How to… cut a top from a bad fit

Remember this mess of a fit handed down from a cousin?

Boxy cut is too big in all the wrong places, stretchy fabric catches on tiny front hooks, red square sequins a bit much for most uses.

But it’s precisely those red square sequins that made this an irresistable keeper.

Enter Dolly Parton concert for inspiration. Dolly has no fear. She grew up dirt poor. She married at 20 and stuck it out. She takes all kinds of risks. She laughs it off when people are rude and tacky to her. And she loves to show off a bosom.

So take her moxie to heart, and give a big chop of something you know fits really awfully a try. Here’s how I did it (and it was a long time in the making):

1. REMOVE SLEEVES. I sliced through the shoulder seams to remove the sleeves whole. I also cut off the tiny hooks and eyes meant to hold the front closed because they caught on the fabric.

2. PULL IN SIDES. Fit to your body, pin and stitch well. What were boxy shoulders now are effortless cap sleeves.

3. CUT OUT A NECK. The front used to close all the way up – I wanted a loose V-shape, so I had to cut off the excess fabric from the original neck. Also meant pulling off, one by one, the sequins that line the edge.

4. FINISH NECK. Hem the neck by hand or with a binding. I sewed in grosgrain ribbon with the machine, then hand hemmed it over.

5. CLOSE IT UP. Tried a bunch of things to make this a top rather than a cardigan. Wrap-style with ribbon ties looked silly. Pinned the sleeves like a band to the bottom to hold the wrap felt too bulky. Finally – since I knew I wanted the sequins to stretch out into a design – I sewed two big snaps on the bottom corners.

The first set was sewn to the inside and a corner,

the other to the outside.

6. PULL OUT THE BOOTS AND GO. I’ll add a tiny ruffled cami top underneath, and a fitted denim skirt on bottom before going out in public.

and back

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    • Kyle Kirkby
    • May 7th, 2008

    Awesome!! Have a great time at the show.

  1. lol

  2. hi! saw your entry from the main page after logging in… great job! I love these inexpensive yet useful DIY projects. Have you thought about using the extra sequins/scraps for making accessories?

  3. I saved the extras AND the cut off sleeves and stuck them in the old stash. Any thoughts on what to do? I figured I’d wait for good old inspiration to strike…

  1. May 7th, 2008
  2. February 24th, 2010

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