A row of five blue bird silhouettes on the line of a stripy top

A Top Transformation

Before Christmas I was kindly given a pile of tops from a friend who was having a sort through her collection (and I really do mean collection, stripy tops are her trademark) and had some that were too big for her.

Pile of stripy tops in multiple colours on a slat table with a pink wall in the background,. The tops are folded and the pile is slightly lopsided.

I was really grateful for them as Bean is rapidly growing upwards, and as he is long and lean in the frame anything shop bought it either comically large widthways, or far too short in both the arms and the body.

Because I wanted to keep as much length to the body as I possibly could, I cut the top with the bottom hem still intact, which meant that I did not lose any of the salvaged fabric to a new hem.

Close up of an overlocker sewing foot with a striped piece of white and grey/blue fabric under the foot.

To keep the overlocked sides as neat and even as possible, I started by sewing the shoulders, then I set the sleeves in. I joined front and back by starting at the hem line, up to the armpit and then straight down the sleeve. I threaded the overlocker chain tail into a tapestry needle and fed it up the inside of the overlocked edge. It’s a simple, effective and very tidy finish, despite the hem being in situ before the sides were joined.

Another compromise that I made to get the most usage from the fabric was to have to cut the neckband lengthways, down the fabric. This isn’t ideal as direction of stretch on the fabric is widthways, but it goes over his head and the neckband lays flat, so I’ll stick with it.

A row of five blue bird silhouettes on the line of a stripy top

I added a small embellishment of some birds sitting along a telephone wire (or in this case, a stripe) which I sketched on my iPad. I cut the birds with a 4cm height to give the scale that I have here. It’s a subtle but effective little detail. I’ve uploaded the svg file, (for use with Cricut machines and other digital cutters) below.

A stripy Childs top with long sleeves and blue-grey stripes, with a row of five bird silhouettes, also in blue, on the left side of the chest.

Now that I have a proof of concept in the finished top I’m going to work on upcycling more of the donated garments as Bean is very much running out of things like long sleeved tops that are not actually now ¾ sleeved tops that end above his navel. Plus it’s fun, and makes me feel like I am doing some good by repurposing something that has already been loved.

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