So I have this pattern:

Simplicity 1590

Of course I wanted to try and make it by refashioning another garment! So when I found this men’s 100% cotton shirt at Salvo’s for $6 I knew I was onto a winner. I was confident there would be enough yardage in the sleeves to make the peplum.

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I liked the woven check pattern, and the fabric has an interesting texture and, for once, the existing buttons were quite cute:

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So I set to work tracing off the pattern onto, er, tracing paper. I do this with most paper patterns these days – it does require extra work, but it means if I want to remake the garment in another size, or lend it to someone, I haven’t completely destroyed the original by making lots of alterations or scribbling all over it.

As usual, according to the size guide, I’m a size 22 in the waist and an 18 in the bust. This is grossly incorrect. I have curves, but not those curves. I went with a size 14 to start with, then took some measurements and made some adjustments. I’ll let you know how that went.

To work with the shirt, I cut open the sleeve seam, and unpicked the side seams (just in case). Then I folded the shirt along the centre front and back, like this. I went around and pinned it together along the armholes and matched up the buttonholes, pinning them together. I was going to use the existing button placket in the new shirt, so they needed to match up.

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I’d previously marked the position of the shoulder seams, so I lined up the shoulder seam line on the front and back pattern pieces on the shirt, and maneuvered it around until the centre front and back of the pattern were on the centre front and back of the shirt. There was a bit of trickiness around the bottom of the existing armscye on the front, but as luck would have it, the bust dart was in a position to take up the extra fullness. Sweet.

Then I went ahead and cut it out. Then I did tailor’s tacks to mark the darts. I learned tailor’s tacks last year, from one of my many sewing books. Now that I’ve done them a few times and got the hang of them, it’s quicker than messing around with pins and chalk; plus, your marks won’t accidentally get rubbed off. Or, if your garment ends up in the UFO box, the marks won’t have faded by the time you get back around to it.

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See all those little bits of purple thread? Tailor’s tacks. I love ’em.

Anyways, then it was time to see if I really could get the peplum piece out of the sleeves. Turned out I couldn’t quite.

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See how I’ve folded the pattern piece over there? I allowed for some seam allowance along that edge, and cut that piece out of the bottom of the shirt front. It was the centre back of the peplum, so the seams shouldn’t look too out of place.

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I did try to match up the plaids, but it just wasn’t going to happen, so I stopped worrying about it.

The rest was just following the pattern. The front corner of the peplum was a little interesting, it’s sort of sewn in using the front dart, but the instructions weren’t too hard to follow.

Then I tried the thing on …. not happy, Jan. It swam on me. Probably a size and half too big. I don’t know what kind of maths I did when I was working out the alterations, but it was wrong. Aaaargh. This made me depressed, and I had to go have a lie down.

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Luckily I had time and a seam ripper, so I removed the peplum, took in the side seams, enlarged the darts, shortened the waist a little, and put the peplum back on. Sigh. I had enough material to make a facing (which the pattern wanted) but I was a bit over the whole thing by then so I just used some white bias binding on the neck edge.

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Sleeve edges were finished with a narrow hem, and I made short work of hemming the lower edge of the blouse. I did have to remove and re-position a couple of the buttons, but that was more to do with the original shirt being a bit wonky.

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I really like how the seam of the original armhole has created a faux cap sleeve.

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I’m actually pretty happy with the result, given the setback in the sizing.

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