I bought this top from an op shop ages ago but have never worn it because it’s completely shapeless and über unflattering on me. It’s too big so the shoulders are really wide and the high neckline and boxy shape also do nothing for my figure. Given that there’s so much I don’t like about it, you’re probably wondering why I bought it. I like the fabric. It’s got this quirky swirling rope/chain print that I really like. So I just needed to completely redesign the silhouette into something I like! Here’s how I did it:
Firstly, I unpicked the sleeves. This gave me some fabric to play with!
Then I tried on the top again and pinned in the side seams from the underarm to the hem. By pinning it while wearing it I was able to make sure I was leaving enough room in the top to still be able to pull it over my head. I just had to be careful not to poke myself with the pins! I made a note of the measurements, removed the pins, turned the top inside out and re-pinned in the side seams (referring to the measurements) so that I could sew the side seams with the right sides of the top together so the seam is on the inside.
I tried it on again to make sure I was happy with the fit before cutting off the excess fabric leaving 1- 1.5cm and then I overlocked the raw edges.
I tried the top on again and used pins to mark where I wanted the shoulder and armhole to finish. I also marked where I wanted the neckline to finish.
I made sure my markings were symmetrical on both sides of the top and ran a row of stitching along the pin line. This row of stitching only went through one layer of fabric and was to help prevent the neckline and armholes from stretching out of shape once they’re cut. This is called stay stitching. I cut off the excess fabric about 6 mm (1/4”) away from the stitching line. I then pinned the neckline in half, matching the shoulder seams so I was cutting through both sides of the neckline at the same time to make doubly sure I cut it symmetrically.
I folded bias binding tape over the raw edge of the neckline and pinned it all the way around making sure to catch both layers of bias binding and the layer of the top in between. I stitched the tape to the top, as pinned, all the way around the neckline.
I unpicked the stay stitching that was still visible. I folded the bias covered edge over towards the inside of the top and pinned it again. I then stitched a few millimetres from the folded edge and gave it a press to make sure everything was sitting nice and flat. I retained the original keyhole opening at the back neck.
I repeated the same process of binding the raw edges for the armholes. To add some more shape, I added two tucks at the back waist by marking 1/3 of the way across the back from one of the side seams and then again at the 2/3 point. I made the tucks 12 cm long and about 3 cm wide (1.5 cm on the fold). I made sure the top was still loose enough to pull over my head and pressed the tucks toward the centre back.
That’s the basic shape of the top done. Now to make it more interesting! Using the sleeves as my source of fabric, I cut two strips of fabric 37 cm long by 8.5 cm wide. I cut another two strips of fabric 37 cm long by 5.5 cm wide. I then needed to finish off the raw edges along 3 sides of each rectangle (the two short edges and one of the long edges). To do this you could do a double rolled hem, an overlocked rolled hem, or if you find either of those options too tricky you could always just overlock the edges, but it won’t look quite as neat. I have done a double rolled hem by folding over a few millimetres along the edge, stitching a couple of millimetres from the folded edge and then folding the edge over again and stitching it down again.
Using a zig zag stitch, I stitched a length of piping rope along the hemmed long edge of each of the strips of fabric. I made sure I stitched back and forth a bit at each end to make sure the piping rope was secured. I also tea dyed the piping rope because the white colour looked a little stark compared to the creaminess of the fabric I was working with.
I pinned one of the narrower strips on top of one of the wider strips with the raw edges meeting. To gather this raw edge, I sewed the two layers together about 5mm from the raw edge using a long stitch leaving the threads loose at both ends. I then sewed another row of long stitches a few millimetres away from the first row. At one end, I took the two threads from the upper side and pulled them to gather the fabric so that the gathered edge measured about 23 cm. I tied off the threads at each end so the gathers wouldn’t come undone, then overlocked the raw edge.
I measured 10 cm from one end of the gathered strip and marked this point with a pin. Lining up the point I’d marked with the shoulder seam of the top I tucked the overlocked gathered edge under the bound edge of the top so 10 cm of the ruffle went toward the front and the rest went towards the back. I pinned the rest of the ruffle to the top by laying the bound edge of the top over the overlocked edge of the frill. I sewed the frill to the top, as pinned, by stitching close to the bound edge on top of the previous row of stitching. I then stitched again about 3-4 mm from the first row of stitching to make sure it would sit nice and flat. I repeated this for the other shoulder with the other frill.
There’s one more detail I wanted to add to the top utilising more of the piping cord. I tied a knot in both ends of a 70 cm length of piping rope then tied the length of rope into a loose bow. I pinned the bow to the front of the top and hand stitched it in place.
The final result:
More creative spaces here.
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