Monday, June 30, 2014

Preparatory Patriotism

With Independence Day coming up this Friday in the USA, I felt like going a little patriotic this week with some red, white, and blue. Well, just white and blue for now, and we'll throw in some red accessories. I grabbed this navy and white polka dotted skirt at the thrift store last month for $2 because, you know, polka dots.

Navy Polka Dot Top - Before

Although it may appear as those I am wearing a skirt that is too large for me, I am actually holding in front of myself a skirt that is too small for me. But with those pleats, I had no doubt there would be plenty of fabric to make something cute.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered a sizable hem, as if the previous owner had shortened the skirt at some point. Picking out those stitches gained me another 7 inches of fabric! I left the original manufacturer's hem intact though.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

Then I carefully removed the zipper and snipped off the waistband.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

With the pleats and the super-sized hem pressed flat, I finally got a real sense of how much fabric I had. A lot.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

I folded the skirt-tube in half front-to-back (i.e., with the side seams held together) and pulled out my go-to tank top pattern. As luck would have it, the back of the skirt was exactly as wide as I needed for the back of my tank top.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

Since the fabric is pretty slick, I used pins to trace out my pattern. Then I cut straight across from the front neck edge to the fold in the fabric. I plan to create some pleats on the front, a sort of homage to my tank top's former life as a pleated skirt.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

I sewed up the top of the center back, which used to be the bottom of the zipper.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

I stitched the shoulders together, right sides facing.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

The seam allowances were folded under and the fold was stitched down to encase the raw edges.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

Then it was time to make those front pleats. I folded along the center front line, wrong sides facing, and pinned 2.5 inches from the fold. Once that was sewn, I measured 5 inches from those stitches to one side, folded along that line, and pinned and sewed 2.5 inches from it. I repeated the process 5 inches to the other side of the center pleat as well.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

When I was finished, I had three flaps of fabric down the front of my shirt.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

I open each flap and flattened them against the body, pinning the in place at the top and bottom edges.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

The bottom hem got the tack-down treatment...

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

... while the neck edge got a simple straight stitch across. Now that the basic body of my top was complete, I was able to try it on and see what tweaks were necessary.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

I lowered the neckline a bit and re-cut the scoop neck. I also re-stitched the pleats in place.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

The bottom of the shirt was a bit too tight on my hips, so I decided to split the side seams and make it a little tunic-y. I used my seam ripper to open up about 6 inches of side seam from the bottom edge. This would be more difficult if the seam allowances on the original skirt were serged together, but luckily, they were pressed outward and serged separately.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

Then I top-stitched the edges to secure the serged seam allowances.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

Another tweak was to cut the armholes a bit bigger and add some bust darts.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

I also decided to take in the sides in a curve rather than leave the side seams straight. I thought I might have to re-use that salvaged zipper in one side seam, but fortunately, I was able to just barely get it over my chest.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

From the scraps, I cut what seemed like miles of bias stripes. One good thing about an offset polka dot pattern is it makes for easy diagonal cutting.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

The bias strips were joined together...

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

...and pressed flat.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

Next I pinned the bias strips to my neck edge, right sides together, and sewed it on.

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

Usually, I would then fold the edging over the edge of the body fabric to create a binding, or a thin border around the edges, visible on the outside of the garment. But this time I decided to try something new. I actually folded the edging over at the seam I just sewed instead and created more of a facing, visible only on the inside of the garment. This was the polka dot pattern flows uninterrupted all the way to the edge of the collar. (I also reattached the laundering tag.)

Navy Polka Dot Top - In Progress

I repeated this process on the armholes, and I was finally finished (just in time to go to bed last night!)

Navy Polka Dot Top - After

Then I got some good pics in the daylight today.

Navy Polka Dot Top - AfterNavy Polka Dot Top - After

For a little patriotic flair, I paired this with some red earrings, my red glasses, and a pair of red strappy wedges I picked up at Goodwill this weekend for $5.

Navy Polka Dot Top - AfterNavy Polka Dot Top - AfterNavy Polka Dot Top - After

The shorts (also a $5 thrift find) are really a very pale khaki, though they look almost white in these pics.

Navy Polka Dot Top - AfterNavy Polka Dot Top - After

I'll be all set for the barbecuing this weekend!

Navy Polka Dot Top - Before & After

13 comments:

  1. What a lot of work! But it was worth it.

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  2. P. S. As you're the one who actually DID the work, I hope you think it was worth it, too :)

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    1. Oh yeah, definitely worth it!

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  3. gorgeous--and so intelligent!

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  4. just MAGIC ! It's so amazing !!!

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  5. You have such an eye for design! This top is so versatile - sophisticated for dress and also cute with jeans or shorts. I love the pleats - they, along with the side vents- really partner well with the fabric

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    1. Thanks! I really like the side vents too, even though they weren't part of the original plan.

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