first project for Project Recycle/Reuse is a panel circular skirt, using a remnant from my 2018 Christmas dress (there was a reasonable amount of remnant fabric from the bias cut sleeve), a part-metre of red cloth left over from a sample made a couple of seasons ago, and finally found some rich taffeta paisley lining.   

Voila!  A skirt!

Multi fabric skirt made using scraps of fabric. The only “extra” purchase made was to have buttons covered with the fabric.

Admittedly, the process cutting takes longer when using remnants… the panels are mismatched according to the quantity of fabric… and the sewing can also be more time-consuming with the extra panels to be joined, but the joy of wearing what is effectively a free skirt is immeasurable. 


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