Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The making of the off-the-cold-shoulder top

In yesterday's post, I shared (or one could say blathered, yammered, and otherwise said way too much) about the new top I refashioned in the cold-shoulder style with the sleeves borrowing from the off-the-shoulder aesthetic.

In today's post, I'll share even more about how it came to be.

This particular top was a hand-me-down from a friend. Much as I love gifts, I wasn't about to wear it without some modifications.

Fortunately, a well timed (shortly after I got the shirts) post on Refashion Co-op inspired me to try something new: a cold-shoulder top. That is, one of those tops that has sleeves, but has an open area around the shoulder. They don't seem very practical for someone who prefers everything sleeveless unless the weather's too cold, but after having seen them for a couple years, I've gotten used to the idea of at least trying them out (this is why I'm an UN-fashionista—I frequently only warm up to trends after they're so old they're not trendy any more).

Here's what I started with. (I took this picture after already beginning deconstruction, which is why the shoulder seam is already peeking).
I picked out most of the shoulder seams but left the sleeve connected about 1/4 of the way up the front and back. 

I tried it on and decided I'd removed a little bit too much from the front, so I restored another inch of the original seam.

Now the tough question—exactly how to structure the opening so it looks good? I tried it on in the mirror, pulling the fabric from here to there, safety-pinning it in different spots, but no matter what I tried, it always seemed to bulge and crease in an unattractive way.

I decided that I liked the puffiness of the original, but it needed to be more controlled. I would keep everything uniform by elasticizing the top edge of my new open sleeve!

I pin-marked a line on the sleeve that I thought made a good top edge, then I cut off all the excess fabric, leaving a half-inch for a hem.

Then I folded down the very edge of my hem allowance and sewed a very narrow hem, then folded that over again so all raw edges were securely inside the seam, to keep any fraying at bay. This created a casing which would hold the elastic.

Using a bodkin, I threaded a piece of elastic through the new casing. When it was all the way through, I safety-pinned it at one end so I could mess around with the length.

This mostly consisted of trying it on in the mirror until I was happy with the amount of pouf.

When that was all done, I stitched down the ends of the elastic permanently.

The shirt was basically finished, but I found that with the elastic pulling on the sleeves, the fabric was being stretched across the chest when I moved my arms.

To keep the buttons from gaping and reduce the amount of puckering in the fabric, I hand-stitched the button placket closed at the level of the sleeves. With a little patience, I'm still able to tug the shirt over my head, though it's a tight fit!

The coolest thing about this shirt (which I actually learned by accident when I was trying it on) is that you can tuck the sleeves back inside and it looks just like any old sleeveless top! Hooray for versatility!

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