Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thrift Store Refashion - Tutorial!

So, I've been in need of some cardigans lately.  I don't know where all of mine have gone, but I went through a "long-boyfriend-cardigan" stage last fall, and so I don't have any shorter sweaters to go with dresses and spring/summer outfits anymore.  Trying to be thriftier, I've been scouring the thrift store on their green tag sale days, looking for something I could either modify or wear as-is.  

I haven't really found exactly what I've been looking for or something that has just screamed "buy me and give me a new purpose in life!".  But, for a $1.29 (and even with that price tag it took me a bit to convince myself I should buy it) this is what I came home with:

This had some good things going for it.  I liked the nautical-like stripes and yoked collar, but not the cropped length, billowy arms, or extra fabric in general.  I thought it could be a really cute little over-coat.

I thought that I would easily be able to search the web and find something similar to what my end result was, but...I kind of failed.  So, either I came up with something actually somewhat unique or I have absolutely no fashion sense at all (I'm leaning toward the latter conclusion).

I think it ended up with sort of a mix of this kind of feel:


Anyway, even though the chances of you finding (or wanting) the exact same shirt as me are slim, I thought I would include a few steps that I took to put this together, in case you wanted to try something similar on a shirt of your own!  The great thing about modifying thrift store (or just older) clothing is 
1.) there are no rules!  Get inspiration, innovate, and see what happens! 
and, 2.) the worst thing that can happen if you mess up is that either you're out one shirt you never wore or were bored of, or in my case, a $1.29.

First things first:  I put it on and pinched the top to see how much I wanted to cut out of the middle.  If you look closely, you can see my pins in place            

I cut out the portion from pin to pin.             

Then I cut that piece in half to get two strips that looked like this.

Now, the nice thing about this shirt its made from a sturdy knit and won't unravel.  So, technically, I could've left the edges raw and they would've just rolled over/under, and added to the general messy look I was kind of going for.  But, I decided to use the strips I cut as sort of a bias tape or binding around the raw edges.  Just pin like so...        


    ...iron down the seam...                                                            

...and voila!  A nice finished edge.  I then top-stitched over the outer edge to give it a "finished" look (and to make sure it was secure).  I used a white thread, which stood out a bit more (which I kind of liked), but if I hadn't been too lazy to switch my thread, I might've done it with a darker color so it wouldn't stand out as much.


Next it was time to take care of those sleeves!  I wanted to make them slightly more fitted.  I put on the sweater inside out and pinned up the sleeve to the tightness I wanted (making sure to leave some room for a seam allowance).  I sewed up along my pins and tried it on one more time to make sure it fit.  Once I assured the fit was good, I cut off the excess.

Since my arms are generally the same size, I just laid one sleeve over the other and traced a line on the inside of the arm as a guide, and repeated the same steps on that sleeve.

After this, I went back over the inseam with a zig-zag stitch.  Although my knit won't unravel, I like the extra stability and finished look this gives the clothing.

The last thing for me to figure out was how I wanted the closure to work.  I originally thought I would put buttons going down the whole front like a coat.  However, not only did I not have enough matching buttons that I liked, but the fit didn't look right.  I decided instead to use some of the leftover hem from the excess sleev-age I cut off and make a tab-like closure.

I did this by folding over the raw edges and top stitching around the entire rectangular piece.  I tried to use my buttonhole settings on my machine, but somehow I always get it to work on my scrap fabric and then fail terribly on the actual piece I want a buttonhole on - go figure.  Someday, I will master this technique.  Anyway, the actual button mostly hides the horrible buttonhole job I did - hopefully you will fair better than I if you add a button to a garment.

Then I just placed the tab where I wanted it, top-stitched a second time over the entire rectangle (once again, this added to the 'messy' look I was going for - yes, ok, maybe a total cop out for not doing a meticulously neat job, but oh well).  Of course, I only attached it on one side of the opening, but still went back over the whole tab.   

Time to try it on and dress it up!

What do you think?  Does it work?  Anything you might have tried differently? 
I would love to hear your feedback!

Thanks for stopping by!


Marianne said...

I found your blog from Cassie Johnson's blog. I liked the title of it, but then I saw this post and had to laugh 'cause I have the SAME shirt I bought at a thrift store that I never wear for the same reasons. Now I know what to do with it so thank you!! :-)

becca said...

That is so funny that you have the same shirt! What are the chances? Glad I could help ;P If you end up refashioning it, I'd love to see your end result! Thanks for the comment!