Friday, September 18, 2015

Bias Peplum Top- Shirt Refashion and BHL Flora Hack

I know, this is a very unusual look for me... as well as an unusual process!

As I was sewing the By Hand London Flora dress this summer, it occurred to me that the pattern would probably make a great peplum top. Not that I know anything about peplum tops, since I don't own one and I am not sure I ever have.

More recently, I was thinking about possible refashion ideas, using a man's shirt. I had been inspired by Portia's blog at The Makery where she was hosting a shirt refashion challenge-- her guest refashionners did some totally amazing things with their shirts. To be honest, I've never refashioned much of anything before. I did go through a sweater felting stage a couple years ago and I considered making things out of sweaters, but the only wearable thing I ended up making was a baby hoodie out of a totally irresistable cashmere sweater. Now Little Lion is wearing it, so I guess that counts for something!

So here is the shirt I decided to use. It is sort of perfect for a refashion... it feels like linen and is 3XL. A total charity shop find! Oddly, the tag said it was 100% cotton, but as I was deconstructing it, I found another tag that said 100% linen. Go figure.

And, because I just KNEW it would be impossible to get the peplum that I wanted out of this one shirt, I bought a coordinating red shirt.

You might notice, the stripes are on grain. In order to get the chevrons I wanted, I cut the bodice on the bias, then reattached the front bodice to the button placket. I was able to cut the back bodice from the back of the shirt, the front bodice from the two sleeves, and some of the peplum from the front and the scraps. The rest of the peplum I had to make from the red shirt.

Since I hadn't made this view of the Flora, I did a quick muslin to check fit. It actually fit quite well, all I had to do was move the bust darts half an inch down and toward the center. I didn't notice it on the muslin, but I did have a bit of gaping at the back of the neck and I ended up pinching out a 1/2 inch wedge from the top of the center back seam. 

Sewing it together was pretty straightforward. I handled the bias pieces very carefully to avoid stretching, and I used a lot of pins. For the back seam, I basted before I sewed to make sure the stripes matched. The don't match exactly, but I was able to at least get the wide and narrow stripes to match.

When I tried it on, there was massive gaping around the buttonholes in the front. I should have guessed... I'm making a fitted top so even in the best of situations it would be hard to avoid gaping around buttonholes, nevermind the wide spacing of a men's shirt. I ended up sewing up the button placket, except for the top two buttons, and adding an invisible side zip. This makes a pretty good compromise... I don't have to worry about how much skin I'm showing, and I still have nursing access.

The inside of the bodice is lined-- the fabric was pretty transparent. I usually manage to "bag" the lining, but I screwed up the order of construction so my only option to get a clean finish was to hand sew the bodice lining at the waist.

Excuse the wrinkles, I took this after a day of wearing the top!

I actually brought a change of clothes to work, just in case I wasn't comfortable wearing this top all day, but actually I liked it much more than I thought I would. It was cool and comfortable, and I felt like the high waist and peplum was flattering on my post-baby body. I thought it looked pretty snazzy with a plain black blazer. My husband said he wasn't a fan though-- he says the colors and flared skirt are too much together. It definitely is far more flamboyant than my usual daily fashion choices, which are pretty much understated shapes and black, gray and white. What do you think?


  1. Lovely job on this refashion!, nice use of stripes. I think it would look good with a cropped jacket so you can see the peplum.

  2. Cute! I love the chevron pattern and the 2 shirts mixed together in the peplum. I've run into the button gaping issue too, my solution has been to add another button between each of the existing ones, at least in the bodice.

  3. I love the stripes and I love how you refashioned them into the chevron. I really don't think its too much. I still don't get the peplum love, but this one does work for me. Great work.