We fell in love and got chubby together. It’s what you do in those first years after finding THE ONE, right? I’d make loving pokes at his Pillsbury Doughboy belly and the junk in my trunk was his pride and joy. Eventually, we exchanged vows, bought a juicer, planted a garden, and donated all of our fat clothes. Except for one, lonely fat man shirt that desperately wanted a gender re-assignment.
Portia over at Makery has been saturating our feeds with beautiful women wearing re-imagined men’s shirts. When The Refashioners 2015 Challenge was passed on to us regular folk, I knew it was time for me and my shears to show some love to that 15-year old Nautica camp shirt my husband (meet Matt in this post) thought he’d never see again…especially on his wife.
Who is technically now a cross dresser.
There was a little apprehension over cutting into a perfectly wearable shirt, but re-watching Mr. Rogers episodes over my kid’s shoulder has got me totally on board with make-believe. So, I pretended to be in a Project Runway unconventional materials challenge. The fantasy built up my momentum and gave me an excuse (not that I needed one) to entertain myself with Tim Gunn impressions.
I also wanted the original elements of the shirt to remain, so I talked myself out of using the shirt as fabric and cutting out a pattern. This refashion experiment would be improvisational.
Since the back of the shirt had the most fabric, it naturally became the front after a bit of draping to find new side seams. To keep the original convertible collar in the same position, I removed it, split it down the center back and reattached it to the newly lowered neckline, peter pan style. The collar doesn’t meet in the back, but I kinda like that it doesn’t.
Once the neckline and bodice circumference was situated, I added shape. This meant, a few try-ons with elastic tied around my waist. I bloused it a bit, chalk-marked the position below the elastic, and cut a new waistline.
The bottom of the shirt didn’t have enough fullness, so I cut off the sleeves (leaving the flat felled edge as-is instead of facing it) and used them as center front and side back panels to create a peplum. Here’s the ninja move: I kept the original hems!
To save the shirt’s well-stitched hems, I had to unpick them at the side seams and newly created panel seams. Totally worth it! After trimming down the new peplum to the length of the sleeve panel piece, I attached it to the new bodice by invert-pleating the panels to fit the waistline. Quarter-inch elastic inserted in the seam allowance cinches everything in.
The little button loop meant for the top closure of the shirt is still there (I sewed on a small snap to do the missing button’s job), but poking out of the back neckline like a lighter at a rock concert. I started to cut it off, but now I am really enjoying how it makes a statement about the shirt’s past life.
Speaking of past lives, Matt’s briefly flashed before his when his formerly fat man shirt reappeared in his house like the undead. I thought for a minute he’d be mad at me for refashioning it for myself (instead of taking it in to fit him!), but after examining me in it for a while, he started suggesting other hacks and alterations…I mean, he cornered me for a good twenty minutes to share his refashion thoughts.
After finding this miraculously-coordinating belt in my closet, I felt like a lottery winner. Until my well-meaning husband, drunk on the Tim Gunn vapors still in the air, tells me the shirt needed a bigger belt and described the ideal belt as “…Conan-wide…so big that you could hurt someone if you pulled it off too fast!”
And, there’s our secret to ten, happy years of marriage. We do fat, fabric, and fashion….together.