Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Refashion No. 2 - Denim shirt!

I have discovered that it is quite difficult to squeeze in some a refashion project every week, especially if you are working with anything that is beyond simple cut and sew. Especially if one is out of practice, like me.

However, I have been trying my best to juggle full-time work, and a whole mess of other household and family related tasks and jobs and have managed to squeeze in some refashioning time in the evenings. This means that I was picking seams one evening, seeking necessary material on the next day, and getting my hands dirty with chopping and pinning the next day.

The part of the process I have undertaken thus far, took me to the stage where I have a shirt with hacked sleeves and front panels. But, let me start from the beginning. This is what I started off with:

Denim shirt covered with eye-impaling embroidered red fabric panels
Pardon my hubby who took this picture, but you get the essence - it was a shapeless and intimidating shirt, with a denim inner core :)

The first step was to remove the red panels that were sewn on the front panels, which wasn’t as difficult. The next step was to remove the plaid material from the shoulders, which was somewhat more difficult as the shoulder panels were sewed into the shirt sleeves and collar.

Next, I have cut off the sleeves and front panels above the breasts. The scheme of the shirt in progress is shown on the picture below.

Red lines represnt the cuts and blue ones pinned shaping seams (side and back)

After the cuts were made, I have used the off cuts of the front panels to create lace inserts. Use the off cuts as a pattern. I have laid them over the lace, pinned to avoid the need for drawing the pattern (me=lazy) and cut the lace pieces leaving 1 cm seam allowance at the top and the sides, while the bottom seam will require additional centimetre, as the denim will have to be folded, creating a centimetre larger gap that will need to be filled by the lace inserts.

Once you have cut the lace panels, pin them into the place and make a running stitch. If you are too lazy to make a running stitch before machine sewing it, I recommend that you make it at least along the collar, as this one is somewhat more complicated than the others, as you will have to tuck the lace between the two sides of the collar. Once you are done with these steps, proceed to machine stitching. I found this order of sewing worked for me: shoulder, collar, along the buttons and the bottom. The latest I have sewn the sleeve-side of the lace with 2 centimetre wide reminder of the sleeve.

Ill-fitting armhole!

Putting on the semi-finished shirt, I have realised the take-ins I have initially made at the front and the sides of the shirt were not right, and I was thinking of making breast dart (represented by the pins shown in the picture) to achieve a better fit. As I was working in small periods of time I had available during the day, after work and cooking for the family, I wasn’t able to deal with the shirt immediately. I have turned to my mom with the shirt ill-fitting problem and she advised to remove the front sew-ins, and to make more significant take-ins at the sides of the shirt and to make take-ins at the back at the back of the shirt. I have listened to her advice, only it has proven to be rather impossible for me to pin the shirt sides, or to brief my husband sufficiently for him to do it, while I was wearing the shirt. Therefore, something had to be done. The weekend started with dress form making according to Burda tutorial, with my husband in the role of chief dress form maker, and with me being the model. After we have finished all the tape we had in the house, which was just after I became way too nervous, I have called the end of the taping stage and moving onto the cutting stage. To shorten the remainder of this tale – thanks to the mentioned tutorial, my hubby and a crazy Saturday morning I now have a dress form. It is far from looking like the one in the tutorial, but it serves to its main purpose – it does well in imitating my torso for tailoring purposes!

Using my new dress form, adequate side and back take-ins were easy-breezy to make! I have pinned the shirt from the sides and the back to make it form-fitting, followed by the running stitch, machine stitch and cutting off the excess fabric with pinking shears (since my machine’s zigzag option doesn’t work).

Next up, I have conducted fray-preventing actions (pinking, machine stitching) on the leftover sleeves fabric, followed by pinning it inwards. This time, no running stitch was necessary and I have proceeded with machine stitching straight away. One round of machine stitch I have done upon the original shirt sleeve stitch all along the armhole. For the inner stitch, I have moved it 3-4 millimetres inwards to secure the sleeve fabric to the inside of the shirt. In sewing the inner stitch I have started at and finished after the lace panel. Repeating the same steps for the other sleeve I have finally got my refashioned denim shirt! Yay! It fits beautifully now!
Parading the shirt at my balcony

Now that I have my dress form, I really hope my refashions will not be taking me three weeks a piece any longer… Especially since I plan to make several summer and beach dresses for my vacation in August.


  1. It looks great. Thanks for sharing in the Refashion Co-op. I look forward to seeing more of your projects. I am especially interested in plus-size refashions.

  2. Thanks girls! I hope to be able to make a good quality contribution!