Hot! The “Half a Refashion is Better Than No Refashion” Blouse

The Facts
: XXL Man’s rayon dress shirt from Village des Valeurs = $4.99
Pattern: none
Year: contemporary refashion of ’90s thrift
Notions: none
First worn: October 2nd to work
Wear again: yes
Time to complete: about 2 hours for blouse; an infinite amount of time for the jeans
Total cost: $4.99

I used this tutorial on Pinterest to turn an old man’s shirt into a sleeveless tie-neck blouse.  It was one of those projects that look like a hot mess when you are half-way along, but believe me, if you have a couple of hours and a seam ripper, you’re in business.  I’m not sure if it would work as well with a crisp cotton shirt because you’d have to put bust darts in for proper fitting; this shirt is made from a soft, drapey rayon, so I could get away without them.  In fact, there was a lot of interfacing in the collar, stand, and cuffs, and a lot of seam reinforcement….it seemed like the shirt was fighting to be something it really wasn’t.  It was never meant to live a stiff, buttoned up corporate life.  I set it free.

Ironically, for a blouse I claim to have set free, I took these photos in what we call “The Cage” – our unheated storage area out behind the research institute.

If anybody has a big ‘ol man’s shirt lying around in the donation pile that they would like to refashion, here are the steps:


  1. Try on and take funny “before” photo.  There.  Now don’t you feel slim?
  2. Cut off sleeves and cut along side seams.
  3. Now it looks like a dickey (snigger).  Put it on and pin sides closely along the bodice.
  4. Sew sides.  Try on again and fuss with fit.
  5. Serge armscyes and fold under,  Topstitch.
  6. Either leave collar as is, reshape it, or remove it from the collar stand and topstitch the stand closed again.
  7. Hem at whatever length you like.  I only took about 4 inches off the length because I want to be able to tuck it into lower rise trousers.  Nothing worse than shirttail malfunctions at work.
  8. See if the breast pocket works for you at this position.  If not, carefully pull out the stitches and remove it.
  9. Cut lengths from the sleeves and sew them into a long tie.  Tie around neck and yer done.

I call this one, “Uh oh. I hear footsteps”

“I’m back here, doing important science stuff, I swear!”

I was going to include a second piece this week, but it’s far from finished.  I am working on refashioning a pair of skinny jeans from way back before my first pregnancy.  There is no way in hell I’ll ever fit into them again, even if I did go back to that slightly underweight size (which I don’t want to).  One thing that no one tells you about having babies:  your joints spread out.  My hips and knees are still all loosey-goosey after 3 years, despite walking everywhere and working on my feet all day.  So, rather than wallow in some misplaced and useless body issues, I decided to hack them ’80s style and insert narrow leather bands down the side leg seams to give me an extra few centimetres.  Things are not going well, however.  My old Husqvarna does not like the combo of leather / denim.  I think I’ll put these aside until I get access to my brother-in-law’s industrial machines some weekend.  I couldn’t leave you without these hilarious photos of me mid-refashion though, could I?  Angelina Jolie’s Right Leg, eat your heart out. 












Vicki used to sew when she was young and free, but then raising young'uns and bringing home (some of) the bacon took up all her time. Now her closet is full of skinny clothes, maternity clothes and post-partum clothes, none of which fit properly. Maybe that's why she started sewing again in 2010.


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  1. I so loved reading this post. :) And what a great idea. It looks wonderful. I’m loving these refashions. So many clever little seamstresses out there!

  2. Angelina Jolie has NOTHING on you! Your shirt is cool, not DiFi at all. Keep us posted on the jean progress, I’d like to see how it works out. On the whole baby/body thing – my ribcage and feet expanded when I was pregnant with my daughter. I lost all the baby weight pretty quickly, actually got quite slim, but couldn’t fit into my strapless dresses or my dress shoes ever again. Look at your photos, you’re one hot mama, not to mention talented and smart!

  3. Aww, thanks Loran. My first instinct is always to give away clothes that don’t fit, but now I know better, and thanks to TSW, I have the skills to modify them. Now I only need an industrial machine!

    Strangely, my feet did go back to normal, but other joints didn’t. But I remember my first awareness of the relaxin hormone: I was running on the treadmill at the gym before I knew I was pregnant, and saying to my husband, “My feet feel really weird; like the joints between my bones are all pulling apart.” Because I guess they were. Ah, the things we do for babies, hunh?

  4. Oh, very cute! It works so much better as your top than as the original shirt. And I really, really like the photos of you with the jeans – so fun, and it’s nice to see you grinning ;-)

  5. Hehe you’re funny, loved this post Vicki, love your refashion, thanks for the steps. Love the androgynous look of it.

    Have you heard of Supayana? she’s been refashioning for years, her stuff is fab you may like it.

    As for the Husqvarna not co-operating with the leather/denim combo could it be the needle. A leather needle may help you reach the finish line.

    • I think I’ve seen her stuff at Puces Pop or another showcase around here. My cousin sells her samples at a lot of shows, so we sometimes go and check out the other Montreal desiigners’ work.

  6. Oh yay! I have that tutorial pinned too! Yours is lovely. I love your covert work pictures. I can relate totally ;)

    • I barely had time to do any sewing this week, let along photographing, so I snuck into the Cage between experiments! I’ll have to remember it when the snow returns…

  7. I like it! Another brilliant idea to try this week. I love your funny photo shoot too. You had me laughing outloud. OK LOL.

    • I just did a big reorganization of my sewing area and realized I have two bins full of clothes to refashion! (mostly small alterations, but still…) Now I have lots of ideas too.

  8. Brilliant post, but I expected nothing less. Angelina has nothing on you, that’s for sure!And dude, you are not kidding with the weird joint expansion– a whole closet full of delicious shoes, gone! My feet got a whole size bigger and wider! That was sacrifice, I tell you, a lifetime of shoe collecting gone to new homes. I can’t wait to see the jeans refashion when it’s done.

    • Strangely enough, I went on a pregnancy thrift store binge and now my feet have shrunk back to their normal size and I have to donate them all.
      I’m really excited about this week’s challenge and trying to squeeze in enough time for sewing before our big Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, so the jeans will have to wait, unfortunately!

  9. I love this idea! This is another one I should try. I really need more blouses and I have no energy to make them from scratch.

    Those photos at the end are so funny-thanks for including them!

  10. I love this refashion! I have some old shirts of the hub’s layin around that would be perfect for this. great idea!

  11. I’m quite looking forward to next year when I’ve gotten the weekly challenges out of the way to go back and revisit other people’s clever ideas and do a whole lot more refashioning too…..I’m bookmarking this one!