Summary of my recycling experimentation collection


I wrote a conclusion for each final garment and noted how the design tied in with my theme of Metamorphosis. But I wanted to also add an overall summary of the project as a whole.

This was always intended as a purely experimental process (and collection). The final designs weren’t supposed to be season-based, or look like they were part of a cohesive collection. This was purely an exercise in recycling, to see how existing garments could be used to inspire different designs, and even how to make use of existing features within an original garment.

The entire collection consists of the following recycled garments:

  • Six men’s shirts
  • One hounds tooth dress
  • One lace maternity dress
  • One black gathered/layered skirt
  • One red summer dress
  • One cream wrap-over dress

The collection is zero waste with minimal ‘new’ materials introduced into the garments. The new materials used consisted of things such as, interfacing, ribbon for hanging loops and waistbands and a few vintage buttons.

The only downside to this project adhering to my ‘zero-waste’ aims, was the amount of hours I spent unpicking garments. If this project had been about minimal waste I could have saved time by simply cutting off seam allowances as a faster way to get started draping designs on the stand.

All the designs by the end were stand-draped, so I didn’t get much use out of my drafted blocks, except to occasionally compare them against my draped pattern pieces (to make sure shapes and sizes looked accurate). So, the flat pattern drafting was helpful, but did not speed up the rate in which I made the patterns and final designs. I do, however, love stand draping as a technique. It is a quick and instant way to see a design in 3D, where you can adjust the drape and panels of the garment until the fabric bends to your will!

Overall, I am very happy with the end result and feel incredibly inspired to do more with recycled (including making myself some things from the leftover garments). Not only is this a great way to keep clothing out of landfill, but it is also a good future service for potential clients, by transforming much-loved, but worn garments, into something very different – to extend their life cycle.

Halter-Nate Shirty-Skirty – top and skirt


This skirt and top was made from two men’s shirts (size S), the skirt lining from a pleated maternity dress (size 12) and the top will be lined with material from a cotton wrap-over dress (size 12) (as seen in the photos above).

NOTE: The top lining has not yet been added, but the fabric has been set aside for it, to add at a later date.



The main body of both the skirt and top is just two men’s long-sleeved shirts. The design has quite random pleating, to have a very natural drape.

The top features angled pockets (created by folding up the shirt. This is a nice little hidden feature that could go unnoticed by everyone except the wearer – perfect.

The pleated godet’s, on the skirt, and the bustle, on the top, are adjustable, making this a garment that the wearer can subtly transform.

Photo shoot

I wanted to location of my photo shoot to be at the Samuel Worth Chapel, at Sheffield General Cemetery. This was because the chapel was a derelict building that has been renovated over a two-year period and transformed into an events space for arts, cultural and music events. It’s a beautiful building and I am very happy that it is now an interesting space that can be used for many years to come.

This building ties in perfectly with my recycling theme, by recycling and reusing what is already there.

I’m very grateful to my beautiful model for being great throughout the year of my MA Final Project, for the weather being glorious on that particular day, and with the outcome of the final photos.

Pleats please me! dress

This pleated dress was made from a maternity dress and a gathered/layered skirt, both size 12 (as seen in the photos above).

This design was based on my earlier paper pleating experiment.

The dress is made up of multiple pleated lace layers on top of multiple gathered layers. The top half spirals around the body, in a shell-like way. The design features aspects of my Metamorphosis theme, such as, internal structures, multiple layers, adjustable waist (via a shirred panel), allowing for natural growth (thereby extending the life of the garment), also the outer lace layer can be likened to an ‘epidermal’ layer (as in organic structures) with its semi-transparent properties.

The design doesn’t resemble the paper pleating experiment as much as I would have like, but this was mainly due to there not being enough of the pleated lace to mirror the pleat suppression of the original paper design. So, this is an adapted version of the original that has a different silhouette.

Zero-cut bustle skirt and upside-down-back-to-front top

The Zero-cut bustle skirt was made from three men’s shirts, and the Upside-down-back-to-front top was made from one shirt (all size S), as seen above.

For the skirt, the three men’s shirts were buttoned together and turned upside down, then pleated on to a thick ribbon waistband. The ruching was created by turning the sleeves inside the skirt and anchoring the shirt to the sleeves in random places with small bar tacks.

The final shirt was draped on the stand, upside-down and back-to-front. The top has very simple design detail: a slight tapering at the shoulders (with the excess fabric top-stitched down), two front waist darts and bias-bound armholes.

I think the cowl neckline of the top balances out very well against the bustle on the back of the skirt. I also like the contrast of these two garments; the top’s simplicity and minimal construction versus the multiple pleated and ruched layers of the skirt.

