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From "Plain" to "Pretty": My Grey T-Shirt Re-fashion

     "Plain Jane" is just fine and has its place, but why accept just that when it means having a clothing item sit unworn in my closet?!?  Using a new Simplicity pattern release #1463, I have re-worked a plain, ill-fitting, RTW T-shirt into a top with the year's latest design using a new Simplicity pattern release, #1463.  A few variances to the pattern were necessary on account of fit and my personal taste, but I love the finished result.  I think it's better than the original design.

     The last time I re-fashioned a T-shirt was a while ago, and it turned into a jazzy, sequined, casual/fancy top (see the blog here).  That sequin top is fun yet not something to be worn for romping around in nor for any season.  This summer, I have found myself making more casual, everyday clothes (mostly vintage) so I am ecstatic to have added to my small wardrobe of me-made play clothes with this grey T-shirt re-fashion.  Besides all of my just mentioned reasons, it really feels good to make something on trend for a change of pace, in between sewing up vintage pieces from every decade of the 20th century.  Sewing a modern project keeps me in line with reality.     

     What better place to wear my T-shirt re-fashion than to the lake for some fun in the sun!

     Here I am at a family outing to Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.  This park definitely has it all: the largest natural lake in Missouri, an archery range, an 18 hole golf course, several playgrounds, a natural waterfall down the bluffs, conservation areas, a path connecting to the Katy Trail, and tennis courts, just to name a few highlights.  Usually there are a good number of very cheery and colorful boats on the water, and it gives a mid-western living gal like me a chance to feel the sand between my toes and see more water than normal.  There even was a photography team on the beach, taking pictures of a young lady modeling a sundress, and that got me in the mood to do some posing, as well :)


FABRIC:  The T-shirt that was the basis for my re-fashion came from Target, and was bought on clearance for $3 or less about 10 to 12 years ago.  It is a grey heather-ed, mostly cotton stretch knit tee.  The stretch polyester lace for my re-fashion comes from Hancock Fabrics

NOTIONS:  The only notion I needed was matching grey thread, which I had on hand already...yay!

PATTERN:  Simplicity 1463, year 2014

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This top seemingly went together relatively fast.  It took me about 5 hours, from start to finish, but it would have taken less time without adding in the lace into the sides (which I'll address later on).  It was finished on July 5, 2014. 

THE INSIDES:  I kept as much of the original seams as I could, since the top had neatly serged edges, many with thin strips of clear elastic sewn into them.  As I don't have a serger, and prefer time-honored and couture seam finishes myself, keeping the serged edges is something different.  Any edges that were raw are merely double zig-zagged over.  The knit tee fabric and the stretch lace don't fray, so the edges needed only to be kept from rolling.    

TOTAL COST:  Since, as I mentioned above, the T-shirt was bought so long ago, I'm considering it free.  The lace was my only expense, and, as I bought less than a yard at discount, I believe the total cost to be $4.00 or less.

    The only reason I made this project was mainly because I wanted to make the pattern, but was determined to use what was on hand.  I also needed one of those quickly satisfying impulse projects to help me through a spell of harder, more complicated sewing endeavors.  The opportunity to do another re-fashion got my creative blood running quicker - I love re-fashions and hadn't done one in quite some time.  See the "before re-fashion" picture at left of the original tee. 

     What better place to search for RTW item to re-purpose than the dark, quiet, and unworn clothes corner of my closet racks downstairs.  If my grey T-shirt could talk, I can bet it is glad to find a new life as long it meant it gets loved and worn, rather than going to a thrift store.  I'm happy to get something new to wear without going shopping or really buying fabric (except for a small cut of lace).  I remember my mom, at the time I bought my T-shirt, commenting how it would make a good "around the house" top.  However, it was uncomfortably too tight fitting, but, at the same time, the paid price was too cheap to sensibly return.  Thus, it never got worn...just stashed away for a future re-purposing.  I'll bet if many people did this same thing of repairing/tailoring/re-fashioning to the part of their closet that never gets worn, we wouldn't get a "fast fashion" culture which is overwhelmed by too many unwanted cheap clothes.  Ladies from war times, especially WWII era, learned the hard way how to "make do and mend".  It's a pity that the beautiful, quality clothes, like vintage items, are the ones that are scarce and falling apart from age, thus oftentimes relegated to museums.

     Not meaning to digress here, but now that I've explained the 'why' of my project, I'll get to the 'how' of my project.  My T-shirt had to get dismembered first off, before anything else could be done.  (Cutting into a RTW item to re-fashion it always makes me nervous because, unlike fabric, there a very limited supply on hand.)  After much forethought, I only cut the tee apart at the two side seams and at the shoulders, so as to plan out the front and back, then work from there.  The front of my tee had barely enough space to re-cut out the bodice pattern piece of Simplicity 1463 in an XXSmall, which was a size tinier than I wanted - oh, well.  As the Simplicity pattern is designed with a generous back bodice which gets gathered, I had to cut out the new back piece with my tee back turned sideways (the side seams horizontal to my shoulders and waist).  I was left with a seriously short back, but I was able to reach the same length as the new front piece by making a three part panel extension, made from cuffs of the two sleeves and a scrap from the front.  My lower back piecing isn't that noticeable on the top, and even if it is, I think it looks pretty cool and interesting.  Whatever works!

     Sewing with the stretch lace was a bit challenging.  The hardest part was matching the striped design in the lace.  The seams are a bit loose bit they seem to be sturdy enough because my top has had several trips through the wash machine already.

     The leftovers of the finished hem were used to make a beautifully easy neckline (see left picture).  I love it when some of my work can be done for me!

    The pattern impressed me with the way the final top fits.  Other raglan sleeves that I have made certainly do not fit as well as these do, nor do others look as pretty as these.  The pattern was easy and fun.  There is a corner at the front that I expected to be hard, but is was much easier than I expected and turned out great.  I almost would have liked to keep the hi-low V pointed hem, as I have seen this exact same feature, called a "poncho hem", on tops in a 1962 Sears catalog I own, only my re-fashion did not allow for it. (See the Advance 2872 pattern at right for a "poncho hem" example.)  In all, Simplicity 1463 is a pattern that is certainly on my "make again" list.     

     After my top was done, I tried it on and...oh, no!  It was too small!  I should have figured on it being too small with the original top fitting too small, too.  So, my only solution was to rip out the side seams, add in a panel of the lace, then re-sew everything back together.  Personally, I am ecstatic at how the lace in the side seams gave me just enough room to be comfy, while incorporating the lace into the overall design of the top to create and more equalization overall, better than the pattern intended.  I don't mean to pat myself on the back here or beat my own drum, but when you're happy and proud about something, it just kinda comes out.     

     Did you notice the awesome sandcastle in the right background of the picture above and at right?  I built the castle (after a few crumbled walls), hubby decorated it, and our little guy was the officially destroyer of it.   

     A refashion is kind of like building a sandcastle.  You never know how it will turn out until you just do it.  Sure it might not work out, things might fail to come together well, but just have fun and the end result should be great!  My top is a bit pieced together, and not perfect, but it's practical, comfy, and all my own creation.  The satisfaction of making something is indeed wonderful!

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