Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Upcycling Old Shirts To Trendy Fabulous Blouses

I have lost at least 30 pounds due to my dental complications and surgeries. The excruciating pain, cost of having a dentist rip stuff out of your mouth, and the smell of abscesses building up one after another is just no fun.

Additionally, having everything in your closet and drawers not fit you whatsoever and not being able to buy a new wardrobe is aggravating. I do have a new sewing machine. Though I don't have any experience in making adult clothes, I figured this was a golden opportunity to learn how. Plus, if I screw up, it's not like I ruined someone else's clothes!

Here is one of the old blouses of mine....I love the material still but gosh it could fit an elephant. Was I really this big?!

I had erroneously believed the shirt was a peasant style blouse too....but when I took a closer look at the neckline, I realized that was not true. This meant it would be harder to take the extra inches out of it's neckline. (My plan was to yank some elastic out of the neckline...)
Taking out inches from the flat seam parts wasn't an option with my novice sewing skills! So I had to work with the gathered sleeves/neckline part and take out elastic from there. I ended up taking out two inches of elastic from each side. I carefully seam ripped out the casing beforehand and then inconspicuously sewed up the small section of ripped out seams afterwards. Turned out perfect. However, now the sleeves are VERY poofy! Oh well. Maybe this will become a new fashion trend. :P

I tried this elephant blouse on and got my pins out and pinned all the way down the sides to reflect how I wanted the blouse to eventually fit me. This wasn't an exact science. I had watched my mom, who is a professional tailor, do this a million times. However, I had no clue what I was doing! :D I didn't take a picture of this step because it was hard enough to pin a blouse to my own body much less take a picture of myself. You should have seen the odd looks my 4 year old was giving me too!

 The above three pictures reflect the side seams being pinned. I ended up taking up two inches from each side through the chest (right under the armpit) and one inch from each side at the bottom where the blouse hits my hips. I needed this blouse to still fit loosely so I can fit it over my head still and it drapes nicely still. I figured these measurements would give me an Aline blouse which is flattering on anyone. I'm not sure what the original blouse shape was suppose to be.....military tank? Bloated elephant? Obese person 3 days post-mortem (i.e post-mortem bloating)?! We will never know.

I ironed the shirt on the sides where my pins were. This gave a nice crisp crease all the way down. Then, I took the pins out. I then got the blouse inside out and observed those pretty creases as a guideline to where I need to sew my new side seams. I'm sure there's a better method of taking up the sides. However, I was taking in a shirt I had to alter on myself. That's not easy no matter what mad skills you possess.

As I was reflecting on how awesome and crafty I was, I realized that those poofy clown sleeves had an armpit two inches away from my new side seam. :( In case you are not following me, this meant I would have  a gap between the armpit and the new seam. I would need to close it up before I eventually cut off the access material I took in! Either that, I would need to sew a new side seam for the sleeves too. Ugh. The sleeves were already weird in my opinion. I didn't want to make them weirder with my lovely sewing skills.

I concocted an idea that I would just angle the old armpit to the new armpit and then sew down the sides of the blouse where that ironed crease was. man I'm brilliant. :P

The arrow is pointing to the ironed crease I am following after making an angled armpit. Ignore Mr.Pin. He's just there to make the slippery fabric not dance away from me. This is the type of fabric that likes to do the jitterbug....even with ballpoint needles. :(

Now I have sewed all the way down the blouse....neat,straight seam and the blouse is laying nice and flat. Yea! Time to cut the excess fabric off and then serge or overlock those seams. Even though this blouse will still fit loosely, i wanted to use a stretch stitch because I knew I would be moving a lot in it....i am a very active person with wild children. :P

WARNING: ugly pictures of me coming up next. Please take your elderly family and young children away from the computer screen. Some material may be offensive to some audience members. :P

So obviously it's nearly impossible to take a picture of yourself even with a mirror. I promise you the blouse looks awesome, symmetrical, and professional....I don't know how i pulled it off! But, I decided this blouse still needed something a bit more interesting. Plastic surgery wasn't in my cards :D so I went with black lace. You can NEVER go wrong with lace! And, fortunately for me, it's super popular right now!

I wound my bobbin with some elastic thread too and shirred just a small portion of the sides so now it has a slight upwards direction on each side and gives the appearance that my waist is even smaller. This is a great idea for anyone to do to their DIY fashion projects so they can instantly "lose" 5 pounds! Even if you shirr just one side, it gives visual interest and draws the eye away from your pudginess.

Next time I will show you what to do with one of a jillion slutty shirts that seem to be hitting the store racks lately and make it into something you can actually wear to church, your conservative in-laws house, or your hyper-opinionated mom's house (although she can't say "you're not wearing that to your dad's funeral?!" anymore because the poor guy finally died!).

Happy sewing!


  1. I can't believe I'm laughing at this, but it IS funny. Love you.

  2. Thanks mom! Would you expect me or this blog to be anything BUT funny and irreverent?!

  3. So funny ivy, never thought you would be giving sewing tutorials! Enjoy them