Updated: Jun 1, 2022
I've been having fun transforming a men's polo knit shirt featuring a knit collar and front button tab closure into a wonderful women's knit top! My first 'play' with this was using a polo from my late Dad's precious wardrobe AND a woven dress shirt that belonged to my late big brother. This khaki shirt made it into my pattern: Up-Cycle Memento Tops.
And here is my newest Up-Cycle Top.
What did I start with? Shopping at the Goodwill…. 2 men’s tops. At left, the main pique knit collared, embroidered with logo, men's XL polo shirt.
At the right, a blue/white checkered knit men’s top. The collar was of the same fabric (boring!), but the color was perfect with the solid polo (even though it doesn’t appear so in my photos.) An excursion into my collection of men’s ties yielded a striped blue tie and from my yarns, a ‘hairy’ textured yarn. CONSTRUCTION I always start by cutting the starting LARGE garment apart. What I’m after is FABRIC! My goal: good FIT and a unique 1-of-1-kind garment.
My Terriﬁc T Top pattern is my ‘Go-To’ pattern for all of my knit tops. Special Notes for Cutting:
1. LEAVE as much length as is available. 2. Cut neckline as high as possible to start. 3. When using polo shirts, fold out a V on pattern just deep enough to remove the tab button front 4. The Sleeves were also removed, cut open, and re-cut using the Sleeves from my Terrific T Top.
When designing on my dress form (which I feel is REALLY necessary for creative sewing design and fun!), I decided to have the checkered top ‘fabric’ fall over the set-in sleeves for a broader shoulder look. After all, the wider the shoulder, the narrow the hips appear!
Note also in this photo that I cut the ‘fill-in’ fabric on the bias, as lines going in diagonal direction is always more flattering than straight across and up and down. The other thing you can see in this close-up photo is the use of the original solid pique T KNIT COLLAR. That horizontal lower-most edge is the finished front edge of the collar, which is invisibly zigzagged down using clear monoﬁlament thread.
Also - it is the INSIDE of the Collar that is showing on the outside of my garment. You’ll find that the underside of collars like this are usually in pristine condition, while the ‘outside’ as it folds at the neck generally looks somewhat worn and faded.
Additionally, you can see in this photo how I used a bias strip of the silk tie to bind the center front neckline. To create what I call 'Fabric Fur', cut 3/4" strips of the tie and layer - this trim is 2 layers. Stitch up the middle, trim to 1/2". Then rough up using the Fabric Chenille Brush - all BEFORE attaching it to the garment. Stitch on, then top with the ‘hairy’ yarn couched on top. All this is the furry 'trim you see at the base of the collar and around the curved inset bias portion of this top.
This photo shows how AFTER I had attached the bias cut checkered inset fabric, THEN I cut away close to the stitching from the inside. That ‘worn’ fold of the collar also shows in
this photo, as does the embroidery at the chest. I find that lapping and stitching like this is
INFINITELY easier than trying to seam parts of a garment in the typical fashion of placing right sides together. I lap, stitch, then conceal with some type of trim - see above.
In this photo below, you can see how I echoed the gentle curve of the yoke at the hemline. What I’ve done here is cut the left side of the hem, then flipped that cut off portion over to the right at the center front in order to cut off the same amount.
To AVOID RIPPLY HEMS, I find that interfacing the HEM ALLOWANCE is the cure! See that I've done that below, using cross-cut strips of knit fusible interfacing. Find this technique and many more for sewing knits in my 3 Disc DVD: Stretching Your Knit Sewing Know-How.
I added the Tie's tips at the side seams to carry the trim/color of the tie down to the hemline. See below at the left.
I also had the idea of inserting angles godets in the side seam, using fabric cut from the short sleeves of the blue checkered knit top.
You do NOT need to - )nor probably should you) execute/use every idea you will come up with!!!
Here are a few more ideas that I had - that I even executed as trim on the sleeves.....
I promise if you don't like it when you do it - you likely won't like it when it is all done either. Listen to your design 'gut', and
IF IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT !!!!!
Instead, I did the same bias cut 'Fabric Fur' + couched yarn trim around the sleeves, even adding the tie label to one of the sleeves. THIS, I loved! Smiling with satisfaction as I sew is just one of the delights of creative sewing!
When I wore this top to a Labor Day event, several friends commented that it looked like a Designer Top. They know I sew, so they had already concluded I made it.
Here's what I think: God created each of us ONE-of-a-Kind, so it is glorifying Him to create one-of-a-kind garments to wear as well!
I hope you give this type of creative Up-Cycle Sewing several tries! It is inexpensive, makes use of your stash of fabrics, trims, and encourages creativity.