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Design Challenge: 5 Ways to Upcycle Garments and Use Fabric Edges

Salvage and selvage inspirations range from casual to formal styles
Threads #218, Summer 2022
Competitors turned fabric edges into unique trims in an upcycling design challenge.

For Threads’ 2021 challenge to the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP), we invited members to create a garment or ensemble made of at least 25 percent materials from used clothing, paired with at least 36 inches of fabric selvage. Their brief was to design an outfit for a professional setting, whether in an office, in a high-definition video conference from home, or another work context. The entries we received covered the gamut from formal to casual officewear, reflecting today’s many options for work environments.

The judging panel included the overall winner of our 2020 challenge, Pat Billups; guest judge Dr. Lalon Alexander, associate professor at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas; and, from the Threads staff, Editorial Director Sarah McFarland and me, senior technical editor. We were thrilled with the creativity demonstrated by the designers, who reworked thrifted garments and back-of-the-closet orphan pieces, bringing new life to them with coordinating fabrics. Read on to see how they built selvage edges into their designs for decorative or functional purposes. You’re sure to be inspired to update some of your own unworn garments.

Best Overall: Michelle Loggins

Reese McGillicuddy Green Dress Suit

green fit and flare dress suit
The 1950s television show I Love Lucy inspired the fit-and-flare silhouette and hemline shape.

Michelle is a first-time challenge winner from High Point, North Carolina. She submitted a charming, vintage-look dress and jacket ensemble. This outfit was inspired by Michelle’s late son, Reese, who was a fan of Lucille Ball’s TV character Lucy Ricardo, fictional daughter of “Mrs. McGillicuddy.” The dress and jacket—in Reese’s favorite color, green—include mid-20th-century details, such as the flared skirt back, portrait collar, and button tabs on the jacket sleeves. Michelle started with two black-and-white houndstooth garments (a blouse and a dress), and dense, textured fabric she thrifted. The fabric’s fringed selvage became…

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