One Maxi Dress to Two Summer Tops!

This year, us lot at Stitched Up are participating in the Slow Fashion Summer challenge, run by the team at Collaction.

The challenge is not to buy any new clothes for the whole of summer – three whole months from 21 June to 21 September. In so doing, the 2,625 participants are both rejecting fast fashion’s stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap business model AND proving that an alternative is possible.

The rules do allow swapping, trading clothes, upcycling, repairing and shopping secondhand. So injecting some fun into your summer wardrobe is totally do-able, and almost certainly cheaper than shopping for new clothes on the high street.

We’ve been discussing his challenge at HQ, and agreed that ordinarily it wouldn’t be such a big deal. All of us admitted getting pretty much the same summer clothes out year after year. Having being hidden away in the wardrobe for a good 8 months or so, they still have novelty value and it’s fun to wear them for the few hot days of summer we actually get. None of us have many summer garments either. It just doesn’t get warm enough in the North West of England to warrant an extensive holiday wardrobe of floaty little numbers.

But then 2018 happened. The longest, most reliable period of hot, hot, HOT sunshine that any of us can remember. Suddenly all our clothes have been WAYYYY too warm! Our usual summer staples like denim and thin jumpers are basically unwearable in temperatures over 20 degrees. For the first time ever, Mancunians have been crossing everything and hoping like mad for rain and a cool breeze! And we’ve been feeling the need for some new summer clothes. Cool, breezy fabrics, natural fibres, loose, flowy shapes…

Let’s not lie, endless summer days are GREAT! But the heatwave battering the UK is just one of a growing number of extreme weather events we’ve been seeing lately. And it’s actually nothing short of terrifying. Deniers might say that the climate has always gone through periods of change, but NASA point out that the current spike in warming “is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.” The Met Office say there’s evidence of a human contribution to changes in temperature extremes, heavy rainfall events, and an increase in extreme high sea levels in a number of regions.

Graph credit: Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record

With accelerating climate change and the huge environmental and social toll of fast fashion, what more motivation could we need for our style go-slow this summer?


Here’s our first Slow Fashion Summer project: a maxi dress Bryony found at a car boot sale (£2 – bargain!) and turned into two summer tops.

The fabric has a really nice loose weave, and Bryony’s a sucker for anything animal print. Because she has the ungainly habit of tripping and falling over in full length dresses(!), making two summer tops seemed a good solution.

The first is simply the top part of the dress lopped off and hemmed at the waistline. Upcycling doesn’t get much easier than this!

The second is a Peplum Top, made using the bottom part of the dress. If you fancy giving it a go, the pattern is available as a FREE download from Peppermint Magazine. They have loads of other lovely free dressmaking patterns, so have a good browse while you’re there…

There’s still a small amount of fabric leftover which Bryony is saving for another project – watch this space. Maybe some ‘new’ upcycled undies…

Have you taken on the Slow Fashion Summer Challenge? If you fancy giving it a go, the deadline to register has passed, but don’t let that stop you! Just join in and let us know how you go.

Stitched Up x