Monday, 1 August 2011

Halter Neck Shirt

Today I have a bona fide garment refashion for your perusal. Normally I make stuff from scratch, using pieces of fabric and patterns. But I'm a massive advocate of refashioning and upcycling existing garments for a variety of reasons that I've already discussed at length (and am, no doubt, about to expand upon still further). I just don't tend to do much of it myself. At work, my boss and I tend to play to our strengths, and for the majority of the time I work with donated pieces of fabric and curtains and make them into garments in the 'usual' way because my work is clean and precise. My boss, who is far more talented than me design-wise, is usually the one who creates inventive things out of unlikely existing garments.

However, sometimes I just gotta get involved in some upcycling, and when I do it's usually with unwanted T-shirts, sweatshirts, or men's shirts, like here. If I recall, I think the original inspiration was a dress or top on ModCloth that had a collar detail that kind of looked like it had been taken from an existing shirt (sorry, can't find the image anymore). It's not a massive leap in creativity to then design a top that has a collar detail that is actually from an existing shirt! From that starting point morphed this simple halter top style from a re-cut old shirt.

The existing hem, buttons and button stand were retained, and rows of shirring elastic created in the back to make it stay up and removable. I trimmed off the original collar and reattached it along the top and used some embroidery anglais edging stuff for neck ties. I made a squillion of these from different men's shirts for our range (plus one for me and one for my boss! shhh...), and if the original shirt has a pocket, I just kept it on for an extra feature and made the bust dart through it if necessary. My favourite shirts to use were the type that have little buttons at the points of the collar. I carefully harvested those little buttons and reattached them when the collars were in the new position. Sadly, by the time I had decided I wanted to make myself one, there were none of those shirts left. I made another batch of these halter tops last week using donated chambray and denim shirts, the result of which had a crazy new-school cowgirl vide about them.

The first weekend after I made these tops was happily really warm, almost Spain-warm, and I basically didn't take this off all weekend. In the day, as these pictures prove, I rocked it with my high-waisted denim shorts, and went out in the evening wearing it with black skinny jeans. It does have the annoying effect of exposing the back of my strapless bra at times, which results in me yanking it up at the back at regular intervals. However, if I had had this when I lived in Barcelona, I wouldn't have taken it off from June til September, guaranteed. I don't think it's the most flattering garment on me, as it kind of exaggerates my widest part and hides my smallest part and curves, but the crisp, light cotton is a joy to wear on a hot day.

It is pretty shocking how many men's work shirts like this our charity gets donated, and I'd say at least three quarters are in perfectly wearble condition. Some have a tear, rip or stain, but most are fine. Our part of the charity gets lots as there just isn't demand for that many in the normal charity shops part of Traid. I don't see why men (or their partners?) are so quick to dispose of their work shirts when all but the most extreme styles aren't really capable of going out of fashion. Do the dudes get fat and no longer fit them? Do they get bored and want a change (even though most are fairly innocuous?) I can't believe most guys would feel everyone in the office was judging them for wearing the same normal shirt regularly for a while. Lots of the shirts we get are expensive brands like Hawes & Curtis (who my great aunt Kit was a machinest for, FYI), Pink, Paul Smith etc. and made from quality fabric. What is up with that?


It not only baffles me, but also angers and annoys me how disposible these things apparantly are to most people. I'm reading a book about life during and immediately after the Second World War at the moment, and the mentally towards garments and possessions in general was so phenomenally different just two generations ago. But today, I'm pleased to come up with some designs to potentially give new life to some of these unwanted garments, but it feels like such a tiny drop in the ocean that my job (and hobby) can feel futile and depressing at times. But I hope that by coming up with and spreading new designs and ideas, that it adds weight to the arguement and action towards change in the way we consume.

ANYWAY. I have discussed these topics before, and hope to do so more thoroughly and eloquently in the future. I just wanted to show you my new top! Happy Monday.

20 comments:

punkychewster said...

agreed!! a lot of times i find clothes in great condition at goodwill. it's a shame people don't think twice about throwing stuff away. there was a time when garments were worn threadbare and then recycled as dishrags.

that said, i'm glad to find an ever growing community of crafty bloggers that refashions, recycles and reconstructs existing/old pieces. i have the utmost respect for them!

thank you for sharing this halter neck shirt. i know my husband has some old shirts in the closet that i can use! yay!

Hearth said...

At least here, I think people get too fat for their clothes! There is definitely much more choice for clothing at thrift shops in smaller sizes.

If you want to use thrift shops for their best effect, I recommend small children's dress clothing. How much BEAUTIFUL stuff I got for my daughter, most of which looked nearly unworn. I'm sure it was outgrown before it could be used, because we're into wearing casual things 24/7 now. :(

Ah well.

