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Refashion Month with Irene (aka MammaNene)

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Creio que a Irene foi uma das primeiras bloggers refashionistas que eu comecei a seguir, ou pelo menos uma das primeiras com quem comecei a ter contacto. A reciclagem que fez numa edição anterior, de camisa de xadrez para vestido de menina, é para mim ainda, uma das mais originais que passaram aqui pelo blogue. Por isso, acho que fazia todo o sentido convidá-la a fazer parte de mais uma edição, e ei-la com a sua boa disposição contagiante. 

I believe Irene was one of the first refashionista bloggers I started following, or at least one of the first I started interacting with. Her plaid button up shirt to little girl's dress, is still in my opinion, one of the most original from all past seasons. That's why I believe it makes total sense to have her as a guest today, and here she is with her infectious good mood. 

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Hi there! It's Irene here, from Serger Pepper! I'm so happy to be here again for this Refashion Month (thanks Magda for inviting me!). After two refashions for my girl (the plaid & ruffles shirt to dress and the posh beach robe) I have decided it was time to sew something for me! I started browsing my refashion pile to find something that might suggest me an idea and I've found this huge man's T-shirt I have found on a thrifty barter/shop. I took it home without a precise plan for it, just knowing that:
  • it was made in a nice fabric, soft and mostly cotton with a small percentage of polyester that will keep it almost wrinkle-free ;)
  • it was in a basic color and pattern, easy to mix and match
  • it was the right length to be worn on top of leggings and to eventually double as a swim cover
  • it was too big to be worn as it was (look at the shoulders and the width at the bust height)
Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - too wide on the shoulders and at the bust height
  • it was too masculine
  • its sleeves were way too long and wide
Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - too long sleeves
These days here in Italy, summer is hot and I needed more tanks to wear... so a refashion idea was blooming: a tank mini-dress to be worn on top of leggings, fitted at the bust and the shoulders and loose at the bottom, so it doesn't accentuate my back and thighs.  
  Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - fitted where it needs to be

How can you recreate the look? It's easy and fast to whip up, just a couple of hours and you have your new tank mini-dress! First, put the shirt on and mark with pins where you want the shoulders to sit. Mark it on both sides. Decide also the neckline depth but make sure you leave some room on top of a button/buttonholes so you can finish the raw edge with the bias tape without sewing onto the buttonhole! Go down to the bust height and pin on both sides so it's fitted on your bust: this won't make it look baggy anymore!
   Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - mark with pins where you want the tank to hit

Once you take off the shirt, check that pins are mirrored on each side. If not, sum both sides measurements and split in two even measurements so they are perfectly the same! Using chalk, design the neckline curved shape and the new armhole. Try it on again, if you want, to be sure you like it! Cut out the exceeding fabric (don't forget seam allowances!). Cut out the sleeves (put them aside, along with the collar... you never know when you might need them!). Sew the new side seams (a 4-thread overlock stitch is perfect but you can do a straight stitch + zig-zag on seam allowances) right sides together, starting at the armhole and going down to nothing to the old side seams. You can pin this line so it will visually guide you when sewing.
  Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - pin the new side seam from the armhole going down to nothing

To finish the neckline and the armholes, use some single fold bias tape (I had store-bought leftovers from my daughter's bibs). Start pinning it at the front opening, all around the neckline. 
  Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - start aligning the bias at the front opening of the neckline

Make sure the other end (the one that goes under) is not peeking out.
  Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - make sure the other end of the bias is not peeking out

Sew in place, then press the seam open. Use a tailor's ham, if you have it, for a hassle-free steam pressing on curves (if you don't have one, let's DIY!). Tip: Don't skip this step for a professional-looking finish!

Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - press the bias tape with a ham  
Turn the bias tape toward the wrong side, steam press again and pin in place, before you go to the sewing machine.

Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - pin toward the wrong side the bias tape, press and topstitch 

 While a regular presser foot will work just fine,a nice one to use is this "guide stitch foot" that has markings on the left that will help you topstitching at a consistent width from the folded edge. To decide the perfect width:
  • slide the neckline under the foot on the bias tape side
  • lower the foot and the needle so it goes into the fabric in the right spot
  • mark the right groove to follow with a sharpie or something like that
  • lift up the foot and place the neckline under it again, this time on the outside of the tank
  • sew and admire!
Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - mark the width of the topstitch
Let's finish the armholes in the same way. The only difference is that you start with folding one end of the bias tape toward the wrong side so, when you reach that point with the other end of the bias tape no raw edges will show. Stitch, press, fold, press, pin, and topstitch, exactly as shown for the neckline. Repeat for the other armhole.
  Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - finish the armhole with bias binding

You are done! Here's your new flowy tank mini-dress, fitting your body as a forgiving glove, made by refashioning an old man's shirt. Look at these details: don't you like the subtle peeking of the contrasting bias tape? And how perfectly fits my shoulder bones, now?

Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - detais  
Do you like how the front neckline opening came? I love it!

Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - front neckline opening detail  
I hope this has inspired you to go and sew something from your refashion stash!
  Serger Pepper - Refashion July - Man's shirt to tank dress - and loose where I don't want to enfatize my curves


  1. Hi Magda
    It's my first time on your blog, came from Stephanie I love upcycling and have blog too.

    Irene's refashion is excellent piece for summer (or other season with long sleeve tee under)! I like wearing leggings too and always look for looser comfortable top. I love the idea!

    Beautiful choice for the pink bias too, very gentle. The pics with spot on tips are very helpful. Irene is always good with that. Thank you for this wonderful tute!

    I can't wait to look around your website, Magda. It's nice meeting you;)

    Cheers from Perth, Western Australia

    1. Hello Mariana,
      Welcome! Thanks for coming back and comment.
      I hope you have enjoyed other posts from the blog.
      I am visiting yours too.

  2. Very cute! I love how it looks on you, Irene! I should whip up a few of these. It's so hot out that I can't bear wearing anything with sleeves! :) Lisa

  3. I love this. I too like fitted on top but looser below, so my lovely hubbie had better look out as I am about to raid his wardrobe! Thanks for such an inspirational tutorial. :) Elaine

    1. Poor husbands of refashionistas!!! hehe


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