Wednesday, November 12, 2008

shirt renovation

I think most large ladies have a big old boxy sacky shirt in their wardrobe. I’ve had a few. I buy them in moments of weakness but really, I don’t much like wearing them. Too classically fat wear.

This one came from Target a while ago. I was seduced by the pure linen fabric, the go with anything green colour and the reasonable price tag. It promised cool and loose wear for a hot day.

But I’ve never liked that it is overly long (so when I sit for long periods it all bunches and creases up above my hips), that the sleeves are not quite the right length and the cuff on them a wee bit tight, and the utter absence of shape makes the whole thing sack like. Like I say, classic fat wear.

But I recently sewed a linen skirt I absolutely love and since this shirt was the best possible colour match in my wardrobe I set out to rehabilitate it.

I started by adding darts to the front and back so it had at least the impression of a waist. I pinned up about where I thought they should be and then tried the shirt on, adjusted their location and sewed them in.

Next I cut off the cuffs and shortened the sleeves to elbow length. A while ago I was given the tip that eyes are drawn to the horizontal line across your body where your sleeves end, so it is ‘slimming’ to have sleeves finish at your narrowest point. For me this is about elbow length. I did plain old double turned hems because I just didn’t have time to remake cuffs.

Lastly I shortened the whole shirt by a good 10cm. Again, plain old double turned hems.

The whole exercise took about an hour and even if the photos don’t quite show it, it is a vast improvement. It is still a long and loose shirt, but it now has a bit of shape.

Despite my work the shirt still has some fundamental flaws. There are no bust darts, so the front kicks out and hangs short, and the sleeves don’t sit flat against my body because the sleeve cap isn’t well fitted. These are basic fittings that make a great deal of difference to how good a garment looks, and sadly the shortcuts so often taken in plus size and cheaper clothes. Sleeve caps are hard to get right, and because people are plus size for a range of reasons, the differences in fits are much greater than for smaller people.

If I had more time (and the shirt wasn’t so old and thus unworthy of larger scale rehabilitation) I would have unpicked the side seams, added a dart at bust level, sewed the sides up again and evened the bottom hem by taking more off the back than the front. Now that I write that, I really wish I had…actually I think that might be on this weekend’s to do list.

This has given me a bit of motivation for a few more home renovations and I am eying off some other items in the wardrobe. Have you renovated any clothing?


The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

Wow, what an improvement! I did a similar remake recently on a linen shirt--it was a David Dart, which is I guess a pricey brand (I bought it at a yard sale). Along with the front & back darts, I picked out the seams at the tops of the sleeve caps and resewed them further up on the shoulder, which helped alleviate the 'too big' look. Love your beautiful skirt too!

Mary said...

That looks great! I agree about the bust darts, and you could make some back waist darts if you wanted to. It's amazing what an improvement you can make with some minor changes.

sooz said...

I did put in back waist darts Mary - a total of almost 10cm worth! I'll post again if/when I get around to doing the bust.

Cass said...

Wow great work on the shirt, even though there are still flaws it looks 100% better on you with your great adjustments, well done

jessica said...

oh yes. yes yes yes. i have about four thousand shirts i could rehab using your tips. thanks.

Sherril said...

If you want to refine the fit even further you could take off the sleeves and give the top more of a shoulder slope. This will require you lowering the armhole since you just made it smaller. At this point I'd also cut the shoulders shorter and then put the sleeve back in.