Shelly said...

What a great refashion! I agree there are so many people out there who just throw things away and for no good reason it seems to me. I guess at least some donate to charity which is good for us.

I like that refashioning is becoming a new trend. I am in awe of those amongst us who take this path, a path I think is a worthwhile thing. If only I was creative enough to see past the original item...mmmmm oh well, one day :)

Joanne said...

Zoe, what a wonderful refashion! I plan on trying this soon.

I agree with you Hearth. I think often people get too big for their clothes.

I am also thrilled to find how much refashioning is happening. I used to so this all the time like 30 years ago. My favorite was putting zipper down the front of pullovers.

casserole said...

I love it!!! I linked to your project on Craft Gossip Sewing:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/lookie-what-she-made-halter-top-from-a-mans-button-down-shirt/2011/08/02/
(link will go live tomorrow morning)

--Anne

Sigrid said...

It is pretty shocking what people throw out. I wonder if women buy a lot of shirts for their guys and then there isn't enough room in the closet ? I remember back in the 80s, when it was hard to find good dress shirts in thrift stores and we would actually turn collars and cuffs. . . Anyway, the halter top is brilliant and looks deliciously cool on you !

MrsC said...

Wonderful idea and I think it looks fabulously cool and summery on you. You could cinch it with a belt but that would be too hot! Good on you.

Miss P said...

I love this idea and it looks GORgeous on you too. (I love the backdrop from your ickle photo spot btw. Keep meaning to say).
Funnily enough, J has a load of shirts that he SAYS are no good anymore but when I ask him what's the matter with them he can't really give me a definitive answer. Luckily he has a thrifty other half, who luckily reads a great blog, which luckily has just posted a great idea to refashion them. Yay for Zo!
Px

Keef 'n' Gracie said...

Love it! What a wonderful idea and stylish execution. I love upcycling clothes - such a cheap and cheerful way to breathe new life into an old forgotten garment. Well done!

Roobeedoo said...

I have stopped looking for men's shirts in charity shops because they are generally very grim indeed. Maybe the good stuff gets sifted out? I am not sure if this is still the case, but there was a trend for slim-fit workshirts, which don't fit your average British beer-drinking man who goes out at the waist instead of in. Maybe these are the designer shirts that are coming your way? My husband owns five shirts - two thick, two thin and one short-sleeved. I am sick of the sight of them, but he refuses to part with them until they fall apart. That's the war-time generation for you!

Hatty said...

My husband gets given shirts sometimes that are too big, too small, on the shoulders, too long in the arms etc. They can't always be altered. He does like it when I refashion them for me! But one obvious thing about men's shirts is that they are sold packaged, very, very packaged and so often men buy without trying.

Scruffybadger said...

Zoe this is super cute & if you don't mind will inspire me...I have been given a pile of almost new ladies shirts that I'm thinking of trying different things with, & here comes a Zoe halter to get me on my way! (Obviously less fabric in a ladies' shirt)
Thank you! SB x

charityshopchic said...

Glad to see you doing a refashion :) Your top looks great and very easy to make!

I think it doesn't take much for men's shirts to be considered 'past their best' - once they start looking a bit worn around the cuffs or collar they are no good for work any more. I also agree with other commenters that men don't or can't try these on when buying and so the size is likely to be 'off' anyway.

Becky said...

I agree with you- there are so many wearable men's shirts that get dicarded. I can't help myself and buy them by the dozens to make little girl skirts, purse linings and use in appliques. Your halter top is exceptionally cute!

Kerri said...

In addition to the other points about stuff being donated due to size changes or initial poor fit I (and I believe others do too) will only donate something if it is in perfect condition. I would consider it disrespectful to donate a garment with holes or tears or missing/malfunctioning elements to anyone.

Meg the Grand said...

I love the shirt, Zoe! Would you mind sharing what book you are reading? It sounds fascinating!

Chase Clark l Oh The Cuteness! said...

Super cute! Im making one of these as soon as the boytoy gets rid of a shirt. P.S. Awesome hair - we have the same bangs right now!

Spirited Earth said...

brilliant..love upcycled/recycled garments..i'm going to try this,perhaps with just a few changes.

Kim said...

Very cute!

My husband normally gets rid of his work shirts once the armpits are no longer presentable. I usually take them and save the good fabric for quilting or other sewing projects.

threadsquare said...

Very cute collar detail, indeed! Slap a belt on, and voila! (I'm big in the hips, small in the waist, so that trick always seems to work for me. But you look great, regardless!) I wholeheartedly second your disillusionment with throw-away culture, and who woulda thunk men swapped their work shirts so often. I mean, other than the modern slim fit vs. earlier bagginess, they all look pretty much the same, no?

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