His Now Hers

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.

The Refashioners Collage

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.

TheRefashionersThere 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.

TheRefashioners 2015

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!

TheRefashioners 2015To 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.

TheRefashioners - 5

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.

New Jeans Without the Work

Levis Refashion

Everyone and their mother is making jeans these days. The Ginger jeans from Closet Case files has become the Mt. Fuji of sewing patterns — all the seamstresses wanna reach the summit. And, I am here to tell you I would love a pair, but have NO PLANS to make any….not when I can alter the jeans in my closet to fit like I made them myself.

The pair of high rise bootcut jeans I bought at the end of my maternity leave (to ease me back into real waistbands) was starting to feel frumpy. I’m not sure if my taste in jeans has changed or if my eye for fit has sharpened (probably both), because I couldn’t stand all of the fabric below the knee and wished it fit more snugly in the hips. So, I took a pair of slim fitting, tapered jeans I bought more recently and used them as a model to alter my disappointing bootcut ones into a fit somewhere between the two.

I basted the outer seams and inseams to test-fit and try on the reduction. The final seam was sewn with my machine while my overlocker took care of cutting off the original seam allowance while finishing the new one. I even dug out my jean-a-ma-jig to sew over the bulky, top-stitched crotch seam.

I did this on a whim, so there’s no before photo, but here are professional models wearing the same pairs of Levis involved in my experiment.

Untitled #42

What is thoroughly rocking my world is how the back is fitting now! No gap at center back and a nice, close fit around the hips, leveraging the stretch in the denim.

Levis Refashion

After getting the fit in the thighs the way I wanted, I realized the back waistband needed to be taking in by a couple of inches (I always wore the original jeans with a belt to workaround the issue), but there was no center back seam on the waistband. The simplest thing I could think of was to add elastic. I sewed on a casing the width of the waistband, inserted 3/4″ elastic, and secured one end of the elastic by catching it as the short end of the casing was stitched. I put on the jeans, stretched the elastic until it hugged tight, and safety pinned the position until I could sew it in place with the other side of the casing.

Levis Refashion, back casing

The only dumbass move I made was sewing through the belt loops to attach the casing. The day I decide to wear these jeans with a belt again (not that I have to anymore), I’ll unpick those stitches and hand stitch the correction, but for now, the goof stays. A small price to pay for jeans that don’t give you plumber’s crack.

Levis Refashion

I have a small stash of maybe I’ll alter these one day jeans in a bin tucked away somewhere. I will find it and make this happen to each one.

Levis Refashion

Have you had success with refashioning or altering ready-to wear? Got any tips now that I’m hooked?

Introducing…The “Picked-a-Pocket” Dress


All my first-time pocket-making dreams came true when I (just barely) finished upcycling that brown dress from Target in time for this week’s Refashion Challenge. Not only did I conquer my phobia of inseam pockets, but I did it while transforming a ho-hum dress into a keeper—another first for me. My third eye is open wide now and it sees so many refashion possibilities in my closet.

On Friday, the “Picked-a-Pocket” Dress premiered on The Sew Weekly.

Read all about it here.

The Sew Weekly Home Page on Friday, March 2, 2012

Hacking and piecing back together something some would say was perfectly decent to begin with, is a disconcerting process. But after this experience and being so utterly wowed by all of the other talented “Refashionistas” of The Sew Weekly, I think I could get used to the hacking.


Target Merona Dress "Before" Refashion


The "Picked-a-Pocket" Dress

What a difference an elastic waist, sleeve cuffs, pockets and matching belt make!

Here are some photos of the pocket construction.

Target Dress Under Refashion Surgery, drafting pockets

Target Dress Under Refashion Surgery, constructing inseam pockets

Target Dress Under Refashion Surgery, constructing inseam pockets

Target Dress Under Refashion Surgery, inseam pockets complete

Constructing these pockets was so damn easy, that I want to identify all of the skirts and dresses in my closet that are missing a place to store my smart phone and give them a blessed pair of inseam pockets.

Another great challenge week over. Good times hacking and sewing.

The "Picked-a-Pocket" Dress