Stylish Remakes – book review & giveaway

or The Long Overdue Book Review Post!

I have a slight addiction to Japanese pattern books. It’s been reasonably well documented here.

My interest in Japanese style, design, arts & crafts spans much further back into my creative life when I made patchwork quilts. My first sampler quilt was inspired by a navy Japanese quilting cotton. Anyway that’s another story!

Stylish Remakes - Violette Room - Tuttle Publishing

Stylish Remakes – Violette Room – Tuttle Publishing

Last year Tuttle Publishing contacted me about one of their upcoming titles, Stylish Remakes by Violette Room.

Violette Room is a fashon company, founded by Bunka Fashion Institute Graduate Mari Hamano.

I was curious about this title, as in addition to my interest in Japanese arts and crafts, I also have a passion for ‘op shopping’ (secondhand/charity/thrift shops) and vintage clothing – well documented on my Instagram feed. My most recent find being a pair of Rock & Republic jeans for $1 – perfect fit!

Stylish Remakes is a soft cover book with a range of projects to “upcycle and reinvent your tired old clothes and thrift store finds into trendy new threads”.

This book isn’t your typical Japanese sewing pattern book. While there are instructions, there are no pattern sheets. It is more of a guide of how to go about the process of upcycling and embellishing your clothes or thrift shop finds.

While I generally sew up something from a book I review, for this particular review I didn’t see the point as every single experience is going to be completely different. Your outcomes are going to be dependent on having or sourcing clothes to upcycle and embellish, so I see this book as an inspirating starting point.

Some of the possibilities…


  • Adding a fancy bow or collar to an old tshirt or sweater.
  • Add ruffles or a peplum to a man’s shirt to create a more feminine silhouette.
Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. T-shirts

Stylish Remakes, Violette Room.


  • Sew a new skirt from a pair of old shirts (My teenage daughter thinks these are awesome – she’s a free spirit who wear the most amazing Doc Marten boots you have ever seen so I think she would rock this look… not to mention the fact she moved my second sewing machine into her bedroom… and whipped herself up a pair of flannel PJ pants this weekend).
  • Pair up a skirt and top, sew them together and create a new ‘dress’.
  • Use an old t-shirt to create a baby’s onesie.
Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Flannel Shirts

Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Flannel Shirts


  • Create a dress or a bag from bandanna scarves.
Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Bandannas

Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Bandannas


The book has been organised into chapters:-

  • T-shirts
  • Flannel Shirts
  • Borders
  • College Sweats
  • Gabardine Coats
  • Bandannas

All up there are 25 projects, all presented with lovely clear photography.


If you are at all familar with Japanese sewing books, the layout and presentation of the instructions is standard to these translated sewing books. The instructions are concise but sufficient – and accompanied by a number of clear and well captioned illustrations.

Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Instructions

Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Instructions


While I don’t think this is quite the book for me, as I can’t imagine myself dressed in quite so quirky a fashion, my daughter loves it! So it’s the first book in her personal sewing library. She appears to have inherited my great love of thrifting so I suspect she will be seeking out some clothes to refashion on our next thrift shopping expedition!

If you have never thought of thrifting or upcycling your clothes, perhaps Stylish Remakes might be an interesting place to start.

Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Gabardine Coats

Stylish Remakes, Violette Room. Gabardine Coats


Comment below and tell me your best vintage find – clothing, pattern, sewing machine or anything else – I love a good thrift find! Giveaway closes 6pm, 24 April 2016 (Australian EST).

Book: Stylish Remakes by Violette Room, published by Tuttle Publishing



Tomorrow sees the commencement of Fashion Revolution week, running from 18-24 April. What’s that? from

We believe that fashion can be made in a safe, clean and beautiful way. Where creativity, quality, environment and people are valued equally.

On 18-24 April, Fashion Revolution Week will bring people from all over the world together to use the power of fashion to change the story for the people who make the world’s clothes and accessories.

Fashion Revolution was born when on 24 April 2014, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Bangladesh – the worst industrial accident in the garment industry. I’m not here to write a blog post about it – however it makes for interesting read and will make you think about a whole range of issues. You can read more here.


