A Simple Shirt Refashion + A New Mantra

August 17, 2014

Hmm... another refashion? I'm sensing a theme, but more on that later. Let's talk about this shirt. When I found this little number on the Target clearance rack, I immediately fell in love. The cold shoulder sleeves (love that term), the high-low hem, and the sheer fabric made me immediately say, I have to have this (OK, so the price didn't hurt either). The only problem, though, was the smallest size they had was a large. There are definitely cases where I have to size up in tops to accommodate my bust, but for loose, flowy shirts like this one I tend to size down because otherwise they swallow me, which is exactly what this shirt did (and then some).
Simple Shirt Refashion before
See how it is super boxy and there is all that extra fabric hanging on the sides? Yeah, not flattering. But I justified the purchase by telling myself I would just wear it belted, and I did. But no belt loops and all that extra fabric meant I was constantly adjusting and readjusting throughout the day, so this shirt has just been hanging in my closet pretty much unworn for the 3(!!) years I've owned it.

I wrote a couple weeks ago about cleaning out my closet, and this is one of the pieces that fell into category 3 along with the other clothes I like but never wear because they need a little attention. Once I realized just wearing it with a belt wasn't going to get this shirt into regular rotation, it hung around while I pondered how to take it in. Because of how it is constructed, simply slimming it at the sides would cause issues with the armholes, so that wasn't an option. There is already a seam down the back, so that would be the next logical place to ease out the fullness, but I really like the shape of the hem and worried that doing so would distort it. So it hung there for a little while longer until it hit me.
Simple Shirt Refashion after
You know when you go into those little boutiques and the clothes on the mannequins always fit them so well? Well trust me, they don't come off the hanger that way. The secret? Usually just a clothes pin that holds all the extra fabric in the back. What I needed to make this shirt wearable was a permanent clothes pin! All I did was pinch a bit of fabric about 4 inches to the left and right of the center back seam along the waistline. Then I brought the two pinches to the center and tacked them together by hand. So simple, and even with the measuring, pinning, trying on, and hand sewing it only took me 15 minutes!
Simple Shirt Refashion back
It's not a very dramatic change from the front, but I love the fullness it created in the back and I am 100% more comfortable wearing it now. For such an easy alteration, it really is shameful that it took me three years to get it done. But now that it is, this shirt has quickly become one of my favorites.
Simple Shirt Refashion front
In that same post about cleaning out my closet, I mentioned that I purchased Elizabeth Cline's book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Well, once it finally arrived I finished it in about two days; it was an interesting but quick read and really gives a perspective on retail clothing that we as a society simply don't think about. One of my favorite takeaways from the book and my new sewing/fashion/life mantra is her chapter title "Make. Mend. Alter." Such a simple concept that has become pretty much extinct in our "quick, easy, disposable" society. I could go on and on about this topic but I will leave it at this: I want to make clothes that fit, alter the ones I already own that don't, and mend the ones that need it to get as much life out of them as possible. By doing so I hope to reduce the amount of clothes that end up in landfills and the secondhand clothing industry (read chapter 5 "The Afterlife of Cheap Clothes" if you want to know more about what really happens to those donations that you write off every year), and also of course to have a wardrobe I love and am proud of and that lasts. Obviously there will still be occasions where donating a garment is the best option, and my latest big purge has resulted in a laundry basket full of clothes that are headed to Goodwill. Hopefully this mindset will prevent me from ever having to do a big purge like that again, and instead I can focus on "working with what I've got" and creating clothes that I love to wear. So in short, expect to see some more refashions and alterations of clothes I already have in my wardrobe along with all my new makes!
Has anyone else read Overdressed and want to gush about it? I'm not usually one to fall for hyped-up, sensationalized media but the numbers and facts presented in the book seem to tell the story pretty clearly. What are your thoughts?