There are unfamiliar clothing items that I would like to try and wear – things that the rest of the world is wearing. I can remotely picture myself feeling good in such things, but the “play it safe” side in me pulls up my insecurities with my body every time. I am so self-conscious about my physique. Take into account that some of those things for my wilder-and-not-so-vintage side are really hard to find to suit my taste – like a really good quality pair of skinny jeans that will actually fit (with a high waist) or cool logo tees which are sustainable yet affordable. I haven’t found either yet, which is why I don’t have them already! In lieu of the misery of searching in vain I have used my sewing capabilities to fill in the answer. After all, if I sew them, those bolder (for me) fashions become a source for a pride in what I made, a sense of accomplishment stronger than those insecurities which make me think I can’t wear what I fancy to imagine!
Here comes Wonder Woman help me out with that! With a little ½ yard of graphic printed cotton and some too tight t-shirts back from when I was a mid teen, I have a new tank to remind me to own confidence, strength, and inner beauty. But the remnants for making the Wonder Woman tank were enough to also update another yet uninteresting and unworn top from my wardrobe, too! I totally ended up with the best deal ever, and made thoughtful and purposeful reuse of what I had on hand to now have new – novel – items that I am so happy with. It’s a win all around. I swear – refashions are like a gift that keeps on giving. They make me feel like a wonder woman of the sewing world.
FABRIC: Pants: 100% cotton twill, in 7 oz. weight with a brushed finish on the ‘right’ side, bought from “ebpfabric” on Ebay (here is the listing). The color is a bright orange-undertoned red, “cayenne pepper”. Tops: two girls size cotton knit tees (at right), one in a semi-sheer slub knit in white and the other a solid navy double knit, were my starting point with a 100% cotton woven print for the front of my tank.
PATTERNS: Burda Style’s “Vintage High Waisted Trousers”, from year 1957, #129, from April 2015 and self-drafting for the two tops.
TIME TO COMPLETE: The two tops only took a few hours to make on the afternoon of May 9, 2018, and the skinny pants were made on two afternoons and finished on October 7, 2018.
TOTAL COST: I only spent $10 on the jean material and as my mom had bought these so far back, I’m counting them as free!
These tops I will show you are not the most stupendous things I have made by far, but everyone needs basic yet fun pieces in their wardrobe, right? Mine will be all me-made if I keep this up…and I intend to! You see, I’m systematically going through many of the clothes I still have from my teen years and updating them for my current fashion taste and place in life rather than immediately sending them to a resale store. This is the most eco-conscious means to refashion, not to mention a cheap and challenging way to have something new, but I sense that this is helping me find myself in a very special way by evolving my wardrobe while still remotely staying the same.
The white tee was originally way too small on me – duh. It was for a 15 year old, not the woman I am today. Something that is too tight and doesn’t fit never seems proper when I actually know how to tailor, besides not even being comfortable for me. I began my re-fashioning by first cutting off the confining sleeves, side seams, and shoulders. Using the back body of the old top as my starting point to draft the front panel, and knowing my own personal body measurements, I traced the existing shape onto sheer medical paper and graded up to what it needed to be to fit me. Yet, remember – only the back was going to be used on my new tank and it was way too small. The front was not going to stretch. So I added an extra 3 ½ inches to the side seams of the front panel draft, arched the armhole around to the back slightly, and added an extra inch to the shoulders.
When you take something meant for a knit and want it to work with a woven you automatically have to add in a handful of extra ease. A knit has negative ease – meaning, you subtract wearing ease and the stretchier the knit, the more inches you have to take out for it to fit. Not so with a woven. Depending on what fit you want, 2 and 3 inches added make for a snug fit, and 5 and 6 inches give a roomy ease. My top was half-and-half, though, and so went in between when drafting my pattern. No matter how simple a tank top might seem, finding the perfect fit and learning the nuances of pattern drafting is always important to me. Besides – no matter how simple, anything you make is worth the extra effort to make sure you yourself ends up happy with it!
I kept the original neckline for the back half of my tank, to make things easy, and the rest of the edges on the new addition were finished with some black and some red bias tape from on hand. I also kept the cute little logo on the front of my old white tee – It was of a colorful bejeweled Italian Vespa motorbike…vroom, vroom! This left some good, still usable remnants still, and of course, while I was on the re-fashioning mindset, I picked out something else to update.
There has been this plain knit tee in navy, way too conservative with its high neck and basic sleeves, but so luxuriously soft in pima cotton, languishing in my closet for just as long as the white tee which I had already cut apart. I only ever used this navy top as layering piece. The body, shoulders, and sleeves still fit me so it merely needed a slight change. Therefore, it was the first thing I thought of to cut into. Granted, I’ll admit what I did do to the top was probably not the best and most unique choice. However, I did want something basic (navy and white is pretty easy to match with). Even just a simple V-neck, short sleeve re-fashion is a major improvement that I feel okay with to wear now. A couple of facing strips later and I have a fun contrast edged tee.
There isn’t much to say that I haven’t already said in the post about the last (also the first) time I had made pants with both this fabric and pattern. I cut the pattern out as-is again, and turned it inside out to do a body fit again, too. The waistline was significantly harder to do this time for some reason, but it turned out okay. I splurged on the inside edge finishing and made my own bias tape from the fun floral cotton leftover from this 1943 blouse. I did make the legs a bit longer at the hemline, and despite my hopes to make these more like jeans I did the same invisible zipper front as last time. Only, these red hot pants forced my hand to turn them into what I had said I would do with them.
Have I ever said that I have a thorough love-hate relationship with invisible zippers? I do. They look so nice and give me such a challenge to accomplish…when they work, and it seems there is never any guarantee to that. They are like a time bomb to me, waiting to fail, so although I do use them here and there, I never fully trust them. For good reason! I was trapped in my 1930s royal blue satin evening gown because of an in visible zipper fail and unable to wear it to the occasion for which I made it years back. These jeans were luckily only being worn in the house at the time when the invisible zipper I had installed popped open. Thank goodness I had not yet left the house that night! I had to carefully cut myself out of the jeans from the front.
Thus, I went back to my original plan and drafted my own mock-fly to cover the sturdy, vintage metal zipper which is sewn in the front instead. This meant I needed back pockets, too. I drafted some petite sized pockets and subtly monogrammed them with a fanciful cursive initials of my own design before sewing them down. Do you see the ‘K’ then a ‘B’? Yes, to make it easy for you to see the initials without staring at my behind, I took a close-up picture of them while they were off of me.
For starting with a vintage reprint pattern and outdated tees, this set really turned out fresh for my taste to try something more upbeat. The 1950s really had some killer skinny pants that preceded the modern fad for the same thing (except back then they often relied more on good tailoring than the fact there is stretch in its fabric to fit)! It would have been a bit bold to see Wonder Woman sported so overtly for the 1950s, because during the “Silver Age” comics she underwent significant changes which softened and adapted her image in the absence of her creator. With the resurgence of a powerful and popular Wonder Woman today, this is the perfect retake, in my opinion!