Note: for this post I received a copy of the book Stylish Remakes from Tuttle Publishing to review. All opinions my own.

This post first appeared on


37 thoughts on “Stylish Remakes – book review & giveaway

  1. My best vintage find was actually a loss…I discovered a like-new 1959 German Pfaff 500 sewing machine in a closet at a real estate. Unfortunately, when I threaded it up and plugged it in, it wouldn’t work. Was it because of more than 50 years of congealed oil or some other mechanical problem? They wanted $175 for it. I countered with an offer, but the supervisor of the estate sale was convinced she could get that much for it. I had to pass.The next day I went back to the sale and a woman was carrying the machine out of the house. She paid $25 for it.

  2. So many fabulous finds, it’s hard to choose just one! You force me, so…an antique silk kimono in perfect condition. Ahhhh… Pure luxury!

    I’d love to see what your daughter comes up with. And I’d like to give it a whirl myself, even if I’m vintage myself!

  3. “Best” is subjective, I suppose. (Excluding things that came from “vintage” shops) one best thing was a vintage rayon Hawaiian shirt, probably from the 40s. (One collector offered to buy it off of my body for a surprisingly high sum – I said no). I don’t wear it any more though. Another one is my kitchen table – a vintage 1950s chrome and formica affair. It’s worn out, but I use it every day, so perhaps that is “best” for me.

    No need to enter me in the giveaway. It’s a lovely book, but I think I’m past the bandana dress period! Looks like a great book for new and younger sewers. Thanks for the review!

    • I have a vintage dining table too. A ‘hand-me-down’ from my grandmother–in-law and I also eat breakfast in my great grandfather’s chair every morning… someone I enjoy the vintage pieces more than the modern ones!

  4. Some 15 years ago My daughter and I took some household rubbish to the tip. As we drove up and stopped to tell the workers there what we had (they direct people to different skips – garden refuse, wood, electrical, etc etc) when we spotted a familiar shape – a 60s sewing machine. We got rid of our rubbish and…stopped by the gate shed…I walked in and without much intro asked – is that sewing machine for sale???? a couple of men looked horrified and a couple of other ones looked puzzled…one just looked at the door in THAT kind of way, I went out, another worker was there telling my daughter that they were not allowed to sell anything there! then he said – I will go inside now….
    so we snatched the machine and left quickly. At home it turned out that it was a 60s machine – still with cast iron parts, so weighed about 12 kilos. The machine was in a perfect condition and really clean. I already had 12 machines at home – more than half were rescued ones!

    But that’s not the end of the story!

    That summer a friend came from Poland (I am Polish, too) to stay with us and – as a joke – I asked if she wanted that machine and she said YES!!!!!!!!!!

    we thought and thought HOW she could take the machine on the plane. I thought that first thing to do was to take the needle out of the machine which we did. I took my friend to the airport and at the check-in they didn’t mind that the machine would be hand luggage (of course – without the needle). And so she went. She flew via Brussels. Later on I heard that in Brussels the machine was looked after by a shop owner in the main concourse, but the best came during the flight to Warsaw – my friend traveled tourist/economy class while the machine traveled BUSINESS CLASS, in a seat, strapped in!!!

  5. My best find was a singer 99k sewing machine in the back of my mates van. He hadn’tt thrown it away because it was heavy and held all his tarps down! I cleaned it up and my grandad checked the electrics and it runs like a dream

  6. My most amazing thrift finds have been in fabric! I’m getting so good at it – it makes me wonder if I’ll ever buy new fabric again! A couple of days ago I found camel cashmere! 3 meters of it and last week I found 6 meters of gorgeous heavy silk 🙂

  7. Lol, don’t think I could get away with a bandana dress, but my daughters sure could! A few years ago I bought a vintage straight-stitch Brother sewing machine for £11 on eBay – I’ve just finished quilting a 60″ quilt with it. It’s a rather horrible mushroom colour, but it just handles anything I try on it, I love it!

