a two-shrug Sunday

My church is cold. Freezing cold. Someone should really tell them that it’s really unnecessary to keep the A/C so high in the summer, especially where the food is, because it drives me outside and makes me antisocial just so I won’t be cold. Not to mention the energy they’re wasting. But I digress. The point of this little rant: I can’t wear sleeveless dresses inside there, because I get too cold. And when trying to decide what to wear last night, I discovered that I no longer have anything to wear over top of two lovely sleeveless dresses I have. So, this afternoon, I solved the problem.

At the request of sewjenny over at Wardrobe Refashion, trying to work this part into a quasi-tutorial.

Started with this: a fitted black t-shirt that had gotten too short to wear. I figured out how long I wanted the shrug to be, marked it, then cut the excess off the bottom (mine turned out to be six inches.) Then I cut down the center of the front, cut the neck binding off (very close to the stitching), then cut at a bit of an angle to give the shrug a bit of a V-neck, and cut more curve at the lower front corners.
You can sort of see the resulting curve here. Since I’ll be wearing this with more fitted dresses, I didn’t want it to hang too loosely. So to make it more fitted under the bust (and to counteract the inevitable stretching that a knit would give) I pinned darts into the front and back. (Once I sewed them in, I did have to trim the front a bit more. Also, so it would sit better inside the shrug, once I had them sewed in I trimmed them down and zig-zagged the edges together to reduce the bulk.) If you were making this from a non-fitted tee, you’d probably have to take in some at the sides as well.

I used the lower portion of the shirt to cut some trim (which, in retrospect, I should have made wider because I ended up with not enough to turn it under on the inside, even with trimming the already quarter-inch seams. Mine was about an inch, but it probably should have been at least an inch and a half.) and sewed that on. How I did it (no pics of the process, sorry!) was I pinned the strips along the raw edge on the outside of the shrug. (My shirt had side seams, so I trimmed the pieces and sewed them together as I went so I had one long continuous piece to go all the way around, trying to match up seam points as much as I could.) Then I turned the strip to the inside, trimming as necessary, pinned it in, and sewed it down on the outside right along the seam line. (The pins are actually on the outside, right in that seam line. Ideally, I would have turned the portion along the inner edge under a bit to hide the raw edge, but as I said, it wasn’t quite wide enough.)

….and voila! New black shrug. It did end up stretching just a bit on the bottom of the back, despite my precautions, but hopefully over my dresses it won’t be too terribly noticable.

Edit: Surprisingly, I made a second shrug today.

Started with this dress, which I picked up on my last major thrifting excursion, solely for the fabric (a suede looking-and-feeling poly blend.)

Stylewise, it’s a lot like the black one, but since this one was made from a woven it took me a little more time to get the front shaping. I had to take in at the sides and the darts (the dress came with the darts. I do have to say, it feels good to know I was taking in something marked as a size 4!!) This is it when I was pinning out the shape for the front, after trying it on with the dress I’m planning on wearing it with (though, by no means does that preclude it from being used elsewhere!) to make sure it worked with the V-neckline.

I also had to finish the edge differently– the original dress had a neck facing that, when I took out the zipper in the back, didn’t quite meet up in the middle. So I took it out, zig-zagged the raw edge and then just stitched it down. Not the best finishing job, but figuring out a pattern for the lining would have severely complicated things, especially since I likely would have had to pick out the hem on the sleeves (which I didn’t have to touch at all here) and then re-hem it.

And then this is a close-up of the trim, which was left over from this skirt.


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