Monthly Archives: August 2014

Refashioning a summer blouse


Last summer, in the midst of a heat wave, I went shopping for a lightweight sleeveless shirt. Rather than a knit, I was looking for a loose casual blouse in a woven fabric that I could wear on days when the mercury was pushing +30 degrees Celsius. As it often happens, I’m either ahead or behind the fashion curve and I couldn’t find anything sleeveless that fit the bill. Sweaty and tired, I headed off to Value Village to see if I could find a shirt that I could refashion.

Truth be known, I’m not a big VV fan. As thrift stores go, it’s expensive and I find it disorganized and grubby. But I found the perfect shirt on my first trip – a light pink woven cotton blouse from H&M with a black and cream floral pattern and buttons down front.


It cost $9, which is a bit pricy for a thrift store blouse, but it’s nice fabric and cheaper than making a whole new blouse. It had cap sleeves and was too big for me, but seemed like a reasonable refashion project.




Once I got home, I got out my seam ripper and took off the sleeves.


I hemmed the armholes and realized I needed to shorten the shoulder straps, as it was still too loose.



Looked easy enough and I figured it would take me and hour, two at most to finish the blouse.

As usual, I vastly underestimated the length of time it would take me to finish a sewing project. This was pre-Staples dress and I was fixated on perfection. Taking the shoulder straps apart to shorten them was easy; sewing them back together was finicky. After numerous attempts to sew the shoulder straps together so the centre seams matched on both sides of the strap so it would lie flat, I gave up. I stuffed the blouse in my sewing bag and quickly forgot about it.

Fast forward to this summer. This time around, I basted the edges of the front and back of the straps together before I sewed them together.


This held the two pieces together so when I folded the wrong sides together, I had a reasonably flat straight edge. In short order, I had sewed both straps together and top-stitched the outside edges. Except for the hem, I was done!

When I looked in the mirror, however, I realized one strap was about an inch longer than the other. Plus the blouse still looked baggy on me.


Back to the sewing machine. This time, it was a slog. My mother hemmed and hung a curtain and had made and eaten her lunch by the time I was finishing up my blouse. My machine kept eating my thread, so I would get to the end of a seam to discover there was no stitching – this happened 3 times on one seam alone. I was getting really frustrated until I discovered that the bolt holding the needle down was loose. This seemed to fix the problem and I was able to sew complete seams with thread.

To improve the fit, I took out nearly¬†1-1/2 inches on either side of the bottom half of the blouse – I recently bought some tailor’s chalk and it’s a great for marking out the stitching line.


A quick machine hem and a second row of top-stitching along the edge of the armholes, so they would lie flat and finally, my blouse is finished. It’s fits nicely but it’s loose enough to be comfortable on a hot day. I’m checking out the weather, hoping for a nice sunny warm day to wear it.