Kate McGuire from Converted Closet guides Rebecca Page Co-founder, Janine Manning, to transform a neglected 1960s dress into fabulous bespoke jumpsuit that fits perfectly.
Kate gently reminds me that most of us wear only 20% of the clothes in our wardrobes. I silently gulp in agreement and reflect on the fact that I often open my wardrobe and wish for a fashion-fairy to appear to transform the 80% of the clothes hanging there un-loved and un-worn. Kate certainly isn’t a fairy, but she is the style queen when it comes to converting our neglected clothes into incredible ‘new’ pieces without breaking the bank. It’s cool, it’s creative and it’s sustainable. This isn’t upcycling – this is #CONVERSION!
Armed with my sewing machine and a 1960s dress, I’m excited to spend a lovely summer’s day in Notting Hill with Kate. Will she be able to help me unleash my inner designer and demystify the process of converting clothes?
The label in the dress is Murek + Murek Exquisite. I couldn’t find any information about this 1960s fashion brand on Google or in fashion books – even the Head of Textiles Conservation at the Victoria & Albert Museum couldn’t help. The fabric label says Trevira Georgette Krumpffrei Plissiercht and, again, Google sheds no light. Needless to say, the fabric, lining and the detailing of the cuffs and covered buttons are beautiful.
Kate explains that pretty much everything can be made bigger, smaller, longer or shorter to make it fit and flatter us perfectly. As our style evolves and our body shape changes, we can keep updating and altering our wardrobes. Thankfully, we don’t have to lose weight to fit into a skirt, we can make it fit us!
As it happens, the bodice and sleeves of the dress are a perfect fit and can be retained. It’s the skirt, now over 50 years old (!), that needs updating. Unpicking the stitching between the bodice and skirt, Kate irons it before we lay out the pattern pieces for the Dress to Jumpsuit Conversion; Rebecca Page’s first pattern collaboration with an external designer.
Although we are only using the leg pieces for my conversion, the pattern includes the bodice Kate is wearing in the photograph (below) and a tie/ belt that can be used for styling. It’s a versatile pattern, that can be used to convert an existing garment or it can be made with new fabric.
It’s an easy sew, and I am delighted when Kate photographs me in front of her famous closet! I imagine wearing the jumpsuit, riding on a scooter around the the Amalfi Coast cliff road in Italy. Sadly, this year’s holiday has been cancelled, but I can wait. I’ve got plenty of time now that Kate has shown me how to convert some of those un-worn clothes hanging in my wardrobe!