t-shirt to dress tutorial: no disintegrations necessary

A few weeks ago, while cleaning out a memory box from high school, I came across a pile of oversized T-shirts. Most of them were the kind you really can't use again, like team sports championships shirts or stuff from community theater productions. Buried somewhere at the bottom, however, was a shirt I wore practically daily back then.

If anyone was unaware of my geekinesss before...  In fact, I'm pretty sure I also had a similar shirt with storm troopers, and another with Marvin the Martian. (Wonder what happened to those.) Since I didn't want to relegate this one to sleepwear, I gave a go at turning it into something new.

Want to know how to turn your sad, old T-shirts into slightly-less-sad dresses? Here's what I did:
(Be warned, this'll be some pretty basic T-shirt surgery for veteran restylers. You may still be entertained by my incompetence, however.)

Meesh Muffet's Guide to T-Shirt Mutilation

Cut the armhole seams apart, then cut the sleeve side seams open.

Pin the open armhole edges together to stabilize them. Curse when you realize the shirt's been made just asymmetrically enough to screw with you.

Chop off the top of the shirt, leaving at least 1 inch between the top and the lettering.

Realize you can't do what you want with the shirt due to the armhole placement. Eat entire row of cookies until a new plan emerges.

Create new side seams that encompass the stupid armholes. Put the shirt on as though it's a strapless tube dress, and adjust the pins until they fit you like you want.

Have minor panic attack trying to get out of dress with pins still in it.

Adjust pins so that they're even on each side. Bite the bullet and wrestle yourself back into the dress again to double check the fit.

Sew the side seams. Complain to anyone who will listen about lack of overlock stitch on machine. As no sympathy is forthcoming, stretch the fabric as you sew instead.

Cut the seam allowances to 1/2 inch and iron them open so that you can see how the seams fall on your body. 

Decide you like the dress better if Boba Fett is off-centered. Twist dress around to side. Curse when you realize you now have to tweak the side seams so that they don't make weird bumps.

Fold the top edge under and pin it. (I used 3/4 inch so that there was some space between the design and the top of the dress.) Sew.

Waffle about what to do with the sleeves. Walk away from the project for a few days, only to come back and realize that the neckline is what needs help.

Fold in the edges of a little rectangle of fabric and sew them down. Greatly overestimate how much length you'll need.

Put the dress on. Pinch the top of the dress together in the center to create a sweetheart shape.

Pin the bottom edge of the little rectangle to the outside of the dress, where your bottom finger rests. Pin the top edge of the little rectangle to the same spot inside the dress. Stab your finger with one of the pins and bleed everywhere. But luckily not on the dress.

Get out of the dress alive and sew across the bottom of the little rectangle, through all layers. Sew sloppily enough that you have to rip out all the stitching and do it again.

Make a few more little rectangles, this time much thinner and longer, to use as spaghetti straps. Enlist long-suffering sister to help you pin them to the front and back of the dress.

Sew the straps where they're pinned, on the inside of the dress. Wear new dress triumphantly.

Realize that you now have the phrase "negotiable rates" written across your butt. Decide that you don't care.



project restyle: oh, the places you'll sew

Today's Project Restyle entry may not look like much has been done to it. "So she cut off the sleeves," you might say. "So what?" Oh, how deceiving these appearances can be. The original shirt seems all innocent there on the dressform, but it was one of the worst garments I have ever restyled.

A boxy body shape? Matronly armscye placement? Odd slightly-more-than-3/4-length sleeves? All these things I could have forgiven.

Questionable hem placement? Steadily unraveling stitching?

All these things I could have forgiven.

No, what made this restyle so miserable was the sudden realization, about halfway through alterations while I was scratching my head as to why nothing matched up, that the whole thing was originally assembled crookedly. At every seam.

S...so many hours of pinning and cutting and pinning and re-cutting. This wouldn't have been a big deal if not for the huge woven pattern down the front of the shirt, which was next to impossible to get centered. (Turns out that's because it, too, is not the same size on each side! Even the neckline is larger on one side than the other! Oh, the things that would have been good to know before I started.)

At least the comedy of sewing errors is finally done.

(Well, at least until next time.)


a striped summer

It's a Striped Summer
Or what Meesh would be all over if she didn't already own serviceable enough beachwear! Doesn't quite have the exact color scheme I was going for, though. I wanted a hat in a really faded mauve or light blue/purple, but this'll do.

Posting got kind of shoved to the side this weekend/last week; work and critter concerns took over instead. One of my guinea pigs is sick and I've been wigging out all over the place about it. Even with vet intervention, it's the kind of thing that tends to end badly for these little ones. Hoping she pulls through anyway, but it's hard to stay positive about this stuff sometimes. Hope everyone else had a better weekend!


the window

Today, my outdoor shots were foiled by the weather actually being too nice for pictures! (Bright afternoon sun is not conducive to taking good outfit photos. At all.) I love fashion photography, but since basic head-to-toe shots would have been a bit repetitive without the whole outdoor gear getup I had on earlier today, I thought I'd practice making the indoor shots in more of a narrative style. Would love to start playing with cinematic photography at some point.