Houndstooth Jigsaw Dress

This houndstooth jigsaw dress was made from an existing recycled size 20 pencil dress, (as seen in the photos above).

I unpicked all the seams on this dress and cut in to quite randomly to piece this jigsaw puzzle dress together. One thing I found when fitting this on my model was that I’d cut an arch in the front, but this made the dress too short (especially when sitting). To resolve this I added additional pieces to extend the front and side length.

The dress is made up of asymmetric panels (some pleated), a front bold zipper that is partially concealed by the fold over front panel (featuring vintage buttons).

This takes on the transformative aspects of the metamorphosis theme, combined with partially hidden layers.

Two-piece with plugged bustle


The two-piece garment that I designed was made from a recycled size 22 dress, a small man’s shirt and a size 12 wrap-over dress, for the skirt lining (as seen in the photos above).


The skirt design was in part inspired by Julian Robert’s Plug Technique, as the outer edge of the shirt was inserted (or plugged) in to a spiral cut in to the back of the skirt. I then removed the shirt arms (and sewed the armholes together, and removed and asymmetric shape out of the back of the shirt and inserted in to a diagonal line in the front of the skirt. The plugged shapes have concealed cotton tape inside, to give the design fluidity but with some control. The bustle at the back can be rearranged at will (with more of the shirt on the inside or outside of the garment). The fastening for the skirt is at the centre front, and consists of two folded pleats going towards the centre and fastens with a buttonhole and buttons from the shirt.

The bodice design uses the shirt sleeves to shape the bust, and this wrap-over feature creates the front opening. When I tried this on my model the bodice was smaller than I imagined, so to rectify this I removed 15cm from the whole hem of the skirt, folded this in half and bagged it out, then attached it to the bottom of the bodice, creating small box pleats.

By plugging shapes in to this dress, the brings in the hidden features (and something going on inside/underneath) of the metamorphosis theme. Also, because the back plugged bustle is rearrangeable, this also incorporates organic growth, evolving and changing aspects of the theme. I was very pleased with the finished design and shape of this two-piece.

House Style Exhibition – Chatsworth House, Bakewell (25 March to 22 October 2017)


I visited the House Style exhibition at Chatsworth House in May. The exhibition showcases five centuries of fashion. Designers featured includes: Jean Phillipe Worth, Christian Dior, Gucci, Helmut Lang, Margiela, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.

This was a very inspiring exhibition to see (with my love of costume and attention to detail). It also gave me the opportunity to see some of my favourite designer’s work (Dior, Westwood and McQueen).

The only downside to the exhibition, for me, was how some of the pieces were displayed. Some of the lighting made it difficult to see some of the detail. Certain sections were too cluttered (so it was easy to miss something). The dining room was cordoned off and some garments were around the other side of the table that you couldn’t get to, so you couldn’t see the whole of the garments on display. And one room featured the mannequins positioned in a circle, facing inwards, so you had to view the front of the garments from the other side of the circle, which meant you missed out on seeing the detail at the front. Having said this, it was still a very beautiful exhibition to go and see!

Location idea for my photoshoot and private exhibition

For my final photo shoot and private exhibition, I’m considering Sheffield General Cemetery as a location. The reason being that the cemetery is a very special and tranquil place for me, as I walk in there every day with my dog. Also, the cemetery (opened in 1836) hasn’t been used and was neglected as a cemetery since 1978, but has since undergone a transformation over the years (in parts by Sheffield City Council and Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, who equally own and manage parts of the cemetery).

The cemetery also ties in with my Metamorphosis collection theme, because the cemetery has catacombs (so something hidden beneath its exterior surface) which is what I hope to incorporate into parts of my collection.

For the private exhibition, I was considering the Nonconformist Samuel Worth Chapel, which has been in a state of disrepair since the 1950s, but has since been renovated over the last two years. It is now a functional, beautiful and bright event and exhibition space. I’ve emailed Sheffield General Cemetery Trust to find out how much it would cost to hire the chapel for my private exhibition and I’m waiting for a response. I’m unsure as to whether I want to hire the inside of the chapel or see if I can set up a pop-exhibition outside on the porch, as the pillars and the doorway would make an interesting backdrop for my collection.

I think the cemetery and chapel would be the perfect location for both the photo shoot and exhibition because of the renovation undertaken. The cemetery now has a new life and purpose to its original intent. This ties in perfectly with my recycled fashion experimentation, where I’m creating something new (with hidden features) that has a different design and function to its original purpose.