Oh it feels good to crack out a Refashion Friday post again! It's been an age. As has this garment in the making, actually. This was the last sewing project I touched before I gave birth. I hadn't picked it up again until yesterday when I finally got to finish it, over a year later! I remember cutting out the pieces whilst not really having a clue about what was about to happen to my life.... This is going to be an unashamedly picture-heavy post, BTW, for two reasons: 1) I am so happy with the final outcome, and 2), my little girl makes for cute pictures!
This project started out life as a fairly bland second hand men's short sleeved shirt (see above). I was drawn to it though because it has a delicate red and blue check that appealed to me. Plus, the fabric is super soft and it was in really good condition, generally.
Every month I have a nose at the Burdastyle magazine on sale in my local newsagent. But rarely these days do I find a pattern in there that I'd actually like to make, let alone several. The Sept 2013 addition (pictured below) was a real exception because I adored most of the patterns from the issue's baby section. For this project I used the blouse pattern, but I also used the baby dress pattern from this issue to make Dolores's Christmas dress (which she was wearing today, in fact). If you like either of these patterns, you can buy them individually here and here from the Pattern Store on the Burdastyle website. For both the Christmas dress and this blouse I used the size 74. Dolores is slightly taller than that right now, but she is a bit skinnier than the 'average' for that size and it seemed to work out fine.
Whether you would classify this baby blouse as a refashion, remake, upcycle or anything else is of course a personal call. I would call it all of them! As well as making the most of the lovely fabric from an unwanted garment, I also utilised a few of the original garment's finishes, the most useful of which was the original button stand, buttons and buttonholes (see below) for the back closure. By cutting the pieces to include those, I side-stepped some serious faffing about, particularly because my current sewing machine is from the 1960s and doesn't have a one-step buttonhole function. The original shirt's button stand has been interfaced and looks so crisp and neat, I wouldn't have been (bothered) able to have created a finish that clean.
Another element from the original garment was the sleeve hems. Because the shirt's sleeves were short, there wasn't enough fabric available to cut the blouse sleeves with sufficient hem allowance for the elasticated cuffs the pattern prescribes (which you can see here). So I kept the sleeves loose and used the deeper sleeve hem from the original shirt and I think I prefer the effect than the gathered version anyhow. This blouse has a less twee, more let's-go-to-work-wrecking-the-lounge look to it than the pattern intends.
As I have done many times when refashioning men's shirts into women's blouses (see here for an example, plenty more on my Refashion Resource page), I used the original garment's hem. It has a pleasing curve that the blouse pattern didn't call for. To salvage the original hem, I stitched the side seams, then finished the seam allowance together as a closed seam, press the seam allowances towards the back and then made tiny bar tacks at the hem to encourage the seam allowances to lie flat as they wouldn't be trapped down by the hemming step (that was already done).
I'm pretty much in love with this whole pattern and it's proportions, but my favourite parts are definitely the neck ruffle and bias binding neckline finishing. I was worried that the neck ruffle would might look a bit clownish. In fact, due to the restriction of fabric available in the original shirt, I had to cut the ruffle piece shorter, so it isn't quite a gathered as the pattern is meant to be. I'm hoping that helps side-step any circus associations that the finished blouse might have had! The self-made bias binding highlights the little check of the fabric, and the hand stitching that traps the inside edge down creates a neat finish which might have been difficult to achieve with a sewing machine on such a tiny garment.
It may sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet a bit in this post (I'm English and such things are NOT ALLOWED), but I'm just trying to express how happy I am with this blouse, which means so much to me as the creation of it spanned both ends of my daughter's first year of life. It's also refreshed my love of reusing existing garments for a pleasingly cheap and lower-environmental impact sewing project. Sewing clothes rather than buying them is awesome for many reasons, of course. One of main things that appeals to many is the ability to put your personal stamp on a project by making your own design, fabric and notions choices. When refashioning an existing garment, you often can or indeed have to use elements from the original garment or work around restrictions which in turn has the effect of making the final outcome even more unique.
Look away now if you are of a nervous disposition....