Let me tell you, framing (and focusing) this kind of thing is really difficult when you're doing self portraits, though!

I almost want to put little black boxes around these, like in screencaps. Or maybe play around with cinematic colors.


dress: F21
tights: Lord&Taylors
shoes: Charlotte Russe
bag: Dandelion Daydreamer
hat: Contempo Casual, back in the 90s!

Next project: redecorate bedroom so that it does not look like a little girl lives there.


the wishing well

Where rampant materialism abounds!  Now, what does Meesh covet this week?

I saw these custom painted Jurassic Park sneakers from Xneaker and fell instantly into geek love. Now, these are men's sneaks, but can you imagine this design on, say, a woman's canvas shoe? (Would think seriously about wearing it daily, no lie.)

This Sugar and Spice top from Peacock Plume would go with just about everything I own right now.

When did this come out on DVD?? The Hallmark version of The Secret Garden is my favorite; I don't care what anyone else says. Terrible and hilarious accents aside, it's the only one where I can buy Mary as an actual kid.

This sailor knot headband from marcelacamargo is simply beautiful. Do want.


cinematographic: will turner

Will Turner in Summer

Saw this romper in Chloe Loves Charlie's shop and just couldn't resist playing with a little Pirates of the Caribbean style. (so timely four years after the last movie came out! I am so on top of this trend thing.) I based this off of one of Will Turner's less derpy outfits, which you can see at the bottom of the post. Also left in two boot options, because although I can't wear heels myself, that heeled Madden boot is freaking gorgeous. Costumey? Oh yes. In fact, I may have gone a little bit overboard.

(Wow, did I really just make that pun?)

Photobucket's gone kaput for the last few days, so my blog is looking a little bare. Here's hoping it gets fixed soon, so that I don't have to upload everything all over again, elsewhere.

Costume photo from The Costumer's Guide


as wick as wick can be

Today would have been a perfect day to start on rose garden plans with my sister, except that the stores and nurseries have pretty much nothing in stock right now. Hurry it up, Lowes. Your gift cards, they are burning holes in our pockets! Better get big plants this year. Last time, all the seedling flowers were eaten by the ten gazillion neighborhood squirrels. (That's what I get for feeding them in the winter.)

Went shopping at the mall yesterday and picked up a few accessories so that I have options that are not sandals this spring. Sales, I thank you.

And now for a nice, awkward animation, courtesy of GIMP's animation tools and my boredom:

Yep, I am clearly the epitome of grace and elegance here.

skirt: unsure of origin
tank: probably Charlotte Russe
shoes: Charlotte Russe
belt: F21
cardigan: New York & Co.
sunglasses: gift

Photos by my sister Laura
Bad photo editing by me


the rain came down, down, down

Today was another one of those Connecticut days where the weather can't decide what it wants to do. "Shall I crank up the humidity to hair-frizzing levels?" I imagine it considered. "Shall I lull everyone into a false sense of security about the temperature? Or open up the sky with random downpours and freezing hail every few hours, then let the sun come back at the end of the day like nothing ever happened?"

The answer, if you were wondering, was yes to everything.

My little sister hates this outfit, and kept cracking up about it on the drive home from her college. I'll admit that it's not my usual thing, but I wanted to do something with the Grimace arm warmers. There's definitely something missing, though.

My brain tells me it's a big, wide-brimmed hat, but I must resist these hat impulses! I never end up wearing them.

skirt: Forever21
tank: Charlotte Russe
sweatshirt: altered an old one
arm warmers: altered
boots: walmart (I think)
awesome Sailormoon umbrella: gift from a friend way back in HS

P.S. This was probably one of the worst photoshoots I've ever done, modeling-wise. Loling forever at the squinty, angry faces I made! Someone's gotta remind me next time that my eyes cannot handle the glare on a day like this...


project restyle: the girl, the muumuu and grimace

I have a pile of unwanted clothes from my mother's closet that I thought I might be able to rescue, so I've joined in on A Beautiful Mess's ongoing group DIY fest Project Restyle over at Flickr. The idea is to take old or vintage items that can't be used in their present state and remake them into something beautiful. Here, I did a pretty basic restyle of this big, shapeless dress just by adjusting the sleeves and hemming it into a minidress. Much better proportions for me, no? Here's a cropped closeup.

Sorry for the blurring. Camera did not want to focus indoors today, nosiree.

I also took pictures of a restyle-in-progress. This sweater tunic is the color I like to call "Grimace purple" (does anyone even remember who Grimace is anymore?) It can probably donate parts to a few different items, like arm warmers or something. Here's what happened to the skirt piece, which also incorporated extra fabric from the black dress above. Please excuse the missing shoes; I seem to be lacking variety in that area. Hoping to snag a few new pairs for summer soon, but for now I'm pulling out my empty pockets like a cartoon character...!

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All personal photographs taken by me unless otherwise stated. Not that you'll want them, but please drop me a message first for permission before using my pictures elsewhere. granniesguide@gmail.com

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