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.