Easy Summer Top Pattern Review and shirt upcycle

Here's how I got on adapting the New Look K6483 pattern that came with Sew Style & Home Magazine to make a summer top from an old shirt.

summer top from a mans shirt.jpg

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A heady combination of all the amazing Me Made May challenge inspiration and one of my most favourite programmes "The Great British Sewing Bee" being back on the telly was too much for me recently. So whilst in the supermarket I found the June Issue of Sew Style and Home magazine just fell into my trolley before I could stop it! It's a great magazine with loads of projects inside with downloadable patterns but one what really caught my eye was the actual real paper pattern that comes with it. New Look K6483, a quick and easy summery top with 5 variations, different combinations of neckline and arm hole/sleeve.


I had an old man's shirt (the shirt is old not the man that used to wear it!) that I wanted to upcycle to make myself a summery top and thought this pattern would be just right. It was!

before shirt.jpg

Making new clothes from old clothes is both easier and more difficult than making from new fabric. Things like hems can be reused to save you time and effort but you have less raw material to work with so compromises sometimes have to be made. You also need to adjust for features on the original garment you want to keep.

The first thing I did was cut the shirt open by cutting the side seams and removing the collar and sleeves. I also took off the pocket from the front.

I choose style B from the pattern as my basis and thought I would have the buttons from the front of the shirt go down the back of the new top. Sadly I lost concentration for a second and promptly cut out the front of the top from the front of the shirt so that was the end of that!

It's a little awkward to fold the shirt in half with the buttons attached but not impossible. I adjusted the neckline a little so that the top button was nice and close to the neck edge.

I then cut the back of the top from the back of the shirt, on the fold. The pattern has a seam centre back so I reduced the width by overhanging the paper pattern over the fabric the width of the seam allowance.

The New Look K6483 pattern has facing to finish the neck and arm hole edge in one streamline piece. I really like this way of finishing a garment edges as it looks so sleek. I had planned to use the sleeve fabric to cut the facing but there wasn't quite enough fabric. I thought there would be plenty but apparently not.

I put the darts in and joined the front and back pieces as per the pattern instructions then I found this great tutorial from Sewaholic to add bias binding to necklines.

I'd saved it on Pinterest a while ago (love pinterest!) 

I had enough sleeve fabric to make bias binding for the neck edge

bias binding.jpg

and then found some white shop bought binding in my stash for the arm holes.

arm edge.jpg

The last thing was to sort out the buttons. I had wanted the buttons on the back because men's shirts have much larger gaps between buttons than ladies, I was worried about gaping. The solution was to take all the unused buttons from the shirt (very top, sleeve plackets, the spare inside ones) and add them in between the existing buttons. 

Summer top.jpg

I didn't need to do button holes, the top fits over my head without undoing it, this is just decorative. I just stitched the buttons right through the layers, no gaping now!

I see a little puckering with my top stitching round the neck hole in the photos. Would you believe me if I said they really don't notice in real life?

before and after.jpg

This is a great pattern, easy to adapt and I will definitely be using it again. (maybe next time with enough fabric to do the proper facings) It is a lovely comfy loose fit, but you could easily add some long darts in the back if you like a more fitted look. The bust darts are just right for me. My top is longer than the pattern as I used the shaped bottom edge of the original shirt.

finished summer top.jpg

All it all, after a few set backs and complications of my own making this was a really easy make.

"Too tight at the hem" Top Fix

Here is a very simple fix for a top that is just a bit too snug at the bottom.

Too tight at the hem top fix

I bought this top from a charity shop recently just because I love the colour and the size seemed about right for me. When I got it home and tried it on it was just a bit too snug round the bottom (it's bottom not mine - or maybe it's both!)

before top.jpg

It doesn't look TOO bad here, a tiny bit "sack of potatoes" maybe. There wasn't much room for movement though, that bottom band was stretched to the max!

At first I thought maybe I could just remove the bottom band but I didn't want to loose any of the length. I also considered taking off the band but adding lace, like I did on this t shirt here. I didn't have any suitable lengths of wide lace in my stash but whilst I was looking I found some lovely handmade looking lace that is pretty with the coral top.


In the end I kept this really simple and used what I already had.

Undo or cut depending on how your top is made, the  side seams on both side about 10cm or 4".

cut sides.jpg

Try it on to make sure you've gone high enough to make it comfy to wear.

Trim any seam allowance away.

On my top the seam joining the band to the top was starting to unravel a little so I added just a couple of stitches to secure it:

seam undoing.jpg

Pin a length of lace long the raw edge, folding the edges under like so:

pin on lace.jpg
lace on the inside.jpg

Stitch the lace into position. I stitched mine by hand. The pinning was a bit of a fiddle and I imagined it would be even trickier to machine stitch.

hand stitch.jpg

Hand sewing didn't take long and means it's easy to adjust the lace into position as you go. If you feel confident on the sewing machine you could easily wizz it on the machine.

Repeat on the other side and that's it, done!

after top.jpg

Not the best photos ever but you get the idea, my "photographer" was not available so I had to take these of myself.

easy fix for a top that is too tight at the hem

The fit is SO much better now, much more comfy to wear and hopefully a little bit more flattering.

after top square.jpg

I think this would be nice with ribbon or bias binding, maybe even scraps of a patterned fabric instead of the lace. Oh, the possibilities! Do you have a top that needs just a bit more give around the bottom that this idea might work for?

I'll be linking up to all these great link parties, why not go and have a look!