A few years ago, I bought an Old Navy blouse at a thrift store to wear for my student teaching. I bought it mostly because I loved the grey and pink flowery fabric, even though the shirt wasn't quite as long as I'd like, and the sleeves were a little too short when I bent my arms. Consequently, I only wore the blouse if I also wore a cardigan over it.
Now that the blouse has been sitting in my closet for a while, I thought it was ready for a makeover. My basic plan of action was to get rid of the sleeves and use the fabric to lengthen the blouse a little.
First, I removed the sleeves by carefully cutting close to the arm seams.
Then, I cut off the gathered part of the sleeve that would sit at the wrist and ironed the fabric flat.
|My seam looks like it was made on a slight angle. This is because I was taking in the top of the side seam, and not the empire waist.|
|Arm holes: before and after taking in the side seam. First you see the white tank top underneath, and then you don't!|
I cut some long strips of fabric from the sleeves, joined them together, and used the iron to fold the fabric. In essence, I created my own bias tape. I sandwiched arm hole edges inside my bias tape and sewed all the layers together.
|When I got all the way around with my ruffle, I had to connect the two ends of the ruffle (see bottom two pictures).|
I used the rest of the fabric from the sleeves to make a ruffle along the bottom of the blouse, lengthening the blouse by about two inches. First, I cut the remaining sleeve fabric into 2.5 inch wide strips. I then sewed all the strips together end-to-end. Next, I hemmed one of the long edges of this narrow strip. This became my new bottom edge of the blouse. Then, I started pinning the fabric to the blouse, folding the strip onto itself every few inches to create a ruffle. I had to unpin and repin my ruffle several times before it looked the way I wanted it to.
|sewing before ironing after ironing|
I was surprised that I had a lot of sleeve fabric leftover. I decided to use the remaining strip of fabric to make a decorative ruffle around the neckline. To make this ruffle, I began by hemming the other long side of the strip. Then I hand-sewed wide stitches in the center of the strip (each stitch was about half an inch long). As I sewed, I bunched the fabric up along the thread, which creates the ruffled look. Next, I measured how long I wanted my ruffle, and made an appropriate knot in my thread at that length.
Like the bottom ruffle, I pinned my neckline ruffle about every inch before sewing. I kept each pin in place until the last minute so my ruffle would stay the way I wanted it.
|Done! With these changes I might actually wear this thing!|
The final product is even better than I imagined because I love the extra ruffled neckline. This is going to be a great tank top for humid Wisconsin summers because the fabric is light, airy, and so breathable. It's even compatible with nursing with the deep v-neck (score!).
Now if it would just warm up around here...we're well into April and it's 39 degrees outside my door!