March 13, 2009

Excuse me, Miss. Are you wearing a tablecloth?

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m cheating. Yeah. I just signed up for this project in March, but I’m going to show off a project that I finished 3 years ago. I’m letting myself get away with this because it’s in keeping with the Wardrobe Refashion pledge and because ultimately it turned out beautifully. I get more compliments on it than almost anything else in my closet!
The story of this shirt begins with me getting lucky at a stoop sale a few years ago. I found 3-4 fanstastic vintage patterns (including one from the 20s!) and a beautiful vintage linen blend tablecloth for a very good price. The tablecloth had a few small stains, but was otherwise in good shape. I’d recently been eyeing some expensive vintage fabric with a similar look and decided that this was a better deal.
So I took it all home and began.
I decided to use this pattern because the illustration had such a summery picnic-esque feel and that made sense with the big flowers on the tablecloth. I had to be creative with the layout because my fabric was squarish rather than the typical rectangular yardage that is shown on pattern instruction sheets. I took the pieces I needed, stretched the fabric out flat in a single layer on the floor and started shuffling the pattern pieces around. I wanted to make sure that I captured as many of the big flower bursts and birds as possible. I also wanted to keep the grain of the fabric lined up properly—not on the bias—but I honestly didn’t pay that much attention to whether I was aligning pieces to the lengthwise grain or the crosswise grain. Mostly I was looking for visual impact. I did have to compromise. The shirt front on the pattern is cut out on one piece. I chose to fold it in half, add a seam allowance, and then cut and sew two pieces together to make this one piece.
The sleeves also have a bit of a “Frankenstein” touch. I wanted to make the long-sleeved version of the shirt, but I didn’t quite have enough fabric. However, I did have some heavy white linen and some pretty ribbon, so I pinned the top half of the sleeve pattern piece to the tablecloth fabric and cut it. Then I measured the amount of fabric that I still needed and cut that from the linen. I unpinned the pattern piece, sewed the linen to the tablecloth fabric (the bottom of the sleeve), covered the seam with my ribbon, top-stitched the ribbon, and then repinned the pattern piece to my new, longer fabric and cut out the bottom part of the sleeve. And then I flipped the pattern piece over and did it all again. Whew. I also used the white linen for the facing of the color. Once I had everything cut out I just followed the instructions to make the shirt.
Now it’s done, right? Well, yes...and no. In the process of getting big crazy flowers and birds from the tablecloth onto my shirt I also got some of the small stains/discolorations on it, too. So, I grabbed a needle and some embroidery thread and went to town. These motifs are all basically freehand...I did anything that I could think of to make it pretty and fill space.
So there you have it! It was time-consuming, but totally worth it. Occasionally people tell me it looks like I am wearing a tablecloth, but I know that wherever I go, no one will ever be wearing the same shirt as I am!
Though in retrospect, it probably would have been easier to have just turned the tablecloth into a skirt!

Tanya Luck(x4)


Simone said...

Hah, a skirt? This shirt is awesome. It is gorgeous and so much more challenging than a skirt and incredibly impressive, and, and, . . . Words fail me.

Your Secret Admiral said...

I love it! What a great project.

May Luk Ceramics said...

LOVE IT!! I'm pattern crazy and you did a fantastic job in arranging the motifs in a very pleasing way. Well done!

MaryAnne LoVerme said...

You are a very talented seamstress!

Ikyoto said...

This top is an unbelievable work of art!

Luck(x8) said...

Thanks, all!