Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Make Over: Men's Shirt to Summer Top!

      I was chatting with a friend the other day and the idea of converting a men's shirt into something more of a dress came up in our conversation. This was something I had been kicking around for a while- you see I have this extremely generous shirt that no longer fits me- yet the fabric is so soft and broken in that it was tough to get rid of- so there it sat in my closet unworn. So here is a tutorial -of sorts- on how I turned this button down into a sun top- perfect for those warm days I just know are right around the corner!

       This friend gave me the push to jump into this project that I had been thinking about but procrastinating on. I was a bit afraid of what would happen if I cut up a perfectly good shirt and my project didn't turn out? Then the conclusion was made that this shirt was not being worn anyways and it would be no big loss if the new garment turned out like crap- so I went for it.

 First- button up the shirt and lay it flat and even out on a table- measure and cut from arm pit to arm pit- this shirt was pretty long so there was enough fabric to just cut off the top portion.

Second- remove pocket with seam ripper and measure around the top of my chest- take fabric in on both sides to accommodate a smaller structured top- I sewed up the front therefore removing the buttons.

Third- cut a long strip (wide enough to be folded in half) from the remnant fabric to fit exactly around the top of your chest- this will become the top band of your new sun top.

Fourth- fold that strip in half and iron well- then fold up both halves towards the middle about  a quarter of an inch- fold in the short end bits - iron and sew in place. Pin band to bottom half of top- pleating as you go to make all the fabric fit into the band- sandwiching the raw edges of the bottom part of the shift between the folded in edges of the top band- top stitch through all three layers of fabric- being careful to keep pleats straight.

Fifth- with the final bit of fabric left over make your straps- cut four pieces of fabric about two inches by twelve- fold right sides together and sew one short side and the open long side closed. Turn right side out and iron flat- pin in place and then sew onto shirt.

     The great thing about making a top like this is you can really customize the fit to your body- for example I have a large bust line and therefore do not need any extra fabric in that area- I chose to place my pleats all in the back for added volume and detail. Also as you go try your garment on to ensure proper fit- make friends with your seam ripper as I'm sure you will need to go back and adjust!

      I look in my closet and am so bored these days- boo hoo I know! This is an easy way to re-purpose a well loved shirt- extend it's life span and keep it out of the donation bin. Did you know the average North American "throws out" 68 pounds of clothing a year! I know lots of people donate used clothing but in reality much of what is donated to Thrift Stores or Charity Shops doesn't make the cut. Cotton is arguably the most popular textile in our wardrobes- but did you know the amount of pesticides and water it takes to grow the cotton that becomes the denim that covers your bum?

      I'm a lover of clothing- fashion- personal expression- yes even shopping but these days I can not bring myself to add another cheap t-shirt to my dresser. By re-using what you have, shopping second hand, attending clothing swaps, using hand me downs, buying from local designers and home sewing with carefully chosen fabrics like organic cotton everyone can begin to reduce their environmental footprint- and save a few bucks for some tasty locally made bread & cheese at the Farmer's Market!

p.s.- thanks to the Mr. for snapping a few shots of me this morning before he raced off to job #1- please excuse my lovely exposed bra strap- clearly he didn't notice it showing I'm hoping nobody else will either!

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