The Refashioners 2013 – Zoe of So Zo…

I was really excited to have a stab at making a maternity garment for this refashioning challenge. I think that sometimes it can be tempting to undertake a refashion (or a ‘from-scratch’ sewing project too for that matter) simply because you’ve had an idea and want to see it actualized, with little thought to whether or not the final garment will ever get worn. I know I’m guilty of this from time to time. The garment refashioning/upcycling/remaking that women did during the era of rationing in the UK in the 1940’s was done because they needed to create wearable things for themselves and their families. I have tried to reflect that wartime sense of refashioning-for-necessity by making a genuinely useful men’s-shirt-to-maternity top that has been designed to accommodate a growing bump. During pregnancy of course, the contents of a woman’s regular wardrobe becomes increasingly useless and the prospect of acquiring a whole new maternity selection can be prohibitively expensive. I’d like to think that a relatively quick refashioning project like this one would be a welcome addition to that increasingly depleted selection of garments!

This refashion doesn’t have to be for creating maternity wear either. By skimming in the side seams a bit more, the process is equally viable for creating a nice non-maternity smock top. Those who occasionally follow my Refashion Friday posts will know that I’ve done quite a few men’s-to-women’s shirt refashions, but they usually involved a lot of deconstructing, re-cutting and reconstructing. For this challenge I wanted to take a looser and quicker approach that someone may be more likely to try for themselves. Here’s what I did….

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I started this refashion by removing the sleeves from the shirt and the cuffs from the sleeves, cutting carefully along the seam lines.

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Time to try on the body of the shirt. I did this to assess two things:
1) By how much (if at all) you’d like to take the top in at the side seams at around the bust, waist and hips. Note that removing excess width from the side seams around the top of the garment will also make the armholes less deep, which you may prefer. I pinched out fabric evenly from both side seams of the garment and pinned it to get the kind of width I was aiming for. It’s important to remember at this stage that elastic will be added around the under bust line, so we don’t want to pinch out so much fabric that the elastic doesn’t have a job to do!

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2) To find where my under bust line is. I made a mark of this at the centre front on the button stand.

After turning the garment through to the wrong side, I transferred the side seam reshaping I wanted to make to the side seams on the inside. I decided I only wanted to take some excess width out from the bust area (which also raised the depth of the armholes which were too low) but wanted to retain the width of the hips so I angled the line of pins accordingly. Using the line of pins as a guide, I stitched along this line removing the pins as I went. After stitching, I trimmed off the excess fabric 1 cm from the
stitching line and used my overlocker/serger to neaten the raw edges and prevent fraying during laundering.

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Now that I’d addressed the width of the garment, it was time to add the elastic to give the garment some shape. With a tape measure, I measured around my torso along the under bust line. I then took 3 cms (1”) off that measurement and cut a piece of ½” wide elastic to this length. Folding the elastic in half and then in quarters, I marked these points on the elastic in pencil. (If you’re playing along at home, you will now have three small pencil marks along one side of the elastic.)

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Next I pinned the elastic to the wrong side of the top along the starting at the centre front where I marked the bust line height on the button stand. Positioning the central elastic pencil mark at the centre back of the top I also did the same to the two other elastic pencil marks at the corresponding side seams. I stretched the elastic between the pinned points so it matches the fabric and placed some ‘inbetween’ pins to secure it further.

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‘Tis time to stitch the elastic down. Starting at one end of the elastic, I stitched two parallel lines along the edges of the elastic pulling the elastic as I stitched (once again for those playing at home, take your time with this stage, this can be a bit fiddly!). The elastic is meant to gather the fabric up evenly when stitched down and the tension is released.

The inside of my top was now looking like this! At this point I would say it is a good idea to try your top on and see how the refashion is developing. If you chose an under bust line that didn’t align with the position of a button and button hole at the centre front, you may or may not experience a bit of gapping where the elastic is pulling the shirt. If you do have some gapping, hand stitch a press stud/popper to act as another button where the elastic stops and starts.

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Now it was decision time: how to finish the armholes. The quickest and easiest way would be simply to narrowly turn over the raw edge and topstitch around the armhole. The more time consuming but arguably more ‘polished’ method is to harvest some fabric from the sleeve and create your own bias binding to stitch around and finish the armhole.

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I went with the latter. With the armholes finished and an anchor patch applied, my maternity top was complete!

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Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Portia for her hard work and organisation of this whole project and for asking me to be part of it. She puts so much effort into the promotion of refashioning as an exciting and enjoyable creative endeavour, she’s a total inspiration I’m sure you’ll agree!

Zoe of So Zo…

Aw, schucks! Thanks Zoe! Literally, right back at ya! This is a total case in point of how a refashion needn’t be complicated or time consuming to totally transform the shape and style of a garment. You don’t need to totally deconstruct a garment. (Unless you want to of course!)
Also totally concur with Zoe. One of the most fundamental benefits of refashioning a garment is that it enables you to take what you have and tweak it to suit you. Your needs, (maternity or other) and your personal style (stripes and anchors for Zoe, naturally!).
I think my favourite parts of this refashion are it’s simplicity, fit, and the directional interest that the stripes cut on the bias create around the armholes. I think we can all agree that Zoe is one yummy retro mummy to be in this number!

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13 Comments

  1. Tamsin June 7, 2013

    I really like this. It’s so simple, doable and looks fantastic. Well done Zoe!

    Reply
  2. Marie June 7, 2013

    THIS is what refashioning is all about! I love how this is practical for you right now, but still true to your personal style! Fantastic!!!

    Reply
  3. anastasia anezinis June 7, 2013

    great!!!very nice and easy refashion!
    http://freestilcreatingbyvilly.blogspot.gr/

    Reply
  4. Lori June 7, 2013

    This is wonderful, great job.

    Reply
  5. Sew little time June 7, 2013

    lovely! and so easy to do! i guess the same idea could be used for non-preggers ladies with elastic around the waist or the hips with a little flare underneath too

    Reply
  6. sharoncreations June 7, 2013

    Very nice! Could easily be made into a peplum top too. I’ve not worked with men’s shirts yet but it’s on my to-do list.

    http://sharoncreations.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  7. Tasha June 7, 2013

    What a great idea! Totally practical, cute and wearable. I love that you can kind of grow with it, and if you want to, wear it after your pregnancy. Such a smart idea!

    Reply
  8. Kat June 8, 2013

    This is awesome! I’ll be keeping this is mind next time I am pregnant.

    Reply
  9. Giddyauntlola June 8, 2013

    So this is what I am aiming for in my sewing; to gain the confidence and skills to do what all the girls taking part in this challenge have done. Impressive!

    asaucystitch.blogspot.co.uk

    Reply
  10. gingermakes June 8, 2013

    This is so cute! I love it! It’s amazing that even a refashion where you didn’t pick out the item can still look so much like your style!

    Reply
  11. LLADYBIRD June 10, 2013

    Zoe, only you could make a super duper simple refashion that works for maternity and have it STILL be cute! It is super cute and that finished top is soo your style!

    Reply
  12. dixie June 11, 2013

    aww, you are too cute, zoe! i love that your style shines through no matter what you make, even when you have no idea what you’re gonna get in the mail.

    Reply
  13. Elisalex June 15, 2013

    Ah congratulations Zoe!!! You look absolutely beautiful and this refashion is perfect for your growing bump. I ended up refashioning so much stuff when I was pregnant – so much cheaper and cuter than any of the boring maternity stuff out there! xxx

    Reply

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