  8. This looks like a great book! I love up cycling and have made a cushion cover out of a mans shirt, many rock t-shirts have been turned into maxis for my daughter, and others have been turned into trackies for my son.

  9. I have made a quilt out of old flannel shirts bought at a second hand store. It had the beautiful softness to it already. Book looks great and I am sure my daughter would love it too. She is a made keen second hand shopper… Cheers

  10. Mine would have to be the most gorgeous pair of knee high leather boots. They aren’t made for walking, but they are so pretty.

    • My friends often marvel at my ‘finds’ however I often tell them that 90% of visits result in nothing special… it’s those marvellous finds that keep you going back though!

  11. My best find was an entire CAR full of fabric, patterns and ribbon…FREE! I have used so much of the fabric in SO many projects! I would love to learn to refashion my clothing. I am losing weight and I would love to be able to refashion what I have, maybe with use of some of those free goodies, to keep from having to rebuy an entire wardrobe over and over as my weight goes down!

  12. As I have vintage shopped my whole life, “best” is tough to settle on. I’ll go with my cowl-neck fringed mesa-style poncho, from Camden Horse Market as ‘that’ item i would rescue in a house fire.
    That, and, a working Atari console with 12 games, all for $10 – that was a dream find!

    • I’m often amused how some of my most treasured wadrobe pieces are those from a thrift shop or market. I guess they carry memories and that sense of ‘one of a kind’

  13. My best vintage find was the pattern for the Dianne Von Furstenberg wrap dress which I’ve seen on Etsy for $250 and which cost me $2! I have this book, so please don’t enter me in the competition. I am not sure about the usefulness of the book to me. I keep looking at what they’ve done, and I love it, but then I can’t seem to translate any of my thrifty finds to anything nearly as interesting. Thanks for your review though!

    • OMG that is the find of the century. I think Helen of FunkBunny got her DVF for $1.
      I dont’ often upcycle clothing but I op-shop all the time. It’s almost an obsession. I have a few days away with my eldest daughter and we are researching op shops in the region LOL

  14. Military coats and jackets. I love researchig their history. I have a trench that belonged to someone in a division out of Georgia and a short coat that was worn in the Phillipines.

  15. Oh Lizzie that book looks exactly like my thing! I just had a sewing vacation and finally stepped into the wild world of recycling my clothing : ) Thanks for the review, I’ll definitely snag a copy of this eventually!

      • lol I’m slow at responding to comments just like email…I’ve been buying things at op-shops (shapeless muumuus, cashmere sweaters, the like) and then using them as fabric to make more suitable things.

  16. I think my best vintage find was my most recent, in fact – a cream moygashel jacket with wide lapels that fits me absolutely perfectly.and for a great price of £20. Usually the things I buy in junk shops and charity shops need a little adapting one way or another, but not this. I hesitated a little at the slightly unusually collar, and i can’t be sure how old it is – possibly ’60s – but I decided to push myself a little into ‘quirky’ for.once.
    My favourite thing to look for is old linen tablecloths, if a decent size and well-laundered, they can be turned into all sorts of great clothes.
    I would love this book for a few more ideas to work with, and I too am a fan of Japanese books, and love your blog!

    • I think all my favourite jackets are vintage finds. Thigsn with quirky details, fabulous fabrics or great fits.
      I’ve never thought to look at linen table clothes… I’ll have to add that to my list of things to search for in future!

  17. Changing up old clothes can be fun. I just ran into some patterns on Etsy that have a unique aesthetic. Just look up ‘The Peggy blouse’, by paganoonoo. The whole pattern is written for re-use.

    • Hi Mary, thank you for the mention, I’m the owner and designer for Paganoonoo, Michelle Paganini. . I’m an Op Shop addict myself and love reiventing clothes. My current designs are based on dress shirts (men’s or women’s) because the quality of the fabric and construction is generally very good. The tough bits like collars and packets are left intact and parts from 1 to 3 other shirts are used to create the transformation through a deconstruction and reconstruction process. My designs are figure flattering and are scaleable meaning anyone who can find a dress shirt that fits their torso/ bust the way they like will be able to successfully fit the design.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.