Wednesday, September 3, 2014

If cavemen wore cranberry

About a month ago, I was perusing the clearance racks at Rainbow (one of my favorite ways to get sidetracked while shopping for groceries at Giant), when I came across this decidedly wild deep magenta fuzzy double-layered top with a built-in necklace. At three dollars, it was within my price range, but not usually the price range I reserve for weird-looking clothes like that, which would obviously get minimal air time in my daily rotation—especially once you consider its bulky construction and dolman sleeves (a pretty big disqualifier for making it into my wardrobe). However, because it was actually a tube top plus the outer layer (attached at the waist, but nothing a pair of scissors and a seam ripper couldn't fix), and it came with a necklace, I figured it amounted to 1 dollar a piece, which is a pretty good bargain. 

Plus, I was feeling a stirring in my bones that told me it was time to attempt a more ambitious DIY than the re-hemmings and re-sizings that have basically been my life this summer, and I couldn't think of a more inspiring palette than a purple, glittery, as-yet-unstructured mass of fuzz.
One look at the top draped over my frame was enough to convince me it had to change. Big-shouldered shirts are my enemies, but I have recently developed kind of an affinity for them if they only have one shoulder. I think the asymmetrical fit and single bare shoulder creates a dramatic silhouette without making me look enormous. So I set out to turn this top into a one-shouldered piece of work.

My first step was to simply pull my arm through the neckline and see how it looked. Pretty blobby. Next, I took all the fabric from the left shoulder and bunched it up around the vicinity of my waist. A critical eyeballing determined that, yes, this could work. 
So I took the shirt off, pinned the fabric in place more thoroughly, and then wrapped and pinned the free end of the left sleeve around to the back, so as to get a better feel for how it would look when finished.

I liked it, so I took my trusty sewing machine and stitched a seam over the bunched fabric down the left side, fixing both layers of the front firmly in place.

Now I had to decide what to do with the fabric in the back. Did I want it to drape low, revealing more of the tube top? Or high, for a more conservative look (As conservative as one can get when one is wearing a Tarzan top made of glittery purple fur!)? Did I want it to be bunched up in back as it was in front? Or go for a smoother surface? After a couple of experiments with the exact positioning, I decided on no bunching and a straight hem from shoulder to waist.
This necessitated cutting a bit of the fabric from the back and a quick hemming of the resulting raw edge. I didn't have to be too precise during this bit, because furry fabrics like this one hide a multitude of sins (a.k.a poorly stitched hems).

Then I lopped off the remaining excess fabric from the back and the left sleeve. 

The only thing left to do was to wrap a few stray edges of the left sleeve under the edge of the back and sew it down. Fortunately, again, I didn't need to create any neat seams because the fabric was so fluffy that all the raw edges were well disguised.

Sewing done, the shirt was complete, but I still had one more idea! Since I had a lot of fabric left over and I've been so into headbands lately, I decided to make a matching headband from some of the extra material!

I cut a strip about 2 inches wide in the middle and narrower at the ends, then sewed the two ends together.


I wore this shirt and headband, with the original necklace, to dinner and a movie in Baltimore a few weekends ago (DIY-blog procrastination has struck again, explaining the delay in posting). I even went all out and changed up my purse (something I only usually do for special occasions) to better match the vibe of the outfit. While we were eating, one bartender asked me if I'd made the outfit myself. Typically, getting asked if you made it yourself is not something you want to hear in regards to your clothes (it signifies shoddy workmanship and/or a lack of refinement), but she explained that she thought it might be because the two pieces matched and it was cute. So I'll accept that as a compliment.

Sadly, I had no idea that my camera was utterly failing to capture the many poses I sent its way on self-timer. So here's a collection of blurry pictures that together, I hope, present an adequate portrait of how the whole ensemble looked.

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