Tuesday, March 28, 2017

MixIt Top Kludge

Men's shirts continue to provide fun and inexpensive fabric for making my shirts. It's not a radical remake but it is satisfying.

This man's shirt was purchased from a local thrift store primarily because of the color. I was looking for a light neutral, not exactly white.  It seems to me that men's shirts come in so many wonderful solid colors! This fabric is end-on-end broad cloth with white threads in the weft and light brown in the warp.

I love being able to re-apply the breast pocket from the original shirt
The MixIt top from the Sewing Workshop is one of my all-time favorite summer top patterns. I have made it many times. This time I thought I'd try for a different sleeve. Using the original shirt sleeves, I cut the cap sleeves as long as I could:

This retained the tower button placket of the original sleeve and resulted in a sleeve that is just below my elbows. I added a narrow cuff with self bias binding.

I am gradually learning some of the characteristics of men's shirts in terms of how I can use them for myself. One is that the fabric tends to be tightly woven and super stable, making a set-in sleeve difficult. Luckily I remembered the technique described in Palmer/Pletsch Couture The Art of Fine Sewing. It contains great instructions for successful set-in sleeves.

Surprisingly, these 3 rows of easing stitch are sewn with a standard length stitch (2.5 mm). It is easy to gather and ease the cap with no tucks or awkward pulling. The book also describes the exact location for  easing, resulting in the prettiest sleeve cap.
Not bad, eh?

I made one other slight change in the pattern. The pattern includes a facing for the front neckline slit. I've never liked that so this time, I used Sandra Betzina's instructions for simple bias welt (see Power Sewing Step-by-Step page 156). It is not as formal as a man-tailored sleeve placket and it is a bit more feminine.

As usual, there are other things I'll change in the future. The location of the sleeve cuff is a tad awkward. Perhaps I should have made a deeper cuff, though there was not any extra fabric really.

As it happened I had already cut off the sleeve front containing button holes. That made for a tight squeeze and a bit of a kludge in the back (not shown). Next time I'll take advantage of the existing button holes and maybe even the existing buttons. Those things are sewn on securely! That is, it is sometimes difficult to remove the buttons without damaging the fabric.

In sum this is a great top for knocking around the house, as well as a plain under layer with a jacket. It was fun to give new life to an old shirt.


  1. Well done! Thanks for the helpful references too.

  2. Love what you did with the sleeve cuff - very nice!

  3. I love this top, and it is so cool that you salvaged a mens shirt to make it. Thanks for the instructions!