Breaking Up is Hard to do With Home Sewn Items OR What Would Marisa Do?

Among the sewing enthusiast community, we all know that maintaining a fabric stash (the uncouth call it a “hoard”) is a given. But what about the finished items?  Do you find yourself hanging on to your sewn items even if they’re no longer used? What does Marisa do? That would be Marisa of the 365 dresses, writer of the blog New Dress A Day .

Emotion is a big part of the sewing act, if you’re an enthusiast. I love most of the clothing I sew. That has resulted in much sartorial hoarding in my closet. These items just hang around (pun intended) even though they haven’t been worn in years because they’re outdated or there was just one occasion to wear them. Is that true with all hobbies? Probably so, but you can’t save a plant once it’s dead, so maybe gardeners don’t have this problem. Neither do cooking enthusiasts, since all their creations are meant to be eaten.

To justify saving the old sewn items, I sub-consciously start to think of ways to re-fashion them. But then, what’s a sewer to do  with the fabric hoard? Oops, I mean collection. There are beautiful cottons, linens, wools of every weave, silk chiffons, rayons and synthetics waiting to see light of day. I’m emotionally attached to each and every piece in my stash.  As Tim Gunn would say, this is a conundrum.

The end of Earth Month is a few hours away, so I am putting forth two items which I plan to re-fashion. This way, my home sewn items will stay with me a little while longer.

The Jacket:


This jacket is probably what Marisa would find in her local thrift store and re-make it into something a pretty young thing from Southern California would wear; except this one stayed in my home.  It was a class project very early in the 90s when I was obsessed with learning how to make tailored jackets. It has a classic, nautical look complete with brass buttons and welt pockets an d of course the beginner’s trademark pucker at the lapel. Utterly WASPY. The fabric is navy tropical wool (lightweight wool), made with a Burda pattern.  I wore it with everything. But that was then, and this is now.

Outdated elements: shoulders are too big, buttoning up the double breasted front is a now a stretch, literally.


Courtesy of InStyle magazine
Courtesy of InStyle magazine

The plan: Remove the sleeves and the shoulder pads; lower the shoulder line and make it into a vest or “sleeveless blazer”, inspired by this fashion spread in In Style magazine. You, dear readers, need to cheer me on.

The Shirt:


My daughter made this shirt for herself when she was in high school and I was teaching her how to sew. Made in printed rayon challis, the front has two buttons placed close to each other at each button point instead of each one spaced out. Nice detail.

The problem: too stuffy looking for modern days. I can’t believe it was worn by a teenager at one time.


The plan: I’m re-fashioning this one as we speak. The collar and sleeves are involved. 🙂

So, you get the picture. Tell me what you do with your self-sewn clothing once it gets outdated, outgrown or just plain old?   What does Marisa do? She of the 365 dresses.

Look forward to hearing from you!


4 thoughts on “Breaking Up is Hard to do With Home Sewn Items OR What Would Marisa Do?

  1. Samina… I’m afraid that most of the time if I don’t love something I’ve made and I can’t simply rehem it or do something simple, I am one of those women who donate my previously love item to a thrift shop or charity so THEY can refashion. I guess I am happy to remain on the supply side of the equation. Good luck!


    1. Sue, I am going to strive to follow your example. I guess our lovingly made stuff can be lovingly re-fashioned by another sewing enthusiast! Thanks for the commenting!


  2. Samina, this is hitting really close to home. While moving from our home of over 40 years I have come face to face with my entire fabric stash and all that goes with this “hobby!”

    Two garments in my “collection” come to mind. Neither has been worn in years, but how can I part with a Folkwear Tibetan Panel Coat with Seminole piecing or the velveteen jacket with beaded lapels I wore in a fashion show in the 1980s? OMG!! The shoulder pads in the jacket could support the Empire State Building! I’m not good at refashioning, so will most likely hang on to them. They arn’t in colors I wear any longer.

    Some, not much, of the fabric stash will be in my moving sale this weekend. After reading your blog, I need to rethink all the fabric I’m holding on to. Better go see what else I can part with…..


    1. Marcia, I can imagine why you want to hang onto the Tibetan coat and the jacket. Beaded lapels?? Wow! No wonder you’re keeping them. I am seeing pronounced shoulders creeping in again in the fashion world. Maybe someone in a future generation will wear our big shouldered jackets…..
      Thanks for the comment!


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